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Christie Takes Bridgegate Question at Town-Hall Meeting, Talks Firings



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Faced with more questions about the closing of lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge last year, Chris Christie clarified the steps he took in the aftermath of learning about the role members of his administration played. 

A skeptical audience member took issue with the New Jersey governor’s comments suggesting he fired former aide Bridget Anne Kelly for deceiving him, but not necessarily because of her involvement in the bridge’s closure. Christie affirmed that she “absolutely” would have been fired either way, and that he started from the standpoint that he would fire someone for lying to him and went from there.

“The offense, first and foremost, is not being honest with the person you’re working for,” he said in Flemington, N.J. “The secondary offense was, if she had been honest and told me, she would have been fired anyway.”

Christie repeatedly called the actions “wrong and abusive,” but refused to touch on whether the closure was illegal, calling it inappropriate for him to discuss while prosecutors are investigating.

“I will tell you, as the guy in charge, that when you can’t count on people to tell you the truth in an enterprise this size, you’re sunk,” he continued. “That’s, I think, why I made the emphasis on it that I did, but please don’t take from it that I thought the underlying conduct was somehow okay, because it was not.”

Protesters have staged interruptions over the controversy at Christie’s previous town halls, but today’s questioner is the first to ask the governor about it directly.

ThinkProgress Notices that Keystone Isn’t That Important



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It seems that ThinkProgress has finally cottoned on to the fact that that Keystone, while important in and of itself, is really yesterday’s debate:

After countless marches, arrests, Congressional votes, and editorials, the five-and-a-half year battle over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is nearing its end. If a recent ruling in Nebraska doesn’t delay the decision further, America could find out as soon as this spring whether or not the pipeline, which has become a focal point in America’s environmental movement, will be built.

But while critics and proponents of Keystone XL have sparred over the last few years, numerous pipelines — many of them slated to carry the same Canadian tar sands crude as Keystone — have been proposed, permitted, and even seen construction begin in the U.S. and Canada. Some rival Keystone XL in size and capacity; others, when linked up with existing and planned pipelines, would carry more oil than the 1,179-mile pipeline.

Indeed so. And it’s not just pipelines. As Grist’s Lisa Hymas noticed as early as 2012, “Keystone pipeline protesters are having an unintended impact.” “Thanks in part to anti-pipeline activism,” Hymas observed, “oil in North America is increasingly being shipped by train.” She might have added that the rest is being moved by either boat or truck – both of which are significantly more dangerous than pipes.

The mistake that Keystone’s foes have made is to have convinced themselves that if they can kill the pipeline, they can prevent the oil from being moved and burned. They can’t, as the federal government’s own Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement confirms:

Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States based on expected oil prices, oil-sands supply costs, transport costs, and supply-demand scenarios.

Sure, let’s approve Keystone. It is absurd that its champions have gone this long without a decision. But lets not pretend that it’s going to save or ruin the country.

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Poll: New Yorkers Don’t Like De Blasio’s Education Policies



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Mayor Bill de Blasio has been shaking up his predecessor Michael Bloomberg’s innovation- and charter-friendly education policies, and New Yorkers aren’t liking it, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

Barely more than a third of city residents, just 38 percent, support de Blasio’s education policies, and seem to be even more are at odds with his attitude toward charter schools specifically.

The survey comes amid recent controversy over the de Blasio administration’s blocking the “co-location” of three charter schools in existing public school buildings, leaving them without real estate next year that the Bloomberg administration had authorized.

Forty percent of residents think de Blasio should be doing more to increase the number of charter schools in the city, with only 14 percent saying he should be closing them (39 percent want to keep the current number). New Yorkers are split on whether charter schools should have to pay rent for using city buildings, with 44 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.

Since taking office January 1, de Blasio’s approval rating has tumbled. He came into office with a 53–13 percent approval-disapproval rating, according to Quinnipiac, but a new Marist survey from this week now finds him at 45–34, while a Marist poll from earlier in the month found only 39 percent approving.

New Yorkers do seem to like de Blasio’s plans for universal pre-K, however: Large majorities think it would be “very” or “somewhat” effective in reducing poverty and improving education. Similar overwhelming numbers, however, support New York State’s paying for a system across the state; de Blasio wants to raise taxes on wealthy Gothamites to pay for a different, more-expensive program in the city.

Web Briefing: April 18, 2014

Lawmaker Excluded from CFPB Meeting, Unable to Hold Executive to Account



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Representative Sean Duffy (R., Wis.) recently attempted to attend an advisory committee meeting of the Consumer Financial Protection Board. The agency declined to let him in, preventing him from holding this executive agency to account.

