Tag Archive: Up With Chris Hayes

Feb 18 2013

The Politics and Economics of Raising the Minimum Wage

Writing for his New York Times blog, Conscience of a Liberal, Nobel Prize winning economics professor Paul Krugman makes two salient observation about President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $9.00 per hour indexed to inflation. His first observation is the political “trap” for Republicans leaders who are opposed, even though a vast majority of voters support a wage increase (pdf) and that includes a string majority of Republican women but not men. Prof Krugman notes that while Republicans want you to believe that they are concerned workers might lose their jobs, he gives two examples of why this faux sincerity “won’t wash”:

1. The truth is that top Republicans have so little regard for ordinary workers that they can’t even manage to pretend otherwise. Case in point: on the last Labor Day, Eric Cantor declared,

   “Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success”.

Yep: even on Labor Day, Cantor had nothing positive to say about workers, just praise for their bosses.

2. Consider a working couple with two children, earning the current minimum wage. How much federal income tax do they pay? If I’m doing the math right, the answer is, none – they get a refund. (They pay plenty of payroll taxes, sales taxes, etc., but that isn’t supposed to count). In the minds of Republicans, this makes them lucky duckies, members of the 47 percent, part of what’s wrong with America. The GOP just can’t credibly claim to suddenly be deeply concerned about their job prospects.

Prof. Krugman’s second observation is about the economics of raising the minimum wage:

First, as John Schmitt (pdf) documents at length, there just isn’t any evidence that raising the minimum wage near current levels would reduce employment. And this is a really solid result, because there have been a lot of studies. We can argue about exactly why the simple Econ 101 story doesn’t seem to work, but it clearly doesn’t – which means that the supposed cost in terms of employment from seeking to raise low-wage workers’ earnings is a myth.

Second – and this is news to me – the usual notion that minimum wages and the Earned Income Tax Credit are competing ways to help low-wage workers is wrong. On the contrary, raising the minimum wage is a way to make the EITC work better, ensuring that its benefits go to workers rather than getting shared with employers. This actually is Econ 101, but done right: given a second-best world in which you use imperfect tools to help deserving workers, two tools together can produce a better outcome than either one on its own.

As usual, if you want comprehensive, in depth discussion without the political talking points and invective, at the same time presenting both sides, Chris Hayes and his guests on Up with Chris Hayes this past Saturday provided just that. Joining Chris to discuss the president’s proposal to raise the minimum wage were by Arindrajit Dube, assistant professor of economics at University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Lew Prince, owner of Vintage Vinyl, Inc. a small business in St. Louis, Missouri; Jennifer Sevilla Korn, executive director of the Hispanic Leadership Network; and Tsedeye Geeresslasse, staff attorney of the National Employment Law Project.

Republicans and business groups have lined up in opposition to a minimum wage increase, and in doing so, they’ve repeated a talking point that has been common in Washington for decades: that an increase in the minimum wage would lead to reductions in employment. As it turns out, there’s a growing body of empirical evidence that indicates that minimum wage increases, within a certain range, have no negative impact on employment, and may actually boost worker productivity and consumer demand, providing a much-needed stimulus to the economy.

Feb 12 2013

Drones: How America Kills

How America kills using drones has been a hot topic for many on the left who feel that the Obama administration has gone too far with the ubiquitous “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) when the president ordered the assassination of Anwar Al Awlaki and two weeks later his 16 year old son. The disagreement over this policy became even more heated when the Justice Department released an undated White Paper that outlined the memos that allegedly justifies extrajudicial executions by the Executive branch without due process. Constitutional lawyer and columnist at The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald observed that the memo has forced many Democrats “out of the closet as overtly unprincipled hacks:”

Illustrating this odd phenomenon was a much-discussed New York Times article on Sunday by Peter Baker which explained that these events “underscored the degree to which Mr. Obama has embraced some of Mr. Bush’s approach to counterterrorism, right down to a secret legal memo authorizing presidential action unfettered by outside forces.” [..]

Baker also noticed this: “Some liberals acknowledged in recent days that they were willing to accept policies they once would have deplored as long as they were in Mr. Obama’s hands, not Mr. Bush’s.” As but one example, the article quoted Jennifer Granholm, the former Michigan governor and fervent Obama supporter, as admitting without any apparent shame that “if this was Bush, I think that we would all be more up in arms” because, she said “we trust the president“. Thus did we have – while some media liberals objected – scores of progressives and conservatives uniting to overtly embrace the once-controversial Bush/Cheney premises of the War on Terror (it’s a global war! the whole world is a battlefield! the president has authority to do whatever he wants to The Terrorists without interference from courts!) in order to defend the war’s most radical power yet (the president’s power to assassinate even his own citizens in secret, without charges, and without checks). [..]

