What to Read on Herman Cain

On the Ropes With Herman Cain — T. A. Frank

In October, Cain had to undo damage from the following: a suggestion to put up an electrified fence on the Mexican border, statements endorsing a woman’s right to choose, an apparent unfamiliarity with the terms “right of return” and “neoconservative,” a tentative thumbs-up to negotiating with Al Qaeda for prisoners and news stories of a completely mismanaged campaign.

Now allegations of sexual harassment have drowned out pretty much anything else related to Herman Cain. And if that’s in any way a blessing, it’s only because it diverted attention from what may have been some serious violations of campaign-finance laws.

Herman Cain gets away with stuff like this — stuff like being inconsiderate or egomaniacal, or just stuff like saying absolutely the wrong thing. An ordinary candidate wouldn’t recover from saying that he wouldn’t appoint Muslims to his cabinet…

Most of [Cain’s] former staff members…speak of a man so egotistical that careful self-policing would never really enter into the realm of consideration.

They also speak — bitterly — of a candidate with zero interest in policy… They speak of unrelenting self-absorption, even by the standards of a politician.

Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan: $210k Tax Cut for Richest 1%, $2k Tax Hike for Bottom Three-Fifths of Taxpayers — Citizens for Tax Justice

Cain’s proposed tax plan would replace all existing federal taxes with three new taxes: a flat nine percent individual income tax, a flat nine percent “business tax,” and a nine percent national sales tax.

Moreover, under the 9-9-9 plan, the United States government would collect about $340 billion less in revenue in 2011 alone.

Herman Cain: Nein, Nein, Nein! — Justin Raimondo

[Cain wrote] that the “war on terrorism” is a conflict that “will be fought forever.”

Cain promotes the views of Pastor Rod Parsley, an evangelical nut-job who not only teaches Islam is an “anti-Christ religion” based on “deception,” and that the prophet Mohammed was a “demon spirit,” but also claims “America was founded in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed.”

[Cain believes] that “World War III” has already started…: “In WW III, our enemy is the irreconcilable terrorist wing of a religion — Islam — and a handful of nations that harbor terrorists and fund their activities. Those nations include Iran, Syria, Venezuela and North Korea.”

I’m sure Hugo Chavez will be very surprised to learn he’s been lording it over a Muslim country rather than a staunchly Catholic one — and I can only imagine the look on Kim Jong Il’s face when he he hears the muezzin’s call to prayer ring out over the streets of Pyongyang.

The Flat-Tax Fraud — Robert Reich

[The] non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates that Cain’s plan (the only one out there so far) would lower the after-tax incomes of poor households (incomes below $30,000) by 16 to 20 percent, while increasing the incomes of wealthier households (incomes above $200,000) by 5 to 22 percent, on average.

Under Cain’s plan, fully 95 percent of households with more than $1 million in income would get an average tax cut of $487,300. And capital gains (a major source of income for the very rich) would be tax free.

Brother, Can You Spare a Kidney?

Sorry that I haven’t posted in a few days. I’ve made a few changes to the site, including a better title than “What to Read” for this and future posts. Enjoy!
  • Kidney Brokers Flourish When Compensation to Potential Donors Is Illegal — Sally Satel – This is an easy way to save lives, and that kind of opportunity is rare. Let’s seize it.
  • North Korea Says It’s Open to New Nuclear Talks — New York Times – Just because the NYT doesn’t think this is important enough to give more than a few paragraphs to doesn’t mean the President shouldn’t jump on the offer.
  • American Health Care — Richard Posner – Becker’s original post, to which Posner replied, is worth a read, but Becker ignores the larger question that David Leonhardt pointed out about prostate cancer a few weeks ago: We can probably achieve just as good results with far less expensive treatments. Posner is right that it’s all about cost-benefit analysis. As indicated by Brownlee in a quote I used in my post on the issue, prostate cancer is one of the areas where we excel, yet we don’t do much better than the United Kingdom. Becker doesn’t mention a lot of other areas where we fall short, including infant mortality, medical errors, customer satisfaction, and yes, even waiting lines (ours are longer than France’s and the Netherlands’). And much of the reason that we make all the behavioral mistakes that Becker says (where he conveniently assigns the blame to us instead of the system) is because our doctors have a financial incentive to give us expensive treatments instead of inexpensive preventative advice. The beauty of “evidence-based medicine” is, if the procedures we use really are so effective at treating a particular disease, then the evidence will reflect that and doctors will be encouraged to use those procedures. The goal, remember, is to reduce unnecessary care, not treatments with a proven track record.
  • Lessons from Sudan for Iraq — Ivan Eland – Bravo to Eland for voicing the solution that Iraq desperately needs!
  • Health Care Premiums Run Amok — David Cutler – When reading estimates about how different proposals will affect you, be careful that they are not using the current premiums, or even inflation-adjusted premiums, as their baseline for the next decade. What matters is how the reform compares to what will happen if we do nothing, which is summarized neatly here by one of America’s best health economists.
  • Jon Stewart: Trust a Comedian to Be Trusted with the Truth — Stuart Fischoff – All too often we don’t appreciate the role of great comedians in society, especially the ones who hold our media accountable. This is a well-deserved, keen analysis by Fischoff. Bravo!
  • Kyrgyzstan: At the Crossroad of Empires, a Mouse Struts — New York Times – The key quote, “neither has publicly condemned the heavy-handed tactics of the Kyrgyz president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who easily won another term last week in an election that his opponents said was rigged,” was thrown in as an afterthought. We get all bent out of shape over Iran and Honduras, but don’t anyone dare say a word about Kyrgyzstan! We’ll let them get away with whatever they want, so long as we can use them for our military bases. And how do the citizens of the Middle East feel about that? I seem to recall a similar situation with Saudi Arabia leading to the emergence of a little group called Al Qaeda… And then we complain when reformers have trouble bringing democratic reform to these nations!
  • Revealed: The Secret Evidence of Global Warming Bush Tried to Hide — The Guardian/UK (via Common Dreams) – Speaks for itself.
  • Are They Allowed to Talk About Drug Patents at the Washington Post? — Dean Baker – Definitely worth consideration, especially given the history and economics of Big Pharma.
  • The Bernanke Reappointment Tour — Calculated Risk – All good points, especially the last sentence. A lot of it depends on whom the President would replace him with. If it’s Larry Summers, then we had better root for Ben Bernanke. If it’s Janet Yellen, we might want to reconsider. Roubini is right, though, that Bernanke prevented the recession from becoming a depression, and that is no small feat.
  • CBO Kills the President’s Medicare Commission Proposal — Keith Hennessey – Hennessey is missing the point. He is right to quote CBO language that criticizes IMAC, but the CBO is not saying IMAC is a bad idea. They are saying it should be even stronger and more powerful, which, if you understand the history and economics of health care, makes perfect sense. (I should also note, for example, that if IMAC only has power over Medicare and not private insurers, then we can expect hospitals to shift resources to milk private insurers as they did after the last major Medicare reimbursement change under Ronald Reagan.)
  • The Good, and Bad, of Heart Care — David Leonhardt – Great example of the economics I describe in my latest post. Leonhardt is also a big fan of Brownlee’s Overtreated, which talks about stents and heart disease in much more detail.

Update: The New York Times has now expanded its article on North Korea. It seems the first draft was just a placeholder until they had time to write a full article. I take back my criticism and reiterate my plea to President Obama to seize this opportunity.