Big Deadline for NJ on Provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act

“New Jersey has approximately 1.3 million residents without health insurance, most of whom work full-time jobs. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses in the state struggle to provide insurance for their employees, and those that do have no choice but to accept rising rates year after year. Our individual market is hemorrhaging consumers by the day due to a lack of affordable options.” – Renee Steinhagen in today’s Star Ledger


Post-Great Recession Black America: Up the Creek and Can’t Afford a Paddle

From an Economic Policy Institute briefing paper called, “The State of Working America’s Wealth” (h/t Matt Yglesias via Twitter):
The destruction of wealth that resulted from the Great Recession was widespread but not uniform. From 2007 to
2009, average annualized household declines in wealth were 16% for the richest fifth of Americans and 25% for the
remaining four-fifths.
•  The divvying up of the total wealth pie, even as the pie shrank, was made more uneven due to larger drops in wealth
for those at the bottom. The share of wealth held by the richest fifth of American households increased by 2.2
percentage points to 87.2%, while the remaining four-fifths gave up those 2.2 percentage points and held onto just
12.8% of all wealth.
•  The wealthiest 1% of U.S. households had net worth that was 225 times greater than the median or typical household’s net worth in 2009. This is the highest ratio on record.  
•  In 2009, approximately one in four U.S. households had zero or negative net worth, up from 18.6% in 2007. For
black households the figure was about 40%.
•  The median net worth of black households was $2,200 in 2009, the lowest ever recorded; the median among white 
households was $97,900.
•  Even at the 2007 economic peak, half of all U.S. households owned no stocks at all—either directly or indirectly
through mutual or retirement funds.
•  Homeownership rates fell from a peak of 69.0% in 2004 to 67.2% in 2009, and house prices fell 32% from 2006
through the first quarter of 2009. Prices have since rebounded slightly but were at mid-2003 levels in the third
quarter of 2010.
•  Because of the housing bust, home equity as a percent of home value fell from 59.5% in the first quarter of 2006 to
36.2% in the fourth quarter of 2009. For the first time on record, the percent of home value that homeowners own
outright dropped below 50%—meaning that banks now own more of the nation’s housing stock than people do.
So essentially the average black American household lives paycheck to paycheck. In total 1 in 4 American households has zero or negative net worth. This is in the wealthiest country in history. One that has had the largest GDP in the world for almost 135 consecutive years.

Noah Millman on Derbyshire

Noah Millman of the American Conservative on the Derbyshire event:

 I wonder whether that’s advice Derbyshire wants to pass on to his son: if you see a man beating up a woman, don’t help, because he might turn on you and kill you. I agree that such advice will keep his son out of trouble. But, as the cabbie in the story says, “[a] lot of drivers don’t like to get involved, but I don’t mind being involved . . . If more drivers would get involved the streets might be a little be safer.” But to generalize to “don’t be a Good Samaritan to African-Americans in distress” is transparently unwarranted – unless, of course, one presumes there are no costs at all to maximizing one’s insulation from African-Americans, no costs to oneself and no costs to society worth entering into consideration. But of course, those costs are very substantial. A declaration, “don’t help such-and-such type of person if they are in distress” amounts to a kind of declaration of war against that group of people, a declaration that they are categorically beyond moral concern.

Leftist Media on High Alert with Founding of “Washington Free Beacon” (via Matt Yglesias)

Matthew Continetti (who?), Editor in Chief of nascent conservative journalistic fistacuffery rag The Washington Free Beacon has an entertaining jeramiad/raison d’etre that Matt Yglesias linked to. My favorite part is the final paragraph where he really gets into this idea of “combat journalism”:

What would happen, though, if a website covered the left in the same way that the left covers the right? What picture of the world would one have in mind if the morning paper read like the New York Times—but with the subjects of the stories and the assumptions built into the text changed to reflect a conservative, not liberal, worldview? What would happen if the media wolf pack suddenly had to worry about an aerial hunting operation?

You are about to find out. The Washington Free Beacon is here to enter the arena of combat journalism. Our talented staff will add to the chorus of enterprising conservative reporters, publishing original stories, seeking out scoops, and focusing on the myriad connections between money and power in the progressive movement and Obama’s Washington. Our research and war room divisions will supplement that reporting with context, additional materials, and breaking video. At the Beacon, you will find the other half of the story, the half that the elite media have taken such pains to ignore: the inside deals, cronyism cloaked in the public interest, and far-out nostrums of contemporary progressivism and the Democratic Party. At the Beacon, all friends of freedom will find an alternative to the hackneyed spin, routine misstatements, paranoid hyperbole, and insipid folderol of Democratic officials and the liberal gasbags on MSNBC and talk radio. At the Beacon, we follow only one commandment: Do unto them.

Continetti’s whole notion of some grand leftist media conspiracy is, of course, both trite and patently absurd. The focus on the connections between “money and power” has never bene a concern of Right-leaning journalists, activists or PAC-funders, and to assert as much now is utterly ridiculous. In fact, the only time the Right cares about money in politics is when the money has come from unions. Frankly, I would be surprised if James O’Keefe wasn’t already on the payroll, combat journalist extraordinaire that he is.  En garde, I say!

Eff this Guy (Via Salon)

As Andrew Leonard at Salon finds out, a good labor market is bad for Wall Street:

In other words, stock prices could slump because an increase in the demand for labor will put upward pressure on wages. For the vast majority of Americans, this is fantastic news. For the 1 percent, not so much.

The news inspires memories of the go-go days of the dot-com boom, when the stock market greeted every new monthly release of gangbuster job growth numbers with a sharp sell-off. Wall Street doesn’t like it when American workers are in demand. That’s either the most heartening news yet about the nascent economic recovery, or the most maddening.

Small wonder the goals of Wall Street are often perpendicular to the good health of Main Street America.

Whither liberalism? (Walter Russell Mead in The American Interest)

Walter Russell Mead has a compelling and skeptical assessment of American nostalgia for the Fordist, post-World War II boom that people on both the left and the right hearken back to with so much regularity and fondness these days:

Finally, in this regard, the blue model has impoverished our lives and blighted our society in more subtle ways. Many Americans became (and remain) stuff-rich and meaning-poor. Many people classified as “poor” in American society have an historically unprecedented abundance of consumer goods—anything, essentially, that a Fordist factory here or abroad can turn out. But far too many Americans still have lives that are poor in meaning, in part because the blue social model separates production and consumption in ways that are ultimately dehumanizing and demeaning. A rich and rewarding human life neither comes from nor depends on consumption, even lots of consumption; it comes from producing goods and services of value through the integration of technique with a vision of social and personal meaning. Being fully human is about doing good work that means something. Is a blue society with our level of drug and alcohol abuse, and in which the average American watches 151 hours of television a month, really the happiest conceivable human living arrangement?

The article is called “The Once and Future Liberalism”. Note that Mead here is talking about small l “liberalism” and not “Liberalism”. Have a look at the full, rather long piece here. I think its worth the time.

Kevin Drum on Andrew Sullivan’s “Long-game” Argument

Andrew Sullivan wrote the cover story for this week’s Newsweek, which was fawning profile of President Obama that argued, among other things, that Obama has governed for the long-game, ie an 8 year presidency and that all of this choices have gone towards making that a reality. Also, Republicans and Left-Wingers should quit all of the deranged criticism of the President (which I totally agree with, except not really). Or something. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones responded:

Why was Obama so conciliatory toward the Republican Party early on? It has nothing to do with long-term strategy. It’s because he needed at least two or three Republican votes in the Senate to pass anything, and if he’d been a fire-breathing partisan from the start he wouldn’t have gotten them. He went down this road partly out of native temperament and partly because he didn’t really have any choice.

Why did health care reform take so long? Not because of any clever strategy on Obama’s part. It was because, right or wrong, he made a rational calculation not to repeat Bill Clinton’s mistakes. So instead of pushing a plan of his own, he let Congress take the lead. And Congress decided to move very, very slowly.

Why was Obama’s reponse to the financial crisis basically pretty centrist? Again, not because of any long game. More likely, it’s because Obama himself is genuinely fairly centrist and business oriented when it comes to financial policy.

What explains Obama’s strategy toward Israel and its West Bank settlements? I’m not even sure what the argument for a long game is here. The more prosaic—and probably correct—explanation is that Obama failed. He tried to press Netanyahu on the settlements because he thought he had the leverage to make him listen. He turned out to be wrong, plain and simple.

Why is Obama now taking a harder, more partisan approach toward his GOP adversaries? Not because he was cleverly playing with them for three years and is now reaping the rewards of an electorate convinced that Republicans are hopelessly obstructionist. In fact, surveys don’t suggest that public opinion has moved much in Obama’s direction at all. Rather, he’s doing it because it’s an election year. It’s now time for contrast, not compromise. This is Campaigning 101.

Also, as people who voted for and donated money to the Obama campaign we have every right to ask more from our president and to push him towards our preferred policy goals. I don’t think the president is a horrible dude who has walked back on all of his campaign promises but I’m sticking to my guns on Gitmo, civil liberties and the fact that he needs to wind down the drug war.