What this DOJ “white paper” did was to force people to confront Obama’s assassination program without emotionally manipulative appeal to some cartoon Bad Guy Terrorist (Awlaki). That document never once mentioned Awlaki. Instead – using the same creepily clinical, sanitized, legalistic language used by the Bush DOJ to justify torture, renditions and warrantless eavesdropping – it set forth the theoretical framework for empowering not just Obama, but any and all presidents, to assassinate not just Anwar Awlaki, but any citizens declared in secret by the president to be worthy of execution. Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee wrote that the DOJ memo “should shake the American people to the core”, while Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman explained “the revolutionary and shocking transformation of the meaning of due process” ushered in by this memo and said it constituted a repudiation of the Magna Carta.

In doing so, this document helpfully underscored the critical point that is otherwise difficult to convey: when you endorse the application of a radical state power because the specific target happens to be someone you dislike and think deserves it, you’re necessarily institutionalizing that power in general. That’s why political leaders, when they want to seize extremist powers or abridge core liberties, always choose in the first instance to target the most marginalized figures: because they know many people will acquiesce not because they support that power in theory but because they hate the person targeted. But if you cheer when that power is first invoked based on that mentality – I’m glad Obama assassinated Awlaki without charges because he was a Bad Man! – then you lose the ability to object when the power is used in the future in ways you dislike (or by leaders you distrust), because you’ve let it become institutionalized. [..]

What’s most remarkable about this willingness to endorse extremist policies because you “trust” the current leader exercising them is how painfully illogical it is, and how violently contrary it is to everything Americans are taught from childhood about their country. It should not be difficult to comprehend that there is no such thing as vesting a Democratic President with Power X but not vesting a GOP President with the same power. To endorse a power in the hands of a leader you like is, necessarily, to endorse the power in the hands of a leader you dislike.

Like Bob Herbert’s statement – “policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House” – this is so obvious it should not need to be argued. As former Bush and Obama aide Douglas Ollivant told the NYT yesterday about the “trust” argument coming from some progressives: “That’s not how we make policy. We make policy assuming that people in power might abuse it. To do otherwise is foolish.

Hypocrisy thy name is Obama loyalists.

This weekend on Up with Chris Hayes, host Chris Hayes and his guest examined he government’s use of drone strikes and its “targeted killing” program in light of the release of the White Paper and the confirmation hearing for John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to head the CIA. They discussed what the law allows, what the constitution allows, what American’s think should be allowed and the what are the moral and ethical implications.

To discuss “How America Kills,” Chris was joined by Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation magazine; Jennifer Draskal, Associate law professor at Georgetown University and fellow at the school’s Center on National Security; Richard Epstein, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, professor of law at New York University Law School; and Hina Shamsi, director of the National Security Project for the ACLU.

Feb 11 2013

The Grand Discussion: Economic Recovery Part 2

After his exclusive interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, host of Up with Chris Hayes, Nobel Prize winning economist and New York Times columnist/blogger, Dr. Paul Krugman (@NYTimeskrugman) joins Chris and his panel guests Dean Baker (@DeanBaker13), co-director Center for Economic & Policy Research and author; Alexis Goldstein (@alexisgoldstein), a former vice president of information technology at Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank, now an Occupy Wall Street activist; and Heather McGhee (@hmcghee), vice-president of Demos. Enjoy the lively and informed discussion about the self imposed sequester crisis, global austerity and the role of inequality in the recovery.

Feb 11 2013

The Grand Discussion: Economic Recovery Part 1

The US economy is stagnating and all that our elected officials are fixated on is reducing the deficit and debt with more spending cuts at a time when the government should be investing in this country to help produce jobs. Nobel Prize winning economist and New York Times columnist/blogger, Dr. Paul Krugman has explained that austerity measures in this sluggish economy will only further the pain with more job losses and increase the likely hood of a second recession.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, host of Up with Chris Hayes, sat down with Dr. Krugman for a fascinating one on one conversation about the president’s latest bid to delay the looming sequester cuts and why there is a difference between “Macro-economics 101” and what policy makers in DC are talking about. They also discuss the banking crisis and the continued divergence between profits and wages.

