Who Benefits Most From Trump’s Tax Plan?

Vox: “Donald Trump’s campaign claims that his tax cut plan would offer “tax relief for middle-class Americans.” That’s not wrong, exactly — but a new analysis from the left-leaning tax analysis shop Citizens for Tax Justice suggests that the group of Americans getting the most relief would be the top 1 percent:”

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“In total, the top 1 percent would get 34 percent of the benefit from Trump’s cuts, and the top fifth would get a full 68 percent of the benefit.”

“Trump’s campaign also claimed that the tax plan would cost nothing. CTJ’s analysis suggests that’s false, concluding that the plan would cost a whopping $10.8 trillion in its first decade.”

Asians Will Surge Past Hispanics to Become Largest Immigrant Group

Washington Post: “In a major shift in immigration patterns, Asians will surge past Hispanics to become the largest group of immigrants heading to the United States by 2065, according to estimates in a new study.”

Asians Projected to Become the Largest Immigrant Group, Surpassing Hispanics

“An increase in Asian and Hispanic immigration also will drive U.S. population growth, with foreign-born residents expected to make up 18 percent of the country’s projected 441 million people in 50 years, the Pew Research Center said in a report … released Monday. This will be a record, higher than the nearly 15 percent during the late 19th-century and early 20th-century wave of immigration from Europe.”

“Today, immigrants make up 14 percent of the population, an increase from 5 percent in 1965. The tipping point is expected to come in 2055, when Asians will become the largest immigrant group at 36 percent, compared with Hispanics at 34 percent.”

“By 2065, no racial or ethnic group will hold a majority in the United States, with whites holding 46 percent of the population, Hispanics at 24 percent, Asians at 14 percent and blacks at 13 percent. Currently, the country is 62 percent white, 18 percent Hispanic, 12 percent black and 6 percent Asian.”

The GOP’s Tectonic Rightward Shift

Christopher Ingraham: “John Boehner’s career provides an illustration of the stunning rightward shift among House Republicans in recent years.”

“The chart above plots average conservative ideology scores among House Republicans from the 1960s to today. The data come from political scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, who’ve created a widely-used ideology index called a dw-nominate score, which is based on individual legislators’ voting records.”

Majority Oppose a Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood

Politico: “Nearly seven in 10 Americans — 69 percent — oppose shutting down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood, according to the results of a new national Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.”

“Just 23 percent support closing the government over the dispute. Even among Republicans, a majority of 56 percent to 36 percent opposes a shutdown due to Planned Parenthood.”

“At the same time, 44 percent to 39 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood, with a significant gender gap. Among women, 50 percent to 35 percent approve of the group, while men disapprove, 43 percent to 38 percent.”

“But as far as cutting off funding to the group, 52 percent said they would oppose doing so, compared with 41 percent who supported such an action. Women opposed such an action by a wide margin — 60 percent to 34 percent — while men responding to the survey supported an end to federal funding 49 percent to 44 percent.”

Less Booze, More Meth

Christopher Ingraham: “‘Dry counties’ that prohibit alcohol sales seem to have a bigger meth problem than other counties.”

“That’s the thought-provoking conclusion of a new paper by researchers at the University of Louisville. In the state of Kentucky, some counties (‘dry’) prohibit alcohol sales completely. Others allow it only within certain municipalities (‘moist,’) or don’t place restrictions on alcohol sales at all (‘wet’).”

“The Louisville researchers noticed that dry counties had higher rates of meth lab busts, as well as higher rates of meth crimes overall. And the effect is significant: ‘if all counties were to become wet, the total number of meth lab seizures in Kentucky would decline by about 25 percent.'”

“The researchers found that this is more than just a simple correlation: ‘Our results add support to the idea that prohibiting the sale of alcohol flattens the punishment gradient, lowering the relative cost of participating in the market for illegal drugs,’ they conclude.”

