“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.”
House Democrats may not be able to force President Trump to release his tax returns. But the Democrats can keep reminding Americans that Trump really does not want the public to know what’s in those returns.
As you probably know by now, all other recent presidents (and presidential nominees) voluntarily released their tax information. Trump has not. Now House Democrats are trying to get access to that information and potentially release portions of it to the public.
Last week, Richard Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, demanded to see six years of Trump’s tax returns, citing a 1924 provision in the tax code that gives Congress the power to obtain any citizen’s returns. Neal has given the Internal Revenue Service until Wednesday to hand over the returns to Congress.
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.
[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning, with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]
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.”