U.S. Conservatives Outnumber Liberals by Narrowing Margin

Gallup: “Many more Americans have considered themselves politically conservative than liberal since the early 1990s. That remained the case in 2016, when an average of 36% of U.S. adults throughout the year identified themselves as conservative and 25% as liberal. Yet that 11-percentage-point margin is half of what it was at its peak in 1996 and is down from 14 points only two years ago.”

What Donald Trump Doesn’t Get About the Minimum Wage

“In the past, he [Mr. Trump] has said raising the minimum should be left to states, an idea also advanced by Andrew Puzder, the fast-food executive Mr. Trump tapped for labor secretary. What they fail (or refuse) to see is that state and local raises, while laudable, are not a substitute for a federal raise,” The New York Times Editorial Board argues.

“One problem with this state-by-state approach is that poverty is perpetuated in large areas, especially in the South, with its historical antipathy to labor protections.”

“Regional disparities in minimum wages lead, in turn, to unhealthy imbalances in the collection and distribution of taxes. The federal government tends to collect more tax revenue from states with higher minimum wages and send more in federal aid to states with low minimum wages, a transfer that becomes increasingly lopsided without a single, robust federal minimum wage.”

What History Has to Say About the Economy Trump Will Inherit

Bloomberg Markets: “Research suggests factors beyond the control of any U.S. president, not their actual policies, set the course of the economy. Yet with voters, President-Elect Donald Trump will secure much of the praise or blame when it comes to the impact of his agenda over the next four years.”

“Here are six charts that illustrate the economy that Trump — who wants to focus on “jobs, jobs, jobs” — will inherit from President Barack Obama and how it compares with historical standards.”

Almost 70% of Goldman Sachs Employees Are Millennials

Quartz: “The baby boom generation—people now aged between 52 and 70—is being gradually pushed out of the workforce by layoffs, buyouts, and forced early retirements even as they try to work longer to make up for retirement losses during the financial crisis. But is any employer getting rid of them faster than the world’s premier investment bank?”

“Goldman Sachs and its rival Wall Street firms are known for chewing up young folks fast and spitting them out, but to observers of a certain age (say, 40 and up) the relative youth at Goldman is stunning. In a LinkedIn post on Dec. 21, the company’s global head of human capital management—a title that itself tells us a lot about how Goldman thinks about people—writes that ‘our workforce is nearly 70% millennial—even our latest partner class is composed of 11% millennials, and of course, that number will only increase as the years go by.'”

No, the U.S. Doesn’t Need to Expand Its Nuclear Weapons Program

Steven Pifer: “Yes, there are diverse threats out there. But one should keep perspective… None of these threats mandates a numerical increase in U.S. nuclear weapons.”

“Nuclear policymaking should not be conducted by Twitter. A close and careful look at the data shows that the United States currently has sufficient nuclear forces for deterrent requirements plus plans to maintain those forces in the future. There is no need to increase their number.”

The Republican Plot to Devour Retirees’ Nest Eggs

Ryan Cooper: “Perhaps the most monstrous thing about the American medical system — and the bar for that title is high indeed — is predatory billing.”

“A great many medical providers adjust their prices based on how defenseless the patient is, and bleed the weakest ones for every last red cent, often with preposterously inflated charges for things like aspirin and bandages. A 2015 study looked at the worst price gougers in the country and found 50 hospitals that charged uninsured people roughly 10 times the actual cost of care.”

“Key to this practice is something called “balance billing,” and it’s why the American Medical Association is strongly supporting Donald Trump’s pick of Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicare. Balance billing is forbidden for Medicare enrollees, but Price wants to allow it — thus allowing doctors and hospitals to devour the nest eggs of thousands of American seniors.”

The World Today Looks Ominously Like It Did Before World War I

Washington Post: “To some, it looks ominously like another moment in history — the period leading up to World War I, which marked the end of a multi-decade expansion in global ties that many call the first era of globalization.”

“In a recent report, Josh Feinman, the chief global economist for Deutsche Asset Management, says that the world could see a substantial backsliding to globalization in decades to come. After all, he writes, we have seen it happen before, in the years of chaos and isolationism that encompassed the First and Second World Wars and the Great Depression.”

