“But the downsides of performance standards are often exaggerated. Most Americans are surely happy to pay a small amount more for their homes, for instance, if their children no longer have to ingest lead paint. And the initial skepticism about California’s plan appears to have been misplaced. Critics predicted that the state wouldn’t be able to meet its goal without hurting its economy. They were wrong: The state met its goal four years early, by 2016. The costs to consumers were modest and hard to notice. John Podesta told me he considered California’s approach a model for future federal action.
The key political advantage is that performance standards focus voters on the end goal, rather than on the technocratic mechanism for achieving it. Carbon pricing puts attention on the mechanism, be it a dreaded tax or a byzantine cap-and-trade system. Mechanisms don’t inspire people. Mechanisms are easy to caricature as big-government bureaucracy. Think about the debate over Obamacare: When the focus was on mechanisms — insurance mandates, insurance exchanges and the like — the law was not popular. When the focus shifted to basic principles — Do sick people deserve health insurance? — the law became much more so.”
David Leonhardt endorses the big ideas of Elizabeth Warren.
“. . . So far, only one candidate among the 2020 contenders has an agenda with this level of ambition: Elizabeth Warren. Her platform aims to reform American capitalism so that it once again works well for most American families. The recent tradition in Democratic politics has been different. It has been largely to accept that big companies are going to get bigger and do everything they can to hold down workers’ pay. The government will then try to improve things through income taxes and benefit programs.
Warren is trying to treat not just the symptoms but the underlying disease. She has proposed a universal child-care and pre-K program that echoes the universal high school movement of the early 20th century. She favors not only a tougher approach to future mergers, as many Democrats do, but also a breakup of Facebook and other tech companies that have come to resemble monopolies. She wants to require corporations to include worker representatives on their boards — to end the era of “shareholder-value maximization,” in which companies care almost exclusively about the interests of their shareholders, often at the expense of their workers, their communities and their country.
Warren was also the first high-profile politician to call for an annual wealth tax, on fortunes greater than $50 million. This tax is the logical extension of research by the economist Thomas Piketty and others, which has shown how extreme wealth perpetuates itself. Historically, such concentration has often led to the decline of powerful societies. Warren, unlike some Democrats, comfortably explains that she is not socialist. She is a capitalist and, like Franklin D. Roosevelt, is trying to save American capitalism from its own excesses.”
David Lindsay: Here is the top comment chich I endorse, by a woman I admire.
The Democrats are getting the balance between investigatory zeal and caution just right so far.
By David Leonhardt
Opinion Columnist, March 5, 2019
“Nancy Pelosi is very good at her job.
By now, that doesn’t qualify as news, I realize. But the last few days have brought more evidence of Pelosi’s effectiveness as her party’s leader in the House.
The House Democratic caucus is investigating the many Trump scandals with just the right mix of zeal and caution. After Michael Cohen’s testimony last week, the Democrats yesterday released a list of people from whom they are seeking documents. The requests suggest that the Democrats will pursue every important way that President Trump may have broken the law and otherwise violated his oath of office.
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But House Democrats — or at least the party leaders and committee chairs who set policy, like Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee — are making sure not to jump to a formal impeachment process at this point. It’s too early. It would be destined to fail in the Senate, given Trump’s strong support among Republicans. And the start of impeachment would shift attention away from Trump’s misdeeds and toward the process itself.
The smart move instead is to keep the focus on what Trump, his aides and his family have done. “Political investigations tend to be marathons rather than sprints, requiring the slow, meticulous accretion of evidential layers,” Michelle Cottle writes in The Times.”
By David Leonhardt
Opinion Columnist, March 3, 2019, 1216 c
“Image A number of Democratic presidential candidates are pushing for increasingly progressive ideas, like a Green New Deal. Are there risks in this move to the left?
Credit Pete Marovich for The New York Times
“The energy in the 2020 Democratic campaign has been coming from the left. Candidates are pushing Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, a wealth tax and other ideas that are more progressive than anything a recent Democratic nominee has favored.
Much of this shift — which has been focused on economic policy — is smart. Republicans may cry socialism, and affluent centrists may not love it. But the American public leans decidedly left on economics. A clear majority favors higher taxes on the rich, a higher minimum wage and expanded government health insurance. After four decades of slow-growing living standards, people want change.
And yet there are also risks in the Democrats’ move to the left — risks that the sillier criticisms of the party’s new progressivism sometimes obscure.
So far, the 2020 candidates have mostly been competing with one another to see who can come off as the most boldly and purely liberal. Bernie Sanders talks about completing his revolution. Kamala Harris has spoken about the joy that marijuana brings. Sanders, Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand have all talked about eliminating private health insurance. And so on.
Ideological purity doesn’t tend to play well in general elections, however. Every modern president has found ways to appeal to Americans’ fondness for consensus — even if that fondness is based partly on a naïve view of politics and even if the candidates’ appeals have sometimes been more stylistic than substantive.”