Congress Dodges a Legislative Response to Mass Shootings

Aaron Blake in The Washington Post: “President Obama on Thursday night passionately implored gun-control supporters to ‘politicize’ the mass shooting in Oregon. But as we wrote this morning, it’s still very unlikely the latest tragedy will have much impact on what is a long-stalled gun debate. And in Congress, it’s clear that the impetus for action just hasn’t been there.”

“The below chart … shows that congressional mentions of mass shootings in the context of gun control and mental health issues peaked during the debate after the late-2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn., when the White House unsuccessfully pushed for increased background checks for gun purchases.”

“There was less chatter about these issues after the next major mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, and even less after the massacre at a black church in Charleston, S.C., earlier this year.”

How Much Will Obamacare Premiums Rise in 2016?

The Hill: “Premiums on ObamaCare plans in 14 major cities are set to increase by an average of 4.4 percent in 2016, according to a new analysis.”

“The analysis from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation looks at 14 cities where complete data on rates from all insurers on ObamaCare’s marketplaces is available, and will be updated as more states release data.”

“While the average increase is relatively modest, some cities are seeing much larger spikes. It is also clear that premiums are increasing more than they did last year, when premiums in these 14 cities on average actually fell by 1.3 percent.”

8747 - Silver Premium Percent Change from Previous Year_100115

How Do Americans Feel About Their Financial Situation? So-So.

Gallup: “Half of Americans, on average, so far this year say they are feeling better about their financial situation. This may not seem like a highly positive state of affairs, but it marks a modest improvement from two years ago, when an average of 43% said they were feeling better about their finances.”

Are you feeling better about your financial situation these days, or not?

“These questions reflect not just the reality of how much money people have, but also how they think about their financial situation. Even though Americans are slightly more positive than they were two years ago, they are clearly not greatly optimistic about their financial situation, with just about half saying they are feeling better about it. And while Americans like to feel they are monitoring their spending closely and attempting to control how much they spend, these attitudes have not changed dramatically since 2013.”

Americans Are Drinking Less Soda

Margot Sanger-Katz: “Over the last 20 years, sales of full-calorie soda in the United States have plummeted by more than 25 percent. Soda consumption, which rocketed from the 1960s through 1990s, is now experiencing a serious and sustained decline.”

“The drop in soda consumption represents the single largest change in the American diet in the last decade and is responsible for a substantial reduction in the number of daily calories consumed by the average American child. From 2004 to 2012, children consumed 79 fewer sugar-sweetened beverage calories a day, according to a large government survey, representing a 4 percent cut in calories over all. As total calorie intake has declined, obesity rates among school-age children appear to have leveled off.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 8.43.44 PM

“In explaining the disdain for sodas … industry executives have noted that consumers these days seem more interested in healthier or natural products. They are also frank about other attitude changes that are a threat to their businesses.”

“The changing patterns of soda drinking appear to come thanks, in part, to a loud campaign to eradicate sodas. School cafeterias and vending machines no longer contain regular sodas. Many workplaces and government offices have similarly prohibited their sale.”

The U.S. Is Much More Violent Than Other Countries

Slate: “The U.S. really is far more violent than other advanced countries, and you need only to glance at the above chart to see it. The chart, created by Kieran Healy, a professor of sociology at Duke University and republished here with permission, shows the rate at which people die by assault in the U.S. and how that rate has changed over time in orange. In blue, it shows the rates of 23 other wealthy countries. The good news is that the U.S.’s rate has steadily declined since 1980. The bad news is that we’re still about three times as violent as any other country in the dataset.”

How Wealthy Donors Get What They Want

Paul Krugman asks why every Republican candidate is obsessed with cutting taxes for the wealthy.

“True, you can find self-proclaimed economic experts claiming to find overall evidence that low tax rates spur economic growth, but such experts invariably turn out to be on the payroll of right-wing pressure groups …  Independent studies of the correlation between tax rates and economic growth, for example by the Congressional Research Service, consistently find no relationship at all.”

“Still, tax cuts are politically popular, right? Actually, no, at least when it comes to tax cuts for the wealthy. According to Gallup, only 13 percent of Americans believe that upper-income individuals pay too much in taxes, while 61 percent believe that they pay too little. Even among self-identified Republicans, those who say that the rich should pay more outnumber those who say they should pay less by two to one.”

“It’s straightforward and quite stark: Republicans support big tax cuts for the wealthy because that’s what wealthy donors want. No doubt most of those donors have managed to convince themselves that what’s good for them is good for America. But at root it’s about rich people supporting politicians who will make them richer. Everything else is just rationalization.”

Experts Defend Obamacare ‘Cadillac’ Tax

The Hill: “Dozens of economists and health experts from both sides of the aisle are coming to the defense of ObamaCare’s embattled Cadillac tax.”

“The 101 experts argue, in a letter distributed by the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, that the tax on high-cost health plans will slow the rise of healthcare costs, because employers don’t have enough incentive now to limit the sort of plans they offer.”

“The letter comes after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed scrapping the Cadillac tax, a position that is popular among organized labor. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), another Democratic candidate, also opposes the tax, and Republicans have long sought to repeal it.”

Which Candidate Lies Most?

Philip Bump: “Every time a candidate says something that sounds too good to be true, The Post’s Glenn Kessler and team try to determine whether it is. By now, The Post’s fact-checking team has amassed more than 100 ratings of statements from the 2016 candidates, allowing us, at last, to do a bit of meta-analysis

The Post’s Glenn Kessler and his colleague Michelle Ye Hee Lee “issue a certain number of ‘pinocchios’ to candidate statements, ranging from zero to four. Zero pinocchios means that the statement was true. Four? Quite the opposite.”

“We took all of the fact checks that the Post has done for all of the 2016 candidates and compared them.”


“Lindsey Graham — fact-checked once and found wanting — has the worst average. Several candidates have two-pinocchio averages, which is as good as it gets.”