CRF Blog

What the Medicare for All Fight Is Really About

by Bill Hayes

In Debatable, the New York Times looks at issues of the day,offering either short explanations or differing short opinion pieces (with links to more explanations or opinions). A recent Debatable looked at the following:

The debate: Is single-payer health care, to use Ms. Warren’s words, “the gold standard” or, as Senator Amy Klobuchar puts it, “a pipe dream”?

The moderates, led by Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, believe that Medicare for All is needlessly heavy-handed and prohibitively expensive.

Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren say that replacing private insurance is the only way to guarantee every American affordable health care as a human right. [more]

Politico’s Cartoons for This Week

by Bill Hayes

See Politico’s selection of this week’s political cartoons from across the country and the political spectrum.

For how to use editorial cartoons in the classroom, see Teaching With Editorial Cartoons.

Dollars for Docs

by Bill Hayes

Ever wonder what those pharmaceutical salespeople are doing in doctors’ offices. Apparently, they aren’t just giving out samples of new drugs. Drug companies and medical device manufacturers also make payments to individual doctors. ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs searchable database lets you see how much, if anything, particular doctors are receiving from these companies.

Update of Documents Fueling the Impeachment Inquiry

by Bill Hayes

On Sept. 24, 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives was conducting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump. Since then, a number of House committees (mainly the Intelligence, Judiciary, and Oversight committees) have been involved in the impeachment inquiry. So far, they are focusing on allegations about Ukraine, specifically on two possible impeachable offenses:

1. That for personal political reasons, President Trump solicited Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

2. That the president pressured that country to investigate his political rival in exchange for U.S. military aid. (This second possible charge is the often referred to as a “quid pro quo.”)

Witnesses have either given depositions or testimony in closed session before the committees. (The closed sessions are closed to the public, but committee members from all parties participate in the sessions.)

Below is a list of all the witnesses and all the primary documents that have been released to the public regarding the impeachment inquiry. The list is in chronological order, going from oldest to most recent. We will update the list periodically to add witnesses and newly released documents.

Whistle-Blower Complaint (8/12/2019, released on 9/26/2019)

White House’s Reconstructed Transcript of President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in July Telephone Call With President Trump (9/24/2019, released on 9/25/2019)

Joseph Maguire, acting U.S. director of national intelligence (9/26/019)

Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine (10/3/2019). He provided Text Messages Between U.S. and Ukrainian Officials (Released 10/4/2019)

Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general (10/4/2019)

Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine (10/11/2019) Opening Statement of Marie Yovanovitch Before House Committee

Fiona Hill, former U.S. National Security adviser on Russia (10/14/2019)

George Kent, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia (10/15/2019)

P. Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (10/16/2019)

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union (10/17/2019) Opening Statement of Gordon Sondland

William B. Taylor Jr., the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine (10/22/2019) Opening Statement of William B. Taylor Jr.

Laura Cooper, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia (10/23/2019)

Philip T. Reeker, acting assistant secretary for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (10/26/2019)

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council (10/29/2019) Opening Statement of Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman

This Month’s Harper’s Index

by Bill Hayes

Each issue of Harper’s contains Harper’s Index, a collection of interesting statistics. Excerpts from this month’s Harper’s Index:

Estimated percentage decline from 1982 to 2017 in the number of gay bars in the United States : 40

Minimum factor by which the average American overestimates the U.S. L.G.B.T.Q. population : 5

Portion of Republicans who say small businesses should be able to refuse services to homosexuals for religious reasons : 1/2

Who said so in 2014 : 1/5


The Real Policy Wonks: How Economists Reshaped America

by Bill Hayes

In The Real Policy Wonks: How Economists Reshaped America, Knowledge@Wharton interviews journalist Binyamin Appelbaum about his new book, The Economists’ Hour about how economists grew into powerful figures who changed American policy.

