Less abortion? How about more free contraception

Wonkblog (it’s pretty short, so I’m just pasting the whole thing):

The idea that contraceptives prevent unintended pregnancy is, well, pretty intuitive. That’s the whole point of contraceptives.

Except that’s not how it always works: About half of all unintended pregnancies are the result of contraceptive failure, where a condom breaks or birth control pills aren’t taken at the right time. The least expensive methods of contraceptive tend to be the least effective.

That got a team of researchers at Washington University wondering what would happen if women had access to all contraceptives at no cost. IUDs, for example, are about 20 times more effective than birth control pills – but also tend to be significantly more expensive.

Over the course of three years, they gave over 9,000 women in the St. Louis area access to free contraceptives. Study participants could choose from birth control pills or more long-acting contraceptives, like the implantable IUD. Three in four women chose the latter.

The researchers published their results Thursday and saw some dramatic differences between those in the study, and those outside of it.

Teen pregnancies – 80 percent of which are unintended – plummetted. They stood at 6.3 per 1,000 teens in the study group, compared to 34 per 1,000 teens nationally.

Abortion rates were significantly lower, too. In the St. Louis area, 13.4 per 1,000 women had an abortion in 2010. Among the women involved in this study, the rate stood at 5.9 per 1,000 women.

The study authors attribute a lot of those differences to the widespread use of long-acting contraceptives. Such birth control – used by 75 percent of the women in this study – is only used by 8.5 percent of women nationally.

The Affordable Care Act will expand this experiment nationally by making contraceptives no-cost for all insurance subscribers. The study authors estimate that could have a marked effect on abortion rates, “preventing as many as 41–71% of abortions performed annually in the United States.”

And who is against widespread, free contraceptives?  That’s right– the pro-life crowd.  If these people really cared about reducing abortions instead of just punishing women for having sex they would be all over expanded access to the most effective contraceptives.  The best way to prevent abortions is not to pass laws against them (women have always had abortions and always will), but to do all you can to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.

2012 = 2004

And not just because an incumbent went on to win a close election after a widely-panned first debate performance.  Nate Silver today:

Historically, there has been no relationship at all between the unemployment rate on Election Day and the incumbent’s performance.

However, there has been a relationship between the change in the unemployment rate in the months leading up to the election and how well the incumbent does. The decline in unemployment under Mr. Obama this year since December is the largest in an election year since Ronald Reagan’s re-election bid, when it declined to 7.3 percent in Sept. 1984 from 8.3 percent in Dec. 1983.

[Silver’s actual chart omitted here]

The drop in unemployment alone is no guarantee of re-election — there was also a considerable drop in unemployment in 1976, and Gerald Ford lost.

However, the FiveThirtyEight economic index, which accounts for the payrolls numbers along with six other economic data series, would project a narrow re-election for Mr. Obama by about 3 percentage points — similar to Mr. Bush’s margin over John Kerry in 2004. Especially with the Friday jobs report, the economic numbers now seem just strong enough to make the incumbent a favorite for re-election, based on the way the public has evaluated their presidents historically.

Daily Satire

Borowitz Report:

DEBATE VICTORY VALIDATES ROMNEY STRATEGY OF NONSTOP LYING

Posted by 

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—Taking a victory lap after their candidate’s win in the first Presidential debate Wednesday night, Romney campaign insiders today attributed his success to his strategic use of relentless lying.

“We worked for hours on this during the practice debates,” said the campaign manager Matt Rhoades. “We were, like, ‘Mitt, if you find yourself on the verge of saying something true, bite your tongue.’ ”

Mr. Rhoades said that the nominee was allowed to say his real name and acknowledge that he used to be a Governor, “but other than that, he was on a very short leash, truth-wise.”

Thomas Frank:

THESE are the times that try rich men’s patience. Not because this interminable economic crisis threatens to cost them their fortunes, of course, but rather the reverse: that by humiliating so many others, the slump has exposed the mighty to the horrors of criticism. Yes, sour sounds have reached their ears: recrimination, reproof, ridicule, rebellion!

The people have been thinking about how the economy came to collapse in the first place, of the role that great wealth and the deregulation of the financial industry played. And over the years, the unthinkable has happened. People have started to say mean things about billionaires. Even the president has engaged in the “rhetoric of class warfare.” During Wednesday’s debate, for example, this Danton of the Democrats went so far as to say that businesses shouldn’t get tax breaks for moving jobs overseas and even scoffed at that archetypal small-business man, Donald J. Trump…

The most famous example is the open letter to the president written last year by the hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman and dissected at length in this week’s New Yorker magazine. In it, Mr. Cooperman blames Mr. Obama (and his “minions”) for “setting the tenor of the rancorous debate now roiling us that smacks of what so many have characterized as ‘class warfare.’ ” This is serious, this roiling and this tenor-setting, but it is not the only damage the president’s words have done. The “divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf,” Mr. Cooperman continued, “between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them” — meaning, apparently, hedge fund managers like himself…

In the broad scheme of things, these are excellent times to be a billionaire. Labor is powerless. Taxes are low. The banks that survived the crisis are bigger than ever. So why do the well-to-do whine so? Why do they wring their hands?

For one thing, their criticisms reveal a contemptuous view of their fellow citizens. That all the books and articles on the financial crisis and the recession might have had an effect — that people might see the economic downturn as a reflection on the individuals who were, a few years back, lionized as the economy’s leaders — is inconceivable to the class-war complainers. The public’s attitude, they seem to believe, can have arisen only as a result of propagandizing by Mr. Obama. No American would ever stop respecting his betters unless he was brainwashed into it.

