Politics & Policy

Senate to Vote on Two Pro-Life Bills

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters after the weekly policy lunch in Washington, D.C., May 14, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has announced that the Senate will consider two pieces of pro-life legislation later this month. One is the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which received a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week. The born-alive bill requires doctors to provide medical care to any infant who survives an attempted abortion procedure.

The second bill that will receive a floor vote is the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation based on scientific research suggesting that fetuses are capable of feeling pain by that point in pregnancy. Last month, a new report suggested that fetal pain is in fact possible even earlier in pregnancy than 20 weeks.

After a few weeks of debate last February, the born-alive bill was blocked by 44 Democratic senators. The last time the Senate considered the 20-week ban, meanwhile, was in January 2018, when it was blocked by Democrats in a 51–46 vote.

When news broke this afternoon that the Senate would consider both bills after the upcoming recess, one Politico reporter said on Twitter that McConnell had scheduled “two abortion votes.” This mirrors the inaccurate coverage that the born-alive bill received during the Senate debate last year. While its opponents tend to refer to it as “anti-abortion” legislation, the born-alive bill doesn’t regulate or limit abortion in any way; it merely requires doctors to give “the same degree” of care to abortion survivors that “any other child born alive at the same gestational age” would receive if delivered at that stage of pregnancy.

Law & the Courts

Burying 2,411 Human Beings

(Pixabay)

Yesterday in South Bend, Ind., the state interred the remains of 2,411 fetuses whose bodies were found in the Illinois home of former abortionist Ulrich George Klopfer after he died last fall.

“Today, we finally memorialize the 2,411 unborn babies whose remains were senselessly hoarded by Dr. Ulrich Klopfer after he performed the abortions from 2000 to 2003,” said Indiana attorney general Curtis Hill at the gravesite in Southlawn Cemetery. “These babies deserved better than a cold, dark garage or the trunk of a car.”

Klopfer had performed abortions for nearly four decades in northern Indiana, primarily in South Bend, Ind., but also in nearby Fort Wayne and Gary. In 2016, his medical license was suspended after he was found to have broken laws requiring proper abortion reporting and record-keeping, as well as health-and-safety standards for abortion procedures. Though local lawmakers called him the most prolific abortionist in Indiana, people outside the region didn’t know his name until these remains were uncovered.

Despite the fact that the attorneys general in both Illinois and Indiana announced that they would conduct a joint investigation to ascertain why Klopfer had improperly saved these fetal remains — and whether he had stored any others at his former clinics — they have yet to report any clarifying information.

“In terms of the ‘why’ . . . we may never know,” Hill said at the cemetery on Wednesday. “The best evidence of the ‘why’ certainly died with Dr. Klopfer in September. . . . There’s no answer for that, and I don’t know that we ever will get an answer for that.”

Though finding out the “why” would be useful, it isn’t the most important aspect of this grisly case. Klopfer, unlike most abortionists, violated the standards we have erected around abortion. Legal, socially acceptable abortion ends not in the trunk of the abortionist’s car but with fetuses in the hazardous waste, carried away to an unknown fate.

What we should remember about Klopfer and his ghastly trophies is not that he was a hideous outlier in the abortion industry, though in the most concrete sense he was. What we should remember is that every abortion destroys not a parasite or a clump of cells but a human life. These 2,411 fetuses buried in Indiana are a stark reminder of what happens in an abortion, a reality most of us prefer to forget.

Books

The Left and the Theocrats

An Iranian flag flutters in Vienna, Austria, September 9, 2019. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

Kim Ghattas, a correspondent for the BBC, gave a remarkably frank interview to her home network about her new book, Black Wave, an account of the Saudi–Iranian rivalry that has warped life and politics in much of the Islamic world.

What struck me about the interview is that the Beirut-born Ghattas is much more plain and direct about the disastrous role played by leftist Western intellectuals — particularly French thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir—in encouraging and enabling the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini and his repressive model of Islamic government.

It is worth remembering that the Iranian theocracy was a great project of the secular Western Left.

