Save lives: vote Democratic

If I saw this most places, I don’t know that I’d give it much credence, but since it’s Larry Bartels writing at the Monkey Cage, it suggests that there’s really something going on here.  And, that is:

That’s the message I take from a recent book by James Gilligan, a psychiatrist at New York University. In Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous than Others, Gilligan documents a striking statistical connection between changing rates of violent death in the United States over the past century and the party of the president. He concludes that Republican administrations are “risk factors for lethal violence,” and that the only reason they have not produced “disastrously high epidemic levels” of suicides and homicides is that Democrats have repeatedly undone their damage. (I’ve added handsome hand-coloring to Gilligan’s key  figure in order to highlight the partisan pattern.)

Gilligan found that, over the 108 years covered by his analysis (1900-2007), the age-adjusted suicide rate increased by an average of 9.7 per million over each Republican four-year term but decreased by an average of 11.1 per million over each Democratic term. The age-adjusted homicide rate increased by an average of 3.6 per million over each Republican term but decreased by an average of 4.2 per million over each Democratic term…

Gilligan attributes these very different trends in violent death rates to consistent differences in the parties’ policies and performance with respect to unemployment, economic inequality, and recessions, which in turn have substantial effects on “individual emotional and psychological health and welfare.”

Short version: election results really matter for people’s lives.  This is not just some game.

Romney and “the very poor”

For me, the most frustrating part about Romney’s “gaffe” about not caring for “the very poor” is how little most reports did to really put this in context.  In all fairness to Romney, he said he wasn’t concerned because they had a safety net and if there were problems with that net, he would fix it.   But, his own proposed policies would seem to necessarily shred that safety net.  Romney’s domestic economic proposals are not exactly a secret, but I don’t recall reading a single news story that actually called into question if Romney’s policies actually would show any concern for the poor.  You know, that whole actions, words thing.

Thank God for policy-oriented liberal bloggers to do the job mainstream journalists should be doing.  Both Yglesias and Ezra did a really nice job highlighting this problem in Romney’s statement.  First Ezra:

Romney’s tax policy, described simply, is to extend the Bush tax cuts and, then on top of that, sharply cut taxes on corporations, the wealthy, and upper-middle class investors, while letting a set of tax breaks that help the poor expire. The result, according to the Tax Policy Center, would be a $69 tax cut for the average individual in the bottom 20 percent and a $164,000 tax cut for the average individual in the top one percent. And Romney would pay for this through unspecified cuts to domestic programs. Since domestic programs mostly go to the poor and seniors, the regressive tax cuts would be regressively financed.  [emphasis mine]

Yglesias really breaks it down:

He proposes the following five points:

  • Immediately cut nonsecurity discretionary spending by 5 percent.
  • Reform and restructure Medicaid as block grant to states.
  • Align wages and benefits of government workers with market rates.
  • Reduce federal workforce by 10 percent via attrition.
  • Undertake fundamental restructuring of government programs and services.

In other words he wants to cut the safety net, cut the health care part of the safety net, muck around with the federal workforce, and then cut the non-health care part of the safety net. To further clarify, he states that he “will immediately move to cut spending and cap it at 20 percent of GDP” while increasing defense spending. Which is to say he wants to cut social safety net spending. What’s more “as spending comes under control, he will pursue further cuts that would allow caps to be set even lower so as to guarantee future fiscal stability,” thus cutting social safety net spending even further.

This was not some in-depth and timely investigate journalism.  Rather, it’s just journalists actually caring about policy, and not just the strategic/tactical implications of a candidate’s “gaffe.”

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