Friday, June 08, 2018

Cruising the Web

Well, this should make us all much more confident about the summit next week, right?

Yeah, that plan never works for my students before a big test. I don't imagine it's any more successful in complicated and tough diplomatic negotiations.

Economists will be economists. And even White House economists understand that Trump's economic protectionism is bad for the economy. Or, at least they reportedly have come to that conclusion.
A White House economic analysis of President Trump’s trade agenda has concluded that Mr. Trump’s tariffs will hurt economic growth in the United States, according to several people familiar with the research.

The findings from the White House Council of Economic Advisers have been circulated only internally and not publicly released, as is often the case with the council’s work, making the exact economic projections unknown. But the determination comes as top White House officials continue to insist publicly that Mr. Trump’s trade approach will be “massively good for the U.S. economy.”

The chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, an economist who came to the administration from the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, dodged questions at a White House briefing on Tuesday about whether tariffs would hurt an economy that has accelerated during Mr. Trump’s tenure.
Hassett is putting a loyal face on the question.
Asked whether the administration’s economists had modeled the impact that a trade war with China would have on the United States economy, Mr. Hassett said Mr. Trump was a great negotiator who would persuade countries to open their markets to American products.

“If you model a future where everybody else reduces their trade barriers to ours, then that’s massively good for the global economy and massively good for the U.S. economy,” Mr. Hassett said.
Yeah, that's not happening.

More than a decade ago my daughter worked as a research assistant to Kevin Hassett when he was at AEI. And from what she said about him and what I've read since then that he's written, I can't believe that there is any part of him that thinks Trump's push for tariffs is a good idea. But, it seems that Trump's convictions on economic nationalism can't be turned.

Another day, another asinine comment from Rudy Giuliani.
Er, wasn't your client the guy who slept with her in the first place?

Seriously, is there anything Giuliani has said since he came on board Trump's legal team that has been helpful to his client?

Just remember, Giuliani reportedly wanted to be Secretary of State. I can't even...

This is a smart policy of Country Time Lemonade
. Maybe they can get some legislators to take notice of what an idiotic policy this is.
Every summer, it seems, brings a parade of outrageous stories about petty local officials who shut down kids' front-yard lemonade stands because the little moppets don't have the right permits. But this summer things might be different as civil disobedience meets corporate marketing. Young lemonade entrepreneurs are getting some support against local bureaucrats from powdered lemonade manufacturer Country Time.

This morning the company launched an ingenious summer promotional campaign. Country Time wants your kids to open lemonade stands. If some stiff suit from city hall comes calling, Country Time will help you out by covering the costs of fines and permit fees:
What have we come to as a country that kids need a permit for a lemonade stand? Don't we support a little entrepreneurialism in kids these days?

Roger Clegg comments
on de Blasio's efforts to make sure that fewer Asian-American students go to the elite selective schools in New York City. Of course, he won't admit that that is his purpose, but that is the effect. Admission has long been based on a test, but that has led to a racial mix of which de Blasio disapproves.
Now, no selection system is perfect, and one can certainly argue that in theory it would be good to take other factors into account besides a student’s score on just one test, grades being the most obvious example.

But there are also many advantages to the current system that will be lost if it is changed: its simplicity, objectivity, and transparency. And those are great virtues indeed, especially when the government is divvying up a scarce resource that people — parents — feel very passionate about. And just imagine the never-ending fights among groups and parents once the test is abandoned and a new system has to be fashioned and implemented. Well, actually, you don’t have to imagine it: The raw emotions are already out there for everyone to see.

The Left will not be happy until New York City follows Harvard and MIT and fully embraces some form of racial and ethnic preference in the name of “diversity,” and that means, again, that Asian Americans will get treated the worst, probably worse even than whites, all in the name of equality.
Some minorities are just more equal than others.

Bob McManus writes over at City Journal about de Blasio's attempts to remake the NYC school system. He's brought in a chancellor who is dedicated to implementing social justice.
“I’ve got a new mandate from the voters. [And] I have a new chancellor who is focused on social justice.” The mayor might have added that the new chancellor, Richard Carranza, is focused on social justice to the exclusion of all else.

Following relatively brief and undistinguished stints heading the San Francisco and Houston school systems, Carranza arrived in New York in April, announcing that his top priority would be desegregating New York’s public schools. True to his word, he almost immediately attacked “wealthy white Manhattan parents” for, he claimed, blocking integration efforts—then instructed a critic to take “anti-implicit bias training.” Carranza has returned to the bias theme repeatedly, ignoring the central shame of the city’s schools: the thousands of students who graduate from its woeful high schools each year unable to do college-level academic work and—perhaps more significantly—incapable of performing in New York’s twenty-first-century economy, either.
This might play well with the teachers' unions, but he's not actually doing anything to address student achievement. He opposes the charter movement despite the ample evidence of the success that charter schools have had with minority children. While complaining about the racial imbalance of who gets into the selective high schools, how about addressing the inadequate preparation that so many minority students have for high school in general, much less a competitive exam.

And there are problems with the plans to do more to desegregate the city's schools.
ewer than 14 percent of the city’s 1.1 million public school pupils are white. How Carranza intends to redistribute them while creating significantly improved performance outcomes is not obvious, and he needs to explain a plan in detail—with particular emphasis on the historically explosive social consequences of such schemes.
And, in trying to decrease the percentage of Asian Americans in the selective schools, de Blasio and Carranza are ignoring the history of many of those immigrant families.
Poverty has long been the go-to explainer for public school failure. But the astonishing success of the city’s often grossly impoverished Asian immigrants is steadily demolishing that argument. Poor Asians have become a commanding presence in city schools, particularly the specialized high schools, and imposing quotas on them as a matter of “justice” to other poor kids is a gross inequity.
The city is rightly proud of the education provided to students at the selective schools. It will be a shame if de Blasio succeeds in diluting that educational achievement.