Foucault welcomed Khomeini’s revolution as “the first of the grand insurrections against global systems.” Sartre traveled to Tehran to flack for Khomeini. The French Left celebrated Khomeini as “the Islamic Lenin.” (American conservatives might have said much the same thing, but the French Left meant that as praise.) Andrew Young, Jimmy Carter’s ambassador to the United Nations, hailed Khomeini as a “saint.” Many of those intellectuals stood by their judgment, though some of them, such as Simone de Beauvoir, recoiled from Tehran’s treatment of women and minorities.

Ghattas says that the disappointed hopes of 1968 were renewed and channeled into the Iranian Revolution. That has the ring of truth to it.

But Khomeini is hardly alone in the rogues’ gallery of heroes to the Left. American college students in the 1960s paraded around with Mao’s “Little Red Book” and cheered Ho Chi Minh; until quite recently, Bernie Sanders — who may very well be the Democratic presidential nominee — doted on Hugo Chávez, as did any number of Democratic grandees in Washington and celebrities in Hollywood, who play roughly the same role in American public life that intellectuals play in France. (It is very difficult to imagine BernardHenri Lévy’s having a similar career in the United States.) Noam Chomsky tried to dismiss the Cambodian genocide as a right-wing hoax and a CIA dirty trick. The list goes on, and the lesson to be learned from it is obvious.

I have read only a small excerpt from Kim Ghattas’s Black Wave, but it looks to be a very interesting read.

Education

We’re Forgiving Way Too Much Grad-Student Debt

Last month I highlighted a Moody’s report about student debt. It discussed the fact that many borrowers are making only minimal payments on purpose — because they are enrolled in “income-based repayment” options the Obama administration expanded, in which their debts are simply forgiven after 20 years or so. As I pointed out, this system is far more generous to people who chose to spend tons of money on grad school than it is to the folks who actually have the most trouble with student loans: those who borrowed smallish sums to attend lower-tier colleges and often didn’t even graduate.

The Congressional Budget Office has a new report about the program. There’s interesting stuff throughout, but the case against the status quo can be made by quoting three sentences:

Of the loans disbursed from 2020 to 2029 and repaid through income-driven plans, CBO estimates that undergraduate borrowers would have $40.3 billion forgiven and graduate borrowers would have $167.1 billion forgiven. . . .

The forgiven amounts are equal to 21 percent of the disbursed amount for undergraduate borrowers and 56 percent of the disbursed amount for graduate borrowers. . . .

Graduate borrowers are projected to hold 50 percent of the volume of student loans disbursed from 2020 to 2029 — including 61 percent of the volume of loans in income-driven plans — but to account for 81 percent of the amount that is forgiven.

Why are we forgiving four times as much debt for grad students as we are for undergrads, when the latter folks are both more plentiful and more sympathetic?

Elections

New Poll: Sanders Leads Biden by Ten Points

Sen. Bernie Sanders arrives to speak at his New Hampshire primary-night rally in Manchester, February 11, 2020. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

A new national poll out today from Morning Consult shows Vermont senator Bernie Sanders with a commanding lead on former vice president Joe Biden, ahead 29 percent to 19 percent among Democratic-primary voters. The survey was conducted yesterday, two days after the New Hampshire primary, which Sanders won by a narrow margin over former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Respondents were asked which candidate they would support if the primary or caucus were held in their state today. Before voting in New Hampshire, the most recent Morning Consult data showed Sanders leading Biden by just three points. Now, he’s ahead by ten points, and Biden is trailed closely by a third-place Michael Bloomberg, who receives 18-percent support.

Perhaps more interesting, the same poll found that voters’ confidence in Biden’s electability when facing President Donald Trump had plummeted since the New Hampshire primary. After his defeat in the Iowa caucuses, but before voting in New Hampshire, 29 percent of Democratic-primary voters thought Biden had the best chance of beating Trump. Since New Hampshire, that dropped twelve points to just 17 percent. Confidence in Sanders’s electability, meanwhile, had risen six points, to 29 percent.

These numbers are not an encouraging sign for Biden, who finished in a distant fourth place in Iowa last week and an abysmal fifth place in New Hampshire on Monday.

PC Culture

Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere

The starter fires his pistol during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 7, 2012. (Cathal McNaughton/Reuters)

On Wednesday, three high school girls filed a federal lawsuit against education and athletic associations in Connecticut for their incomprehensible decision to allow boys to compete against them in female sports.

