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I think these are great proposals. Reading this column has also crystallized for me just how much I hate the doom and gloom in my feeds (which, since I'm an academic, are mostly from the left). It's incredibly self-defeating (a testable hypothesis next November) when your message is, "everything sucks," particularly in the face of evidence to the contrary.

Kid vaccine rollout was good. Passing an infrastructure bill: good. Passing pandemic support: good. Doing expanded CTC this year: good. Judge nominations in a Dem Senate: good.

It's way easier to convince people to fight when they feel like their efforts matter, but right now it feels like there is a deep commitment to convincing people that they are riding the Fail Train. I don't need this to be a counter-narrative about unmitigated victory, but I wish people could be clear-eyed about the difference between incremental progress and overblown pessimism, because the latter will absolutely cost you winnable elections at the margin.

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I mean progressive Twitter and academics never wanted Biden to be the nominee so the mood they are most comfortable with is pronouncing everything a failure. But it’s dumb.

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I think it also reflects a general trend in our society that codes pessismism / cynicism / things-are-worse-than-they-seem as cool. I think it is a not-unreasonable response to the fact that historically we have swept stuff under the rug with the endless American progress narrative. But the counter-impulse is maladaptive.

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Dec 21, 2021·edited Dec 21, 2021

I don't think it's about "cool", or America. British media is just as saturated with doom and gloom as America's. Doom seems to dominate in the current media ecosystem. Seems there's a lot fewer clicks in "Biden passed a good infrastructure bill" than "Biden betrays our future with racist infrastructure bill"

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"So the Dems don't have a cheerleader like the GOP does in Fox."

you mean besides, the NYT, WaPo, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, etc

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founding

They don't cheerlead Dems. They're happy to run weeks of headlines on how bad the Afghanistan pullout is, or how much disarray the Dems are in in Congress, or whatever. It's true that they tend to prefer Dems to Reps, but they're also very happy to run negative stories on them when that's what's selling.

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What's Jedediah Purdy up to these days? I remember he got famous in the '90s writing about how it was bad that negativity was cool. But I guess he was talking about irony, not pessimism (the difference between Gen X and Gen Z).

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You got me wondering. Seems he’s a “radical centrist” law professor. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedediah_Purdy

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People are definitely trying to be the dog that caught the car here too: the more they assail Biden, Manchin, Dems, and mods, the more morale and excitement for midterms is reduced. Also it just looks worse to every casual person observing this all.

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It's hard to overstate how much healthier I feel chatting about politics with the fine folks at SB and swearing off Twitter entirely. And I wasn't even tweeting myself, just reading some feeds I thought were good!

A bottomless bucket of bad faith, gotcha, and insanity.

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Twitter is basically bumper stickers and road rage, without the cars.

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I dumped Twitter a few years ago. In my view it is mind cancer.

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Dec 21, 2021·edited Dec 21, 2021

I do think there is a type of person, small in terms of relative numbers, that have the cognitive ability to utilize Twitter in a net positive way. Unfortunately, Twitter seems to attract a lot of people who are not that type of person and it quickly becomes a massive signal-noise problem.

Also on a personal note, I've always been highly annoyed that people write entire essays on Twitter, or post pictures of a wall of text, instead of just linking to a blog, a PDF or something on Google docs.

Edited to add: In my work in intelligence, Twitter was invaluable for keeping on top of current events around the world by following foreign journalists. It does have very good practical uses.

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I’m not sure persuasive tweeting exists.

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Among the many pathologies fueling this destructive process, one that strikes me is that the crazed rhetoric on both sides is fueled by professional fundraisers whose interest is to promote their business, aided by promoting fear & panic.

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I really don't mean this as a troll but how on Earth do you find optimism?

I know some of this is just seasonal depression crushing me but it really feels awful. Like we've developed all these mazing technologies for showing us how broken everything is and we can't manage to do much to fix it.

I don't even mean that in response to this bill in specific. I look at the world and think everything is mostly awful and we should be taking big swings because none of us has anything to lose, and politics is all people who feel like it's mostly fine and we have a ton to lose.

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I start by taking a walk around the block, realizing that I live in a land and time of plenty that would have been unimaginable to anyone born more than 100 years ago. Food so plentiful we shove remnants down disposals, a supercomputer in your pocket, near-universal secondary education, hurricanes predicted with pinpoint accuracy three days in advance, gas-burning cars that run so clean that *tire wear* is their primary remaining contributor to particulate emissions, a hell of a lot of kids having their own bedroom from the time they exit the crib...

