If you want to feel superior and depressed at the same time, read this New York Times story on the budget plan House Republicans submitted last week. The good news is that it balances the federal budget by 2025. The bad news is that it does so by assuming $147 billion in additional revenue from the “macroeconomic effect” of the budget itself. It also repeals the Affordable Care Act and the taxes that support it, but still includes $1 trillion in revenue from those taxes. Finally, it counts $1 trillion in savings from unspecified cuts to social welfare programs. Don’t worry, though: there’s a $40 billion increase in defense spending next year, couched as “emergency war spending” so as not to violate the 2011 Budget Control Act. We’ll find the war later. As Rep. Rob Woodall (R–GA) of the House Budget Committee put it, “A budget is a moral document; it talks about where your values are.”
Last month, US District Court Judge Callie VS Granade declared Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The state was supposed to start issuing licenses to gay couples—known regionally as “Ted and Earl”—this morning, but last night Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore ordered probate judges not to do it. “Effective immediately,” he decreed, “no probate judge of the State of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent” with Alabama’s constitution—which includes a defense of marriage amendment that passed in 2006 with 80% of the vote. Now seems like a good time to point out that Judge Moore’s position is popularly elected.
Former Secretary of the Treasury and gifted face-maker Larry Summers has calculated how much more middle-class households would make if the United States enjoyed the same income distribution it had in 1979, and the results are startling. According to his calculations, households in the bottom 80% of incomes would be making another $11,000 a year, on average, if we had experienced the same economy of the last 35 years without the growth in inequality. Households in the top 1%, on the other hand, would get $750,000 less. If you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around those two numbers, NPR’s Planet Money podcast has produced a helpful graph. Scroll down to see the whole thing—like six screens down.
At some point on Saturday, the snake that operates Sarah Palin fell in love with a licorice whip and ran away, leaving her host body to deliver a half-hour nonsense speech at the Iowa Freedom summit. Lest you think I am indulging a liberal trope, I want to make it clear that this was not the usual folksy assault on syntax. It was bona fide word salad. I quote from the 26-minute mark:
Things like that: it must change. Things must change for our government. Look at it. It isn’t too big to fail. It’s too big to succeed. It’s too big to succeed, so we can afford no retreads, or nothing will change. With the same people and same policies that got us into the status quo—another that word, status quo, and it stands for man, the middle-class everyday Americans are really getting taken for a ride. That’s status quo. And GOP leaders, by the way—you know, the man can only ride you when your back is bent.
That’s 23 seconds of a speech that lasted a half hour. I urge you to watch as much of the video as you can tolerate, if only for the reaction shots. That is as publicly surly as Iowans get.
Over at Time magazine—which may just be a website now—Michael Scherer notes how far we’ve come since 2004, when a young firebrand named Barack Obama declared that “there’s not a liberal and a conservative America; there’s a United States of America.” Props to The Cure for the link. Shortly after that speech, we re-elected George W. Bush, hated him, and gave control of Congress to the Democrats in 2006. Then we elected Obama, hated him, and gave the House to Republicans in 2010. Now we appear to be on the eve of repeating that process with the Senate.