What to Read Before the Iowa Caucuses

For our Republican readers who live in Iowa, and for any non-Iowans who wants to know which candidate to root for, here’s a handy compilation of past Trading 8s posts:

What to Read on Jon Huntsman

What to Read on Michele Bachmann

What to Read on Mitt Romney

What to Read on Newt Gingrich

What to Read on Perry vs. Romney

What to Read on Rick Perry

What to Read on Rick Perry and the “Texas Miracle”

What to Read on Ron Paul

Don’t Blame the Fed for Holding Back the Recovery

Social Security Isn’t Lying to You. But Rick Perry Is.

Sigh. Yet Another Trojan Horse.

Why Jon Huntsman Is More Dangerous Than You Think

Courtesy of statistician Nate Silver, here’s a prediction that aggregates all the major polls:

And since the results of Iowa set up the next stage of the primary season in New Hampshire, here’s how that January 10 election is shaping up so far:

Sigh. Yet Another Trojan Horse.

He’s done it again.

When asked to analyze Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” tax proposal, Prof. Mishra spent half his op-ed talking about Rick Perry’s flat tax proposal instead.

Okay, I’ll take the bait.

According to Perry:

The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents.

The strange thing is, Prof. Mishra never analyzes this proposal. He doesn’t tell you how it would affect you. He doesn’t tell you whether he agrees with Perry’s claims. He just says that tax cuts are good and, well, this is a tax cut.

Except it isn’t. At least, not for the 60 percent of Americans who would pay more under Perry’s plan than under Obama’s:   Continue reading “Sigh. Yet Another Trojan Horse.”

There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This

by Norman Horowitz

There’s gotta be something better than this,
There’s gotta be something better to do.
And when I find me something better to do,
I’m gonna get up, I’m gonna get out.
I’m gonna get up, get out, and do it!
There’s gotta be some respectable trade;
there’s gotta be something easy to learn.
And if I find me something I halfwit can learn,
I’m gonna get up, I’m gonna get out.
I’m gonna get up, get out and learn it!

Sweet Charity

Corporate management. Congress. Presidential candidates. There’s gotta be something better than this.

I grew up in a middle-class Jewish environment naively believing that the world was an orderly place run by those who knew what they were doing and that there would be peace and prosperity for all because we were led by brilliant people.   Continue reading “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This”

Social Security Isn’t Lying to You. But Rick Perry Is.

In 1935, when Congress created Social Security, over half of American senior citizens lived in poverty. Today, less than 10 percent of the elderly live in poverty. According to economists Gary Engelhardt and Jonathan Gruber, a $1,000 increase in Social Security benefits reduces elderly poverty by 2 to 3 percentage points.

Americans need those checks now more than ever. Since the end of World War II, it’s never been harder to save for retirement. Jobs are disappearing. Wages are barely keeping up with inflation. Education and health care costs are soaring. Pension plans are becoming a thing of the past.

So it’s not hard to understand why 34 percent of Americans have nothing saved for retirement. Nor is it surprising that 54 percent of retirees say Social Security is a major source of their income — especially because 401(k) accounts only average $98,000, which amounts to $600 per month in retirement, well below the poverty line.

But Social Security is hardly a windfall.

The average retiree will earn $14,124 from the government this year. The poverty line is $10,830. Of the 30 industrialized nations, 24 are more generous to their retirees than the U.S.

And your leaders want to reduce Social Security benefits.   Continue reading “Social Security Isn’t Lying to You. But Rick Perry Is.”

Quote of the Day: Benjy Sarlin

If Perry’s to be believed now, his book’s take is that the New Deal was great, if only they had the foresight at the time to configure Social Security so that it didn’t need some minor fixes seven decades later to fix a modest medium-term shortfall after lifting three plus generations of seniors out of poverty. Since they didn’t, it’s a “failure”…

— Benjy Sarlin (TalkingPointsMemo)