The lawsuit outlines that the girls’ “opportunities for participation, recruitment, and scholarships” have now been “directly and negatively impacted” by the state’s so-called transgender policy. Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, designed to protect opportunities for women, explicitly prohibits discrimination on the “basis of sex.” But the effect of this policy has been to displace girls and to deny them opportunities at their own sporting events.

Last June, the girls — two choosing to remain anonymous — filed a Title IX complaint with the Education Department. However, the process has proven lengthy, and they feel they cannot wait any longer, nor should they have to.

Addressing an audience at a press conference at Hartford’s Superior Court, Selina Soule, a senior at Glastonbury High School, said:

Like the other track athletes standing here today, I face an impossible situation. . . Now, when we line up in front of our blockers and the starter calls us to get into position, we all know how the race will end. We can’t win. We’ve lived it. We’ve watched it happen. We’ve watched it happen. We’ve missed out on medals, on opportunities to compete. But when we’ve asked questions, we’ve been told we’re allowed to compete, but we shouldn’t expect to win.

Chelsea Mitchell, a senior at Canton High School, said:

This issue is very personal for me, but it’s not just about me. It’s about every young woman who dreams of competing, of having her chance, of being rewarded for doing her very best. . . All we’re asking for is a fair chance.

Alanna Smith, a sophomore at Danbury High School said:

Fairness of play has already been removed from my Freshman track experience, and I don’t want to feel defeated again or have other female athletes feel defeated before a race begins. And so, my involvement in this complaint, which has nothing to do with lifestyle, is simply about fairness of play, that all female athletes have a right to fairness of play.

Smith’s father, Lee, is an MLB Hall of Fame pitcher; her mom, Cheryl, ran high school track; one of her uncles played professional baseball, and another played in the NFL. She won the 100-meter dash at the Connecticut state track championship in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. She says that playing sports is in her genes.

I interviewed Selina Soule last summer and was impressed by her courage and sense of self. Since then, Soule’s courage has helped inspire her peers to come forward under their own names. Courage calls to courage everywhere. One can only hope that more young women will feel buoyed by their witness and stand up for their rights and opportunities.

Politics & Policy

Liberals Keep Misrepresenting the ‘Biden Rule’

There’s been something of an uptick in liberal journalists, nervous about the emergence of another Supreme Court vacancy, re-litigating the Merrick Garland fight from 2016:

Perhaps some Republicans argued that it was too late to consider Antonin Scalia’s replacement because of an impending presidential election. GOP leadership’s case for not taking up the Garland nomination — which was their constitutional prerogative — was more specific. Mitch McConnell took to the floor of the Senate and quoted a 1992 Biden speech, in which the then-senator argued — also preemptively, as there was no vacancy on the Court at the time — that a presidency and Senate controlled by two different parties should delay any new confirmation until after the next election because the debate would create widespread rancor and undermine the process. (If you want to read more about this topic, go here.)

Whether you believe Biden’s speech is precedent-setting or not is one thing. Skipping the core rationalization for his argument, though, is highly misleading.

Here is what Biden said:

Should a justice resign this summer and the president move to name a successor, actions that will occur just days before the Democratic Presidential Convention and weeks before the Republican Convention meets, a process that is already in doubt in the minds of many will become distrusted by all. Senate consideration of a nominee under these circumstances is not fair to the president, to the nominee, or to the Senate itself.

Mr. President, where the nation should be treated to a consideration of constitutional philosophy, all it will get in such circumstances is a partisan bickering and political posturing from both parties and from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. As a result, it is my view that if a Supreme Court Justice resigns tomorrow, or within the next several weeks, or resigns at the end of the summer, President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not — and not — name a nominee until after the November election is completed.

Like me, you may find Biden’s position completely unpersuasive. There are always elections. Circumstances are never ideal. The correct argument for 2016 Republicans to have adopted was: ‘We’ve already helped Barack Obama put two Constitution-busting justices on the Court, and now we have an ethical duty to do everything within our power to stop him from doing it again.’