The CFPB has a track record of secrecy and excluding people. My colleague John Berlau wrote last year about how the CFPB Consumer Advisory Board excluded observers from a secret meeting that was about ensuring that it could see the full credit records of 80 percent of Americans.

If a lawmaker cannot hold the executive powers of the CFPB to account, who can? That’s why CEI, the 60 Plus Association, and a community bank, the State National Bank of Big Spring, Texas, have brought a lawsuit against the CFPB and the Dodd-Frank Act that spawned it to have the court find its lack of oversight unconstitutional. We argue that:

Congress exercises no “power of the purse” over the CFPB, because the agency’s budget — administered essentially by one person — comes from the Federal Reserve, amounting to approximately $400 million that Congress cannot touch or regulate.

The president cannot carry out his constitutional obligation to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” because the president cannot remove the CFPB director except under limited circumstances.

Judicial review of the CFPB’s actions is limited, because Dodd-Frank requires the courts to give extra deference to the CFPB’s legal interpretations.

The Dodd-Frank Act gives an agency of unelected government bureaucrats unrestrained power. They argue this unaccountable power over the daily lives of the American people results in a lack of public accountability, creating a power grab over every U.S. citizen.

The CFPB has legislative, executive, and judicial functions with no oversight. The Founding Fathers would have regarded it as an abomination.

The unrestrained power of the CFPB should really bring us back to a philosophical discussion of the fundamental role of the various branches of government — a topic I’ve been discussing recently here, here, and (for the really interested) in an hour-long interview with Jonathan Emord last night, which you can download from the Wednesday March 19 link on the left here.

 

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Holder to Cruz: No Conflict Having Obama Donor Investigate IRS Scandal



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I know you’ll be shocked to hear that Attorney General Eric Holder has rejected Senator Ted Cruz’s call for an independent prosecutor to probe the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups. I wrote about the senator’s demand when he made it two months ago (see here; see also the WSJ op-ed by Congressman Jim Jordan (R., OH), on the same topic, focusing on Lois Lerner’s invocation of the Fifth Amendment).

Senator Cruz has released a statement in response:

It is the height of hypocrisy for the Obama Administration to claim that the investigator leading the investigation into the IRS’s illegal program has no conflict of interest. The investigator is a partisan Democrat who has donated over six thousand dollars to President Obama and Democrat causes. Just as nobody would trust John Mitchell to investigate Richard Nixon, nobody should trust a partisan Obama donor to investigate the IRS’s political targeting of President Obama’s enemies. Sadly, “in the discretion of the Attorney General,” Eric Holder has chosen to reject the bipartisan tradition of the Department of Justice of putting rule of law above political allegiance.

“Both Nixon Administration Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Clinton Administration Attorney General Janet Reno appointed special prosecutors whose integrity was beyond reproach; Eric Holder should do likewise. To date, nine months after a damning Inspector General report, nobody has been indicted, many of the victims have not even been interviewed, and Lois Lerner has twice pleaded the Fifth. And yet the Attorney General refuses to allow a genuine–and impartial–investigation.

The integrity of the Department of Justice deserves better. The American people deserve better.

The Individual Mandate Is Weak. It’s Also Hard to Enforce



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Ezra Klein has a nice-looking two-minute video over at Vox explaining why Obamacare has a mandate and why it is great. The video is worth watching — it’s a good explanation of what it sets out to explain.

But it’s also a good illustration of what facts look like after they go through the filter of ideology (even if the filter is supposed to be as light as possible). It fails to mention that many healthy and younger people are going to be paying more in order for sicker and older people to pay lower premiums than they did before — which is why the mandate will still be significantly less costly than the insurance Obamacare offers them. It doesn’t mention that in addition to the premium hike on some people, the government will be also be paying some large premium subsidies at a high cost to the country’s finances. The video pretty much makes it sounds as if there is no cost associated with the mandate or the “benefits” some will derive from its existence. The video also probably over-estimates the selection bias in the insurance market (conscientious people tend to buy insurance and also tend to be the ones taking better care of themselves — with no mandate at all).  

Over at the Federalist, Greg Scandlen has a very good piece about what he thinks is misleading about the video. For instance, he writes:

Mr. Klein gets most of his explanation about right, with one big exception. He says that a family making $80,000 a year will (eventually) be penalized $2,000 for failing to buy coverage — “less money than health insurance will usually cost you, but you don’t get anything for that money,” he says. Uh, that’s understating things quite a bit. A family insurance policy costs $16,351 according to the most recent employer benefits survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

So, right off the bat Mr. Klein’s explanation fails. He is asserting that of course the mandate will be effective since people will have to pay more or less the same whether they’re insured or not, so they might as well get covered and get some value for the money.

