45 thoughts on “COVID-FREE politics open thread, December 27 — January 2

  1. This is making the rounds on Facebook.

    “With this discrediting of democratic governance, it is not just that we cannot disentangle the personal motives from the political ones. It is that the replacement of political institutions by personal rule was precisely the point.

    “Trump’s aim, in the presidency as in his previous life, was always simple: to be able to do whatever the hell he wanted. That required the transformation of elective office into the relationship of a capricious ruler to his sycophantic courtiers.

    “In this nexus, the madder the better. Power is proven, not when the sycophants have to obey reasonable commands, but when they have to follow and justify the craziest orders.”

    There’s lots more.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-trump-has-unfinished-business-a-republic-he-wants-to-destroy-still-stands-1.4435655

  2. Except that Trump couldn’t actually do “whatever the hell he wanted” because our legal and political structure constrained him. As it does every President.
    Some in the media seem disappointed that our Republic still stands, and they give Trump way too much credit for being the evil genius that he most obviously is not.

  3. Except that Trump couldn’t actually do “whatever the hell he wanted” because our legal and political structure constrained him.

    I believe they call that damming with faint praise.

  4. “Some in the media seem disappointed that our Republic still stands”

    It seems this way to me, too.

  5. Matt Yglesias addresses something like that today.

    _______________________________
    The CARES superdole was a huge success

    Progressives should learn to be happy when good things happen!
    Matthew Yglesias
    Dec 29

    With the relief bill squared away, the time is right to consider a question the Roosevelt Institute’s Mike Konczal asked the day after Christmas: why didn’t the success of enhanced Unemployment Insurance ever enter the narrative as a progressive success story?

    Mike Konczal
    @rortybomb
    For the last 7+ months I’ve been saying that the Left should claim, highlight, and center the fight over extending the massive expansion of UI, not just as an important program but as a model for reinvigorating Social Security. My read is that this didn’t happen. Why is that?

    Unemployment insurance expansion was a big victory for progressive priorities: social insurance, fighting labor fissuring, empowering workers, especially low-wage ones. It’s also helping to fight a depression. Why isn’t the Left rallying on its extension? https://t.co/Q6ochwcOhT
    December 26th 2020

    Basically, the understanding is that whoever can paint the darkest possible portrait of the status quo is the one who is showing the most commitment to the cause. And you see this norm at work across climate change, health care, criminal justice reform, the economy, and everything else. If you’re not saying the sky is falling, that shows you don’t really care. A true comrade in the struggle would deny that any progress has been made or insist that any good news is trivial. [Emphasis added by me]
    ___________________________

    And he goes on to say a lot more stuff, because boy is he wordy, but that’s a really relevant point. (Sorry about the formatting; I’m trying to make it readable. It didn’t cut and paste well.)

  6. WCE, yes, but Yglesias is using that as an example of how progressives should be celebrating the Unemployment Insurance boost.

    If you want Yglesias’s whole essay, I can post it; it’s on his Substack, to which I subscribe. Again, apologies for the formatting.

    The CARES superdole was a huge success
    Progressives should learn to be happy when good things happen!
    Matthew Yglesias
    6 hr ago
    70
    165
    With the relief bill squared away, the time is right to consider a question the Roosevelt Institute’s Mike Konczal asked the day after Christmas: why didn’t the success of enhanced Unemployment Insurance ever enter the narrative as a progressive success story?

    Mike Konczal
    @rortybomb
    For the last 7+ months I’ve been saying that the Left should claim, highlight, and center the fight over extending the massive expansion of UI, not just as an important program but as a model for reinvigorating Social Security.

    My read is that this didn’t happen. Why is that?
    Mike Konczal @rortybomb

    Unemployment insurance expansion was a big victory for progressive priorities: social insurance, fighting labor fissuring, empowering workers, especially low-wage ones.

    It’s also helping to fight a depression. Why isn’t the Left rallying on its extension? https://t.co/Q6ochwcOhT
    December 26th 2020

    259 Retweets1,331 Likes
    I think there are a lot of specific ingredients that went into this, some good and some not so good. But I also think those specifics came together the way they did because there’s a norm in American progressive politics of looking at every glass as half empty.

    Basically, the understanding is that whoever can paint the darkest possible portrait of the status quo is the one who is showing the most commitment to the cause. And you see this norm at work across climate change, health care, criminal justice reform, the economy, and everything else. If you’re not saying the sky is falling, that shows you don’t really care. A true comrade in the struggle would deny that any progress has been made or insist that any good news is trivial.

