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"Eight Years Ago You Promised To Restore Dignity To The White House...Brilliant Appearance On Deal Or No Deal!

Illustration for article titled Eight Years Ago You Promised To Restore Dignity To The White House...Brilliant Appearance On iDeal Or No Deal/i!

Gaiety! Bacchanalia! Food shortages! The White House Correspondents Dinner happened over the weekend. "One of the most hideous events I've ever been to," decreed Ruper Everett (of the cinematic gem The Next-Best Thing. Megan went. So did Heidi and Spencer and Pete Wentz. Megan recognized Donatella Versace, but not Ashlee Simpson. Lauren Conrad grew "awesome bangs." Glamocracy reigned, so to speak, and not just in Washington; I went to a lovely wedding! Prince performed at Coachella! And the rest of the world continued to fast and fester under the weight of wrongheaded economic policies that systematically placed risk of reckless neocons and Wall Street plutocrats on the shoulders of taxpayers, undermining capitalism's every last virtue and then some. That and Jeremiah Wright speaks, Bill Clinton's Obama hate is deconstructed, a brief discussion of the Laffer Curve, after the jump.


MOE: Together again at last! We'll have to celebrate this. But how?
MEGAN: I can make mimosas, but I was sort of planning on doing laundry later.
MOE: Shall we talk about the Reverend Wright?
MEGAN: Well, everyone else is, including Reverend Wright.
MOE: Or the economy? The food crisis. Stop hoarding food, world! It is only getting more expensive because you think it is going to get more expensive! It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, don't you see?
MEGAN: I don't think everyone is hoarding. God knows I'm not.
MEGAN: My fridge contains: butter, really old bread, prosciutto, eggs, beer and leftover pizza that I'm likely going to eat when we're done. And the afore-mentioned champagne but it turns out I don't actually have any OJ for mimosas, so it's just straight champagne for me.
MOE: How was your weekend? I went to a wedding. It was wonderful until I realized I had no place to go once it was over, save 30th Street Station, which was very cold and miserable. At least I had the money to purchase myself an Eagles sweatshirt to wad myself up inside on the way home. Warm clothes at cold train stations is a rarity. My fridge contains mustard and hummus.

MEGAN: Glamour sent me to cover the White House Correspondents Dinner and the various parties. I spent it in dresses and heels rather than the tank tops and flip flops that a 90 degree sunny weekend should have portended.
MOE: Oh we should really talk about our fabulous parties then, I suppose. The Mauritanians suffering at the hands of all the sudden hoarding from the food exporting nations — here is one area where the free market could be virtuous, and yet when called to be virtuous, I guess we cling to national allegiances and self-preservational instincts...and anyway so Craig Ferguson. Do share.
MEGAN: Craig Ferguson was deemed hard-to-understand due to the acoustics and his accent, but I was upstairs in the bar at that point so didn't catch a ton of it. It wasn't as bad as Rich Little or as evilly good as Colbert 2 years ago and then it started to rain.
MOE: Oh and here's a link re the new unflat world, the rise of nationalism. God I hated The World Is Flat. 2% of Mauritania's land is arable, I just learned.


MEGAN: I hated that book, too. I can't remember why, because I read it in grad school, but I remember hating it. I hate all those books. Don't get me started on Guns, Germs and Steel, fucking piece of social Darwinist bullshit
MEGAN: Axelrod was just on MSNBC. I don't think Wright's new speaking campaign is sitting too well with him.
MOE: Here's a YouTube clip from the event. At around 9:40 he says to GWB, "I remember eight years ago you promised you were going to restore dignity to the White House...pause...By the way I thought you were fantastic on 'Deal Or No Deal'." I don't think you can compare Guns, Germs and Steel to The World Is Flat but that's just maybe because I read Tom Friedman to feel smarter than him and I read Jared Diamond to familiarize myself with the deluxe version of the conventional wisdom he purveys.