That might be true except for two things. A family that does not get covered will save $14,351 to use for other things. That is a whole lot of money for most people. 

Scandlen goes on to make an even more important point: Mandates are impossible (or extremely hard) to enforce so very few people will actually pay the $2,000 (or other high amounts they may be faced with). 

Plus, even the $2,000 penalty will be impossible to collect. It can be collected only through seizing a family’s tax refund. It is easy enough to avoid having a refund if the family adjusts its withholding at the start of the year so it doesn’t overpay its taxes. …

First, as we indicated above mandates are impossible to enforce. It isn’t just in health insurance. Auto insurance is mandated in almost every state, but the rate of non-compliance is about 14 percent nationally and in many states the rate of non-insurance for auto (which is mandated) is even higher than for health (which is not). Similarly, with other mandates — child support, helmet laws, seat belt laws, even taxes. Non-compliance is always about 15 percent, even when there are severe penalties such as jail time for violation.

There’s also a huge political cost to enforcing punishing penalties or taxes — they require very intrusive enforcement mechanisms, for one, which is why many states don’t effectively enforce the auto-insurance mandate. It is also probably why the administration keeps delaying the employer-mandate. Its impact and the cost of enforcing it will be politically high. 

This raises an interesting question:. If the mandate can’t be enforced and (as Klein didn’t mention) many aspects of the law increase premiums significantly for younger and healthier Americans who might have bought insurance otherwise, wouldn’t this dramatically increase the risk of a death spiral? Logically, it would. (This is the time for me to tell you to read this story about how premiums are expected to soar next year in certain places — which could be having their own death spirals.)

Scandlen has also a good section about the misleading narrative about the mandate success in Massachusetts. He notes:

Mr. Klein wraps up his argument by saying that it worked in Massachusetts. Maybe, but Massachusetts is not like anywhere else in the United States. Health care costs there are 36% higher than the national average, and that state had only 9.5 percent of its population uninsured before the mandate went into effect. Now it has come down to about 5 percent. Many of the previously uninsured likely hopped across the borders to Connecticut and New Hampshire (just an hour’s drive from Boston). Plus, the waiting times to see a doctor in Boston is about double that of any other major city in the United States (see here).

California, to take one big example, is nothing at all like that. California has 21% uninsured and half the number of doctors as Massachusetts. And it has no nearby New Hampshire to receive those people who choose to remain uninsured.

The whole thing is here.

Extracurricular Reading



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A couple of weeks ago, Congressman Paul Ryan mentioned something about National Review. It appears in today’s installment of “Ryan in the Arena.” He told me he started reading the magazine when he was in college. A professor recommended he do so — a professor of economics. He said, “You’re not going to get this stuff here in our department. You’re going to have to discover it on your own.” Which, obviously, Ryan did, in a big way. He said to me, “National Review opened my world up.”

It certainly did the same for me, in college, and right after. It is still doing it. And I know this is true of a great many others — because they have told me, over the many years I have worked for NR.

We owe a lot to Paul Ryan’s econ prof. What a nice thing to do, for an inquisitive student! We owe a lot to Bill Buckley too.

Black Constituent Confronts Ryan and Accuses Him of ‘Shucking and Jiving’



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During an event in his home district, Representative Paul Ryan was confronted by an African-American constituent who told him his comments about the culture in “inner cities” carried racist overtones.

Alfonso Gardner, from Mount Pleasant, Wis., accused Ryan of using “a code word for black.” Gardner, who seemed to be reading from written notes, observed that the congressman had called his own words “inarticulate,” but he didn’t buy the apology: “If you didn’t mean this, you wouldn’t have said it, okay? People don’t say something that they don’t mean.”

The congressman said “there was nothing whatsoever about race in my comments at all. It had nothing to do with race.” 

There appears to have been some back-and-forth between Ryan and Gardner, which the liberal organization ThinkProgress edited out of the video it recorded. “Sometimes when you’re on radio you try to take a bunch of ideas and collapse it into a couple sentences and you oversimplify, and it can be misinterpreted, that’s what’s happened here,” Ryan said.

Ryan insisted that his comments were part of an effort to combat poverty and open up more job opportunities, but Gardner would have none of it.

