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.”


Are Democrats Angrier than Republicans?

Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post: “A majority — 56 percent — of likely Democratic primary voters said that they ‘feel angry because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington, rather than it working to help everyday people get ahead.’ By contrast, just 37 percent of Republican primary voters express that same anger.”

Here’s a look at how the overall electorate feels on the question:

“What gives? My guess is that the populist strain runs more powerfully at the moment in the Democratic party than in the GOP. Democratic base voters — and that’s who says they are likely primary voters this far away from an election — see economic inequality as the issue of our times and are mad as hell that politicians in both parties aren’t doing enough about it.”

Which State is Most Like the United States?

Philip Bump looks “at the demographic composition of the states as a guide to figuring out which actually matched the United States most closely.”

“Using a big index of census data, I compared each state’s density of racial populations, education, housing status, age groups and a few other metrics and arrived at a simple answer to the question of where the first primary should be held.”

“The state that is most like the United States on the whole? Illinois — followed by Missouri, Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia. The least like the nation on the whole? Hawaii.”

EPA Prepares to Institute New Ozone Rule

The Hill: “The Obama administration is poised this week to issue a final rule on ozone levels that business groups contend would be the single most expensive regulation ever imposed by the U.S. government.”

“The air pollution rule, due by Thursday, will touch off another flurry of legal battles and congressional tussling over the president’s environmental agenda, with business groups and Republicans opposed to the rule looking to block it.”

“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to tighten its standard for surface-level ozone from 75 parts per billion to between 65 and 70 parts per billion. Green groups and health organizations say a tighter standard will help the environment and improve public health, but they too feel they could be left disappointed in the long-awaited rule.”

“Industry lawsuits might put green groups into the position of defending the EPA while also suing for a stronger standard. On Monday, a coalition of groups warned that the EPA should institute the strictest rule it can and said they might sue the agency if it doesn’t.”

Clinton Calls for a Repeal of Obamacare ‘Cadillac’ Tax. Americans Agree.

National Journal: “Hil­lary Clin­ton on Tues­day called for a re­peal of the Af­ford­able Care Act’s ‘Ca­dillac’ tax, op­pos­ing a piece of Obama’s health care law for the first time.”

“Un­til now, Clin­ton has re­peatedly stressed her sup­port for the law, point­ing to its suc­cesses and ad­voc­at­ing for fur­ther im­ple­ment­a­tion, such as Medi­caid ex­pan­sion. In do­ing so, she has planted her­self in the middle of a de­bate that also fea­tures Sen. Bernie Sanders to the left ad­voc­at­ing for a single-pay­er sys­tem and Re­pub­lic­ans to the right who want to re­peal and re­place Obama­care in its en­tirety.”

Today’s Kaiser Family Foundation newsletter points to a new KFF poll showing that most Americans oppose the tax.

“Not surprisingly given the U.S. public’s general wariness of taxes, a majority (60%) opposes the Cadillac tax, which would affect higher-cost employer-sponsored health plans beginning in 2018. Republicans and independents are more likely to oppose the tax than Democrats, who may hold more favorable views of the tax due to its role in helping fund other parts of the Affordable Care Act, which Democrats widely favor.”

“The public’s views on the tax are somewhat fluid, and arguments for or against it can persuade some to shift their views, particularly when framed around the tax’s potential effect on health care costs.”

Figure 3

Easing Up on Benefit Restrictions for Criminals

Wall Street Journal: “States increasingly are abolishing a two-decade-old ban on welfare and food stamps for people convicted of drug crimes, the latest in a wave of policy changes aimed at easing the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction.”

“This year, Alabama and Texas lifted restrictions on food stamps for ex-offenders, following similar moves by California and Missouri in 2014. Alabama’s law also permits former convicts who submit to drug testing to receive welfare.”

“Congress disqualified people convicted of state and federal drug offenses—but not other crimes—from receiving such benefits in a 1996 overhaul of federal welfare programs. The law, however, allows states to make exceptions as they see fit.”

“The mounting costs of incarceration, cast in sharp relief during the recession, has led to a greater emphasis by state lawmakers on reducing recidivism. Many states are reconsidering collateral consequences of criminal convictions that could jeopardize an ex-offender’s successful re-entry into society.”

A Corrupt Congress? Americans Think So.

Gallup: “Most Americans appear to have little faith in most lawmakers to do the right thing. Majorities believe that most members of Congress are ‘out of touch with average Americans’ (79%), ‘focused on the needs of special interests’ rather than the needs of their constituents (69%) and corrupt (52%). Americans are less critical of their own representatives, but substantial percentages say their own member of Congress is out of touch (48%), focused on special interests (47%) and corrupt (32%).”

Americans' Views on Their Member and Most Members of Congress, September 2015

“Majorities of Americans view most members of Congress as corrupt, beholden to special interests and out of touch. This is not new and perhaps not even surprising, given the low esteem in which Americans hold the institution. But this cynicism is beginning to influence Americans’ views of their own federal representatives, not just the national legislature. Record or near-record numbers of U.S. adults say their local representative is out of touch and focused on serving special interests rather than their constituents.”