MEGAN: Nothing like some delicious conventional wisdom that all peoples are made to be conflicted and the "best" society will win!
MOE: Reading about the development of penicillin...the drug's discoverer, Alexander Fleming, was sort of this absent minded dilettante who was moved by treating soldiers in WWI to try and isolate antibiotics, but the drug would have gone nowhere — it sat around on his shelves for 20 years — if not for a group of scientists at Oxford, some of whom were motivated partly by humanistic instincts but one of whom notably (I'm forgetting who) thought he was doing something very dangerous because plagues were necessary to keep the population under control, but he didn't care because the project was so intellectually tantalizing, and maybe he was right about all of that. Who knows. Shall we discuss Bill Clinton's Obama envy, brought to you by a certain notable ex-colleague of Spencer Ackerman?
MEGAN: Wait, so, plagues are the opiates of the masses?
MEGAN: Also, I know nothing about Spencer's ex-colleague whatsoever that I didn't read about in that piece he wrote about him (which sounded like typical interoffice backstabby nastiness on the colleague's part), but I now know he's not a fan of Bill Clinton. He's not supposed to be even-handed or something, is he?
MOE: Huh? Even handed? Oh lord don't give me that. My problem with this Talk Of The Town is that, being a Talk Of the Town, it doesn't really address annnnything beyond the perception of the perceptions and, you know, a lot of people would truly like to have an answer to: were the failings of Clinton economic policy fundamentally the result of a Giant Sellout, or well-meaning inevitabilitarianism?
MOE: Which is not a word.
MOE: Also, my sense was that Angela Davis may have been cool, but that Stalin was not, and now people think I am so terrible, and maybe they are right.
MEGAN: Oh, well, I just mean that it seemed very much like the author didn't like Bill Clinton from the get-go, which made me roll my eyes and not really take anything he was saying very seriously.

MEGAN: Stalin was very uncool. The problem with Communism was that its intellectual advocates were always sort of idealistic and understandable while its practitioners were always crazy, power-hungry oppressive megalomaniacs.
MEGAN: Um, by the way, what is the kind of goatee called when the dude shaves most of the front of the chin but leaves maybe an inch on the very, very bottom, on the curve? Because that's what Reverend Wright has apparently grown.
MOE: I should just point out that my bias is having grown up for some time with communism, and having the sense from a very young age that while it was not so bad to be poor, it was creepy to be brainwashed. And please send a picture.
MEGAN: Ok, I take it back, actually, it turns out he's always had it, I just never noticed it before because I've never seen his face quite this big and it's a little grey.
MOE: And here's something that will shock you: Republicans preside over periods of slower economic growth and widening income gaps than Democrats. Paul Krugman doesn't understand why exactly but thinks there could be something to that and come to think of it so do I!
MEGAN: Laffer curve! Laffer curve!
MEGAN: Like, all these tax cuts at some point stop generating additional productivity and just turn into tax cuts.


MEGAN: OMG, Reverend Wright just said "I served 6 years in the military. Does that make me patriotic? How many years did Cheney serve?"
MEGAN: The room erupted.
MOE: Well the Laffer Curve is kind of whatever, I mean it's just a tool to illustrate the law of diminishing marginal returns, but I guess this new graph would suggest, "ha ha, actually no, fuck Laffer and Keynes and all that noise, Republicans are just more likely to get it wrong, the end." Which I like because I kind of hate the Laffer Curve, insofar as it makes something really fucking mind-numbingly complex look pretty and simple and Reaganite.
MOE: Oh shit! Did he read that about himself in the Tribune?

MEGAN: But it's fun to say. Also, it ties conservatives up in knots right now because the evidence suggests that we're on the bad side of the curve even as they advocate more tax cuts and the Laffer curve is like the tax cutter's Bible.
MOE: Also, Wikipedia points us to this interesting CBO paper on how tax cuts at this point are just in no way fucking worth it.
MEGAN: And that shit's more from more than 2 years ago.
MEGAN: "As I said to Barack Obama, if you get elected, on November 5th, I'll be coming after you because you'll be representing a government that grinds people under," says Rev. Wright.
MOE: And fucking check out this editorial from the always-populist Wall Street Journal.

So Federal Reserve officials are whispering to reporters that they will consider a "pause" after another interest-rate cut this week. Perhaps we should be more respectful, but this sounds like the alcoholic who tells his wife he'll quit drinking next weekend, after one more bender. What Chairman Ben Bernanke needs isn't a gradual withdrawal from easy money but membership in Central Bankers Anonymous.