ThinkProgress happened to catch up with Gardner after the event, and he stood by his criticisms. “He’s out here shucking and jiving,” he told the organization. “He’s been in Congress eight terms and just now talking about poverty?”

For more reaction to Ryan’s comments, be sure to check out takes from the editors (“Paul Ryan Is Right“) and Rich Lowry (“Paul Ryan’s White Hood“).

Alec Baldwin Seals Move from New York . . . to the Hamptons



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Alec Baldwin announced with great fanfare in a piece last month in New York magazine that he was fed up with New York City and had to leave for somewhere like Los Angeles – “a place where you live behind a gate, you get in a car, your interaction with the public is minimal,” he said. Announcing that he “just can’t live in New York anymore” that he’s “beginning to crave” ”everything  hated about L.A.” in New York magazine should perhaps have been a hint that fractious movie star and extremely-short-lived MSNBC host wouldn’t quite stick to his guns.

And so he hasn’t. He just bought a new house in East Hampton, Page Six reports:

Sources tell us the fired MSNBC ranting-head has quietly bought a new house in East Hampton and intends to spend plenty of time there with his family. . . .

Earlier this month, he tried to sell his Amagansett house to a packed crowd and reporters while onstage at the Guild Hall Academy of the Arts Lifetime Achievement Awards, boasting, “It has five bedrooms, a swimming pool and wood-burning fireplace.”

No gate, though.

When Stanford Supported Free Speech



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Stanford is back in the news again. The decision by the Graduate Student Council to withdraw funding from the Anscombe Society for a conference on traditional marriage has earned the university a great deal of criticism. For Stanford alumni, there is a feeling of déjà vu. During the 1980s and 1990s, the antics of left-wing students and faculty generated national media attention. The faculty senate raised a number of objections to placing the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on campus. Jesse Jackson frequently visited Stanford to rally opposition to Stanford’s Western-culture course requirements. One day, Jackson marched a team of undergraduates around campus chanting, “Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Western Culture has got to go!”

However, these campus controversies from the 1980s and early 1990s have an interesting and little known postscript. Close observers of the campus political scene know that during the past 25 years Stanford has actually done a relatively good job of keeping campus political controversies out of the news. In fact, some people have speculated that Stanford has made a deliberate effort to admit a larger number of undergraduates with interests in the hard sciences, engineering, and computer science – hoping these sorts of students would be less likely to engage in political activism or create controversy around campus.

When I was pursuing my doctorate in political science at Stanford between 1997 and 2002, the campus was certainly liberal, but conservative ideas could still receive a hearing. In 1998 I arranged a week-long campus visit by Dinesh D’Souza; he gave a public lecture and engaged in small group discussions in classes, dorms, and even a fraternity. In January 1998 the campus Speakers Bureau invited Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition to campus for an open lecture. In 1999 I brought Olivia Gans of National Right to Life to Stanford and the next day, the director of the campus Women’s Center even hosted an open discussion with her. All of this happened without provoking serious backlash or controversy.

Now I realize that I was the beneficiary of good timing. The late 1990s was the height of the dotcom boom and neither the campus political scene nor the national political one was all that interesting. The reduced interest in politics probably made life somewhat easier for students with dissenting viewpoints. And during this time conservative students still had some legitimate grievances with the University. For instance, the rules governing dormitory distribution of campus newspapers were never clear and writers for the conservative Stanford Review often felt that they were unfairly targeted and punished by University administrators.

That said, Stanford administrators would do well to read Wednesday’s Public Discourse essay by my Witherspoon colleague and Stanford alumna Jennifer Bryson. She describes how in 1989, hostile students shouted down pro-life activist Randall Terry when he came to Stanford for a lecture. However, days later, Stanford administrators met with leaders of Stanford Students for Life and offered to pay for security if they ever brought another controversial speaker to campus. This is in stark contrast to the current demands of Stanford administrators that the Anscombe Society pay $5,600 for security costs during their upcoming conference. “Let the Winds of Freedom Blow” should be more than just Stanford’s unofficial slogan. The University can – and has — done better.

— Michael New is an Assistant Professor at The University of Michigan – Dearborn and an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. He was a doctoral student in political science at Stanford between 1997 and 2002. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New

Vox Populi



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From a letter to the editor in the Newark Advocate:

I would like to complain yet again about The Advocate’s publication of the raving, hateful, pointless opinions of columnist Jonah Goldberg. Giving this extremist a pulpit only encourages division, resentment and hatred in the American body politic.