The GOP: An ‘Insurgent Outlier’

Paul Krugman: “Bad as Mr. Boehner was, he was just a symptom of the underlying malady, the madness that has consumed his party.”

“The Boehner era has been one of budget blackmail, in which threats that Republicans will shut down the government or push it into default unless they get their way have become standard operating procedure.”

In the words of political analysts Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, “the G.O.P. has become an ‘insurgent outlier’ that is ‘ideologically extreme’ and ‘unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science.’ And Mr. Boehner did nothing to fight these tendencies. On the contrary, he catered to and fed the extremism.”

“Mr. Boehner is quitting because he found himself caught between the limits of the politically possible and a base that lives in its own reality. But don’t cry for (or with) Mr. Boehner; cry for America, which must find a way to live with a G.O.P. gone mad.”

GOP Stands Alone as the Only Climate Change-Denying Party

Jonathan Chait: “Of all the major conservative parties in the democratic world, the Republican Party stands alone in its denial of the legitimacy of climate science. Indeed, the Republican Party stands alone in its conviction that no national or international response to climate change is needed. To the extent that the party is divided on the issue, the gap separates candidates who openly dismiss climate science as a hoax, and those who, shying away from the political risks of blatant ignorance, instead couch their stance in the alleged impossibility of international action.”

“A new paper by Sondre Båtstrand studies the climate-change positions of electoral manifestos for the conservative parties in nine democracies, and finds the GOP truly stands apart. Opposition to any mitigation of greenhouse-gas emissions, he finds, ‘is only the case with the U.S. Republican Party, and hence not representative of conservative parties as a party family.’”

Does the Fed Need to Hike Interest Rates?

In her speech last Thursday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen reiterated her plan to increase interest rates this year despite doubts about the Fed’s ability to generate its 2% inflation rate target.

Matt Phillips in Quartz: “In explaining the Fed’s decision earlier this month to hold off on raising interest rates, Yellen highlighted persistently low market measures of inflation expectations. That’s a sign that the markets doubt the central bank’s ability to actually generate enough inflation to get back to its 2% target. And for good reason, the Fed has consistently been undershooting its inflation target in the aftermath of the Great Recession.”

Matthew Yglesias argues against a rate increase.

“Economic commentators seem to have a great deal of difficulty with this, but it’s time to admit that at the moment the United States simply isn’t facing a serious business cycle problem. Unemployment is on the low side, but so is inflation. Cheap commodity prices are giving everyone a boost, there are a lot of able-bodied adults who may or may not rejoin the workforce in the near future, and after a long stretch of weak wage growth there’s room for people to get some raises without corporate profits being squeezed to an untenable level.”

“Things are basically fine, and while a small increase in interest rates almost certainly wouldn’t be ruinous, there’s also no reason to do it.”

The More Americans Know About Congress, the More they Hate it

Gallup: Americans hold the U.S. Congress in very low esteem, with 49% rating the way Congress is handling its job as poor or bad and 15% rating it as excellent or good. But ratings of Congress are even worse among those who know the most about America’s legislative body. Among those who answer four or five questions correctly about how Congress works and who runs it, 66% rate Congress as poor or bad, and 7% rate it as excellent or good.

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“Highly educated Americans are much more knowledgeable than those with less education to have negative opinions of Congress. Also, Americans aged 30 and older are somewhat more knowledgeable and more negative toward Congress than those who are younger. There is little significant difference between knowledge and partisanship, showing that this is not a situation driven by traditional politics.”

“The fact that the most knowledgeable about Congress are the most critical has important implications for anyone focused on attempting to narrow the chasm that currently divides Americans and the people elected to represent them. It appears that Congress cannot merely talk its way out of its low ratings, but rather will need to actually perform better to win back public support among those who are paying the closest attention.”

Why Defunding Planned Parenthood Won’t Work

Sarah Kliff: “The ‘defund Planned Parenthood’ movement has a standard response to the question of where women would go if their local clinic closed: somewhere else.”