Jan 27 2013

The Legacy of Aaron Swartz

The White House announced a National Day of Civic Hacking, June 1 – 2, 2013, as the internet continues to mourn the hacker and activist, Aaron Swartz, who died of suicide at age 26. Aaron’s partner Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, executive director and founder of SumofUs.org joins host Chris Hayes; Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School; Susan Crawford, professor for the Center on Intellectual Property & Information Law Program at Carodozo School of Law; and Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor for The Atlantic on the Up with Chris panel to discuss the legacy of Aaron Swartz.

Jan 27 2013

What We Now Know

Up host Chris Hayes  discusses what we have learned this week about congressional gridlock, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) “gentleman’s agreement” handshake with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the dwindling hope for considerable change to the filibuster. He is joined by Mike Pesca (@pescami), sports correspondent for National Public Radio; Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman (@Sum_Of_Us), executive director and founder of SumofUs.org and partner of Internet activist Aaron Swartz; Susan Crawford (@scrawford), author and  professor for the Center on Intellectual Property & Information Law Program at Carodozo School of Law; and Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisi), senior editor for The Atlantic.

Real Filibuster Reform Will Not Be Coming to the Senate

What Killed Filibuster Reform?

Scott Lemieux, The American Prospect

Senators have a disincentive for getting rid of the anti-majoritarian rule: It gives them more power.

The failure to reform the filibuster is a very bad thing. The question is why so many Democratic senators-including some blue-state representatives like Vermont’s Patrick Leahy and California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer-showed so little inclination to act in the interests of progressive values.

One issue is that some senators may not accurately perceive the damage that the filibuster does to Democratic interests. [..]

The larger problem, however, is that even for senators who understand the history of the filibuster and its inherently reactionary effects, the filibuster represents a disjuncture between the interests of progressives as a whole and the individual interests of Democratic senators. Collectively, the filibuster makes it harder to advance policy goals. But on an individual level, the filibuster and the Senate’s other arcane minority-empowering procedures give senators far more power than ordinary members of a typical Democratic legislature (including the House of Representatives). This helps to explain why even relatively liberal senior members tend to be more reluctant to abandon the filibuster than newer Democratic senators; once you get used to power, it’s hard to give it up.

Dec 11 2012

The Real Financial Crisis: Income Disparity and Poverty

Steve Kornacki, MSNBC host sitting in for Chris Hayes on Sunday’s Up with Chris Hayes, discussed the political posturing on fiscal negotiations with David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winner and distinguished visiting lecturer at the Syracuse University College of Law; Joan Walsh, MSNBC political analyst, editor at large of Salon.com; Laura Flanders, founder of GritTV; Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress; and Avik Roy, former member of Mitt Romney’s health care policy advisory group, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Unlike the usual talk show, where right wing talking points are rarely challenged, Up pushes back and debunks those memes for the hollow myths and out right lies they are. This panel talks head on how income disparity and poverty are the real financial crisis and the insanity of “shared pain.” Topics about taxes on Wall Street transactions, defense cuts and closing loop holes that only benefit the wealthy were mentioned. You won’t hear that on “Meet the Press” or “ABC’s This Week”.

Heather at Crooks and Liars pointed out the conversation in the second video and responses in the third video to Avik Roy arguing how things are different now that when Bill Clinton was president and the nonsense that the rich already pay too much in taxes. The responses from the panel shredded Roy’s talking points. Here are just some of the comments from the panel:

   DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: The average income of the bottom 90 percent of Americans has fallen back to the level of 1966 when Johnson was president, and the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent have gone in today’s dollars from 4 million to 22 million. In 2010, the first year of the recovery, 37 percent of all of the increased income in the entire country went to 15,600 households.

   We have created a privatized system to redistribute upwards and the reason people at the top are sharing a larger share of the income taxes because their incomes are growing at this enormous rate, but their burden is falling. And to suggest we don’t need to raise more revenue by applying it to people who are a success depends on this government, on living in this society, with its rules that make it possible to make that money is just outrageous. It is arguing that we should burden the poor and help the rich.

   […]

   LAURA FLANDERS: No, you’re right. we have 50, 5-0 million Americans living in poverty at this point with food stamp help for many of them. We’ve got 9 million Americans over the age of 50 who are food insecure. One in three of us have no savings whatsoever.

   I mean, you talk the Johnson years, in that period, ’65 to ’73 the war on poverty reduced poverty by 43 percent. We know how to do it. It works. That’s what we should be talking about. We are in a crisis where we’re going to see stimulus. We’re going to see stimulus of poverty and hunger in this country and it’s shameful. And again, going back to ’63, you had more than 60 percent of Americans, I think even in1983, 60 percent of Americans had private pension plans. Now, it’s under 20 percent.

