Video of the day

Love Colbert’s take on the Petraeus scandal– especially from about 3 1/2 in when Susan Lucci shows up:


Little-known fact about me… I watched “All My Children” from the time I was a little kid until I was done with graduate school.  In middle and high school I would record (VHS, naturally) and watch it while I did my homework after school.  Did not kick the habit completely until I had my first “real” job at Oberlin.



No, not me.  At least not yet.  But over at Pew:

Washington (November 15, 2012) — Pollster Michael Dimock, currently Associate Director for Research, will succeed Andrew Kohut as Director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, which conducts surveys on politics and public policy and is the flagship project of the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank that provides neutral data and analysis to inform the public, the press and policymakers.

A 12-year Pew Research veteran, Dimock has been the co-author of several of the center’s landmark research reports, including its in-depth examination of American political and social values and its polling reports from the last several presidential cycles. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California-San Diego and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Houston. Before joining the Pew Research Center staff in 2000, he was a political science professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

Why in the world would I mention this here?  That emboldened line.  Because Mike Dimock left to work at Pew, I get to work at NC State.  And I love working at NC State.  I have Dimock’s job/faculty line.  Seems to have worked out well for both of us.

Hispanics alone do not solve the Republicans’ problems

Great post from Nate Cohn about how even if Republicans could win back many Hispanics by dint of immigration reform, it would take a whole lot and it’s likely far from enough:

Certainly, Republicans need to improve with Latino voters, and quickly. The Latino share of the electorate is poised to increase incrementally in every election for the foreseeable future, raising the GOP’s burden with Hispanics each year. Romney’s performance among Latino voters was abysmal, and it wasn’t helped by his stance on immigration reform. But the immigration explanation for Romney’s defeat isn’t quite as good as it sounds. As mentioned over the last few days, the GOP also fell short of their benchmarks with rural Midwesterners, voters in well-educated and affluent suburbs, and African Americans. Hispanic voters were just one of many components of Obama’s victory, not an overriding factor. The GOP will have miscalculated the breadth of their challenge if they adopt immigration reform as their one-plank plan for recapturing the White House in 2016

The numbers illustrate the folly of relying too much on a Latino turnaround to produce a Republican victory. Obama leads the national popular vote by about 3 points, but the exit polls indicate that Hispanics represented just 10 percent of the electorate. Finding 3 points worth of gains in 10 percent of the electorate is extraordinarily challenging: for Republicans to win the popular vote by means of Hispanics alone, they’d need to gain a net-30 points among Latino voters, reducing Obama’s 44 point lead to just 14 points. While there’s nothing wrong with the GOP aiming high for 2016, it’s very difficult to imagine Democrats falling beneath 60 percent of the Hispanic vote in a competitive national race. Republicans will need to compliment improvements among Hispanics with plenty of gains among other demographic groups.

And the importance of the Hispanic vote is diminished by the Electoral College. While Hispanic voters were truly decisive in Florida, Latinos are inefficiently concentrated in non-competitive states, like Texas and California. In many battleground states, the Hispanic vote plays a vanishingly small role…

Here’s a simple way of looking at it: if Hispanics swing 20 points in the GOP’s direction in every swing state, Obama would have won the Electoral College by a 303-235 margin. While losses among Hispanics would cost Obama his narrow win in Florida, even a net-20 point GOP gain wouldn’t swing Colorado or Nevada. Even if it did, Obama would have still won through either Virginia or Ohio…

The Republicans have a Hispanic problem. But they also have a problem with young voters, African Americans, affluent suburbs, and the rural Midwest. A winning GOP coalition in 2016 will involve gains with each of these groups, not just one. And if Republicans assume that a quick flip flop on immigration reform will produce massive gains among Hispanics, they’ll probably be disappointed.

Short version: sorry, Charles Krauthammer.

Photo of the day

Not a big fan of boxing, but these photos in Behold are pretty cool:

Howard Schatz's book At The Fights chronicles boxing

Boxing Study 1805 Sergio Martinez.

Howard Schatz.

Raise the capital gains rate

Nice piece from James Kwak in the Atlantic that if we really want to increase revenue, the low-hanging fruit is to raise the capital gains rate.  Especially since the patron saint of tax cutters himself, Ronald Reagan had it much higher than it is now and because there’s no evidence that raising the rate would hurt economic growth:

Taxing income from investments the same as we tax income from labor would raise hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue almost exclusively from people who can afford it. So why isn’t anyone considering it?

Republicans don’t want to because, well, they are the party of the super-rich. Low taxes on investment income are the untouchable central plank of the Republican platform.

What about Democrats? President Obama has proposed letting the maximum rate on capital gains rise to 20 percent, where it was set in 1997 by President Clinton and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, on households earning more than $250,000. But that’s it. And now Democrats seem to be warming to the idea of limiting itemized deductions, which purports to raise taxes on the rich but is relatively trivial to the super-rich.

Instead, why don’t they push for eliminating preferences for investment income, or at least raising the capital gains rate to 28 percent, where it was set by Ronald Reagan in 1986? They can’t possibly think it would be bad for the economy, since the evidence for any relationship between capital gains rates and economic growth is dubious. Since the tax increase would only affect the very rich, it would have little impact on consumption and economic activity. And wouldn’t it be great to fight for equal treatment of labor and capital, and a smaller national debt, at the same time?

My cynical instincts say that Democrats don’t want to upset the hedge fund establishment any more than they already have. But Barack Obama, you will never run for re-election again. Now is your moment. Don’t waste it.

Of course, Kwak already identified the problem.  Current Republicans would absolutely try and destroy the country and eliminate every social program– heck even the military– before they’d give in on raising the capital gains rate.   Policy-wise, this is a no-brainer.  Politically, it’s a non-started.  Unlike the income tax rates that revert to Clinton levels on January 1 and give Democrats the leverage, there’s no such reversion on capital gains rates (at least that I’m aware of).  Kwak tries to frame this favorably be referring to the lower capital gains rate as a “loophole” but I don’ t think it is generally considered in the same category as mortgage interest deduction, etc.

Also, a nice interview with departing Senator Kent Conrad (in easily the biggest upset of the night on election day, Heidi Heitkamp is keeping this Senate seat in ND Democratic) in which he touches on the issue:

So do you think there are actually good policy arguments for raising tax rates on capital gains and dividends to raise revenue, as opposed to raising the individual marginal tax rate?

Sure there are. The argument against raising marginal rates is that has a very different economic impact than it does to raise capital gains taxes, or to raise capital gains and broaden the base. Broadening the base is seen by most economists as more efficient, with better incentives. And when you’re having [taxes on] capital gains and dividends at 15 percent, when everybody else is at 35 percent, it creates these incredible distortions in which very wealthy individuals are paying a fraction of the rate of those with far more modest incomes. You can see a rationale for doing it that way.

Plenty more good stuff in there from Conrad– a smart and thoughtful guy (or so says his deputy LD)– but wanted to limit this post to capital gains. It’s hard to see any movement on this in the short-term, but it would be great to see more Democrats begin to push back against the absurdly low 15% rate.

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