March 18, 2015, edition.11:03 AM, Mar 18, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Clinton Makes Trouble For Cuomo
Until Hillary Clinton decided to destroy 33,000 allegedly personal e-mails, all was quiet on the document-retention front in her selected home State of New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo was quite happy with the secrecy provided by his own refusal to send written memos or e-mails, and the practice followed by his staff and state agencies (at his insistence) of destroying e-mails older than 90 days. No footprints. Which is the way the famously secretive Cuomo likes it.
Along came Hillary and her electronic eraser, and the New York legislature swung into action to disable what one transparency advocate calls “an electronic shredder that’s always on”. A decidedly annoyed governor agreed to changes in retention policy if they would include removal of the legislature’s partial exemption from the Freedom of Information Act. According to the New York Times, on which must of this comment is based, the new Democratic head of the state assembly responded, “There are certain things under the legislative guise that should be protected. I believe in that.” Just what “legislative guise” means is uncertain, but it is certain that Justice Louis Brandeis’ observation that “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” is not included in that particular “guise”.
Republican legislators joined the fun by proposing that any new legislation reducing their exemption from the FOIA be coupled with a requirement that anyone living with a state employee file financial disclosure forms -- meaning that Cuomo’s long-time partner, a famous chef and television personality would have to do so. Cuomo countered with a proposal that disclosure rules be expanded even more, to include “all girlfriends, even those of married members of the legislature.”
All because Hillary Clinton wanted a bit of privacy.
The Feather Touch of Regulation
You undoubtedly have heard of the Department of the Interior. You may even have heard of its Fish and Wildlife Service. But I doubt whether you know that its almost 60,000 employees include those charged with running the National Eagle Repository. Until the Wall Street Journal detailed the working of that Repository, Interior was most famous for its National Park Service’s decision, during a government shutdown, to force its usually obliging park rangers to increase public inconvenience by taking ten days to approve a plan for state funding to keep the parks open. Now its feather keepers, after a long undercover investigation, have threatened to jail a Native American who leads some of his fellows in worship, which requires use of eagle feathers, a few of which were a gift to him from a soldier returning from Afghanistan. Alas, although his tribe is recognized by the state of Texas, it is not recognized under federal law, making his acceptance and use of the feathers illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It’s now up to the courts to determine whether the government is infringing on religious freedom, as it was found to be by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case. Either way, one wonders why Obama is complaining about inadequate funding and calling for higher taxes when it has resources to pursue a challenge to its feather monopoly.
Sex and the Single Politician
Enough of such trivial matters as whether Germany should pay Greece for the terrible costs inflicted by the Nazi occupation, or Britain should unspecial its relationship with the U.S. by backing China’s competitor to the World Bank, or just how annoyed Angela Merkel really is with the European Central Bank’s decision to try quantitative easing. On to the stuff of which European politics is really made. Not the multiple mistresses of the French President, at least not so long as the incumbent in that positions survives. Instead, Silvio Berlusconi and Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s victories, the one certain, the other likely.
Striking the right balance. Feb 9, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 21 • By CHARLES WOLF JR.
President Obama can’t run again, as he noted in the State of the Union last month, but he sought to use his address to set the tone for the 2016 campaign. His repeated references to “middle-class economics” were tactful code, speaking in front of a Republican-controlled Congress, for that perennial Democratic favorite, the inequality debate.
The Republican Congress and the middle class.Feb 2, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 20 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Congressional Republicans can reasonably be accused of prioritizing issues about which middle-class voters care little. The president can reasonably be said to have his priorities perfectly in order, with counterproductive proposals that won’t achieve them.
12:45 AM, Jan 21, 2015 • By FRED BARNES
We know that supply-side economics emphasizes serious cuts in tax rates and Keynesianism relies on massive amounts of government spending. But how in the world does “middle class economics” work? After President Obama cited it repeatedly in State of the Union speech, I waited and waited for him to explain how it works. He never did.
12:40 PM, Jan 18, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
The White House knows President Obama's plan, which he'll lay out this week in the State of the Union Address, is unrealistic. Dan Pfeiffer, a top White House adviser, said so earlier today on CBS:
Silicon Valley seeks to suppress wages. Oct 27, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 07 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
At minimum it is unseemly, at maximum an example of chutzpah as practiced in Silicon Valley. Having shot themselves in the foot, some prominent tech billionaires want the president to bypass Congress and minister to their wound. They have poured cash into his campaign coffers, and now is payback time. They want him to increase the number of H-1B visas that allow them to hire high-skilled foreign tech workers. Which he has promised to do, never mind that Microsoft has just laid off thousands of workers.
What the new GDP figures actually reveal. Oct 13, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 05 • By LAWRENCE B. LINDSEY
Two weeks ago the Commerce Department released its final estimate of Gross Domestic Product for the second quarter. That marked five years since the recession ended—a period of massive experimentation with expansionary fiscal and monetary policy. While those policies were doubtless well intended, all they did was what standard economic theory says they would do—move future economic output to the present. They did not by any means increase long-term economic growth.
Rock-star economist Thomas Piketty— tough on inequality, soft on elitism May 26, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 35 • By CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL
The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has written that Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty’s new book on inequality and wealth, “will change both the way we think about society and the way we do economics.” Clive Crook describes the raptures with which intellectuals have greeted the book as almost “erotic.” President Obama’s advisers have been buttonholed about Piketty at speaking appearances from here to Dublin. Capital has reached number one on Amazon.com.
May 19, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 34 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Scrapbook cited Gary Becker last week, in a list of outstanding recipients of the Bradley Prize. We’re sorry to have a sadder reason to mention his name this week: He died May 3, at the age of 83. “He was perhaps the greatest living economist,” George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen eulogized. Becker’s influence is felt far beyond his own field, however. If the basic lesson of economics is that incentives matter, Gary Becker taught the world that incentives matter everywhere.
8:04 AM, May 5, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Governor Rick Perry of Texas criticized President Barack Obama's Washington-centric approach to solving problems in a Sunday appearance on NBC's Meet the Press. Perry was asked by host David Gregory about the recent botched execution of a convicted murderer in neighboring Oklahoma and the announcement from Obama that his administration would be "analyzing" the use of capital punishment in various states. Perry said he was confident about how Texas administered executions, and then offered a critique of Obama.
11:25 AM, Apr 30, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Health care costs rose in the first quarter of 2014 by 9.9 percent, according to a quarterly report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The jump in costs with respect to real GDP comes after several periods of more modest health care cost growth. In 2013, for instance, costs only grew 2.4 percent from the previous year.