    Subscribe now

    I tend to think this approach to politics is counterproductive — it’s psychologically and emotionally exhausting, out of touch with people’s lived experience of the world, and ultimately demoralizing and un-motivating. But even if it does in some sense work, it’s simply not true.

    Progressive catastrophism is everywhere
    In my recent post “A better way to cure recessions,” I noted that the personal savings rate is up in the United States (down from its peak when everyone got their $1,200 but still well above the pre-pandemic baseline) and also that “unlike during the Great Recession, the 67 percent or so of the public who owns a home and the 55 percent of Americans who own stock have seen their net worth rise.”

    In the very next paragraph, I acknowledged that this is happening “amidst stories about overwhelmed food banks from San Antonio to Miami and beyond” but I got a lot of blowback for pointing out that most people are doing okay as if that was a way of dismissing the suffering of the minority of people who’ve lost their jobs and are now in desperate need of relief.

    Similarly, back in late May, I ran into accidental intra-office controversy by pitching a piece about how police killings of African-Americans had become less common since Ferguson. My thought was that this was good, it showed that political pressure for reform was delivering results. But it was heard by many people as dismissing the problem, or ignoring the lived experiences of people who’ve suffered at the hands of the police.

    And of course you see this on climate change, which is legitimately A Bad Thing but where the most keyed-up activists want you to believe it’s literally an existential threat to continued human existence.

    When Barack Obama first took office, his administration enacted a bunch of progressive legislation. Bouts of activist legislating normally generate a thermostatic backlash, and Obama’s was no exception. But he managed to end his term popular, and has remained popular since, and most of his legislative achievements remain on the books. Everyone — including Obama — concedes that these achievements were not perfect. But to actually celebrate them as big achievements worth clapping for and taking credit for would be to mark you out as very much not a true progressive.

    So I think the left’s attitude toward CARES needs to be seen in that light. Do you judge the Affordable Care Act on how much it helped people compared to the status quo ante or on how far it diverged from a hypothetical perfect health care bill? I’d be inclined to say the former, but the conventional left approach is the latter.

    The CARES Act was really good
    So what was the CARES Act?

    Well, it spent about $300 billion sending direct checks to most American households. It also sent $500 billion to the Fed to capitalize some lending programs targeting large businesses. The funds there overwhelmingly didn’t actually get spent, but their existence likely helped keep corporate borrowing costs low. The law provided an increase in SNAP benefits, more money for child nutrition programs, money for food banks, student loan relief, money for schools, money for mass transit agencies, etc. There was also the Paycheck Protection Program which essentially gave small businesses free money to keep their staff on payroll.

    But another huge chunk of it was to set aside normal concerns about incentives and give people who lost their jobs $600 per week in extra Unemployment Insurance benefits, over and above what they would normally be eligible for.

    There were a million viral tweets about the bozos in Congress somehow expecting people to subsist on $1,200, but that’s not what happened. The $1,200 was a nice little stimulus sent out to everyone with the expectation that most people would subsist the way they’d long been subsisting — by doing their jobs or perhaps by retiring on Social Security and savings. If you lost your job, you got $600 per week — in other words, $15/hour on a standard workweek — in addition to your normal Unemployment Insurance benefits.

    This was a huge, albeit temporary, expansion of the social safety net. But instead of celebrating its success and calling for it to be extended and used as a model in the future, a lot of people on the left seemed committed to pretending that it never happened. Note, for example, that $2,000 Canadian dollars per month is a lot less than $600 American dollars per week.

    Ilhan Omar
    @IlhanMN
    Happy Boxing Day! That’s not a big deal here, but it is in Canada.

    Speaking of Canada, did you know Canada gave unemployed citizens $2,000 a month for 4 months to help them get through the pandemic? It’s time for us to do the same.
    December 26th 2020

    3,462 Retweets33,143 Likes
    This was a very successful program. So successful that personal income actually rose during the pandemic.

    And that’s not a “rich get richer” kind of thing — the poverty rate fell. And it’s no surprise. Peter Ganong, Pacal Noel, and Joseph Vavra found that under the CARES superdole, “two-thirds of UI eligible workers can receive benefits which exceed lost earnings and one-fifth can receive benefits at least double lost earnings.”

    Indeed, in wonk circles this was the conversation — were CARES benefits too generous? Which makes the lack of enthusiasm for telling the story of how these generous benefits were good all the more disappointing.