Appelbaum: My book is mostly about the period from the late 1960s through 2008, what I call the economists’ hour, which is the period in which these economists are really dominant in shaping the course of public policy. During that period, they really do succeed in pushing government to focus on growth, and the very clear consequence is that inequality explodes. There are lots of reasons for the growth of inequality; economists are by no means solely responsible. But this decision to stop trying to prevent inequality, to stop taking inequality seriously as a public policy problem is a really important contributing factor.

Knowledge@Wharton: Without some of these policy changes decades ago, do you think the divide would be as large as it is now?

Appelbaum: I’ll give you a really simple comparison. If you look at the American economy and the French economy, most Americans take pride in the fact that America has grown more quickly than France. We see it as a validation of our economic model. But if you remove the top 1% of the population in both countries, what you find is that for the 99%, for the vast majority of Frenchmen and the vast majority of Americans, economic income growth has been much faster in France. It is easy to imagine a world in which you had more of a focus on distribution and less of a focus on the total size of the pie, and a lot more people ended up with larger pieces.

Knowledge@Wharton: Have other countries also seen that type of growth that allows some level of equality? [more]

NYRB: God’s Oppressed Children

by Bill Hayes

In God’s Oppressed Children for the New York Review of Books, Pankaj Mishra reviews Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla.

India, the world’s largest democracy, also happens to be the world’s most hierarchical society; its most powerful and wealthy citizens, who are overwhelmingly upper-caste, are very far from checking their privilege or understanding the cruel disadvantages of birth among the low castes. Dalits remain largely invisible in popular cinema, sitcoms, television commercials, and soap operas. No major museums commemorate their long suffering. Unlike racism in the United States, which provokes general condemnation, there are no social taboos — as distinct from legal provisions — against hatred or loathing of low-caste Hindus. Many Dalits are still treated as “untouchables,” despite the equal rights granted to them by India’s democratic constitution.

This constitution was drafted in the late 1940s with the help of B.R. Ambedkar, a Dalit leader, whose reputation as a bold and iconoclastic thinker has been eclipsed by the cults of his upper-caste rivals Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohandas Gandhi. The founding principles of India’s democracy that Ambedkar helped enshrine are even more far-reaching than America’s in their guarantee of equal rights and absolute prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. But high-minded legislation in India is rarely accompanied by a necessary change in hearts and minds. The institution of caste, the social group to which Indians belong by birth, remains the most formidable obstacle to an egalitarian ethos. [more]

What’s New About Conspiracy Theories?

by Bill Hayes

In What’s New About Conspiracy Theories? for the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert looks at how strong the appeal of these theories can be.

On the morning of December 4, 2016, Edgar Maddison Welch, a warehouse worker and a father of two from Salisbury, North Carolina, told his family that he had a few things to do; loaded an AR-15, a .38-calibre revolver, and a folding knife into his car; and headed for Washington, D.C. Welch’s intention, he later told police, was to “self-investigate” a plot featuring — in no particular order — Hillary Clinton, sex trafficking, satanic rituals, and pizza.

At around 3 P.M., Welch arrived at Comet Ping Pong, a restaurant in Chevy Chase, where, he believed, children were being held in a network of tunnels. He made his way to the kitchen, shot open a locked door, and discovered cooking utensils. In an interview from jail, a few days later, he acknowledged to the Times, “The intel on this wasn’t a hundred percent.” He’d found no captive children in the restaurant’s basement; in fact, as many accounts of the incident noted, Comet Ping Pong doesn’t even have a basement.

Far from being dissuaded by the new “intel,” believers in what had become known as Pizzagate dug in. Welch had dabbled in acting — he’d appeared as a victim in a low-budget slasher movie — thus, it followed, his raid on the restaurant had been staged. That the plotters had gone to such lengths to cover their tracks showed just how much evil there was to hide. “This … runs very deep,” a contributor to the subreddit thread r/Conspiracy wrote. All the while, the restaurant’s owner was receiving death threats.

Some ten months after the incident at Comet Ping Pong, a prediction surfaced on the Web that Clinton would soon be arrested. “Expect massive riots organized in defiance,” an anonymous poster, Q, warned on the message board 4chan. Other prophecies followed: Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, would also be arrested; members of the media would be “jailed as deep cover agents”; there would be a Twitter blackout heralding a government purge.

