Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Social Security

The Democratic Party Debate: 5 Reasons Why Sanders Won and Clinton Lost

I watched the first Democratic Party debate, hosted by CNN. CNN also hosted the second Republican Party debate, and in both debates it tried to get the candidates to fight each other on camera for the entertainment of the viewing public, repeatedly asking questions designed to get candidates to criticize or attack one another. In the republican debate, this tactic worked perhaps too well–the debate deteriorated into a series of personal attacks, with little relevant policy content. For that reason, I didn’t bother to write up an analysis of the second republican debate–there was little of substance to analyze. The democratic candidates did a better job of resisting their baser instincts, and we did manage to get some interesting exchanges on serious policy issues, particularly between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. In these exchanges, it was quite clear that Sanders was the winner–his arguments were significantly stronger and more convincing than Clinton’s.

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Candidate Evaluations: Chris Christie

Chris Christie has waded into the presidential race, so let’s evaluate him. I’ll be looking at Christie’s background, policy history, and explicit statements to determine whether or not he would make a good president. I won’t be paying attention to electability or likeability, as is often common elsewhere on the web.

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A Serious Policy Analysis of House of Cards’ “America Works” Program

I am a huge fan of Netflix’s House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a ruthless political anti-hero. Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t seen it. It’s really good:

I launched into the 3rd season yesterday and was fascinated by Underwood’s “America Works” proposal. Very minor spoilers here–Underwood plans to eliminate or restructure America’s entitlement programs, using the money saved to create 10 million jobs, which will apparently cost $500 billion. Now, this is a television show. There are no CBO reports to look at, no detailed policy analyses or public policy research, but I want to dig into this and take the opportunity to explore some of the issues with entitlement programs.

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Joe Scarborough is Not an Economist

Joe Scarborough, a former congressman and currently a co-host for the show Morning Joe on MSNBC, had Paul Krugman on his show the other day (you can view the clip in its entirety here). In the segment, Krugman gave what amounts to a standard Keynesian view of the global economic crisis–spending cuts damage growth, the stimulus package was insufficiently large, debt and deficits should be tackled only once growth has been restored, and so on. For those of us who check in with Krugman on his blog, they amount to the key set of Keynesian insights Krugman chooses to highlight. What is much more interesting is the opinion piece Scarborough wrote afterwards, in which he demonstrates that, like Jon Stewart, he is not an economist.

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The Decision: Obama’s Difficult Position

Rumour has it the republicans have given Obama an offer to avert the fiscal cliff, the combination of deep, immediate spending cuts and tax increases that the CBO predicts would send the country into a new recession. The offer gives Obama something he cannot get without a deal–most notably, an extension of emergency unemployment benefits. The offer comes at a cost, however. In exchange, the republicans demand a small but painful cut in social security benefits.

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