“As before World War I, the second great wave of globalization led to a surge in immigration and increasing inequality in some countries, which likely helped to trigger the current backlash.”

Faster Growth? Two Things Trump Supporters Won’t Like

New York Times: “…the closer you look at the math of economic growth, the more you see the inherent contradictions in trying to make that happen. The two strategies that would most directly help achieve that goal clash with other planks of Mr. Trump’s economic agenda.”

“Economic growth can happen two ways: More hours are worked, or more economic output is generated from each hour of labor.”

“But if the economy quickly became more productive, it would, at least in the short run, also risk the livelihoods of some of the very working-class people whom Mr. Trump pledges to help. And the surest way to increase the number of hours worked is to allow more immigration, which would be directly at odds with Mr. Trump’s get-tough stance on that topic.”

Trump Could Hit a Brick Wall on NAFTA

Politico: “President-elect Donald Trump may have ridden to the White House on a wave of working-class hatred for NAFTA, but he’s going to find it tough to deliver on his promise to scrap the trade agreement that he blames for sending U.S. jobs abroad.”

“Dramatically changing the pact could instead threaten 14 million American jobs that rely on trade with Canada and Mexico and send tremors throughout the North American business community, which has invested billions of dollars in developing ways to manufacture everything from cars and airplanes to pharmaceutical products using labor from multiple countries.”

“So far, Trump has offered few details about what changes he’d like to make to the pact, other than threatening to withdraw from it entirely unless Mexico and Canada agree to new terms. Business groups are hoping they can persuade him to instead ‘fix’ the agreement in ways that will benefit them.”

Trump is Now America’s Arms Deal Negotiator

Marcus Weisgerber: “Negotiations for the Pentagon’s next batch of 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters don’t technically resume until next month, but they’re clearly under way.”

“If the last few weeks serve as a precedent, a new, powerful player — the president of the United States — will replace Pentagon generals as the chief negotiator for multibillion arms deals.”

The U.S. Spends More on Health Care Than Any Other Country. Here’s What We’re Buying.

Washington Post: “American health-care spending, measured in trillions of dollars, boggles the mind. Last year, we spent $3.2 trillion on health care — a number so large that it can be difficult to grasp its scale.”

“A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals what patients and their insurers are spending that money on, breaking it down by 155 diseases, patient age and category — such as pharmaceuticals or hospitalizations.”

“The analysis provides some insight into what’s driving one particularly large statistic: Within a decade, close to a fifth of the American economy will consist of health care.”

Will Donald Trump’s Corporate ‘Tax Holiday’ Create Jobs? Not Necessarily

Leslie Picker: “President-elect Donald J. Trump has said he would like to create a “tax holiday” so that American companies can bring back profit that was generated overseas at a lower rate. In his view, this influx of cash will create jobs.”

“But corporate boards and executives may have different ideas.”

“They are likely to use much of the estimated $2 trillion held overseas to acquire businesses in the United States, to buy back their own stock or to pay down debt, say advisers of America’s top corporate executives.”

What’s New and What’s Not in the U.N. Resolution on Israeli Settlements

“None of this—the determination of ‘occupation,’ the inclusion of East Jerusalem, the U.S. abstention—was actually new. But two things were: the involvement of Donald Trump, not yet in office, in the process of tabling the resolution; and the sense that this was not merely a condemnation of Israeli settlements, nor an attempt to promote a two-state solution, but an attempt to prevent the worst of the no-solution reality,” Natan Sachs writes for the Brookings Institution.

“If there was any doubt—and there wasn’t—the Security Council again made clear its view on the legality of Israel’s settlements.”

“The U.S. abstention—the focus of a great deal of personal rage against Obama by Netanyahu and others—was not new either… until this latest resolution, Obama had been the only president not to let a resolution critical of Israeli policy pass in the Security Council.”

“Two things changed, quite dramatically, however. First, a new player entered the fray: the U.S. president-elect… Second: there is a new belief among the world powers, and many on the ground, that time is fast running out on the viability of a two-state solution.”