“But a Vox review of academic research, recent Planned Parenthood closures in Texas, and interviews with half a dozen health policy experts suggests the opposite. Historically, researchers have found that when Planned Parenthood clinics close, other clinics do not step up to fill the gap. Meanwhile, when there are fewer reproductive health clinics available, women get less reproductive health care — from birth control to cancer screenings to STD testing and treatment. Unintended pregnancies would likely increase, too.”

“Planned Parenthood exists in many places where other family planning clinics don’t: a new analysis from the Guttmacher Institute estimates that there are 103 counties in the United States where Planned Parenthood is the only provider of publicly funded contraceptives. In an additional 229 counties, Planned Parenthood serves the majority of women who are low-income and qualify for government help paying for birth control.”

“This relates to the other important fact to know about Planned Parenthood: It tends to serve way more women in public programs than do other places, like public health clinics or primary care doctors. They see, on average, 2,950 birth control patients per year, compared with the average of 750 seen at public health centers and 330 at federally qualified health centers.”

Texas Leads in Economic Growth for 2014

Wall Street Journal: “The fastest growing economies in the U.S. last year were largely found deep in the heart of Texas.”

“Half of the 16 U.S. metro areas where the economy grew at a 6% rate or better last year were in Texas, led by the energy-rich Midland region’s 24.1% advance in gross domestic product, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.”

“In Texas, Midland was followed by 11.4% growth in San Angelo and an 8.5% increase in Dallas. The fastest growing non-Texas areas were Lake Charles, La., up 10.3%, and Greely, Colo., up 9.9%.”

“The common theme among those regions is energy. Natural resources and mining, which includes oil and gas extraction, was a relatively small contributor to growth, on average, in U.S. metro areas. But for areas leading overall growth, it was among the biggest drivers.”

“Among the metro areas with the 25 largest economies, Dallas was the leader, followed by San Jose, Calif., up 6.7% and San Francisco, up 5.2%. The national largest metro economy, New York, increased 2.4%–matching the national increase in GDP.”

In Defense of Big Government

In light of recent corporate scandals, Paul Krugman calls for “effective regulation to police that kind of bad behavior, not least so that ethical businesspeople aren’t at a disadvantage when competing with less scrupulous types. But we knew that, right?”

“Well, we used to know it, thanks to the muckrakers and reformers of the Progressive Era. But Ronald Reagan insisted that government is always the problem, never the solution, and this has become dogma on the right.”

“A case in point: This week Jeb Bush, who has an uncanny talent for bad timing, chose to publish an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal denouncing the Obama administration for issuing ‘a flood of creativity-crushing and job-killing rules.’”

“The thing is, Mr. Bush isn’t wrong to suggest that there has been a move back toward more regulation under Mr. Obama … But the regulatory rebound is taking place for a reason. Maybe we had too much regulation in the 1970s, but we’ve now spent 35 years trusting business to do the right thing with minimal oversight — and it hasn’t worked.”

No, Obamacare Is Not a Job Killer

CNN: “Despite some dire predictions, Obamacare isn’t having much of an impact on hiring by businesses so far, according to a new study.”

“Employers with at least 100 full-time workers must offer health insurance to full-time employees who work 30 or more hours a week or pay a penalty, as of this year. This mandate will start applying to smaller companies with 50 or more full-timers in 2016.”

“But few employers report changing their staffing or hiring because of Obamacare, according to the 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Education Trust survey, released Tuesday.”

“Only 4% of employers with at least 50 full-time workers said they shifted some staffers from full-time to part-time schedules so that they wouldn’t qualify for health care. And another 4% said they were reducing the number of full-time employees they planned to hire because of the cost of health benefits.”

“‘Despite all the debate about the so-called employer mandate…the actual employer response does not match the rhetoric,’ said Drew Altman, the foundation’s president. ‘It’s muted. It’s modest. It cuts in different directions with no big shift to part-time employment.'”