    A model for the future
    The pandemic is, of course, a very unusual situation.

    Part of the idea of Unemployment Insurance is that even during perfectly “normal” times when the economy is in fine shape, there are always some businesses somewhere that are failing or laying workers off. Under those circumstances, a UI boost that leaves the unemployed with more money than they were making during employment would be genuinely a bit perverse.

    But as University of Massachusetts economist Arindrajit Dube points out, the current benefits are very low and evince a combination of stinginess and paranoia that unemployed people will just deliberately lollygag.

    Arindrajit Dube
    @arindube
    Take a moment to imagine:
    You just got laid off.
    You, not someone in abstract.

    Under “normal rules” you’re entitled to ~26 weeks of unemployment benefits, which are ~1/2 your salary…BUT… capped weekly at:
    $240 in AZ
    $247 in LA
    #275 in FL

    $823 in MA

    How would you fare?
    Prof Dynarski @dynarski

    I do wish that more of the people making policy decisions about unemployment checks had ever subsisted on them
    December 28th 2020

    11 Retweets42 Likes
    One clear message of this pandemic should be that those fears are overstated. Even with the very generous superdole in place, people did go back to work as businesses reopened in the summer and fall. People know that UI doesn’t last forever and prefer a decent job to not having a job at all.

    We should scrap these weekly caps, noting with Elira Kuka that more generous UI schemes mitigate the health impacts of unemployment. But we should also make the benefit boosts an automatic thing that happens any time job openings rise. Ioana Marinescu’s research during the Great Recession confirmed that it’s true that generous UI reduces the intensity with which job-seekers seek employment opportunities, but she also finds that since there was no impact on the number of actual job openings, nothing about generous UI actually reduced employment. And as demand-side policy, Unemployment Insurance is a perfect mix of targeted (the people who get it don’t have jobs, so they really need the money to meet current spending needs) and universal (everyone who works is eligible for UI if they lose their job, which is a risk everyone faces).

    There is also the longstanding thought in the literature (see Acemoglu & Shimer and Marimon & Ziblatti) that it’s good that UI makes workers less eager to jump at the first job available because it leads to better matching and higher productivity in the long run.

    Now of course it’s true that the pandemic also revealed serious shortcomings in our benefits administration system and a lot of people had trouble getting help. But we shouldn’t let negativity bias lead us to overstate those problems. The numbers on personal income and poverty don’t lie — millions of people in need got help. We should view the program as a success to build on for the future. Upgrade the benefits administration (probably by nationalizing the system and taking it out of state hands), bump up the “normal” level of benefits, and make the superdole—the $600 per week increase in UI and stimulus checks—an automatic part of the national macroeconomic toolkit.

    Many aspects of America’s pandemic response were a disaster, but poverty went down, which underscores that the welfare state is amazing and we should have more of it.

    Nothing ever ends

    In my real life, I am a kind of grumpy dyspeptic person. I’m not great at looking on the bright side, at seeing the silver lining, or about living in the now. I get very frustrated by setbacks, very upset when things don’t go the way I planned, and generally speaking am very impatient.

    As with any other set of personal characteristics, there are good and bad sides to this sort of mentality, but mostly I want to convey that I really do appreciate the appeal of centering your thinking on an idealized end point and then complaining about all the ways that Obama or the CARES Act or whatever else fell short. After all, compare what I am saying we should do with UI and what CARES did with UI, and CARES looks terrible:

    It did nothing to address the incredibly stingy base benefits in most states.

    It had no automaticity so it expired awkwardly midway through the crisis.

    It not only relied on our antiquated benefits administration system, it did nothing to improve it.

    But it doesn’t make sense to do politics this way. One reason is because the model where you sketch out an idealized policy endpoint, then wage political combat, then win, then implement your vision just isn’t how anything actually happens. Not only was Social Security’s rollout bungled from a macroeconomic point of view (they started collecting taxes years before they collected benefits), it wasn’t until 20 years after the original Social Security Act’s passage that benefits were expanded to huge swathes of the population. Then it took 20 more years to get automatic cost of living adjustments. And the program still has some weird lacunae that leave out certain categories of state and local government workers, and doesn’t really meet the needs of the very elderly in an aging society.