Goldberg’s latest, sadly typical rant seems to involve blaming the alleged “cynicism” of the younger generation on, you guessed it, President Obama. Is there any crime, sin, or failure of which he’s not guilty of in the eyes of the extreme right? While Mr. Obama has certainly had his failures and problems, this knee-jerk resentment is all-too-characteristic of Goldberg and his ilk….

The sad fact is the Goldbergs of the world are nothing but sneering, whining, abusive flies buzzing around the remains of a once-thriving American democracy. If we’re to get that democracy back, it’s time to swat a few of the flies.

The Advocate could help by ditching the pointless, hateful, and dishonest columns of Goldberg.

My favorite parts are the word “again” in the first sentence and the glib use of the phrase “Goldbergs of the world” combined with a comparison to, essentially, vermin and a lament that “we” are enemies of democracy. It’s the sort of thing Paul Krugman might even call “eliminationist rhetoric.”

I’m just glad he reads this excellent newspaper. 

Amazing Wheel of Fortune Guess



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With only two letters revealed and the clue “thing,” a contestant named Emil correctly solved a Wheel of Fortune puzzle in his first guess on Wednesday night, winning $45,000.

Pat Sajak reacted to the amazing solve on Twitter:

Sajack added the next morning:

Re: The Inflation/Unemployment Equation That Failed But Keeps On Winning



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Regarding criticism of the Fed’s implicit belief in the Phillips Curve, a few things: Clearly, the experience of the 1970s did call into serious question the way Keynesians had used and understood the Phillips Curve (which posits a trade-off between inflation and unemployment).

But it’s odd to argue that today’s experience does too, as Tim and his reader claim. In Tim’s piece last night, he points out that there has been inflation since, say, 2006, and thus people earning the same nominal wages are indeed seeing them eroded. But rates of inflation and inflation expectations have been low in historical and absolute terms, and are nothing like what we saw in the 1970s, so it’s not clear how today’s experience is supposed to be another nail in the coffin of the Phillips Curve.

Tim also scorns the idea that the long-term inflation–unemployment relationship has been replaced with a short-term one. Recognizing the Phillips Curve only works in the short run is, roughly, what Milton Friedman and Edmund Phelps introduced in the late 1960s — to their great credit, before the empirical case became crystal clear.

When it did, Keynesians conceded the point and adjusted their view of inflation and unemployment too, though they ended up in a somewhat different place than Friedman and Phelps. But both views roughly agree that there is some kind of interaction between inflation, inflation expectations, and employment levels that is important in the short term, but not the long term. Tim suggests this is logically impossible: “To believe this you’d have to believe modeling tools that are not precise on a large scale somehow become more precise at the small.”

That’s begging the question, especially given that economics (and the contemporary understanding of the Phillips Curve) involves expectations — which are more important in the short run than the long.

National Review Seeks Junior Editor



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This is a full-time position at the magazine’s New York headquarters. Duties will include assisting our editors and copy-editors in proof reading, research, and related duties. It will also include receptionist duties (answering the light volume of calls, greeting arriving guests, signing for deliveries), and some clerical matters related to business operations. In all, the duties of this position are more editorial. The position comes with usual benefits, and requires a punctual (hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with some occasional extra time) and personable individual. It is available immediately. If you are interested, please e-mail a cover letter and résumé, and state your salary requirement (mandatory). Email to kmurdock (at) nationalreview.com.​

‘Paul Ryan’s White Hood’



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From my Politico column today:

What notorious racist said the following? “Fewer young black and Latino men participate in the labor force compared to young white men. And all of this translates into higher unemployment rates and poverty rates as adults.”

“In troubled neighborhoods all across this country — many of them heavily African American — too few of our citizens have role models to guide them.”

“We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households . . . . We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of school and twenty times more likely to end up in prison.”

“We know young black men are twice as likely as young white men to be ‘disconnected’– not in school, not working.”

As you might guess, Paul Ryan said none of these things. Barack Obama did — in heartfelt speeches at a Chicago church in 2008, at Morehouse College in 2013, and at the White House a few weeks ago.


 

Back to Reality?



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I will soon have to be after a bit more vacation, but I’m not so sure about the country.

Browsing through the WSJ this morning I thought it might have become official that the “unemployment rate” had become the same sort of Obama-era joke as the number of jobs “saved or created” by “stimulating” the economy. The Journal reports that as the “unemployment rate” (now purportedly 6.7 percent) crawls toward 6.5 percent, the Fed’s target for easing off its bond-buying program, new chairwoman Janet Yellen has essentially abandoned the “unemployment rate” as a useful metric:

The central bank also rewrote its guidance about the likely path of short-term interest rates, putting less weight on the unemployment rate as a signpost for when rate increases will start. It said instead that the Fed would look at a broad range of economic indicators in deciding when to start raising short-term rates from near zero, where they have been since December 2008.

