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Saturday, March 6, 2021


As I have remarked before, I love watching votes come in even though it can be about as exciting as watching paint dry. Therefore it will come as no surprise to anyone that I spent much of the morning watching the series of votes on amendments in the Senate prior to the final vote on the $1.9 trillion package proposed by Joe Biden. It is an extraordinary accomplishment by Biden and will actually make a very large difference to a great many people. The discipline of the Democrats was admirable. While I was watching the paint dry, I heard reports that we are now up to 2 million vaccinations a day. I have spent so much of my life being so unhappy about what happens in America that I really have to spend a little time just enjoying victories, whenever they pop up. Add to that the delightful fact that the idiot who posed with his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk is now complaining loudly that the judge will not let him out of jail pending his trial and I think we can all agree that it has been a pretty good 48 hours.


I am still waiting to hear whether I will be able to teach my new course at Columbia next year. I have delivered the opening lecture so often in my head that if I actually get to teach the course I may just walk into the seminar the first day and say “Well you have all heard what I have to say, what is your reaction?”


Ben Steele said...

Predictions as to the effect of the included expanded child tax credit on American child poverty really are amazing. Let's hope they pan out. The whole thing makes it clear to what degree our miserable national treatment of children really has been a policy choice over the last 50 years. Again, let's hope this marks the beginning of a collective policy change in this respect.

Ben Steele

Anonymous said...

So you weren't enraged that the democrats self cannibalized the increase in the minimum wage?

aaall said...

"So you weren't enraged that the democrats self cannibalized the increase in the minimum wage?"

Misdirected rage is useless, in fact rage is useless but where would you go with this"rage"?

Anonymous said...

"and that no one will be able to buy or sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name."

Samuel Chase said...


A bit melodramatic for the failure of an economic proposal to garner enough votes to pass, don’t you think? The work of the Antichrist? Really?? Are perchance an adherent of QAnon?

Anonymous said...

second anon is not the first

Sparks said...

It's... something. I can't really say any of it impresses me. But that's due in part to how baffling I find it that so many Democrats seem to have the political acumen of a potato.

Joe Biden's original plan wasn't stellar, but I think it showed his savvy. The $15 minimum wage hike is broadly popular, and delivering additional stimulus relief to the full range who received the previous checks, combined with a successful reopening of the economy, would have been an easy slam-dunk. Sadly, conservative members of the caucus sank the former, and paired down the latter.

Both measures are popular even in West Virginia and Arizona, to mention two states whose Senators have been at the center of the national conversation of late. The only analysis of their actions that makes sense to me suggested it's an attempt to position themselves favorably for doners turned off by the Republican party's anti-democratic lurch. I'm not sure it's a worthwhile risk--the Republican party is positioning itself as "the party of the working class", a laughable contention that is, nonetheless, barely rebuffed by the Democrats.

I'm disappointed Biden didn't use his (or should I say Harris') power to overrule the parliamentarian and keep the $15 minimum wage in the bill. Without his pressure, the corporate wing of the party had full green lights to vote down the measure while hiding behind parliamentary decorum. It is a missed opportunity to make a lasting difference in peoples' lives, to lift ~45% of black workers out of poverty (if you want to talk about racial justice, that's where you should be looking), and to give Dems up and down the ticket an clear accomplishment to point to in 2022.

Anonymous said...

Prof. Wolff: The following link is not directly related to the above post. However, it is your latest post and I am giving the link. In the current climate of 'me first', 'me only' or vaccine hoarding, this is a heart warming story. The payback to India may be the goodwill from the world community and the massive employment, the gesture has created.

Did the conservatives think of the economic impact of $15 minimum wage to the GDP or was their entire focus on the impact on the donor class only? Jan R

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

Re: $15 min.wage, and Anonymous @4:18

If the administration introduces a stand-alone minimum wage bill, and is prepared to campaign nationally for it by tailoring the data state by state (even by congress dist) they can make the R’s look like idiots. You can pose the questions to the voters of each state like this: are the working poor families in, say, West Virginia better off remaining poor or being lifted above the poverty level due to a livable wage,” and the corollary, “are the taxpayers better off leaving the minimum wage where it is? The answer to both question is and emphatic no, and the data is there to prove it.”

Just one example of the impacts: food stamp expenditures would decrease by $3.3 - 5.5 B nationally, and by $XX M paid by taxpayers of your state..

Imagine the following used in a debate. “Isn’t this what R’s have always wanted, to cut food stamp expenditures?? Not really, because a government food subsidy to working families allows business to pay workers less. The perverse outcome is increasing corporate profits while increasing your taxes. It’s time for business to pay its fair share. Which side are YOU on?” Mobilize the UMW, AFSME and any other unions WV and go to work. There are so many really good lines with which to savage the republicans its almost not fair!

The political question to pose to Manchin is.this: “Joe, is your priority raising corporate profits or x thousands of your constituents earning a livable wage,” or something like, to riff on a favorite song of Dr. Wolff’s,”Which side are you on, Joe.” Joe Manchin will be setting a land speed record for flip flopping.

Anonymous, rhetorical questions like you posed are very effective in political campaigns.

Michael said...

I know it's been awhile since you've talked about the limits of game theory, but I came across this essay and was reminded of your book/blog:

Eric said...

In other news, Cornel West is leaving Harvard for an endowed chair with tenure at Union Theological Seminary, where he started his career.
NY Times

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