As Q’s prophecies failed, more converts were won over. [more]

National Geographic Site on Climate Change

by Bill Hayes

National Geographic has a web page on Climate Change, devoted to issues related to global warming.

Politico’s Cartoons for This Week

by Bill Hayes

See Politico’s selection of this week’s political cartoons from across the country and the political spectrum.

For how to use editorial cartoons in the classroom, see Teaching With Editorial Cartoons.

Interview of Naomi Klein

by Bill Hayes

For PBS’s Amanpour & Company, Hari Sreenivasan interviews Naomi Klein about her new book On Fire: The (Burning) Case for the Green New Deal.

Time Magazine’s Profiles of the Top Democratic Candidates

by Bill Hayes

Over the last few months, Time has published cover stories on the leading Democratic candidates.

Joe Biden and the Hard Choices for Democrats in 2020 4/4/19

Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Unlikely, Untested, Unprecedented Presidential Campaign 5/2/19

‘I Have a Plan for That.’ Elizabeth Warren Is Betting That Americans Are Ready for Her Big Ideas 5/9/19

Bernie Sanders Wants to Change America. But He May Have to Change Himself First. 6/6/19

Cory Booker Was a Rising Star. Inside His Plan to Become the Next Big Thing, Again 6/24/19

Kamala Harris Is Making Her Case. But Can She Stand Out in a Crowded Field? 10/3/19

The Street Within

by Bill Hayes        

In The Street Within, the Los Angeles Times profiles, over the course of a year, seven homeless people selected by the city of Los Angeles to take part in a program to get them off the street.

Part 1: After 9 years on L.A.’s streets, Big Mama needed a home. But it wasn’t that easy.

Part 2: Broadway Place’s homeless residents were promised homes. Had the city forgotten them?

Part 3: An entire L.A. homeless encampment moved into apartments. Their past still found them.

Part 4: When L.A. moved them off the streets, some knew it was their last chance. Others didn’t see it that way.

Essay: After 18 months reporting on the homeless crisis, this is what I learned

The Best Colleges in America, Ranked by Value

by Bill Hayes

Money magazine has compiled its annual list: The Best Colleges in America, Ranked by Value. It ranks more than 700 colleges.

  • 1. University of California-Irvine
  • 2. CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College
  • 3. Princeton University
  • 4. University of California-Los Angeles
  • 5. University of California-Davis
  • 6. Stanford University
  • 7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 8. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • 9. University of California-San Diego
  • 10. University of Virginia
  • 11. University of California-Berkeley
  • 12. University of California-Riverside
  • 13. California State University-Long Beach
  • 14. Harvard University
  • 15. Vanderbilt University
  • 16. California Institute of Technology
  • 17. Yale University
  • 18. Texas A & M University-College Station
  • 19. Duke University
  • 20. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 21. University of Florida
  • 22. California State University-Fullerton
  • 22. University of Washington-Seattle Campus
  • 24. Rice University
  • 25. Massachusetts Maritime Academy
  • 26. Washington and Lee University
  • 27. Georgia Institute of Technology
  • 28. The University of Texas at Austin
  • 29. California State University-Northridge
  • 30. University of California-Santa Barbara [more]

The Growing Partisan Divide in Views of Higher Education

by Bill Hayes

In a public opinion study, Pew Research Center examines The Growing Partisan Divide in Views of Higher Education

Americans see value in higher education — whether they graduated from college or not. Most say a college degree is important, if not essential, in helping a young person succeed in the world, and college graduates themselves say their degree helped them grow and develop the skills they needed for the workplace. While fewer than half of today’s young adults are enrolled in a two-year or four-year college, the share has risen steadily over the past several decades. And the economic advantages college graduates have over those without a degree are clear and growing.

Even so, there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction — even suspicion — among the public about the role colleges play in society, the way admissions decisions are made and the extent to which free speech is constrained on college campuses. And these views are increasingly linked to partisanship. [more]