   So these elders that you’re talking about, young people with greater unemployment than ever before. I mean, this is the stuff that we want to be talking about after the last election, children and poverty are exploding.

   JOAN WALSH: And also… we need higher tax rates for the tippy top earners because everybody likes to talk about building the middle class or rebuilding the middle class. Well, the top tax rate that the middle class we in the ’40s,’ 50s and ’60s. The top marginal rate was in the 90’s. I’m not saying you should go back to that, but you can’t say at 37 percent.

Dec 04 2012

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes

As anyone watching the news knows by now that the major topic of discussion is the coming expiration of the Bush/Obama Tax cuts and the mythical “fiscal cliff”. President Obama has said that he will not extend them again and that any budget agreement from congress that does not raise taxes on income over $250,000 will be vetoed. So far, he’s sticking with that story. Over the weekend Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was dispatched to the Sunday talk show rounds to pitch the budget proposal while the president took to the road and social media to sell it to the public. Needless to say the Republicans roundly rejected the proposal with House Speaker John Boehner calling it a “La-La-Land offer.” That’s a real adult response.

Former policy analyst to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, Bruce Bartlett, who lost all his conservative credibility when he made the case that the Bush/Cheney administration agenda didn’t make any sense, joined the discussion of the Grover Norquist‘s tax pledge for Republicans and the pro’s and con’s of increased taxes. Gov. Dannel Malloy, Democrat of Connecticut; Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; Elizabeth Pearson, fellow at The Roosevelt Institute; and Dedrick Muhammad, senior economic director at the NAACP join host Chris Hayes and Mr. Bartlet to discuss the “story of the week”: the tax battle

Dec 04 2012

The Great Recession’s Untold Story: State Budgets

Democratic Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (@GovMalloyOffice) joined the panel on Up with Chris Hayes to discuss the untold story of the Great Recession: how cash strapped states and local governments are dealing with the aftermath of the financial crisis and how they could be affected by the outcome of so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Host Chris Hayes, along with Gov. Malloy, talk about austerity on the state level cash strapped states resort to extreme measures to balance their budgets and the different way states are finding to raise cash.

They are joined in the discussion by Elizabeth Pearson, fellow at The Roosevelt Institute; Maya Wiley (@mayawiley), founder and president of the Center for Social Inclusion; Veronique de Rugy (@veroderugy), senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University; and Dedrick Muhammad, senior economic director at the NAACP.

Nov 14 2012

The Myth of the “Fiscal Cliff”

No one actually cares about the deficit

Chris Hayes, host of Up with Chris Hayes,  discusses the stand-off between President Obama and House Republicans over the “fiscal cliff,” the name given to the combination of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the sequestration cuts mandated by last year’s debt ceiling agreement. Chris’ “filibuster” in the first segment is a “Cliff Note” summation of the debate about the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Chris is joined for a comprehensive, and somewhat wonky, discussion with Hakeem Jeffries, newly elected Congressman representing the 8th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York State Assemblyman; Teresa Ghilarducci (@tghilarducci), labor economist and director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New Schoo; Edward Conard, former partner at Bain Capital from 1993-2007 and author of “Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About The Economy Is Wrong;” Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown; and Molly Ball (@mollyesque), national political reporter for The Atlantic.

I found this article  about the debt/deficit/”fiscal cliff” from letdgetitdone quite interesting. It presents a very compelling argument, point by point, why this entire discussion about a “fiscal cliff” is a myth. He concludes his argument:

So, current claims that we have a fiscal crisis, must debate the debt, must fix the debt, and must immediately embark on a long-term deficit reduction program to bring the debt-to-GDP ratio under control, all misconceive the fiscal situation because they are based on the idea that fiscal responsibility is about developing a plan to bring the debt-to-GDP ratio “under control,” when it is really about using Government spending to achieve outputs that fulfill “public purpose.” There is no fiscal crisis that will require “a Grand Bargain” and cuts to popular discretionary spending and entitlement programs. It is a phoney issue.

The only real crisis is a crisis of a failing economy and growing economic inequality in which only the needs of the few are served. MMT policies can help to bring an end to that crisis; but not if progressives, and others continue to believe in false ideas about fiscal sustainability and responsibility, and the similarity of their Government to a household. To begin to solve our problems, we need to reject the neoliberal narrative and embrace the MMT narrative about the meaning of fiscal responsibility. That will lead us to fiscal policies that achieve public purpose and away from policies that prolong economic stagnation and the ravages of austerity.

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