Mike Kueber's Blog

January 2, 2013

FiveThirtyEight weighs-in on the Fiscal Cliff compromise

Filed under: Issues,Media,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 9:30 pm
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FiveThirtyEight by Nate Silver is one of the most popular political blogs in America.  (Its name is taken from the number of presidential electors.)  San Antonio’s Mayor Julian Castro has declared it to be his favorite, and I agree.  It is not only interesting, but also credible, as proven by its detailed predictions about last year’s presidential election. 

Today’s posting of FiveThirtyEight in the NY Times provides an excellent framework for evaluating the Fiscal Cliff compromise.  According to Silver, the compromise can be evaluated from three perspectives:

  1. How much does it redistribute income?  Although Silver is a liberal, he is not running for office, and this allows him the freedom to admit that part of the liberal agenda is to redistribute income from the rich to the poor.  Clearly, from this perspective the compromise was a great success because most of the new taxes were imposed on America’s high earners and only a bit of it (expiration of temporary FICA cuts) was imposed on low earners.
  2. What is the ratio of tax increases to spending cuts?  Republican presidential candidates were ridiculed in the media for arguing that they would reject $9 in spending cuts if the cost was $1 in tax increases.  I wonder if the media will now ridicule the balance in this compromise with $40 of tax increases for every $1 of spending cuts.
  3. How much stimulus spending is included?  From this perspective, the compromise is more balanced.  The extension of unemployment benefits and a few business tax credits will provide some stimulus, but those will likely be outweighed by taxes on the rich and the FICA tax on almost everyone.

Prior to the compromise, several pundits (mostly conservative) warned that President Obama might drive too hard of a bargain and that this will come back to haunt him.  I am “modestly optimistic” (to use one of Obama’s malaprops) that those pundits were correct and that Americans will now rise up and insist on significant spending cuts as part of the Debt Ceiling compromise.

September 29, 2011

Chris Christie

Filed under: People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 3:59 am
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There has been a lot of buzz about New Jersey governor Chris Christie entering the race for the Republican presidential nomination.  Consistent with that buzz, the latest Intrade.com betting odds reveal that Chris Christie has passed Sarah Palin and all other candidates in the Republican field not named Romney or Perry as the most likely nominee.

The famous NY Times political blog titled FiveThirtyEight recently considered the effect of Christie’s entry into the race.   The author of the blog, Nate Silver, suggested that Christie’s record as a moderate on gun control, global warming, immigration, and same-sex marriage would cause him to take more votes from Romney than from Perry.  That suggestion makes perfect sense.

But Silver does not make sense when he suggests that Christie and Romney may slug it out as the only viable, electable candidates, “with Mr. Perry and the other conservatives reduced to competing for a minority of delegates in especially conservative states like Iowa and parts of the Deep South.”  There are plenty of conservative states outside the Deep South, and there are plenty of conservative Republican-primary voters in every state.

If Rick Perry proves to be nonviable, the conservatives might look for someone else to challenge Romney, but they won’t be looking for another moderate.

P.S., my ultra-conservative friend Kevin says that Christie’s weight is as much a problem as his several RINO positions.  He can’t imagine America choosing as president someone as obese as Christie.