I don't know what "thrifty middle class" they're referring to but:

The practical impact has been to send energy and food prices soaring. This is a direct tax on both the world's poor and America's middle class. Just when the U.S. economy needs a resilient consumer given the fall in housing prices, these price increases have eviscerated consumer pocketbooks. In its attempt to help Wall Street and the financial system, Fed policy is punishing average Americans. The public is frustrated and angry with these price increases, and it has a right to be. Inflation is the thief of the thrifty middle class.


MEGAN: I'm the thrifty middle class! I'm a cheap fucking bitch, everyone knows that.
MEGAN: I mean, my problem with the interest rate cuts is that they are seemingly not particularly effective at saving the economy from recession.
MEGAN: Dude, by the way, I sort of want to go to Reverend Wright's church now. Mofo is fucking funny.
MEGAN: "Based on Tuskeegee, based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of everything." He alternates between joke telling and speaking to the conspiracy theorist in my heart.

MOE: So dude, honestly, tell me about the WHCD because the rest of the news is really depressing. It's like recession, no wait depression
MOE: rich financiers have been profiting under a reverse-Robin Hood system whereby the amount of capital underlying securities steadily decreased as the risk was moved to the public balance sheet, the dollar is going to keep sinking, the entire financial services industry is a laughingstock...we need a new Decameron, if you will.
MOE: Did you see Heidi and Spencer? Who appeared, despite rumors they would not.
MEGAN: I did not see Heidi and Spencer. Going made me realize that I'd been in D.C. too damn long because I was all like "Oooh, Carlos Gutierrez! Fran Thompson! Helen Thomas!" and then I geeked out and played spot-the-celeb with this guy after making him pose for the photo and I totally didn't recognize Ashlee Simpson though I caught Donatella.


MEGAN: And then, since Samantha Bee was at Glamour's table, I chatted with her (cutely pregnant, but still in heels and I commiserated that she had to attend but couldn't drink and she said she only came because she figured when she pushed out a second kid no one would think she was cool enough to invite again).
MEGAN: And I took the picture at the bottom of this blog post.
MEGAN: And Bush's speech: lame.
MOE: Who the fuck was pete wentz the guest of?

MEGAN: I dunno, but he DJ'd the Capitol File party, so maybe them?

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Yes, I understand that. But do you understand that currently, without underwriting, and at the current cost of health care, that is the situation anyway? An individual can already deduct up to 10K (I believe) of health care costs even *with* insurance—I derive an enormous benefit every year. But you cannot deduct unpaid debt, obviously—unless you declare bankruptcy. That's what's been happening to people whose health care costs go beyond their insurance level WHATEVER their situation. How big of a tax break am I getting; big enough to excise all the debt I'll have from deregulation and passed-on costs?

Now, if I decide to leave my employer health care plan, I am free to switch to any individual plan in my state free of underwriting. Why don't I? Because I would be forced to pay the new deductible, and my employer now pays my deductible (which many, incidentally, don't). If I didn't, the equation would change absolutely, and I might switch to privatized care. On the other hand, had I fallen out of network out for over three months, I would have to now marry or GET a job to get out of my underwriting problem, which haunts all preexisting conditions.

I am actually going a long way around to explain that both McCain and Obama's plans offer what is essentially the current situation and pretend it's new.

You can buy insurance in most states for $250. Is Obama going to offer it for much lower than that? How much lower? Employers receive a tax break that has begun to be obviated by the costs incurred by employers, which also threatens their competitiveness in GETTING employees and staying profitable. How big a tax break will the individual get? A tax break for insurance that costs $600 a month (what mine costs) would be enormous if it was enough to make it affordable to individuals. I doubt McCain will do this; therefore, people *won't* buy it.

In fact people and employer's health care choices are being driven by more complex factors. Until Obama and McCain explain what their positions are on underwriting, preexisting conditions and tax credits, they can't back up what they're saying will happen in the market. Right now, I have all the options they are offering, and I stay with my employer for other significant reasons that they haven't touched.