I find your viewpoint almost unrecognizable. The internet is feeding that--it's one of its greatest and most regrettable strengths. It can be healthy to take a break.

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No question taking a break is healthy, and great. It can be a very useful defense mechanism.

I don't quite know how to feel about all that material plenty. Like it's nice to have nice things but it would be a lot nicer to have somewhat less things and a universal basic income to fall back on if I suddenly became less valuable to the labor market.

Like instead of chipping away at the big unfairnesses in life we're like moving a little money around to people with especially sympathetic stories.

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It would definitely be better if there were a universal basic income, both for the people that don't have material plenty right now, and for the people that are worried about losing it. But the mere fact that this plenty *does* exist for something like 80+% of Americans, and a similar fraction throughout Europe, Japan, Korea, and Australia, and a smaller fraction in Latin America, China, India, and the Middle East, just seems to me like a huge win for the world compared to decades ago. We're absolutely chipping away at the big problems in life (whether or not we are resolving the unfairness).

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"but it would be a lot nicer to have somewhat less things and a universal basic income to fall back on if I suddenly became less valuable to the labor market."

I think a UBI "might" become inevitable in a couple of decades do to automation.

That being said, until we get to that point, I'm opposed. the problem is that most people are lazy. If you make not working too attractive, people will take that option.

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To answer honestly, my perspective is strongly influenced by my training as an academic historian. I have a weird portfolio of interests / scholarship that includes public health stuff, energy, enviro, and technology. And in most of those areas, things are just straight up better today than they were even just fifty years ago--like, a LOT better. Much of that progress was made incrementally, with very imperfect policies made by very imperfect people (i.e. Nixon was a garbage human who supported and signed transformative enviro legislation). So I have both a strong sense that things get better over time and a healthy appreciation that improvement often happens at unexpected moments through surprising channels. Another example would be the incredible rise in energy efficiency that took place in the late '70s and early '80s. We lost some of those gains to other choices (f*#k you, SUVs), but overall the picture is one of improvement, often in spite of policy or bad actors.

So, to give a concrete example of why I remain hopeful: I have some expertise on the historical experience of pandemics. In fact, I opened an exhibit on this topic in November of 2019; we were very relevant for about two months, until the museum closed. So I know a lot about pandemics and infectious disease, both on the technical side (because you have to brush up on epidemiology and microbiology to understand what actually happened historically, especially given the limitations of sources from those time periods) and on the human-experience side. As you can imagine, I have basically spent the entire pandemic, from Jan 2020 to now, incandescently frustrated with the various flavors of screwing up. And I could both predict and see the screw-ups in real-time and understand them at an excruciatingly technical level. It has been so bad that my mid-life crisis is that I am jumping out of my current position, teaching public health to undergrads, to go into nursing for a few years because I just need to take a break from watching the big picture and spend some time fighting the pandemic with my own two hands.

But.

The truth is that this pandemic is not a worst-case scenario. Our technology and health care systems are so much better, despite the mismanagement and everything else, that they have bought us a lot relative to historical experiences from even the recent past. And although I have been disappointed with a lot of Biden administration pandemic responses against what I would recommend if I were King Of The World, the truth is that they did some things very, very well that made a big difference.

A great example is the roll-out of kid vaccines. It was excellent, at least in my part of the world. Kid vaccines were widely available as soon as they were approved, because the administration had pre-positioned stockpiles. From the minute the EUA came down, I was contacted by my kid's school, my local public health department, and our pediatrician all within a couple of weeks, all offering to vaccinate my kid, and with multiple vaccination pop-up clinics / opportunities within walking distance of where we live. Newly-eligible kids at our school were basically all vaccinated within weeks, and to top it off, those clinics got parents boosted with the time-honored, "as long as you are here, it turns out we have these adult boosters, and it might be really helpful for your kid to see Mom and Dad getting their shots..." It was fabulous! And in a massive stroke of good fortune, the timing ended up being just right--my family basically happens to be at max immune potential (i.e. all of us fresh off the shots) just in time for omicron, when it actually makes a (statistically speaking) big difference.

