Kuttner on TAP

The Virus Has Claimed Its First American Victim

That would be Donald J. Trump. Because it vividly displays the limits of Trump’s master strategy of bullshitting. It’s one thing to disdain science when the consequences are remote and indirect; another when the result is a country unprepared for an escalating epidemic that puts even your truest believers at risk. It’s one thing to fire public officials who are following their constitutional duties on national security or administration of justice for insufficient personal loyalty. It’s another to threaten, [...]

By |2020-03-01T20:01:17-05:00March 1st, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Democrats, Get a Grip. Trump Is Very Beatable.

OK, Democrats have been whacking away at each other, and nobody won the last debate except Trump. But take a good look at the numbers and think hard about them state by state, where elections are won or lost. Several of the serious contenders for the Democratic nomination could beat Trump. Recent polls show Sanders, Warren, and Biden all beating him. Hardcore Trump support hovers in the mid-40s on a good day, and that is unlikely to increase. Once Democrats get past [...]

By |2020-03-01T20:00:34-05:00March 1st, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

A Viral Recession: Trump’s Just Desert

Financial markets have finally been registering a grim reality. The coronavirus epidemic is likely to have more than a trivial effect on the global economy. New ramifications keep appearing every day. Not only are global supply chains affected. Tourism is taking a big hit. Fewer people are booking cruises, and even business travelers are starting to think twice about nonessential air travel. China is not only a supplier to Western manufacturers. China is a large source of global demand. [...]

By |2020-03-01T19:59:56-05:00March 1st, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Slouching Toward Milwaukee

The Democrats’ only chance for avoiding the chaos and recriminations of a brokered convention is if the race winnows down fast. This is not likely. Even if, say, Buttigieg and Klobuchar lag badly in both Nevada and South Carolina, they will hang on through Super Tuesday, just a few days afterward on March 3. Suppose both drop out at that point, and the air keeps going out of Mike Bloomberg’s balloon. Even so, that still leaves at least four [...]

By |2020-03-01T19:59:23-05:00March 1st, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

More on the Culinary Workers and Medicare for All

Yesterday, I posted a piece on the Culinary Workers’ dust-up with Bernie Sanders in the context of the upcoming Nevada precinct caucuses. The Culinary, part of UNITE HERE, wants an exception for their superb health plan. Sanders’s version of Medicare for All doesn’t allow it. So unlike much of organized labor in the Casino State, Culinary is not endorsing him. A few interesting complications: Yesterday, Sanders asked his supporters to stop trolling and trashing the Culinary Union. Amen. I received a complaint from a reader [...]

By |2020-03-01T19:58:35-05:00March 1st, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

The First Brokered Democratic Convention Since 1952

By late March, nearly 60 percent of pledged delegates will be elected. With a large field, this arithmetic makes it vanishingly unlikely that a nominee will be chosen on the first ballot. Front-runners Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg won Iowa and New Hampshire with barely 26 percent of the vote, a record low. Nevada portends more of the same—a fragmented field, a weak winner. At least six candidates will likely be alive through Super Tuesday (March 3) and quite [...]

By |2020-03-01T19:57:27-05:00March 1st, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Financial Engineers Ravage American Newspapers—McClatchy’s Turn

Friday’s news reports played the story as McClatchy filing for bankruptcy. But that’s not the deeper story. The venerable chain, publisher of The Sacramento Bee, Miami Herald, and 28 other papers, is doing a deal with a hedge fund, Chatham Asset Management, which also owns supermarket tabloids. The first part of the complex deal entails putting McClatchy into bankruptcy, so that it can shed a lot of its debt, notably the costs of its $1.4 billion worker pension fund. That makes it a more [...]

By |2020-03-01T19:56:38-05:00March 1st, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Democrats Default, Trump Gains

The Federal Trade Commission, with a majority of Trump appointees, has just launched a full-scale investigation of abuse of monopoly power by the tech platform giants—Google, Amazon, Facebook et al. The inquiry will focus on more than 400 strategic acquisitions over a decade, which big tech companies have used to cement their monopoly stranglehold, such as Facebook’s purchase of competitors Instagram and WhatsApp. This perversion of market power was already flagrant during the Obama years, but the FTC—with a [...]

By |2020-02-13T12:21:50-05:00February 13th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Trump’s Latest Crackpot

Donald Trump has named lots of crackpots to high office, but his latest nominee goes for the gold—quite literally. Judy Shelton, whom Trump says he plans to name to the Federal Reserve, wants to return the U.S. dollar to the gold standard. As we painfully learned from economic history, a gold standard is profoundly deflationary, because it prevents necessary expansion of the money supply in line with economic growth. No serious person advocates it. Gold had a certain intuitive [...]

By |2020-02-13T12:21:14-05:00February 13th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

A Bit of Good News for Warren

As Pete Buttigieg continues to surge and Joe Biden keeps collapsing, a deep dive into the Iowa precinct statistics (such as they are) contains some surprising and potentially hopeful news for Elizabeth Warren. Contrary to assumptions based on ideology, she turns out to be the second choice of a surprisingly large percentage of initial Biden supporters. Here are some numbers, courtesy of Richard Martin, a self-described political junkie and numbers junkie based in Iowa. Martin was a precinct captain [...]

By |2020-02-13T12:20:24-05:00February 13th, 2020|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments