How Trump saved the economy in chart form

Kidding!  Nice post at Forbes.

U.S. employment


U.S. unemployment rate

Clearly, we can see how cutting taxes on rich people and deregulating environmental and workplace protections are the key to a growing economy.


Quick hits (part I)

1) Ron Brownstein with a nice look at key House contests and changing demographic and partisan relationships:

A CNN analysis of the demography of the most competitive districts in the House of Representatives, almost all of which are now held by Republicans, shows that the outcome in 2018 appears poised to reinforce the divides familiar from Trump’s election in 2016.

Democrats’ top opportunities to capture Republican-held seats are concentrated in well-educated, higher-income and preponderantly white districts. Most of these seats are centered on economically thriving suburbs around major metropolitan areas where Trump faces widespread resistance among white-collar voters, especially women, on cultural and personal grounds.

With only a few exceptions, Democrats face more uncertain prospects in Republican-held House seats centered on the blue-collar, exurban and rural communities where Trump remains popular, the analysis found. Of the 43 Republican-held seats that CNN considers leaning toward the Democrats or toss-ups, only nine are in districts where the white population exceeds the national average and the share of residents with college degrees lags the national average…

The longer-term implication is that this election now seems highly likely to widen the trench between a Democratic Party that increasingly controls the major metropolitan areas largely skeptical of Trump and a GOP whose dominance is barely dented in the rural and exurban areas where he remains strong.

Already, the CNN analysis shows, about two-thirds of House Republicans represent districts where the education level lags the national average and nearly three-fifths hold seats where the median income is lower as well. By contrast, about 53% of Democrats hold seats where the education level and median income exceed the national average. If Democratic gains next month are concentrated mostly in white-collar seats, the Republican caucus will tilt ever further toward lower-education and modest-income seats while the Democrats will bend further toward the opposite — expanding the distance between the two sides and making compromise between them even more difficult.

That geographic divergence represents the stark separation in demographic responses to Trump’s tumultuous presidency, with minorities, millennials and college-educated whites, especially women, recoiling from him in large numbers and blue-collar, older and evangelical whites providing him robust, even record, levels of support.

2) Rick Hasen on how Democrats can reverse years of voter suppression.

3) Longer piece from Drum on the future of the Democratic party.  Good, thoughtful, stuff.

This doesn’t mean that Trump’s racist proclamations and policies haven’t had horrible effects, including giving bigots permission to be more flagrant. But it does mean progressive voters and candidates don’t need to feel like they have to choose between racial justice issues and economic issues—no matter how much Team Trump wants them to. After Charlottes­ville, Steve Bannon practically declared victory: “I want them to talk about racism every day,” he told the American Prospect. “If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

He was wrong on both counts. Not only should liberals have little to fear about keeping a sustained focus on racial justice, but Trump’s victory had little or nothing to do with economic anxiety. That may have played a role in the Republican sweep of the 2010 midterms—the global economy had just melted down, after all—but by Obama’s second term it was not as large a factor. There’s endless data suggesting that Americans were getting more economically optimistic during 2016, just as you’d expect during a recovery from a recession.

Because of this, Trump’s right-wing economic populism has gotten little traction. Economists overwhelmingly agree Trump’s trade war will hurt the economy, and the public is decidedly tepid about his tariffs; only 16 percent of Americans think they will help the economy. Last year’s Republican tax cut for corporations and the wealthy has bombed as well. Unpopular from the start, the law is now supported by barely more than a third of voters.

On the progressive side, things are just the opposite: Obamacare continues to become steadily more popular despite Trump’s persistent efforts to undermine it, and a recent poll showed that Medicare for All is now supported by 70 percent of voters—including a majority of Republicans. Even Fox News was forced to admit in its August poll that Obamacare is more popular than the tax cut.

This gives Democrats tremendous latitude in November. There’s every reason to think they can take aggressive positions on Trump’s odious racial pronouncements and cruel policies. At the same time, they can take aggressive positions against his widely disliked economic programs and in support of their own increasingly popular ideas—which appeal equally to the working class of all races.

4) Vox’s Brian Resnick, “8 lessons from psychology that explain Trump’s caravan fearmongering.”  TLDR: fear works.

5) Useful historical context, “The History Behind the Birthright Citizenship Battle.”

6) Interesting take on animal welfare in Vox: “Want to help animals? Focus on corporate decisions, not people’s plates: The most cost-effective way to help animals on factory farms seems to be campaigns targeting suppliers, not targeting consumers.”

7) Is trick-or-treating on the decline?  Had a great discussion about social trust and the quality of neighborhood trick-or-treating with a colleague who’s suburban neighborhood was a complete Halloween desert.

According to data from the National Retail Federation’s annual Halloween survey, the number of American adults who say they’re planning to take kids trick-or-treating has hovered around 30 percent since 2005. But the NRF doesn’t break that data down between parents and nonparents, so many of the respondents not planning to trick-or-treat may just not have kids. Indeed, a 2011 survey by the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide found that 73 percent of parents take their kids trick-or-treating, so the tradition is still going strong.

“I don’t think there are fewer kids trick-or-treating,” says Lesley Bannatyne, a historian of Halloween who’s authored several books on the holiday. “I think they’re trick-or-treating in different places.”

Some of that, she suspects, has to do with changing neighborhoods. Americans are less likely to know and regularly interact with their neighbors than they were in previous decades, according to a 2015 analysis of General Social Survey data.

It’s worth noting that the image of “traditional” trick-or-treating—costumed kids parading down sidewalks, hitting house after decorated house—has only ever really been endemic to American suburbs. Kids who live in cities often trick-or-treat in apartment buildings, and in rural areas where houses are more spread out, Bannatyne says, parties, bonfires, or other centralized gatherings are often more practical alternatives for families.

8) The “digital divide” in schools is not quite what we might expect as rich people move against screen time for their kids.

9) Brownstein (again) on Trump’s fearmongering:

In the final days of the midterm campaign, Trump and other Republicans are focusing their closing arguments on cultural confrontations, from immigration to the bitter confirmation fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Otter’s announcement illuminates one key reason the party is placing so many chips on culture: GOP candidates appear to have lost faith that they can win the argument with voters over the key policies in their economic agenda, especially the longtime effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the huge tax cut Trump signed late last year.

“They are ending up on the culture war because we have blunted them on taxes and they can’t talk about health care,” Democratic pollster Ben Tulchin said. “So they are left with one card to play.”…

Trump’s immigration-centered closing arguments show how thoroughly he believes that the GOP base is motivated not by rolling back government (through tax cuts or repealing the ACA) but by resisting cultural and demographic change. [emphasis mine] New national polling this week from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute supports his instinct. That survey asked Americans whether they believed it was mostly positive or negative for the nation that minority groups will reach a majority of the U.S. population by 2045. While nearly two-thirds of all Americans and four-fifths of Democrats said that the change was mostly positive, slightly more than three-fifths of Republicans described it as mostly negative.

One of Trump’s most profound effects on American politics has been widening existing divides and accelerating ongoing trends. Long before he arrived, the parties were undergoing an overlapping demographic and geographic realignment, with Democrats mobilizing a “coalition of transformation” centered on the voters and regions most comfortable with racial, cultural, and even economic change, and Republicans countering with a “coalition of restoration” centered on the groups and places most resistant to it…

This re-sorting will push the GOP even further toward Trump’s politics of racial and social backlash, because in next week’s election it may doom many of the moderate suburban House members who most resist his direction. After November, the GOP caucus in both congressional chambers will almost certainly tilt even further toward predominantly white, heavily blue-collar, and religiously traditional places where Trump’s insular messaging resonates. The paradox that the final stage of the 2018 election reveals is this: As more upscale voters who benefit from the GOP’s economic agenda flee Trump’s racially infused definition of the party, Republicans will become even more dependent on stoking the cultural grievances of their working-class base.

(Reminder: my problem with the working-class base is not that they are culturally different from me but that they are prone to blame Blacks, immigrants, etc., for their cultural grievances).

10) And Krugman:

What are Republicans lying about? As I said, almost everything. But there are two big themes. They lie about their agenda, pretending that their policies would help the middle and working classes when they would, in fact, do the opposite. And they lie about the problems America faces, hyping an imaginary threat from scary dark-skinned people and, increasingly, attributing that threat to Jewish conspirators.

Both classes of lie are rooted in the real G.O.P. agenda.

What Republicans truly stand for, and have for decades, is cutting taxes on the rich and slashing social programs. Sure enough, last year they succeeded in ramming through a huge tax cut aimed mainly at corporations and the wealthy, and came within one vote of passing a health “reform” that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would have caused 32 million Americans to lose health coverage.

The G.O.P.’s problem is that this agenda is deeply unpopular. Large majorities of Americans oppose cuts in major social programs, while most voters want to raise, not reduce, taxes on corporations and high-income individuals.

But instead of changing their agenda to meet voters’ concerns, Republicans have resorted to a strategy of deception and distraction. On one side, they have gone full black-is-white, up-is-down on policy substance. Most spectacularly, they are posing as defenders of protection for people with pre-existing conditions — protection that their failed health bill would have stripped away, and which they are now trying to take away through the courts. And they’re claiming that Democrats are the ones threatening Medicare.

On the other side, they’re resorting to their old standby: race-based fear.

11) The Foxconn in Wisconsin con.

12) The case for running without headphones.  Not sold.  Love my podcasts too much!

13) Interesting study looked at 5-second versus 20-second high-intensity intervals.  Unsurprisingly (given my experience with intervals) is that 5 seconds is just too short.  Wish they had done this with 10 seconds.  Love my 30-20-10 workout.

14) Student turned me onto Kate Raworth and her iconoclastic take on economic growth.  Good stuff.

15) New research, “Guns send more than 8,000 US kids to ER each year, analysis says.”  Seems fine.  2nd Amendment, baby!

16) Of course Trump cut funding for programs to fight homegrown violent extremism.

Set aside the question of whether President Donald Trump’s rhetorical flirtations with white nationalism enabled Saturday’s mass shooting in Pittsburgh. What’s undeniable is that his administration has hobbled the infrastructure designed to prevent such murders.

In the waning days of Barack Obama’s administration, the Department of Homeland Security awarded a set of grants to organizations working to counter violent extremism, including among white supremacists. One of the grantees was Life After Hate, which The Hill has called “one of the only programs in the U.S. devoted to helping people leave neo-Nazi and other white supremacy groups.” Another grant went to researchers at the University of North Carolinawho were helping young people develop media campaigns aimed at preventing their peers from embracing white supremacy and other violent ideologies. But soon after Trump took office, his administration canceled both of these grants. In its first budget, it requested no funding for any grants in this field.

It’s part of a pattern of neglect. The grants were administered by the Office of Community Partnerships, which works intimately with local governments and community organizations to prevent jihadist and white-nationalist radicalization. In Obama’s last year, according to the former director, George Selim, the office boasted 16 full-time employees, roughly 25 contractors, and a budget of more than $21 million. The Trump administration has renamed it the Office of Terrorism Prevention Partnerships, and cut its staff to eight full-time employees and its budget to less than $3 million.

17) I’ve read for years and years now that we need to teach reading primarily via phonics.  Somehow colleges of education have not all figured this out‽

18) David Roberts on Republicans’ bad faith climate denialism:

Conservatives have been gaslighting the nation about climate change for years

That is obviously true when it comes to Trump, because he scarcely tries, indeed doesn’t know how, to pretend otherwise. But it’s just as true of the entire conservative movement, for decades now.

All the denialist talking points — nefarious scientists, sunspots, natural cycles — have their true believers in the base, among the chumps who drink the Kool-Aid and fill up the comment sections.

But the motive force is not any assessment of science. It’s the tight alliance between the cultural politics of white resentment and the power of fossil fuel and related industries. To acknowledge anthropogenic climate change is to empower liberals, open the door to additional taxes and regulations, and threaten the power of the fossil fuel industry.

The Republican Party as currently constituted will simply never do those things. Ever. The arguments are secondary.

19) And we’ll end with a long, thoughtful essay in TPM about how the Democrats need to become the party of freedom:

Building on the ideas of thinkers like Eric Foner and Corey Robin, we believe there is a clear organizing principle that provides a path forward: freedom. And history provides a guide.

From abolition to the fight against segregation and Jim Crow, from women’s suffrage to the fight for women’s liberation, from the establishment of the minimum wage to the push for democracy in the workplace and greater protection from economic insecurity, a vibrant and critical element of progressive movements has always been freedom. Throughout our nation’s history, we have fought both ideological and actual battles over the definition of freedom, how it is achieved, and for whom it is offered. These have gone hand-in-hand with fights over how we structure our economy and who it serves.

We can take this moment to expand the idea of what what it means to be truly free. Progressives can reclaim a long history of American political thought that ties economic power to political and personal freedom. We can demonstrate that progressive economic policy is essential to creating the conditions in which individuals can have agency and power over their lives.

To accomplish this, liberals need to embrace three key ideas and goals:

  1. Guarantee the public provisioning of truly universal goods.
  2. Ensure a level and quality of jobs that provide autonomy and dignity.
  3. Curb corporate power.

These three commitments, we believe, are essential to structuring an economy in which Americans across gender, geography, race and class can thrive. Our vision is rooted in the idea that our economy should indeed entitle individuals to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. It harkens back to an older version of the Democratic Party, lead by such presidents as Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, that recognized that the government can be used as a tool that secures this freedom.

19) Happy 19th birthday (yesterday) to by firstborn son and loyal Fully Myelinated reader.


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