    Medicaid has been a policy triumph, but the initial program LBJ signed into law in 1965 was tiny compared to today’s Medicaid juggernaut that was largely the result of dogged work by Rep. Henry Waxman in the 1980s, some judicious interventions by the Clinton administration, and then the Obama-era expansion which lives on as a series of state-by-state fights.

    The point is that politics is a process, and that’s especially true in a country like the United States that has a lot of institutional veto points. I won’t redo the entire slow boring of hard boards schtick, but the idea that past victories were single decisive battles won at unique moments in time is an illusion. Brown v Board of Education was the culmination of a 15-year litigation strategy that started with a law school case in 1938. But even though the NAACP won in court in 1954, real desegregation didn’t happen until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which in turn built upon the Civil Rights Act of 1960 and its predecessor, the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

    It would of course be absurd to be satisfied with any of those interim outcomes, whether on health care or retirement security or civil rights, and it’s just the same with Unemployment Insurance. But successful movements claim victories as victories, highlight the ways in which their victories have helped people and debunked critics’ fears, and move on to build the case for new things. Politicians who do the spadework of getting things done should be praised and not ignored, and while journalists should of course highlight shortcomings, we should also bring perspective to bear. We had more articles written about benefit administration problems than we did about the reduction in poverty — that doesn’t make sense journalistically and it’s not politically constructive.

    CARES was really good; it’s really good that a form of enhanced benefits is being extended by the new bill; and while none of this has been perfect, it provides a real template for further improvements.

  7. RMS,

    The problem, and I don’t know how to address it, is voters and the just world fallacy. They feel, if my neighbor looses his job he must have deserved it. And if I still have my job that must mean I deserve it. Therefore enhanced UI prevents people from getting their just desserts. The problem of course comes when “I” lose my job in which case it was totally not my fault and I deserve enhanced UI.

    I recall some interviews with conservative rural voters. They talked to people on SSI for various ailments and these folks were 100% certain that they deserved every penny and equally convinced that everyone else was faking.

  8. Rhett, that’s related, but I tend to agree with Yglesias that this business of playing “more sensitive to suffering than thou” is not helpful to the progressive cause. “Well, I got the unemployment insurance, so I didn’t lose my home.” “Well HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE STARVED TO DEATH SO HOW CAN YOU BE SO CALLOUS??”

  9. I would add that in reading about The Great Depression one of the explanations for FDR and The New Deal was that the economic situation was so disastrous that countless people, who had plainly did nothing wrong, were left destitute. As a result the spell of the just world fallacy was broken.

  10. RMS,

    I tend to agree with Yglesias that this business of playing “more sensitive to suffering than thou” is not helpful to the progressive cause.

    I totally agree. The other issue is this sort of behavior being driven by the 15% of the population that is in the Twitter echo chamber.

  11. RMS,

    I think we may be. I was wondering, considering your philosophy background, if you think the public could be argued out of the just world fallacy. At least at the margins. Or is it just too comforting?

  12. I’m laughing at that Proclamation, because we all know it is far too wordy of a document for Trump to have read. It wasn’t so much that someone got bored and drafted it, but rather some religious zealot donor is behind it.

    I can only hope that he and the GOP agree that “the vulnerable, the defenseless, and the oppressed must be protected.”


  13. Rhett, that’s related, but I tend to agree with Yglesias that this business of playing “more sensitive to suffering than thou” is not helpful to the progressive cause”

    I totally agree with this. It is a major turn off for me personally – for one example. Nothing is ever, ever enough. Everything is awful always. All with a holier than thou “no one cares as much as me” snide attitude.

    That’s not the way progress works.

  14. I was wondering, considering your philosophy background, if you think the public could be argued out of

    Stop right there. No one can ever be argued out of anything. Once in a very long while an individual can be persuaded, usually through appeals to emotion, but you can’t argue anybody out of anything. That was my big takeaway from teaching philosophy for years.

  15. Once in a very long while an individual can be persuaded

    As yes, persuaded is a much better term. I think you can persuade people with facts fairly easily as long as their wordview/self concept isn’t involved. But that goes along with your point about appeals to emotion. Appeals to emotion would be a strategy for dealing with topics in which people have an emotional interest.

  16. Here’s a good one discussing the “free rider” problem but involving asteroid defense – basically how do you get people to pay for a public good and the cost of free riders.

    https://www.npr.org/2020/12/23/949881982/how-to-stop-an-asteroid

    This episode was originally published in 2015.

