Monthly Archives: January 2020

Fair Isaac Strikes Again

Back when father was a lad, there was no such thing as a credit score. If you applied for a mortgage loan, you filled out the application showing income, assets, employer, the value of the house, and that was pretty much it. Mortgages, like applications, were simple. Somehow, loan officers did their jobs, there were very few foreclosures, and very few banks went bust. Then the wise guys started inventing really complicated mortgages, and something called FICO scores got [...]

By |2020-01-26T13:26:59-05:00January 26th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

When It Makes Sense to Challenge Incumbents

House Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Pramila Jayapal of Washington have made their peace with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They will resume paying dues to the House Democrats’ fundraising arm, even though DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos of Illinois has refused to alter her edict that campaign professionals who work for challengers to incumbents will be blacklisted and boycotted by the DCCC. Pocan and Jayapal said they were relenting for the sake of party unity. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of [...]

By |2020-01-26T13:26:29-05:00January 26th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Biden’s Fake Obama Endorsement

President Barack Obama, right, honors Vice President Joe Biden during a ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, January 12, 2017. Obama surprised Biden and presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Joe Biden is out with a TV ad that looks exactly like an endorsement by Barack Obama. Except that … Obama has scrupulously stayed neutral in the Democratic presidential primaries. The ad is cobbled together from parts of a speech Obama gave, with [...]

By |2020-01-26T13:25:45-05:00January 26th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

The Cruel Vagaries of Random Primaries

This is the moment when we once again reflect on the utter randomness—and fatefulness—of the primary schedule and system. This year is even crueler than usual because of the interaction of the Senate impeachment trial with the early primary and precinct states. Consider: Any of four candidates could plausibly win Iowa and New Hampshire, and Nevada could also be up for grabs. Depending on whether a single candidate sweeps all three or the results splinter, the momentum of the [...]

By |2020-01-26T13:25:10-05:00January 26th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Fake News: Trump’s Trade Deals

As last night’s Democratic candidates’ debate underscored, the gains of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal are at best modest. But it was a political win for Trump. First, it split the Democratic field. Second, the deal enlisted the support of the AFL-CIO, signaling Trump was delivering for American workers, even though the gains were pitifully small and did nothing to prevent the continuing loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs. Same story with Trump’s much promoted “Phase 1” China deal. Basically, [...]

By |2020-01-26T13:24:25-05:00January 26th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Financial Beanbag and Financial Hardball

The Trump administration, pressuring Iraq to keep American troops, has issued this warning: If U.S. troops are booted out, as the Iraqi parliament voted last week, the U.S. will block Iraqi access to its central bank’s account at the New York Federal Reserve. This in turn, would wreak havoc with the Iraqi currency and financial system. That’s hardball. The U.S., still the center of the global financial system, has many such weapons. But it uses them very selectively. Consider the new [...]

By |2020-01-26T13:23:27-05:00January 26th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Will Trump Get Away With This?

So far, Iran’s response has been pretty feeble. And since Trump doesn’t do restraint, the Iranian leadership is coming under international pressure to display restraint. Iran seems to be seeking proportional forms of retaliation that don’t produce counter-retaliation by Trump. So far, the Iranians haven’t found anything that quite threads this needle. Score one for Trump. When you are certifiably nuts and capable of almost anything, that does tend to keep your adversaries off-balance. The Iranians must be thinking [...]

By |2020-01-13T12:51:32-05:00January 13th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Putin: World Statesman

One of the accomplishments of Trump’s abrupt move to conduct foreign policy by assassination is to make Vladimir Putin look like one of the adults in the room. Putin has just invited Germany’s Angela Merkel to Moscow to explore how to prevent the crisis from deepening—and perhaps salvage something of the Iran nuclear deal, of which both Germany and Russia were major partners and guarantors. Putin has his own radical Islamists to contend with. Though he has had his own tactical [...]

By |2020-01-13T12:50:53-05:00January 13th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Earth to Mitt Romney

The Democrats need four Republican senators to vote with them on the rules of the Senate impeachment trial. This could compel the calling of witnesses, and even perhaps require a final conviction vote by secret ballot. So far, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine have both declared that they expect a fair trial with the outcome not prejudged, much less with Mitch McConnell working hand in glove with the White House. But where’s Mitt? In the past, he [...]

By |2020-01-13T12:50:10-05:00January 13th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Just How Solid Is the Trump Economic Boom?

It’s not hard to demonstrate all the soft spots in the economy that Trump keeps bragging about. What’s hard is to predict the political effect. Normally, incumbent presidents get re-elected when the economy is strong. A Yale economist named Ray Fair has even reduced this tendency to a mathematic model, with surprisingly good predictive power. But this is neither a normal president nor a normal economic boom. For starters, though wage growth is finally ticking upward, ordinary workers have nothing [...]

By |2020-01-13T12:49:29-05:00January 13th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments