URLs du Jour


■ After numerous verses of fool-castigation, the Proverbian turns his scornful attention to "sluggards" in verse 26:13:

A sluggard says, "There's a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!"

Really, you think there would be more to that story. Is the sluggard just trying to convince himself that he shouldn't go out, just stay under the bedcovers, lest he become Purina Lion Chow? Or is he, perhaps, trying to distract his listeners, so that they'll stop trying to get him off his lazy ass? I don't know. The Proverb just ends there.

■ When will Washington get healthcare right? At Reason, A. Barton Hinkle has a credible estimate: Washington Is Never Going to Get Healthcare 'Right'.

To be fair, Obamacare has done some good, e.g. by reducing the proportion of uninsured Americans to historic lows. But its gargantuan flaws seem to have been conveniently forgotten because the House GOP's replacement also has gargantuan flaws. So will the Senate bill, whenever it arrives. And so will every other proposal, because no reform ever addresses the root cause of what ails U.S. health care: The nearly universal demand for unlimited medical care, with the bill sent to somebody else through the political process.

The minute anyone says anything resembling "healthcare is a right" tells me that they will never, ever, have anything useful to say on that issue.

■ Chris Edwards at Cato notes a little-known cesspool in the tax code: Low Income Housing Tax Cronyism.

The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is a federal program that subsidizes the construction of housing for poor tenants. The $8 billion program suffers numerous failures, as discussed in this study. One problem is that the program’s subsidies may flow more to developers and financial institutions than to the needy population that is supposed to benefit.

Fun fact: the director of Florida's housing agency was "forced to resign from the agency after an audit revealed he spent more than $50,000 on a steak and lobster dinner for affordable housing lenders and gave his own staff almost half a million dollars in bonuses."

■ Andrew Biggs at the WSJ looks at the Democrats' plan to "save" Social Security. Well, what do you know? The Democrats’ Social Security Plan Means Much Higher Taxes.

For low- and middle-income workers, lifetime payroll taxes would rise by nearly one-fifth from current levels. For a high earner with an average annual salary of $237,000, payroll taxes would more than double. Absent any other tax reform, the effective top federal marginal tax rate on earned income (inclusive of Medicare taxes and limitations on deductions) would rise from the current 44.6% to 59.4%. State income taxes could boost the total marginal rate as high as 72.7% for California residents. Under the Democrats’ Social Security plan the U.S. would have, by far, the highest top marginal tax rate in the developed world.

My immediate reaction: I bet my Congresscritter/Toothache Carol Shea-Porter is one of the 160 co-sponsors of this economy-killing scheme. And… bingo.

■ Hey, how about that Comey firing? According to Megan McArdle, it's confirmatory of two things: Trump Confirms His Autocratic Instincts. And His Ineptitude.

Start with the reason Comey was fired. Coming from the man who basked in chants of “Lock her up!” at his campaign rallies, firing someone for mishandling the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails does no more than provoke helpless laughter, liberally mixed with tears. Politico’s reporting offers a much more plausible explanation: Trump was frustrated by the investigation into his campaign’s Russia connections, and wants it to go away. So he fired the guy at the head of the agency that’s conducting it.

Well maybe! Let's also hear from Tim Lynch at Cato: Trump Fires Comey.

We can do much better than James Comey. If Trump can repeat the careful process by which he selected Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court and secure a fairly swift confirmation vote, this matter will soon be forgotten. If the selection process is mishandled, the political storm clouds will hang over the White House for quite some time.

As always, I'm torn between despising Trump and despising his critics.

■ A few weeks ago it was news that Merriam-Webster declared "sheeple" to be an Official English Word. In case they need to have a video example to put in their online dictionary, a recent Stephen Colbert monologue is a gift: Colbert gets audience to completely change opinion about Comey firing in a mere 60 seconds.

Colbert started off by breaking the news of President Trump’s firing of James Comey — The audience roared in approval. A surprised Colbert then said the crowd must be loaded with “HUGE Donald Trump fans.” After that, Colbert mentioned Jeff Sessions (who recommended that Trump fire Comey) and the audience booed wildly. A complete 180-degree change in audience opinion, all within the span of 60 seconds.

No surprise here. I occasionally watched his Comedy Central show, and it struck me that his audience was much like a set of trained seals, carefully trained to whoop and applaud at the proper times.

But "sheeple". I guess that works too.