    As we were looking back over the year we realized one thing hadn’t happened. We haven’t been hit by an asteroid. Yet. But we do have a show on the topic in the archives, and, given the year, we thought it might be a good idea to roll it back out. You know, just in case. There are still a couple of days left.

    Today’s show: The economics of protecting the planet from asteroids.

  17. I recall some interviews with conservative rural voters. They talked to people on SSI for various ailments and these folks were 100% certain that they deserved every penny and equally convinced that everyone else was faking.

    That’s the conservative philosophy – social programs are bad because when other people are struggling it’s their own damn fault, but when I’m struggling it’s because of factors beyond my control.

    I’ve said several times one of the big differences between liberals and conservatives is that liberals are fine with some undeserving people receiving benefits if that ensures that everyone who really needs them gets them, and conservatives want to ensure that no undeserving people receive benefits even if that means some deserving people don’t get them.

  18. DD,

    I’ve also noticed that conservatives have conceptual objections to various policies. But those objections weaken significantly when applied to specific cases. A classic example would be someone with an IQ of 70 automatically qualifies for SSI and various other programs. What about someone with an IQ of 71? Oh…yeh… in that case they probably still need quite a bit of help.

  19. “the economic situation was so disastrous that countless people, who had plainly did nothing wrong, were left destitute. “

    Isn’t that the situation now?

  20. “the “free rider” problem but involving asteroid defense “

    Planet Money just replayed a podcast about that last week.

    I don’t think the free rider problem necessarily applies in this case. Say the US invests in an asteroid defense, and no other countries are willing to contribute to the effort. Then an asteroid shows up. If it’s headed toward any other part of the world, the US can choose to not deploy the defensse.

    I’ve heard of Fire Departments that work similarly. E.g., if your house is within city limits of a city with a FD, that FD will respond if your house is on fire. But that FD won’t respond if the house down the road, that is outside city limits, is on fire.

  21. Isn’t that the situation now?

    Not nearly to the same scale. Unemployment peaked at 24.9% during The Great Depression. And that doesn’t include farmers trying to make ends meet with farm prices down 70%.

  22. Locally, fire departments fight fires only on grass seed farms that pay fire department taxes. Some farms have their own tanker, etc. because that’s how the cost-risk-benefit analysis works out for them.

  23. Then an asteroid shows up. If it’s headed toward any other part of the world, the US can choose to not deploy the defense.

    I doubt we’d let millions die if we had the ability to prevent it.

    I’ve heard of Fire Departments that work similarly.

    I recall a story about that. Apparently you can pay $xxx a year to have the town fire department respond even if you don’t live in town. The problem they run into is that the fire department responds in case it gets out of control and threatens the homes of those who paid. But then they feel guilty as the family sobs in front of their burning house. So they end up putting it out anyway.

  24. “Unemployment peaked at 24.9% during The Great Depression.”

    Locally, peak unemployment this year was higher than that, coming off a year with very low, perhaps record, unemployment. IIRC, just prior to the pandemic, unemployment was so low that wages were going up, and people were re-entering the workforce.

  25. “I doubt we’d let millions die if we had the ability to prevent it.”

    Perhaps the first time. But for a second incident, if country involved had chosen to still not contribute, especially one judged to be able to do so, I could see choosing to not deploy the system.

  26. I was watching some show on Netflix awhile back about the extinction of the dinosaurs. Their theory was, that when the meteorite hit, the impact was so great that the molten core of the earth sloshed around causing massive, global volcanic eruptions. Thus the global extinction event and not just the immediate area taken out by the fireball. So, I’m not sure you could say, “Well, it’s gonna hit Timbuktu, so we don’t have to worry about it.” That said, if I’m impoverished and living in downtown Guatemala City, paying the US for astroid insurance probably isn’t going to be high on my list of priorities.

  27. I could see choosing to not deploy the system.

    At which point they would be willing to pay any price. So just charge them (through the nose) then.

    Are you familiar with Seatow’s business model?

  28. TLC,

    Even more impressive was the formation of the moon. The moon is the result of the primordial Earth being impacted by a body the size of Mars.

  29. “At which point they would be willing to pay any price. So just charge them (through the nose) then.”

    That would be the preferred solution for the first asteroid/meteor as well.

    I think the free rider part of that system comes into play when the asteroid would hit countries that couldn’t be reasonably expected to contribute. Then the US would bear the entire cost of protecting those countries.

  30. Senator Josh Hawley is going to contest the election certification, which will likely delay the process. I know it isn’t likely to succeed but why do we need more discord? This election will likely go down in the history books as the closest thing to an actual coup in our history.