And what is the new guidance?

Ms. Yellen mentioned 10 different labor-market indicators she is watching, including the share of workers who have been unemployed for six months or more, the share of adults who are holding or seeking jobs, the portion of workers who hold part-time jobs but say they would rather have full-time occupations and the rate at which people are quitting jobs.

In other words, the Fed is going to be emphasizing real metrics of joblessness, such as the percentage of people in the working-age population who are working (now at its lowest point since the Carter malaise), not the voodoo “unemployment rate” statistic that manages, by Washington math, to drop even as employment drops. I wonder if the mainstream media will also make the switch as we get closer to the midterms . . .

Naaahhh. 

Lowry: Obama ‘Been Transformed Into an Insurance Salesman’ with Obamacare Plugs



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The Inflation/Unemployment Equation That Failed But Keeps On Winning



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Reader boodood provides an important clarification to my description of the generally disproven Phillips Curve.

In my comments on the panicked palpitations prompted by the perplexing pusillanimity of our premier pump-primer, I noted that Fed chairman Janet Yellen speaks as a believer in the Phillips Curve.

Boodood writes:

I am an older non-traditional student at a good public university. We have a mainstream economics department that is on the upswing but in intermediate macroeconomics the Phillips Curve is STILL taught as if it true. It is as if the data used to propagate the curve 1860’s to 1950’s British data and casually fitted to US data in the 1960’s was not thrown into the dustbin of history by Friedman/Phelps in 1970. US economic data used the PC to inflict us with both the stagflation of the 70’s and early 80’s AND the current round of stagflation.

I am happy to have typed “abandoned by economists” rather than “abandoned by all economists,” because boodood is quite correct.

To get a sense of just how seriously the Phillips Curve is taken, bear in mind that most political-economic rhetoric implicitly endorses it and the Fed’s “dual mandate” (to manage inflation while managing unemployment) is specifically based on the theory.

My point is that the Phillips Curve has been proven not to work. It is not an operative economic theory in the same sense as, for example, the theory that if you reduce supply and increase demand with the same amount of money, prices will tend to increase.

There are rearguard actions against the evidence. One theory holds that, while the inverse relationship of inflation and unemployment can’t be mapped over time, there may be a short-term relationship. To believe this you’d have to believe modeling tools that are not precise on a large scale somehow become more precise at the small. Many people recognize that the Phillips Curve is dead. They just don’t get anywhere near government.

Obama Imposes More Sanctions, Calls on Congress to do More



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President Obama announced an expanded list of sanctions against Russia, senior officials, a bank, and other “key sectors” because of the country’s actions in Ukraine’s Crimean region. He said the sanctions were not the preferred outcome, because it could have a negative impact on both the Russian and global economies.

The president also said the Congress needs to pass an aid package for Ukraine as quickly as possible.

“Expressions of support are not enough,” he said on the South Lawn. “We need action.”​

Kobe: Obama Could Play for the Lakers



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If President Obama’s looking for a post-presidential occupation, he could find it on the floor of the Staples Center, Kobe Bryant says. On Wednesday, sports radio host Dan Patrick asked the Los Angeles Lakers star if the president could play for the team, currently among the worst teams in the league and having one of their worst seasons in nearly a decade.

“Yes, he could, actually,” Bryant responded. “That’s not a diss at the current roster that we have, but more of a sign of respect of the skill that the president possesses.”

He went on to compare the president to “a left-handed version” of former NBA all-star Michael Adams or Nate “Tiny” Archibald, who led the league in scoring and assists with the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in 1973.

Later, Patrick commended Bryant for helping to promote the president’s health-care law, which the Laker guard called “a great cause, particularly for athletes.”

“When you do have knick-knacks, when you do have injuries, you want to make sure you’re covered,” Bryant said. He worried, though, that there are “so many young men who have not signed up yet.”

Bryant said he got involved after White House chief of staff Denis McDonough called him. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and former NBA players Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning have gotten involved in promoting the law too.

“Is there a website?” Patrick wondered, either having missed the months-long controversy of the dysfunctional federal website, or just slipping into his standard promotional interview shtick. Bryant pointed him and his listeners to HealthCare.gov.

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