Posts by Nick Cassella

“The Other Washington” Is Out! Check Out Our New Podcast Here

“The Other Washington” Is Out! Check Out Our New Podcast Here

After months of effort (and Goldy yammering on about the importance of the Lochner era), we are proud to release “ The Other Washington ” – a podcast on politics and policy from way outside the Beltway. Our first episode focuses on the $15 minimum wage, where we explore how Seattle civic leaders brought this “ near insane ” idea to the forefront of political economy. We may forget about it now, but five years ago you would have been laughed out of a room if you proposed a $15 minimum wage. Not so anymore. In 2015 alone, 14 states and cities approved a $15 minimum wage . Now, two-thirds of American mayors said they would support raising the minimum wage, with 37 percent saying they’d raise it to $15 . In other words, we are gaining ground quickly. That said, the Fight for $15 movement is in its infancy. We hope this podcast shines a light on its beginnings and inspires you to think about this issue more. If you’re super impressed with the editing and sound quality, note that Larj media produced this podcast. The executive producer, Tina Nole, is fantastic and deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the final product. Don’t forget to subscribe to iTunes here , where you can also rate and review!

Daily Clips: February 5th, 2016

Daily Clips: February 5th, 2016

Unemployment rate falls below 5% for first time since 2008:  First, the bad news: The economy added 151,000 jobs in January, but economists were expecting 190,000.  Meh. Now the good news: the unemployment rate is still declining and has now reached eight-year-lows. All in all, a pretty disappointing jobs report for the Obama administration. Does the press treat Chelsea Clinton with too much deference?  It’s an interesting question. Here are some interesting tidbits from the Politico piece. As Vanity Fair reported , in early 2008 the Clinton campaign placed “warning calls” to David Shuster, then at MSNBC, the day after he asked her a couple of questions (that went unanswered) at a campaign event. Chelsea, age 27, was off-limits, the campaign said. Chelsea Clinton deserves no special treatment from the press, and from what I can tell, she no longer expects it. “I’m really grateful I grew up in a house in which media literacy was a survival skill,” she said upon becoming an NBC News correspondent in 2011. Nobody put it better than Halperin last month when he said , “The notion of laying off her seems ridiculous. Fair coverage, but not no coverage.” David Brooks lectures the people about morality: Something new and different for his latest column. Give it a rest, David. You can’t lecture people about altruism when you’re supporting a candidate (Rubio) that doesn’t believe in the minimum wage or climate change.

Daily Clips: February 4th, 2016

Daily Clips: February 4th, 2016

Clinton blasts Wall Street, but still draws millions in contributions:  Bernie Sanders has certainly made Hillary’s rhetoric on Wall Street much more progressive. But as she talks about this issue, her supporters must know that “through the end of December, donors at hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial-services firms had given at least $21.4 million to support Clinton’s 2016 presidential run.” That’s a lot of money. And of course that sort of money influences policies she will end up implementing. The trick for Hillary will be explaining to the American people why this time is different. She needs to explain that in today’s day and age, you must play by the game or get beaten. She did a good job last night at the Democratic Town Hall, where she reminded the audience that the Koch brothers will spend nearly $750 billion on defeating the Democratic nominee. She needs to repeat this more. She needs the American people to know that there are evil forces at work. To beat the game, she must also play the game. Please be aware, I’m not saying this makes her donations just. I’m saying this is the best strategy she has for rationalizing her connections to dubious partners. Obama visits a Muslim mosque for the first time:  Why did it take him this long to reassure American Muslims that they have a place in our society? This question will be an interesting one to explore post-presidency. It certainly feels like the gesture could have been made years ago. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful speech. Civil rights activist Deray McKesson to run for Baltimore mayor: You can donate here . Video of the day – Santorum can’t name Rubio accomplishments on Morning Joe:  Too good.

Harvard Could Pay For Its Students’ Tuition. Why Doesn’t It?

Harvard Could Pay For Its Students’ Tuition. Why Doesn’t It?