  31. The Financial Times reflects on the history of Brexit.

    When Big Ben strikes 11pm on New Year’s Eve, the UK will leave Europe’s single market. It will be a moment of national catharsis — and like in Greek tragedies — a moment when the protagonist’s own triumphs of the past catch up with him.

    For the roots of Britain’s rupture with Europe grow from its greatest European victory: the success in imparting to Europe a British and especially Tory economic ideology of eliminating bureaucratic barriers to trade. The single market was to a large extent created by British Conservatives.

    “Just think for a moment what a prospect that is,” Margaret Thatcher told an audience of British business leaders at Lancaster House in 1988 when she was prime minister. “A single market without barriers — visible or invisible — giving you direct and unhindered access to the purchasing power of over 300 million of the world’s wealthiest and most prosperous people. Bigger than Japan. Bigger than the United States. On your doorstep. And with the Channel Tunnel to give you direct access to it.”

    Thatcher was the political force behind a genuinely unified European market for goods, services, labour and capital; Arthur Cockfield, the Brussels commissioner she appointed in 1985, was its intellectual architect and bureaucratic engineer.
    How UK newspapers reported Britain’s entry into the common market in 1973 © Frank Barratt/Hulton/Getty Images

    The motivation was plain enough. When Britain belatedly joined what was then known as the European Economic Community in 1973, economic integration mainly took the form of a customs union, known as the bloc’s “common market” in which tariffs between members were eliminated. Those who saw economic benefits for Britain were vindicated, with membership quickly bringing to an end Britain’s long underperformance as economic growth caught up with European peers.

    The common market remained, however, riddled with barriers as differing national regulations made cross-border trade costly.

    And as soon as he arrived in Brussels in 1985, Cockfield set out to remove them. His white paper on “Completing the internal market”, one of the most consequential documents in EU history, set out a compromise between “harmonised” pan-European rules and “mutual recognition” of national ones. Much as the British might once have wanted a simple system of mutual recognition, Cockfield realised that politically, this would never fly without a foundation of minimum common standards. Where necessary, therefore, common rules relating to the single market would be adopted — by qualified majority of member states rather than unanimous consent, to avoid political deadlock — with national leeway to shape the detailed implementation where possible.

    Cockfield was remarkably successful. The 1986 Single European Act allowed single market legislation by qualified majority. Hundreds of legislative measures were then passed at speed, and by the start of 1993 the single market was a reality, and most border controls disappeared.

    The UK began to sour on its own creation, however, even before it came into being.
    An anti-euro protester campaigns against the UK adopting the currency in 2003 © Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    One irritant was present from the start. For continental leaders, the elimination of capital controls meant only monetary unification could prevent currency instability that would distort trade or jeopardise cross-border investments. As the slogan had it: “One market, one money”. This link was never accepted in Britain. In the long-term this deepened a divergence of interests between the UK and the euro members, which would show up starkly after the global financial crisis and David Cameron’s ill-fated attempt to negotiate new terms for Britain’s EU membership.

    But other consequences of the single market were ones the UK had not just accepted, but desired. Yet it soon had second thoughts about them.

    Shortly after Lancaster House, Thatcher gave what would become known as the Bruges speech, a foundational text for British Eurosceptics. The European Commission’s ambition for a “social Europe” had woken her up to the danger, as she saw it, that she had “successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them reimposed at a European level with a European superstate exercising a new dominance from Brussels”.

    If that had come to pass it would have been an effect of the very method Thatcher and Cockfield had championed: common rulemaking by (qualified) majority decision. The prime minister who pushed for common rules to remove trade barriers struggled to accept that a majority of others may have different ideas about what the best common rules for free trade ought to be. In parallel, the Labour party warmed to a European integration it had previously spurned.
    Boris Johnson had long supported the single market but was concerned about the role of the European Court of Justice © Carl Court/Getty Images

    A further implication of the single market project was the growing role of the European Court of Justice. Where there are common rules, there must logically be a common arbiter of whether the rules have been obeyed. But this increasingly rankled the most vocal British Eurosceptics as offensive to sovereignty. Even for prime minister Boris Johnson, long a supporter of the single market, the ECJ’s final word in interpreting much of the law that regulated the UK economy seems to have been genuinely intolerable.

