Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Why the Republican Healthcare Plan Doesn’t Work

We’ve finally got the full text of the Republican healthcare plan. Unfortunately, the plan is likely to leave everyone dissatisfied–the right will be frustrated, because it leaves the basic structure of Obamacare intact, while the left will be furious, because the changes the Republicans have proposed weaken that structure rather than reinforce it. Here’s what the new bill does and why it works so poorly.

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We Don’t Need to Increase Military Spending By $54 Billion

It’s been announced that President Trump will seek to increase military spending by $54 billion, taking this money out of the budgets of other federal departments (the specific programs these departments would cut has not yet been decided). This is a significant amount of money–it’s enough to build the Trump wall twice over, and it’s nearly three times the size of the NASA budget. It’s nearly enough to pay for tuition-free college, which costs $70 billion. The cuts are still in the proposal stage–congress must pass a budget which incorporates these changes before they would become law. Nevertheless, it’s worth taking a moment to emphasize just how unnecessary and wasteful this is.

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Tom Perez Was the Wrong Choice for DNC Chair

Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez has defeated Keith Ellison to become the new chairman of the DNC. It took two rounds of voting, with Perez eventually prevailing, 235-200. This is a deeply concerning development–Perez has a long history of taking positions which accommodate and contribute to declining living standards for poor and working Americans. He does support minimum wage increases, but a closer look reveals an untrustworthy record.

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4 Reasons Why the European Left Has to Stick Up For Immigrants and the EU

Last week we talked about British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s cunning plan to allow Brexit to go forward in the hope that he and his party might take power in 2020 or 2025 and use restored national powers to move Britain sharply to the left. It’s politically tempting for some on the left to return to the nation state–many working class people in many countries want to see tighter controls on immigration and a renewed emphasis on national sovereignty, and if the left triangulates on these issues it might make itself more competitive with these voters in the short term. Some on the left now believe that international institutions are irredeemably neoliberal, that there’s no prospect of regional or global cooperation to restore the tougher tax, wage, and regulatory policies of the post-war era. Right nationalists are doing well, and the fight between nationalists and internationalists seems to be one the internationalists are likely to lose. So why chain ourselves to creaking neoliberal institutions like the European Union? Surely this is an albatross the left can do without, right? This all may sound plausible, but it’s a big mistake.

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How to Think About the Michael Flynn Scandal

A few people have asked my opinion on the Michael Flynn scandal. As I understand it, anonymous sources from within the intelligence community have leaked to the press that Flynn, President Trump’s National Security Adviser, was in contact with the Russian government prior to Trump’s inauguration and lied about his connections. Further leaks claim that Trump knew about this, and that other members of his team were also in contact with Russia. Flynn has resigned. If there was contact, this contact would be illegal under the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from conducting US foreign policy. Violators of the Logan Act can go to prison for three years. Many Democrats want to use the Logan Act to go after the Trump administration, while the Trump administration prefers to emphasize the illegality of the leaks:

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