The other day, a  letter to the editor  in the New York Times caught my attention. It was in regards to free tuition at Harvard and the writer, Ron Unz, made this very interesting point: While it is true that students with family income of $65,000 or less may now attend Harvard tuition free, let’s consider a couple living in New York City with one child, a combined income of more than $180,000 and savings of $100,000. Based on the Harvard net price calculator, they would pay a four-year total cost of $150,000 (including room and board) to send their son or daughter to Harvard. This seems a severe financial burden to many middle-class and upper-middle-class couples. Yes, indeed, it does. I can speak from experience. When I went to college, I was not granted financial aid because I was lucky enough to grow up in an upper-middle-class household. Yet even with this financial security, the price of tuition was a huge load for my parents to bear (and now subsequently for me, as I repay my student loans). “So what,” I can hear you saying. “You got to attend university and in the long run you will come off better for it. Big deal.” Is it a good outcome for society when extremely well-endowed universities shift the financial burden of tuition to American families? Consider this: Totally eliminating tuition at the college would require merely using 4 percent of Harvard’s yearly investment income while still allowing the remaining 96 percent to be reinvested in the financial activities that appear to constitute the primary purpose of the totally tax-exempt $38 billion endowment, now ranking as one of the world’s largest hedge funds. Harvard, like many universities, is sitting on billions of dollars while asking middle class families and students to take out thousands of dollars in loans. Is that productive?
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Daily Clips: February 3rd, 2016

Daily Clips: February 3rd, 2016

Goodbye, Rand:  Rand Paul 2016… a dream that never left the ground. I’ll never forget the morning when Paul Constant and I went to Town Hall to hear the libertarian  tell the audience, “If you doubt me on the 2nd Amendment, come into my house unannounced.” Good grief. In a party (and country) where security is prioritized over privacy, where crude use of hard power is preferred over isolationism, where “big government” is actually preferable to small government, Rand never had a shot. Farewell, sweet Rand. Just like your father, your opinions never connected with enough of the US population to ever have a chance. See you in 2020. Obama makes his first visit to US mosque today:  A savvy move by Obama. Here he is emphasizing the importance of inclusion in our society, while the GOP is mired in a campaign to degrade and dehumanize Muslims. Honestly, I’m surprised he hasn’t visited a mosque prior to 2016. Seems like a missed opportunity to shame his opponents’ xenophobia. Poll says most voters open to a political revolution to redistribute wealth:  

Daily Clips: February 2nd, 2016

Daily Clips: February 2nd, 2016

Oh look, a David Brooks article anointing Marco Rubio…just as I suspected:  After the caucuses last night, you could see a media narrative being written in real time. CNN and Fox were lathering praise upon Marco Rubio’s third place finish and you could nearly hear “moderate” Republicans typing with glee about the resurgence of Magic Marco. To which I tweeted… And sure enough, they didn’t let me down. This was Brooks’ “take” on the night: The amazing surge for Marco Rubio shows that the Republican electorate has not gone collectively insane. At the last moment, and in a state that is not naturally friendly to him, a lot of Republicans showed up to support a conservative who could conceivably get elected and govern. Marco Rubio now has his moment. He is the only candidate who can plausibly unify the party. Desperate Cruz-hating Republicans will turn their faces to him. Now look at Jennifer Rubin’s  fawning article: And the “real winner,” as the MSM likes to say, is Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), who took in about 23 percent, far outpacing his polling and virtually tying Trump. He withstood an avalanche of negative ads, most particularly from Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise Super PAC. Mike Huckabee has announced he is  getting out of the race, the beginning — Rubio hopes — of a stampede of dropouts that will leave him as the standard bearer of the mainstream Republican majority. Michael Gerson was unfortunately “off” today, so we’ll have to wait and see how he reacts to the caucuses. But like these other two “moderates,” I’m presuming he also will find that the third place finisher was the real “winner.” Poll: Two-thirds of New Yorkers support $15 an hour minimum wage

Daily Clips: February 1st, 2016

Daily Clips: February 1st, 2016

Barclays, Credit Suisse break the law…again:   Barclays and Credit Suisse have settled federal and state charges that they misled investors in their dark pools, with Barclays admitting it broke the law and agreeing to pay $70 million, federal and New York state officials said on Sunday. The settlements between the banks and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the New York state attorney general mark the two largest fines ever paid in connection with cases involving dark pools. MY NOTE: Dark pools are a private forum for trading securities. Liquidity on these markets is called dark pool liquidity. The amount to be paid, in fines and disgorgement, is a combined total of $154.3 million. Here’s another example of the big banks doing whatever the hell they want, with almost no penalty. I’m sure that “big” 70 million fine will make them think twice before engaging in illegal activity. Good news for Donald: New from Quinnipiac in Iowa: First-time caucus-goers: Trump 40, Cruz 22, Rubio 15.Previous caucus-goers: Cruz 26, Trump 25, Rubio 20. — Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) February 1, 2016 Economists see 20% chance of US recession:   A Financial Times survey of 51 economists, conducted in the days after the Fed’s January meeting, underscores the impact of the past month’s severe market turbulence and a string of lacklustre economic reports out of the US and  China .

Daily Clips: January 29th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 29th, 2016

What economists got wrong about free trade:  A new paper suggests that the downsides of free trade have been downplayed by economists and politicians alike. There has been a long standing assumption within these circles that workers’ main recourse against the disruption of free trade is their “desire and ability to pack up and move to a new city with more jobs.” The problem? That assumption doesn’t have a very firm basis in reality. They look at an example in Tennessee where “few workers within the commuting zone of struggling plants moved away after their work prospects declined.” A lot of this is highly unsurprising. For right now, however, we know that free trade is a staple of our current economic system. It’s not going away anytime soon. So how do we deal with this?  How can we ensure people have the economic means to move if their jobs become redundant? Weekly look at a David Brooks article: It’s articles like these that make me get up in the morning. FOR ONCE, Brooks has written a truly brilliant column on the state of American conservatism. He laments how far to the right “conservative” ideology has meandered and he takes a look across the Atlantic to see what conservatism used to looked like. He quotes, at length, a speech from Prime Minister David Cameron where he addressed the state of poverty in the UK: The welfare state and the market are important, but, [Cameron] argues, “talk to a single mum on a poverty-stricken estate, someone who suffers from chronic depression, someone who perhaps drinks all day to numb the pain of the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. Tell her that because her benefits have risen by a couple of pounds a week, she and her children have been magically lifted out of poverty. Or on the other hand, if you told her about the great opportunities created
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Daily Clips: January 28th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 28th, 2016

Economics might be very wrong about growth: Our team here has often spoken about the need for some serious conceptual change when it comes to conceiving of economic growth (see here  &  here ). In this article, the author tackles the long-held assumptions of economic growth: the idea of exponential growth rests at the core of essentially all modern theories of growth – theories purporting to explain how capital, labor and technology combine to increase productivity. How valuable can such concepts be if they don’t even get the basic observed pattern of growth right?Perhaps Summers and Gordon are correct that the fast growth seen over the past couple centuries was a unique, unparalleled episode, and that future growth will be much slower about standard economies: Elizabeth Warren: Anyone Who Says ‘Change Is Just Too Hard’ Is in ‘Bed With the Billionaires’  She’s certainly got a point. Will Washington Pass nation’s First State-Level Carbon Tax?  There will be a ballot initiative in 2016 where Washingtonians can decide whether or not they want to attach a $15-per-ton tax on carbon emissions (which adds up to about 25 cents on a gallon of gas). The levy would gradually rise over the next 40 years. Tweet of the day: A student tells Sanders that the case for climate change seems fake to her. "Thank you for the question," he says. "You're wrong." — daveweigel (@daveweigel) January 28, 2016

Daily Clips: January 27th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 27th, 2016

Nick Hanauer joins Iowa public radio:  Iowa has much lower rates of income inequality compared to the nation as a whole, but in the last fifteen years they’ve been slowly catching up to national levels. Unfortunately. In this interview, Nick Hanauer ridicules trickle-down economics and highlights the necessity for middle-out economics, which puts the middle class at the heart of economic growth and not the rich. As he says, You don’t pour money into rich people and have prosperity pop out the other end like donuts. Never thought of it that way. Jobs are under attack, but not by robots:  There are a lot of people that are techno-pessimists. We here at Civic Skunk Works are not apart of this group. And a new article follows our line of thinking, arguing that robots and automation are not holding back our economy, that in fact: Slower productivity growth and low-wage jobs are leading to the unequal distribution of productivity gains. Those are the real headwinds that America faces. Tweet of the day: Elizabeth Warren: “Right now i’m hearing a lot of ideas on our side to try to make college affordable for hardworking people and i don’t hear anything from Republicans except ‘no’.”