    Then there is the most toxic part of the 2016 referendum campaign. Part of a betrayal myth about the UK’s 1973 accession is that people signed up only to free trade, not to a freedom of movement later imposed by stealth. But the ability to work anywhere in the bloc was part of the EU’s founding credo, as was well understood in the original UK membership debates.

    The single market nevertheless made the aspiration of free movement for workers a reality by sweeping away bureaucratic and legal barriers to moving. Then in 2004 countries from eastern Europe joined the EU, championed by the UK, which was also one of few countries to waive a transition period before east Europeans gained full free movement rights. Millions of workers took the opportunity to come. The transformation of Britain’s labour market and demography gave Eurosceptics their most potent issue to campaign on.

    It was, in all these ways, a case of willing the end but not the means. British Conservatives managed to liberalise trade across Europe, then discovered what they really wanted was a strict conception of sovereignty. Mr Johnson’s Christmas Eve trade deal gives them that — but at the price of restoring all the trade frictions Thatcher and Cockfield had managed to remove. This might settle the issue if Britain’s self-appointed “natural party of government” has now made up its mind. But with Brexit associated as much with a free-trading global Britain as with a sovereign one, no one can know whether the deal will resolve these tensions permanently.

  32. Amazingly there are a few Republicans left who still have some integrity. Nice job by Ben Sasse!

    Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) released a lengthy statement Wednesday following news of his colleague, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) announcing his intention to object to the Electoral College votes on January 6, contending President Donald Trump and his allies are “playing with fire.”

    Sasse released the explanation after receiving inquiries from Nebraskans who are purportedly demanding that he join Hawley and select House Republicans in objecting to the Electoral College votes on January 6. However, he said he will not be joining them and is actively urging his colleagues to avoid this “dangerous ploy”:

    While the Nebraska Republican admitted that there is a constitutional basis for Congress to dismiss Electoral College votes, he said a challenge, in this instance, lacks a “real basis” and denied the narrative that evidence exists of voter fraud “so widespread that it could have changed the outcome of the presidential election.”
    …..
    The most “telling fact,” Sasse continued, is the existence of a “giant gulf between what President Trump and his allies say in public — for example, on social media, or at press conferences outside Philadelphia landscaping companies and adult bookstores — and what President Trump’s lawyers actually say in courts of law,” chalking it up to a massive fundraising effort.
    ….
    Sasse also said he has not heard “a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent” during private discussions.

    “Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will ‘look’ to President Trump’s most ardent supporters,” he said

    https://www.breitbart.com/2020-election/2020/12/31/ben-sasse-rips-gop-colleagues-challenging-election-results-playing-fire/

    Here’s the complete statement: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorSasse/

  33. From WaPo article about Cori Bush:

    On the first day of her two-week freshman orientation on Capitol Hill last month, Bush showed up wearing a face mask with “Breonna Taylor” written on it, a tribute to the Black woman (a health-care worker, like Bush) who was shot to death by police during a botched raid of her Louisville home. By day’s end, Bush tweeted, several of her new Republican colleagues had addressed her as “Breonna,” thinking that was her name.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/cori-bush-blm-congress-demofrats-squad/2020/12/21/556ac9f4-3cad-11eb-9276-ae0ca72729be_story.html

  34. Finn, we know the point is that her colleagues are clueless for not recognizing Breonna Taylor’s name, but my son and I can’t get over their also unfamiliar-with-earth assumption that she would print her name on her face mask, like it was a name tag.

  35. DD, I am not sure who Sasse’s voters are. The other Senators who challenge Trump all have voter bases that are quite independent of Trump. Romney’s voters are mostly Mormon, who while conservative, are not really fans of many of Trump’s policies and stances. Romney reflects their values far better than Trump so he has a lot of freedom. Same for Murkowski and Collins, whose voters are more moderate Republicans than the norm. The other Republican Congresscritters who have criticized Trump are all retiring

  36. Sasser is from Nebraska so I’m sure a good portion of Republicans voters there are Trumpers.

  37. Rocky, so they will force an audit that will likely reach the same conclusion as all the lawsuits—there is no basis for objection, no wrong-doing to be found. I can’t see how anyone could read any of the transcripts and see how laughable the “cases” are and how the lawyers won’t even say the same things in court as they do out in the streets where they aren’t under any kind of oath and not realize that there is nothing there. Wouldn’t the audit also have the effect of confirming the legality of Biden’s election? I mean, Cruz is still gross, but there is a reason to have a Devil’s advocate.

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