At Slate, Matt Yglesias rebuts the claim that the weak recovery is driven by slow consumer demand by producing this Federal Reserve Economic Data chart (left), showing that personal consumption expenditures have outperformed the rest of the private economy since late 2007.
The big laggards are residential fixed investment (homes) and non-residential fixed investment, which Yglesias notes reflects mostly weakness in commercial real estate development. “Basically we're not building malls and offices,” he writes.Read more »
President Barack Obama and the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, will have their first televised debate this week in Denver. These events are now woven into the U.S. political fabric on the national and state level.
Yet an archive of the most memorable moments wouldn't feature many exchanges over taxes, schools or national security; it would be a blooper reel.Read more »
Some taxes work better than others. Good taxes do little damage to the economy and are difficult for taxpayers to avoid by changing their behavior. And if you look at America's long-term budget projections, we're going to need more taxes in the future, so we should be extra sure that we're choosing good ones.
This morning, I wrote that estate taxes and capital gains taxes are both inherently troubled: They encourage taxpayers to jump through hoops to avoid taxable transfers. But if we can't rely on these sorts of taxes, which ones should we rely on?Read more »
According to gruesome accounts printed in the press, the baby was still alive when it hit the ground and shattered its skull. The neighbors, most of whom were home due to the Malaysia Day national holiday, found it covered in blood, its umbilical cord still attached.Read more »
Over at the Atlantic, Robert Wright has made a case that the campaign worm is about to turn. Not necessarily the worm that determines who emerges victorious on Nov. 6 -- that worm is looking like it's in danger of commencing rigor mortis. Instead, Wright focuses on the "narrative" worm; the way the news media entertains us (and, more importantly, itself) when political life grows too staid and predictable.Read more »
The Tappan Zee Bridge up the Hudson River from New York City should never have been built in the first place. Spanning three miles between Rockland County in the west and Westchester County in the east, about 20 miles north of Times Square, the bridge is built at one of the widest points in the Hudson, defying basic precepts of good engineering.
The bridge was built to suit New York politicians, who didn't want to have to share the bridge with New Jersey. If it had been built south a few miles, as geography dictates, it would have connected two states and been under the control of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.Read more »
Yesterday, Bloomberg's Jesse Drucker broke the news that Mitt Romney is using a generation-skipping trust to reduce taxes on his estate. Romney's strategy is complicated, but it boils down to contributing assets with a low stated value, so that gains on the assets will be subject only to capital gains tax, and not to estate tax.
I'm not seeing any suggestion that what Romney did is illegal. And to the extent that he obeyed the law, I don't see why this is a reason to be critical of Romney. He's just trying to reduce his tax bill like everybody else is.Read more »
[M]any of the folks who are despairing about Romney would actually love what he would do in office. Romney’s metric-obsessed transition team is fleshing out a “200-day plan” (100 days wasn’t enough time to pass a bunch of big bills) aimed at goosing the recovery and creating jobs by bringing corporate cash off the sidelines in the United States and attracting investment from abroad.Read more »
Whoever produced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cheesy graphic of a bomb for his United Nations General Assembly presentation today should consider a new line of work. Netanyahu, who tends to pomposity, is an easy target to start with, and his cartoonish graphic was predictably mocked.
It's too bad Netanyahu's talk played for snickers, however. His topic -- Iran's nuclear program -- was as serious as they come, and his message was smart and a little different this time. It's not usual for an Israeli leader to downplay the capabilities of the country's intelligence services. Yet Netanyahu did just that in his plea, mostly to the U.S., to draw a red line beyond which Iran cannot advance its nuclear program without provoking a military response.Read more »