Philip Klein looks at the depressing reality of the fiscal crisis we're facing with Social Security and Medicare.
The U.S. is now closer to the insolvency of the Social Security than to the attacks of Sept. 11.

Trustees for the retirement and disability program revealed on Tuesday that Social Security will no longer be able to meet its obligations to beneficiaries starting in in 2034, or 16 years from now — which is less time than has elapsed since terrorists slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001.
That's a rather alarming observation.

Remember when George W. Bush tried to use his reelection victory to lead a reform of Social Security? Neither party supported him.
In 2005, President George W. Bush was dismissed as an alarmist for highlighting projections that the program would begin spending more money on benefits than it takes in starting in 2018 and that its "trust fund" would be depleted in 2042. In reality, it has been running annual deficits since 2010, and the insolvency date has moved up eight years.
Bush - a prophet in his own time.

Paul Ryan worked hard with House Republicans to present reforms for both entitlements. For that act of political courage, he was depicted as pushing granny off a cliff. The Democrats like to pretend that there is no crisis and, if there is, we can fix it just by taxing the rich. Of course, that is their solution to every policy issue. And Donald Trump campaigned by pretending that he would preserve entitlements by doing nothing. Yeah, that's not going to work. It's just policy-making by wishful thinking and is completely contemptible. This is a totally predictable crisis and the sooner politicians make some difficult choices, the less painful it will be to address the issue.
What's scary is that Social Security is relatively easy to fix when compared to Medicare, a program where the rising retirement population is interacting with growing healthcare costs. And the trustees now say that program is going to be insolvent in 2026 — or roughly the same time as we are from the passage of Obamacare.
At what point will voters accept that we need to demand that our political leaders stop kicking this toxic can down the road.

Alas, the Democrats are totally ignoring the crisis and, while seeking to expand Medicare to everyone, they won't fund the current program.
Yet the Democrats not only refuse to consider any sort of sensible Medicare reform program, they compound this negligence by vilifying anyone who comes up with such a plan. They render this outrageous behavior even worse by peddling the implausible lie that the soon-to-be insolvent Medicare can somehow be converted from a program that covers about 50 million people into a single payer system that provides all Americans with health care. And it’s not just a few barmy backbenchers that peddle this BS. It’s the party’s “leaders.”

Before he was finally run of town, disgraced Rep. John Conyers’ perennial Medicare-for-All plan had accumulated no fewer than 80 co-sponsors. And, in the Senate, such luminaries as Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, and Kirsten Gillibrand all have come out publicly in favor of Senator Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-All bill. These people are predictably vague concerning how such a program will work when traditional Medicare is, as Margaret Thatcher famously put it, already running out of other people’s money. They mouth platitudes about raising taxes on “the rich” and repealing the Trump tax cuts, but even the New York Times admits:
Attempts to set up single-payer systems at the state level have run into precisely this problem. Even in blue states like California, Colorado and Vermont, voters and lawmakers have consistently rejected or abandoned single payer on the grounds that it would cost too much or be too disruptive.

And the cost problem doesn’t go away at the federal level. Single payer apologists claim that the fabled reduction in administrative costs would save huge amounts of money. In reality, the administrative costs for Medicare are far higher than the 3 percent usually claimed because its overhead costs are hidden in the budgets of other agencies. The IRS collects taxes to fund it, the Social Security Administration collects premiums, and HHS manages the accounting and auditing for the program. If these costs were properly reported, they would easily exceed those of the insurance industry. And, even with hidden overhead, government coverage is still pricey.
THe Democrats have no real plan to pay for their pie-in-the-sky proposal. All they can talk about is taxing the rich. What they will really have to do is tax everyone and ration care. I don't see this as a winning issue for them, especially after the fiasco of Obamacare. Yet so many potential candidates for the Democrats have endorsed the idea. SMH

Democratic congressmen are preparing to sue Trump over issues stemming from the emoluments clause.
Lawyers representing nearly 200 Democrats in Congress plan to argue in federal court Thursday that President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by accepting foreign state favors without first seeking congressional approval.

The case argues that the president has received foreign government favors, such as Chinese government trademarks for his companies, payments for hotel room stays and event space rentals by representatives of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and proceeds from Chinese or Emirati-linked government purchases of office space in Trump Tower.

Ethics experts say the constitutional emoluments clause was created by the Founding Fathers to ensure that government officials act with the interests of the American public in mind instead of their own pocketbooks. Since then, it has been applied to the lowest of government of officials up to the president without a court challenge.

“This argument on Thursday will essentially put to the test the proposition that no one is above the law, not even the president,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who is leading the effort. “He’s thumbed his nose at the plain text and in doing so he’s thumbed his nose at the American people.”
When Obama was president and Republicans wanted to sue over some aspect of his administration, we heard a lot about how members of Congress don't have standing to sue the president. They were able to sue as the House, but not as individual congressmen. A federal judge ruled that the House, as a body, had the standing to sue and the case was going forward until, eventually, the Trump administration ended the policy and settled the suit.

Who knows what the courts will decide on this case. Whichever way it is decided, it will certainly be an interesting statement on executive powers.