Monday, December 9, 2013

Not exactly data-driven people

Quote of the day: "Among some of the most critical Republicans, let me say politely that they are not exactly data-driven people--” Jared Bernstein, commenting on Republicans' unfailingly failed predictions regarding the effects of Fed stimulus policies.

Politico has more
Republicans will use the expected vote this month on the nomination of Janet Yellen to chair the Federal Reserve as one more chance to slam the Fed’s easy money policies.

But there’s one big rub to their argument: Their predictions about the impact of these policies since they first began in late 2008 have been wrong so far.

Inflation has not spiked, and the value of the dollar has not collapsed. At this point, in fact, there are more worries about deflation than inflation.

But thanks to the tea party influence in the GOP — in particular the Fed-bashing Rand and Ron Paul wing of the party — ripping the Fed and the bigger role it is playing in the economy has become more a litmus test for party loyalty, regardless of whether the dire predictions have come true.
It's hard to tell with this crowd whether they're kooks, pandering to kooks, or both. Either way, their policy prescription--restricting the money supply--would be disastrous.

Naturally, this is the same crowd that believes that extended unemployment benefits are a "disservice" to the unemployed and that defaulting on the debt is a worthwhile colonic for the economy.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Failing NC's children

Republican-led budget slashing is crippling North Carolina's public schools and setting the stage for an entire generation to fail.

WRAL reports
Almost 17,200 additional students packed into North Carolina schools this year while the number of teachers dropped, according to new payroll data, leading to what some say are larger class sizes that inhibit learning.
The article goes on to point out that the total number of public school teachers fell by 60. The losses would have been about 10 times that level if local school districts hadn't paid for replacement teachers out of their own funds. Overall, the number of state-funded teachers fell by 589.

Not only have teacher positions been cut, but the legislature has allowed the rising cost-of-living to erode teacher salaries. Just a few years ago, NC teacher salaries were near the average for the country. Now, average salaries are lower than almost every state.

The predictable result is that more teachers are racing for the exits. The WRAL article indicates that about one out of every seven NC teachers left their jobs last year, which was up from an already high one out of nine leaving two years ago. The losses include high proportions of experienced teachers. Many of the teachers are taking jobs in other states.

More students, fewer teachers, worse-paid and more dissatisfied teachers, less-experienced teachers, and cuts in other resources--they're all ingredients for educational failure.

Children get one shot at an effective education, and NC legislators are dooming this generation. Is it any wonder why Republicans are scrambling to dismantle student testing and standards? No sense documenting your own failure.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nullification all in a twist

As if we needed more evidence that congressional Republicans lack any agenda or principles whatsoever except opposing the President, The Hill reports that they may now sue to enforce all of the temporarily suspended parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Republican lawmakers bashed the Obama administration at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday for opting not to enforce core parts of the Affordable Care Act, such as minimum requirements for individual healthcare plans.

Rep. Trent Franks (Ariz.), the chairman of the Judiciary panel’s Constitution and Civil Justice subcommittee, said Congress should sue the administration to spur Obama to enforce the healthcare law as written.
This would be the same ACA that Republicans aver to oppose stem to stern. The same ACA that House Republicans have voted nearly four dozen times to repeal in its entirety. The same ACA that they describe as a job-killer. The same ACA that they shut down the government to, well, suspend.

Now they propose suing to enforce it in its entirety.

As former President Bill Clinton quipped last year, that takes some brass.