The jobs report and the election

John Sides says exactly what I was thinking and I can paste faster than I can type, so…

If this jobs report matters in any way, it is by shifting the news coverage of the campaign from “Obama bombed in the debate” to “Hey, unemployment fell!”  This report is enough of a departure from previous reports to generate some positive news coverage.  And this will help to displace the positive news coverage Romney was receiving as a consequence of his debate performance.  Given that it’s this news coverage that would boost Romney in the polls, news coverage of the job report could—conceivably, possibly, maybe—limit the boost.

Photo of the day

Well, surprisingly, this is actually from a set of photos of a ferry disaster in Hong Kong (via In Focus):

Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, in Hong Kong on October 1, 2012. The anniversary is also known as National Day. This is the event passengers aboard the Lamma IV had sailed to view.(Antony Dickson/AFP/Getty Images)

The media’s test

Will they actually call out Romney for his fairly egregious lies and distortions in the debate (look at what they did to Al Gore in 2000 for pretty trivial distortions)  or will they just go with a narrative of “well, both candidates distorted the truth some.”  Jon Cohn has a nice post on how this is really a test for the media:

I thought about that today as I watched and read media coverage of last night’s presidential debate. The consensus, even among Obama’s allies, was that the president blew it. He lacked energy. He failed to make his points succinctly. He allowed Romney to appear more in command of facts…

But that is the not the whole story—or, I would argue, the most important story. As someof us have noted, Romney’s debate performance was full of distortions, just like Ryan’s speech had been. The two most important were about two of the most important parts of Romney’s agenda.

The most obvious was Romney’s claim that “pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.” No they aren’t. Romney’s plan would protect people with pre-existing conditions if, and only if, they already have insurance. Current law basically does that already…

Romney also denied that he had endorsed a $5 trillion tax cut. But the proposal he unveiled last March, which included a 20 percent reduction in all marginal tax rates, would cost $5 trillion. Not even conservatives dispute that. Romney has said he would offset that tax cut by closing loopholes, but he’s never specified which ones…

This moment, then, is a critical test for how far the media has come—and whether it remains at the mercy of politicians willing to exploit the conventions of even-handedness. The Romney comeback narrative was ready to go even before last night’s debate.  [emphasis mine]   If Friday’s jobs report is disappointing and, more important, if Romney’s poll numbers rise, that narrative will be valid and the media should not be shy about reporting it. But the focus right now really should be on what Obama and Romney said on Wednesday night—and whether they were truthful. The media’s number one job isn’t to tell us how people reacted. It’s to tell us how people should react. (Or, at least, on what facts people should make that judgment.)

I think Cohn’s final point is really important so I’m going to set it off:

As I’ve said many times, the proper standard for truth in a campaign is whether a candidate is trying to mislead voters about what he’s done or what he would do in office. Romney on Wednesday night tried make voters believe he never endorsed tax cuts for the rich, that he can magically reduce taxes without raiding the deficit, and that he can repeal Obamacare without making it more difficult for people to get health insurance.

If those aren’t lies I don’t know what are.  Time to call Romney on them (instead of writing stories on how the tax issue is working for him now– thanks to those lies).

The chart of the day that could save your life

How could I not know about a website called “Chartporn”?!  Bookmarked!  Anyway, via Wonkblog we get this chart of where to sit on an aircraft to avoid death in a crash:

Though, here’s some nice context:

That said, it’s also worth nothing that the number of airline crashes has decreased significantly in recent years. You’re now twice as likely to die from falling down then you are from an in-air collision.

Jobs!

I first saw the headline 7.8% unemployment number on FB. Went to the NYT and WP and saw that we had only added a not particularly impressive 114K new jobs. Politically, coming in under 8 is huge for Obama. No, there’s no bump from this, but it certainly solidifies his position when any really bad number could possibly do harm. In the real lived-in economic world, though, we need the economy to be adding a lot more jobs than this (though, as Yglesias points out, this is a very rough estimate). Now, if only we could get tax rates for the rich and get rid of all that totally worthless government regulation, then we’d see real job growth.

Romney will not raise taxes on the middle class

Raise your hand if you truly believe Romney would raise taxes on the middle class to offset his tax cuts to the wealthy.  Please!  Not going to happen.  The problem with the Obama campaign continually making this charge (as this Post article talks about) is that ultimately, its just not credible.  When Romney forcibly claims that he will not raise taxes on the middle class, there’s no reason not to believe him.

The problem with Romney’s tax plan is that it is a fraudulent lie, not that it would raise taxes on the middle class.   Now, we all know the math doesn’t add up, but that solution is simple– like other Republicans, just borrow money to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.  And then just claim that if you squint your eyes the right way it will be revenue neutral because tax cuts for the rich lead to so much economic growth (feel free to ignore decades of historical evidence to the contrary).

So, the problem with the “Romney will raise taxes on the middle class” charge is just that it’s too easily debunked.  Now, the “Romney is lying about his tax plan.”  We’ll, in the world of real economics rather than Republican fantasyland, that’s damn true.

Also have to add, that after a pretty bold headline:

Romney benefits from defense
of his tax plan

The Post story ends with this:

Romney’s newly aggressive stance appears to be helping his cause, at least initially. A CBS News instant survey of uncommitted voters found that they favored Obama by a significant margin on the tax issue going into Wednesday’s debate. Immediately afterward, the numbers flipped.

I think I’d like to see a representative sample of likely voters rather than just undecideds who watched the debate (a tiny fraction of Americans) before reading too much into this.  That said, there is room for Romney here due to the fundamental dishonesty (nobody really  believes Mitt would raise taxes on the middle class) of the Obama attack.

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