Politics & Policy

A National Popular Vote for President Isn’t as Close as You Might Think

Voters Erin Collins and her mother Maureen Collins exit adjacent voting booths after marking their ballots in the New Hampshire presidential primary in Allenstown, N.H., February 11, 2020. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Headlines like the Washington Post’s one, stating “Bill Giving Electoral Votes to Popular Vote Winner Passes,” might have you thinking that Virginia’s 13 electoral votes will go to the winner of the national popular vote this year.

Not quite. First, this bill passed the state House of Delegates, but still has to pass the state Senate — where it faces skepticism — and get signed into law by the governor. Secondly, notice the important caveat in the legislation.

Under the compact, Virginia agrees to award its electoral votes to the presidential ticket that receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact goes into effect when states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes have joined the compact. A state may withdraw from the compact; however, a withdrawal occurring within six months of the end of a President’s term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President has qualified to serve the next term.

National popular vote bills have been enacted into law in 15 states and the District of Columbia, possessing 196 electoral votes. Passage in Virginia would get the total to 209 electoral votes. Supporters are getting closer, but they still need more states with another 61 electoral votes for it to kick into effect in all of those states.

The 15 states that have enacted it into law are… largely heavily Democratic: California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, New Mexico, Colorado, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Delaware, and Vermont. Future Republican nominees might have a shot at one or two of those states, but they mostly look like safe blue states.

While Democrats no doubt think adopting these laws is the right move, the approach could backfire someday. If enough states passed the legislation for it to take effect, a Republican nominee winning the popular vote would be catastrophic for the Democratic nominee. In addition to winning the traditionally-Republican states that hadn’t passed the national popular vote legislation, the GOP nominee would get the electoral votes of all of the above traditionally-Democratic states, resulting in a landslide on par with Ronald Reagan’s defeat of Walter Mondale in 1984.

 

Economy & Business

The Best Case Against Breaking Up Amazon

Amazon boxes stacked for delivery in New York City, January 29, 2016. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

The New York Times published this excellent argument why we shouldn’t break up Amazon. It boils down to this: Amazon is a genius at giving consumers what they want, and because it faces a ton of competition, the company innovates like crazy. All that’s missing from this piece is the argument that government’s ineptitude at running Amtrak and the postal service, along with a great deal of other evidence of political operatives’ failure to achieve their goals, should make us skeptical of the ability of bureaucrats to break up Big Tech. Here are some choice excerpts from the article:

“Amazon is a genie of consumerist wishes, and it keeps growing more irresistible.”

“As a fervent Amazon customer, I love that its platform keeps getting more convenient.”

“[E]ven as Amazon gets bigger, it still faces relentless competition in the retail business, and is therefore not slowing in any obvious way to act like a lumbering monopoly of yore. The company keeps innovating — and as it does, the possible harms critics have long warned about may look increasingly distant to its customers.”

“What consumers may come to see in Amazon, instead, is what I’ve started to notice — it’s an inescapable, all-consuming retail paradise.”

“Amazon is pushing a level of speed, convenience, and selection in shopping that millions of customers are integrating into their daily lives.”

“Amazon is a trillion-dollar retailing phenomenon that has transformed almost everything about the way Americans shop, but sometimes it seems to operate as a charitable operation for well-off consumers who just want to try out this or that high-priced consumer fancy.”

Exactly! Did I mention that the author is sympathetic to the idea of breaking up Big Tech? But he worries that if Amazon continues to be so good, it will become harder and harder to make the political case to break it up. You can’t make this stuff up.

Health Care

Foreign Health Systems Don’t Make the Case for SandersCare

Senator Bernie Sanders talks to reporters during a break in the procedural start of the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, January 16, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Senator Bernie Sanders often claims that other countries’ experience with health care shows that his Medicare for All plan makes sense. He’s at it again today, tweeting, “Remember: our ‘crazy idea’ of universal health care is a reality in” a long list of countries. The thing is, most of the people who think Sanders’s plan is crazy do not think it is crazy because it is impossible to have universal health coverage. They think that his plan is extremely unrealistic and cannot live up to the promises Sanders makes.

