I'm a Bachelor of Science.
345 stories
·
36 followers

Republicans Have a Big Dilemma This Year

1 Comment

An internal GOP poll shows that Republican voters are feeling pretty confident:

A private survey conducted for the Republican National Committee and obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek contains alarming news for Republicans hoping to hold on to control of Congress in November: Most Trump supporters don’t believe there’s a threat that Democrats will win back the House. President Trump’s boasts that a “red wave” could increase Republican majorities appear to have lulled GOP voters into complacency, raising the question of whether they’ll turn up at the polls.

….The internal RNC study finds that complacency among GOP voters is tied directly to their trust in the president—and their distrust of traditional polling. “While a significant part of that lack of intensity is undoubtedly due to these voters’ sentiments toward the President, it may also be partly because they don’t believe there is anything at stake in this election,” the authors write. “Put simply, they don’t believe that Democrats will win the House. (Why should they believe the same prognosticators who told them that Hillary was going to be elected President?)”

So there’s good news and bad news here for the Republican Party. The good news is that Donald Trump has been strikingly successful at persuading Republican voters that the mainstream media is just a bunch of anti-Trump fake news and should be ignored. The bad news is that…Republican voters don’t believe anything in the mainstream media anymore, even when it’s true. So they figure Republicans are way ahead in the polling and there’s not much point in bothering to vote this year.

But what about the moderates, the folks who aren’t Trump true believers? Well, it turns out that they pose an entirely different problem:

The study says GOP fortunes will hinge on the party’s ability to activate “soft” supporters: “Those voters who ‘somewhat approve’ of Trump and those who support the President’s policies but not his leadership style are the ones posing a challenge to the party.” Motivating these voters could be tricky. One hurdle is Trump’s chaotic style, which shows no sign of changing. Another is that the issues soft Republicans care about most are ones involving government spending and are typically associated with Democrats. The survey found that increasing funding for veterans’ mental health services, strengthening and preserving Medicare and Social Security, and reforming the student loan system all scored higher than Trump’s favored subjects of tax cuts, border security, and preserving the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Long story short: Trump’s core constituency loves him, but can’t conceive that he could possibly lose. So why bother voting? Conversely, his more moderate supporters totally believe he could lose, but increasingly think that’s just fine. They like the Democratic platform better anyway.

It’s a dilemma.

Read the whole story
benzado
1 minute ago
reply
LOL
New York, NY (40.785018,-73.97
Share this story
Delete

And Now for Something Completely Different: the Dollar Challenged

1 Share

While the country’s attention is riveted on Florence, Kavanaugh’s confirmation and Manafort’s plea deal, certain other developments around the world may in the end prove more significant. At a meeting earlier this month in Vladivostok, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to bypass the dollar and use their own currencies in commercial relations.

This month, officials from France, Germany, and the UK have begun planning with China and Russia a special payments channel that would allow these countries to defy new American sanctions against any company doing business with Iran. This payment channel would bypass the American-dominated international banking system and the dollar.

Much of American economic and global power rests on the universal use of the dollar as the settlements and reserve currency of choice. It allows the United States, among other things, to run huge trade and budget deficits and to impose crippling economic sanctions on other countries. If the American dollar became overnight a exotic national currency like Turkey’s Lira, then in order to balance its accounts and pay for its deficit, the U.S. would have to raise interest rates to attract foreign currencies, even if that meant crippling business and home finance. If the dollar were to cease being a global currency, that would weaken the American economy and damage international trade. The moves by Russia, China, France, Germany, and the UK to begin to decouple themselves from the American-dominated monetary system could come to nothing but these could also lay the basis for a greater challenge down the road to American dominance.

It’s happening largely in response to Trump’s Hobbesian diplomacy, which sees the U.S. engaged in a zero-sum battle against its longtime allies as well as against competitors like China and also by his fiscal policies that promise huge deficits in years ahead. My friend Taggart Murphy, who wrote the definitive study of U.S.-Japan economic relations, The Weight of the Yen, says of Trump’s effect on the global economy:

Trump is doing everything he can to bring on the end of the days when the US can borrow whatever it wants in whatever amounts it wants. To be sure, there is no recipe book. The dollar is now so entrenched as the world’s money that if your assignment were to bring the curtain down on that — and thus the ability of the US to borrow whatever it wants whenever it wants — it’s not at all clear what you would do. But you’d start by doing everything that Trump is doing — pick fights with all your allies, blow the government deficit wide open at the peak of an economic recovery, abandon any notion of fiscal responsibility, threaten sanctions on anyone and everyone who seeks to honor the deal Obama struck with Iran (thereby almost begging everyone to figure out some way to bypass the US banking system in order to do business), throw spanners into the works of global trade without any clear indication of what it is precisely you want for a country that structurally consumes more than it produces and thus by the laws of accounting MUST run trade and current account deficits.

Murphy says of the Chinese, Russian, and European efforts, “They are building the groundwork for the day when they can overthrow the hegemony of the US dollar. The day that happens is the day the American imperium ends.”

Read the whole story
benzado
2 days ago
reply
New York, NY (40.785018,-73.97
Share this story
Delete

Small --> Big

1 Share
One thing I used to teach back when I taught, and which I would teach a bit differently now that I am old and wise, is how people only need to be a little bit racist (for example) for there to be big economic impacts of that racism. Weirdly I would say that back then the general point being conveyed was "sorry about your lot, but people aren't really all that racist!!!" instead of the more important point that it only takes a tiny bit of racism (or misogyny or...) for there to be big outcome differentials.

The rough economist logic is if the marginal benefits of trying harder are lower, you won't try as hard. Discontinuities in credentialing make this worse. Why get a Ph.D if you have a 20% harder time getting a job?

The important point is not "wow these shitty outcome differentials don't mean that people are really racist." The important point is "even a tiny bit of racism matters a lot."
Read the whole story
benzado
5 days ago
reply
New York, NY (40.785018,-73.97
Share this story
Delete

A Good Tweet!

1 Share
A big new organization problem these days is that when Trump says or tweets something obviously and insanely false, they just tweet it as a news story, like "President Trump says that Ohio is not a state," without any suggestion that it might possibly not be true. We can debate how much this matters, but even with the president being Trump, reporting things as presidential proclamation gives them the air of truth.

So kudos to NBC. This is how you do it!



Read the whole story
benzado
5 days ago
reply
New York, NY (40.785018,-73.97
Share this story
Delete

Katrina

1 Share
I've told this tiny story several times, but it's a good time to retell it because it shows the conservative attitude towards disasters: opportunity!

A couple of years after Katrina I was at a bar late at night in a resorty town, eavesdropping on the conversation one table over. Some 30something well-dressed bros discussing their rising fortunes in government contracting. The phrase which jumped out at me and is enough to get the point was:

And then Katrina happened, and everyone got rich.
Read the whole story
benzado
7 days ago
reply
New York, NY (40.785018,-73.97
Share this story
Delete

If you find yourself having a strong emotional response to something you see on ...

1 Share
If you find yourself having a strong emotional response to something you see on the net, take a step back and remember there's a good chance you're being programmed. You don't have to take the bait. And you shouldn't accept emotional appeals at face value.
Read the whole story
benzado
8 days ago
reply
New York, NY (40.785018,-73.97
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories