More gruel
Link Round Up, April 7, 2018

Link Round Up, April 7, 2018

What costs the U.S. Treasury $250B a year in lost revenue and is also a subsidy?

Which states stand to lose the most federal funding if people skip the U.S. Census?

Are Visa holders at greater risk by using social media?

How much do you really know where welfare dollars are spent?

The “talk” every black parent has to have with their sons about the limits to their future.

Why must the white middle class man suffer so much?











  1. This report released tonight about Michael Cohen’s direct involvement with the Russian effort to sabotage the Clinton campaign is a must read – tonight of all nights – as Trump engages Syria in a missile attack. There is a tremendous amount of detail in this piece proving Mueller has no need to interview the President. Subpoena him before a Grand Jury? Yes.

    1. Creigh – This is a most interesting article and a subject in which I have long interest. Years ago, we lived in Florida near a coastal development called “Seaside.” (15′) This concept was called “New Urbanism,” and was the product of an architectural firm led by founders Andres Duany and his wife, Elizabeth Plater-Zybeck. (Duany is an architect from Cuba who founded his firm in Miami, FL.) I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Mr. Duany in the Seaside Auditorium where he talked about the concept, which mirrors features discussed in the CreateStreets piece. (Here is a video of Duany where he speaks about the history of the New Urbanism concept. (1 hr)

      Seaside was intended to offer diverse housing opportunities to a variety of economic and social individuals. To allow people who worked in the development to live within the development as well as others. One of the challenges to keeping it affordable was that it abutted a gorgeous beach/Gulf stretch that attracted high net worth individuals who ended up driving up the price of the real estate there, crowding out the diversity element through sheer cost. Otherwise, Seaside “feels” like a European city – rear alleys with cars out of sight, front porches that were in close proximity to sidewalks to encourage people to interact easily, multi-story to maximize density, central garden/gathering area vs backyards, and a mix of commercial with residential (apartments over shops) that allowed people to walk, live, and shop easily. Duany went on to develop other properties in the area (Rosemary Beach) and many more throughout the U.S. and in Europe.

      One of the features of Europe I have always enjoyed is their use of town centers and parks that were integral to development. They encouraged people to congregate, to mix, to relax, and simply enjoy their surroundings. There is a great need in America for places like this as well as an opportunity to revitalize inner cities and offer a lifestyle to people who want connectivity with others as well as need convenience and age-appropriate design. I love the concept personally as an alternative to single-family housing. Thanks for the “off topic” post that takes us beyond the politics of our lives.

  2. That Slate article about welfare is excellent and should be required reading for anyone who’s considering converting medicaid into block grants.

    Short story: Welfare (specifically AFDC, or Aid to Families with Dependent Children) used to be an entitlement, where, based on income levels, etc. you are entitled to a certain amount of cash assistance. This was converted to a block grant in 1996 by Bill Clinton, which allows states the “flexibility” of taking their chunk of money and coming up with “creative” ways of providing assistance.

    Every supporter of block grants paints hoary pictures of states being the incubators of ideas, blah blah blah. The reality is that states, especially Republican-led ones, pounce on the money as a windfall source of revenue, and then use it like a general fund to fund their pet causes, most of which have nothing to do with actually providing assistance to poor people. They all think it’s great that the Federal Govt. spends money in their states, but think it’s BS that all that largesse goes to poor people.

    The same exact thing will happen with medicaid if it becomes block-granted. Do people really think that states that literally refused free money in Obamacare (100% federal payment of all expenses associated with expanded medicaid coverage) because they prefer poor people dying off like rats *even if it doesn’t cost them anything to save them*, would somehow turn around and use such funds for healthcare if they got access to it with no strings attached?

    Every conservative who pushes for block grants understands this. It’s just a way to take federal money earmarked for liberal causes like poverty and convert it to slush money to be used for something else. Frankly, if I had the choice of block-granting medicaid or just getting rid of it altogether, I’d rather get rid of it altogether. Better to save the money than have it diverted for other purposes. Only problem is that leaves the slush fund to be spent at the federal level, most likely finding its way to a corrupt defense contractor instead. Heads we lose. Tails they win.

  3. OT, mime. Sorry. But:

    Paul Vampire Ryan is not going to run for reelection, says NPR.

    The boy budgeting wonder evokes my disgust.

    He simply wants to hurt people who need help.

    He’ll retire with a pension, of course, unlike many other Americans who barely get by through no fault of their own.

    I’m glad he’s out.

    1. Politically and in my mind, I know it’s better that he’s chosen to retire – WI-01, even in a Democratic wave year, was going to be very tough with Ryan on the ticket. Without him, ratings have already flipped from Lean Republican to outright Toss-Up.

      Still, in my heart, it’s frustrating that the politically opportunistic little snake has chosen to slither away rather than face the music. What a little runt.

      1. From the transcript of Paul Ryan’s press conference where he announced his decision to not seek re-election:

        “I’m grateful for the president to give us this chance to actually get this stuff done. I’m grateful that we have unified government that the president with his victory gave us so we get all these big things done. We’re going to have a great record to run on. We have a great economy, great accomplishments, more to do. And I really don’t think that the American people are going to want to have the gridlock that the Democrats are promising. ” (doubling down on supporting Trump)

        In response to the question as to how he could feel good about leaving the nation without resolving the $1.9T budget deficit, Ryan replied:
        “…more work needs to be done, and it really is entitlements. That’s where the work needs to be done, and I’m going to keep fighting for that.” (doubling down on cuts to entitlements to pay for tax cuts)

    2. Ryan had a great deal of promise but his allegiance to party over country in the past few years caused me to lose respect for him. He will retire with a pension that is protected ($139K/yr) plus his government-matched (50% match + 5% option) for the rest of his life. Ryan is one of many in the GOP leadership who have lost their way, to put it politely.

      My one concern about his departure is what the next move of the Freedom Caucus will be. If more hard-right conservatives are elected in 2018, the FC numbers could be sufficient to unleash greater harm from a policy standpoint than we have witnessed thus far. Boehner and Ryan, to some extent, were at least buffers. I do not think McCarthy has the strength to oppose them and Scalise is unknown to me relative to relationship with the FC. The only solution is for such a huge win that these hardliners can be held at bay until gerrymandering is either overturned or demographics finally offset their district design.

      1. EJ – Partially true. His biggest interest has always been entitlement reform that he believes is necessary for tax reform to work. They tried and failed to pass entitlement reform (passed House, failed in Senate with Sen. McCain’s “no” vote – so, he got very close) but, failing that, he re-focused his energy upon tax cuts….the old “half a loaf” thing. The problem is, to pass tax cuts of a size that appeased the GOP base, the 2018 Omnibus Tax Bill blew a $1.5T hole in the deficit (and it increased with later changes). Trump wants to utilize a procedure, “Rescissions” that would allow changes in the appropriations bill within 45 days of passage of the former. Essentially, it would function as a line-item veto which was ruled unconstitutional, but this is supposedly a legal “work-around.” The problem is there is not much enthusiasm on the right or the left to break the agreement struck with Dems to secure the vote that attained the tax cuts, essentially breaking “their” word. Trump, of course, could care less about honoring a deal he very reluctantly signed, so we’ll see if that goes anywhere.

        Hope that helps! Yes, Ryan is a “numbers/policy” guy and was highly respected for his knowledge and commitment to balancing the budget. Instead, his legacy will be leaving a $1.9T budget deficit.

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