So, for example, almost none of the countries Sanders mentions has a single-payer system, which is what he wants. Nor do they eliminate co-pays, deductibles, and premiums. Sanders points to the fact that other countries have higher coverage and lower costs than we do to show that his system will keep costs under control — while abjuring one of the methods other countries use to keep costs under control. Single-payer systems also tend to have bigger problems with wait times than other universal-coverage systems. So it’s a sleight of hand to suggest (as some defenders of single payer do; see previous link) that Sanders’s plan won’t lead to such problems because other countries, run on different lines, don’t have them.

Also, none of those countries started with a health-care system that is as large, developed, and costly as ours and then tried to socialize it. So they didn’t run into the political economy problem of dealing with well-paid doctors and powerful hospitals, a problem that single-payer enthusiasts have not figured out how to solve. Can you extend coverage to more people, make coverage more generous for nearly everyone who already has it, and keep total costs on par with what we already spend? Not without draconian cuts to providers that the advocates don’t want to defend and that, partly for that reason, are exceedingly unlikely to happen.

Elections

Not the Proletariat I Know

The Elizabeth Warren campaign suffered a setback in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night, with the one-time Democratic front-runner capturing a paltry 9.2 percent of the party’s primary vote and failing to secure a single Granite State delegate.

Warren’s campaign brass sent out an email to her supporters with the following salve:

It hurts to care so much, work so hard, and still fall a little short.

So it’s okay to take a moment and feel that pain, or process that disappointment.

Take a walk around the block, eat an extra piece of chocolate, hug your pet, adopt a pet, watch videos of cats and dogs who are friends, call a friend — whatever works.

Elizabeth Warren often touts her bona fides among the country’s “working people.” Question: Do members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers typically drown their sorrows in cutesy animal videos, or ever make consecutive use of the words “process that disappointment”? Would they have a psychosocial breakdown about Elizabeth Warren’s lackluster performance in a state primary?

Perhaps I’ve lost touch with the rank-and-file of the American proletariat. But I can’t fathom they’d devote this much emotional energy to the state of Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy, and if they did, that they would use cat videos and diet-cheating to “process” their “disappointment.”

Law & the Courts

Roger Stone Deserves a Severe Punishment

Roger Stone belongs in prison for a very long time. The seven felonies of which he stands convicted are at heart crimes of political corruption — lying to Congress and tampering with witnesses in order to impede a federal investigation into official wrongdoing. The charges together could have brought him 50 years in prison — and that would not have been unjust.

Crimes committed by politically powerful people in the service of politically powerful people corrupt our system of government and undermine faith in our institutions. They should be punished much more harshly than, say, selling a couple of grams of cocaine.

So, pray for Roger Stone. The Lord may have mercy on his soul, but his ass belongs in the federal penitentiary for a good long while.

Politics & Policy

Good News from Idaho

A bill banning preferential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity, and sex in public contracting, education, and employment — a.k.a. “affirmative action” — has advanced through the Idaho legislature’s relevant house committee.

The heart of the bill is straightforward and should not be controversial:

The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

Whatever finally happens in Idaho, here’s hoping that state legislators in more states follow Idaho representative Heather Scott in proposing such a bill. It’s precisely in line with state constitutional enactments in California, Washington, Michigan, Arizona, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, as well as laws (less precisely) in Florida and New Hampshire.

Too bad the federal legislature hasn’t done something like this. By the way, I’ve co-authored Heritage Foundation papers on this topic with proposed language for both state and federal bills.

Elections

Bernie’s Margin of Victory in New Hampshire: 1 Point

Senator Bernie Sanders reacts to cheers at a campaign rally one day before the New Hampshire presidential primary election in Durham, N.H., February 10, 2020. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

The final average of New Hampshire polls showed Bernie Sanders leading in New Hampshire by 7.4 points, but his margin of victory over Pete Buttigieg is 1.3 points with all but a handful of precincts left to count. Sanders’s margin over Buttigieg in the final popular vote in Iowa was almost identical: 1.4 points.

The Vermont socialist is obviously the frontrunner: He’s consolidating his wing of the party, while the rest of the party remains fractured. FiveThirtyEight gives him much better odds of winning a majority of pledged delegates than any other candidate.

