STATEMENT: On the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 — What it means for PA

For Immediate Release Date: July 29, 2022 Contact: Kirstin Snow, snow@pennbpc.org Statement on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 — What it means for PA Stephen Herzenberg and Marc Stier   We are happy to see that a deal has been reached to address growing inflation by reducing prescription health care costs, taxing corporations and the ultra-rich, and combatting climate change and reducing energy costs. We call on the United States Senate and House of Representatives to take immediate action to pass this legislation and send it to President Biden’s desk. This legislation, along with the Infrastructure law and the American Rescue Plan, again shows that Democrats are committed to meeting the needs of everyone in the country, no matter where we live or what we look like or whether we are rich and poor, by using the power of the government. Only by acting together can we ensure that we… Continue reading

No “Buts”—Really Seeing White Supremacy in America

Prefatory note: I start more writing projects than I can finish and usually have 20 or 30 half-finished pieces that I’m waiting to complete at the right moment. This seemed the right time to finish and post this one on racial justice. There is nothing new here at all. But it seems important for white people to be talking about these issues at this moment. My colleagues in the State Directors Racial Equity workgroup of the State Priorities Project State Directors helped me immensely with the hard thinking and personal reflection that led to this piece. Of them, I particularly want to thank James Jimenez of New Mexico, a great colleague and friend who contributed in many ways to this piece. I’ve been part of a group of directors of organizations that parallel mine who came together to better understand how racial equity should fit into our work. And those… Continue reading

M4A and the Future of American Politics

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign may be over soon. But before she disappears, let’s learn from what may have doomed her campaign, her stance on health care. Some of my friends who know that I’m a latecomer to Medicare for All might be surprised I’m enthusiastic about it now. And those who believe some of the silly stuff Sanders’s supporters said about Warren’s version of M4A, will be outraged that I think Warren has something to offer on this subject. Going really bold and then pulling it back was not smart politics by any means. Warren pulled off a political self-hat trick. First, she offered a bold M4A plan that scared the centrists. Then she offered an interim health care plan that the left felt was a betrayal. And, ultimately, she made everyone wonder if she knew what she was doing. But for reasons I’m going to explain, both her ultimate goal… Continue reading

Trump’s Nihilism and How to Defeat It

I wrote the first four paragraphs on Facebook on August 3, 2016. Trump’s Nihilism The Trump campaign reminds me that a central element of fascism and its appeal is the embrace of nihilism. One way to understand nihilism is as the denial that there is any meaning or truth or purpose beyond our will. Nihilism both describes the “philosophy” of Trump’s political practice—it’s utter disregard for any norms of conduct and any standards of argument and evidence—and his appeal to the people in America who have seem to lost their sense of purpose and connection to one another or ideals beyond themselves.  Trump’s pursuit of power for its own sake answers to that loss of purpose as does his willingness to create chaos. As Nietzsche put it, “man would rather will nothingness than not will.” Trump’s readiness to break up NATO; his lack of concern about causing a collapse in… Continue reading

Is Barr’s Letter a Whitewash of the Obstruction of Justice Charge?

After reading Attorney General Barr’s letter summarizing the principal conclusions of the Mueller report, it seems to me even more imperative that the full report be released as soon as possible. For there is some real reason to think that Barr is whitewashing Mueller’s conclusions, especially when it comes to the question of Trump’s obstruction of justice. According to Barr, Mueller does not reach a conclusion about whether Trump should be charged with that crime but, instead, sets out reasons for and against doing so. But then Barr concludes, with only 48 hours of considering the issue, that he should not be charged—and presumably should not be investigated by the House of Representatives—for obstructing justice. Barr says that no actions taken by Trump “had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent.” That is a plain restatement of what appears to be the law… Continue reading

Extremist anti-government fever breaking

Originally published in the York Dispatch on July 28, 2017 I do reality-based policy analysis as director of the Pennsylvanian Budget and Policy Center. We take a detailed look at the numbers, from several points of view, before we make or endorse tax or spending proposals. We have our moral touchstones — we seek a political community with broadly shared prosperity — but we try very hard not to let our goals determine our analysis. And that’s because we really believe in our moral stance and we know that public policy must be carefully and thoroughly vetted if it is going to be effective in attaining its goals. We don’t seek to pass legislation that sounds good but doesn’t actually help working people and the middle class secure the opportunity to achieve a better quality of life. Still, I would be the first to admit that it is not analysis, but… Continue reading

New Data, Good News: Health Care

Most news is bad news. And political campaigns are more likely to flag what is wrong with our country than what is right with it. So, it’s not surprising that in the heat of a presidential election, we are more focused on what is wrong with our country than what is right with it. But as the federal government updates its statistics on income, poverty, and health care this week, we can take a moment to appreciate the good news—government at the federal and state level has been increasingly successful at encouraging prosperity. We start today with health care. The Affordable Care Act remains controversial and even those of us who support it recognize that further reforms are needed to guarantee that quality health care remains affordable to everyone. There can be little doubt that the ACA is working in Pennsylvania and beyond. Between those who bought health insurance on… Continue reading

Campaign Contributions and the Gun Control Issue

Here is a good exercise for those of you who think campaign contributions are the most important barrier to progressive legislation. How many of you would not vote for a candidate who agreed with you about everything else if they were wrong about gun control? How many of you would not vote for a candidate who agreed with you about everything else if they were wrong about abortion? I know there are a lot fewer of you in the second category than you think at first because Bob Casey is our Senator. We can’t get gun control through Congress because there are a lot of voters who would not vote for a candidate, especially in a Republican primary but also in a general election, if they support gun control. What the NRA does is not buy members of Congress but mislead those intense supporters of “gun rights” about the implications… Continue reading

The Responsibility for Trump

Even today 20% of American believe Obama was born outside the US and 29% of them believe he is a Muslim. (43% of Republicans believe he is a Muslim.) And my Republican / conservative friends, most of whom are reasonable and moderate, if conservative, people, still want to insist that opposition to Obama is just to the policies he puts forward and not the result of bigotry. I’ve got one thing to say to you: If you would have stood up and beat this back when you had a chance, instead of taking advantage of it, you would not be dealing with Trump’s imminent takeover of your party and the electoral devastation that is going to follow in November. And I predicted all of this, by the way. I told you that you would regret being quiet or, even worse, putting up all those stupid memes that echoed talking points… Continue reading

The Possibility of President Trump and the Limits of Nate Silver’s Thinking.

Google “Trump could win” and you will find out something I told you about two months ago, Trump has a real chance to win the Republican nomination. Nate Silver is still holding out. But as I’ll point out below, I think he is reasons are specious Why could Trump win? For all the reasons I’ve been saying. 1. His message resonates with a substantial part of the Republican electorate which is motivated by racial and anti-feminist resentment, and fear of a world that seems untethered, not economic issues. His tough guy act gives his angry, scared followers some faith that he will be leader who will protect them and stand up for them. Trump is making a classic fascist appeal and, given the circumstances of American life today, it is finding some resonance in about a third of the Republican electorate. 2. His lead in the polls-which he has sustained… Continue reading