The similarities between Sanders 2020 and Trump 2016 are indeed uncanny, but it’s worth keeping in mind some of the differences. While Sanders barely won New Hampshire, Trump carried the state by 20 points. In 2016, Trump followed up his New Hampshire blowout with a 22-point victory in Nevada and a ten-point victory in South Carolina. He had a lot of momentum heading into Super Tuesday, where he came in first in seven out of eleven races.

In 2016, Sanders won New Hampshire by 22 points but then went on to lose Nevada by five points and get crushed in South Carolina by 48 points. Nevada’s very powerful culinary union is now going to war with Sanders and warning its 60,000 members he wants to “end” their health insurance. So there are two good opportunities in February to blunt Sanders’s momentum before Super Tuesday.

With that said, yes, Sanders is in a very good position right now. If the field remains fractured, he has a great chance of winning the most delegates and votes. And even if he lacks a majority, it’s going to be very difficult to deny him the nomination if he has a significant plurality of delegates and votes.

Economy & Business

The Wrong Kind of ‘Intellectual Diversity’ at the Fed

The Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C., August 22, 2018 (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Judy Shelton, a nominee of President Trump’s for the Federal Reserve Board, has come under fire for two main reasons. First, she has been a single-minded advocate of a policy that most economists rightly reject: the revival of the gold standard. Second, she has appeared to change her monetary views radically in recent months to conform to what President Trump wants. These criticisms do not seem to me inconsistent: They raise the possibility that she is someone who is unlikely to exercise the steady and independent judgment that one would like to see from a central bank. They are, however, criticisms that can be defeated if she has a solid explanation for how her views have changed.

The defense of her in today’s Wall Street Journal does not supply that explanation. The editors are too busy piling scorn on her critics: They’re not “honest,” they’re not “coherent,” they’re “caterwauling,” they’re “monetary mandarins.”

The editors write, “Ms. Shelton isn’t going to return the Fed to the 19th-century gold standard. Her interest in gold is part of the eternal monetary debate over which prices to follow in setting monetary policy, or whether to have a ‘price rule’ at all.” As one vote on the Fed, Shelton wouldn’t have the power to return to the gold standard. But the Journal is obscuring the fact that she has, at least in the past, said she wants to do exactly that. Note, for example, the first sentence of this 2009 op-ed by Shelton in, er, the Wall Street Journal: “Let’s go back to the gold standard.” You can’t fault her for not being forthright. Or, at least, you couldn’t back then.

The Journal continues: “Unlike many monetary mandarins, she also believes that monetary policies that ignore exchange-rate stability wreak political and economic havoc.” If Shelton had merely argued in the past that central banks should try to contain exchange-rate volatility, other monetary-policy thinkers would disagree with her but her nomination would not have raised anything like the controversy it has. The criticisms of her have not focused on this aspect of her thought. The paragraphs the Journal spends on it are interesting but a diversion from, rather than an answer to, those criticisms.

Back to the issue of inconsistency. Why was Shelton calling for higher interest rates during the early years of the recovery, when unemployment was higher and inflation low, while calling for lower interest rates now, as Trump wants? The Journal notes the question and then says that central bankers have been confused about what to do in recent years and that Fed chairman Jay Powell has made mistakes — which is not an answer to the question. Nor is it an answer to others that Shelton’s record inspires. Why was anything above 0 percent inflation immoral back then, but no obstacle to looser money today? If it’s crucial to keep gold prices stable, then why aren’t the rising gold prices of the last year and a half telling us to tighten money?

Shelton’s current view, according to the Journal, is that “if historically low unemployment and strong economic growth are not triggering rampant inflation, then perhaps the Fed should butt out for now” and refrain from raising interest rates. That’s a defensible view. But it’s not Shelton’s view: She has said she wants to cut rates, not just refrain from raising them. And if the absence of inflation is a good reason to refrain from raising interest rates now, it was an even better reason in the early years of the recovery — when low inflation coincided with very high unemployment.

The editors wrap up this discussion by saying, “None of this is inconsistent with Ms. Shelton’s long-argued views.” Well, okay then! The Journal commends Shelton because she would bring “intellectual diversity” to the Fed.  That is even truer than the Journal allows: She has held diverse views herself. Perhaps in her confirmation hearings she will do a better job than her supporters have of defending them.

Most Popular

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