That last bit is a mix of straight good fortune and a smart response to omicron, which is that the administration got over their earlier concerns about the optics and politics of boosters and went all-in. Should they have done omni-booster policy earlier? There's an interesting discussion to have, and probably the answer is yes, but it's complicated. But the administration was in the position to get over the earlier reluctance, and in position to get lucky, in part because they had done the other work around kid vaccine rollout. Fortune favors the prepared.

But the wins of the kid vaccine rollout and associated programs is the kind of thing that is hard to see unless you are trained to see it and think that way. It's not like you can re-run the rollouts, do them badly, and gather data on the number of lives saved. And because it went smoothly, people basically didn't even notice it, because Scary Omicron (which is legit scary!) and Younger Kid Vaccine Problems are just way more interesting stories than the dog that didn't bark. But the truth is that a lot of people worked really hard to keep that dog quiet, and a much better response would be, "That was great, and having done it proves that we can do it again, so let's do it!"

The flight to pessimism is actually one reason why doctors and nurses and public health people face such high rates of burnout, even before the pandemic. When you feel like your efforts are insufficient or useless or not producing positive change in the world, that leads to exhaustion, depression, and surrender. But our brains have a totally understandable strong evolutionary incentive to prefer dissatisfaction, because that's a useful survival pressure--it's useful, in the moment, to spend more time worrying about the patient coming in the door than to be feeling good about the one who survived and walked out yesterday.

But the problem is that it is maladaptive in the sense that modern problems are just geometrically larger than in the past. We have the information to understand them (think how much tech you need and how much education and how much sophistication in your understanding of how the world functions before you can understand and worry about climate change). And we have larger systems (the healer living in a medieval village had a very tiny patient pool; the nurse in a modern hospital in a big city "serves" so many people that no effort will ever be great enough to empty the pool of human suffering).

A similar problem afflicts a lot of modern life.

So I think it's all about perspective. But, to be clear, that's really, really hard. I have perspective because I'm a weirdo who has unusual training, so I don't think I actually have a great solution to the problem, since my experience is clearly not easily replicable and definitely isn't scaleable. But I hope this excessively long post at least transfers some of that optimism to you.

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I feel like everything you said is right and the fact that we can’t drain the pool and it’s what I do all day is work on the pool, not on Twitter but teaching, and coaching and volunteering that it feels kind of hopeless. Even if we improved by 90 percent it would still be a huge failure.

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Dec 21, 2021·edited Dec 21, 2021

In the last few minutes, I just received an email out of the blue from a student who graduated a couple of years ago thanking me for everything I did to help him, telling me I was a big reason he was able to graduate and figure out what he wants in life.

Even if you think you can't solve everything for everyone, you can still make a huge impact on some people's lives. And even *if* 99.9% of people don't get anything out of what you do for them, for the ones do, it's literally life altering. Don't lose sight of that.

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It's a problem for all of us in those kinds jobs. I'm treating it in my case through the incredibly dubious strategy of jumping from teaching / public health into another high-burnout service job (nursing), so I'm probably the wrong guy to give advice on it. But I would go back and say what I said before: we're simultaneously living a huge failure AND a huge success. Our brains just aren't well-designed to accurately parse that kind of calculation, which makes sense when you consider that literally no other animal on the planet has any reason to require that kind of brain, from a day-to-day survival of the fittest standpoint.

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The way I approach this (as someone who gets paid to be constructively pessimistic) is by looking at whether I'm making things better --- and whether there are higher-impact things I should be doing --- rather than just the current state. It's not perfect, but it definitely keeps me in a healthier place than the alternative.

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Thank you for this! Tangible progress is indeed possible.

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We are in one of the most blessed and prosperous periods in human history. Wages are increasing, jobs are plentiful. Houses are larger. If you lived with the expectations of an American 100 years ago, we have more wealth with easier work, abundant food, endless entertainment, cleaner environment, better healthcare, effortless communication...

We go to church services less, fail to thank God or anyone for our bounty and are detached from our local community as a result. Active gratitude is essential for well-being. I'm not saying hardship is all in your head, but when we dwell on the negative and fail to recognize our blessings our perspective is biased. The prevalent fallacy that all good things are earned and bad things are undeserved is absolute poison. The reality is that good and bad are a mix of effort, environment and luck. It would be great to have the optimal environment for all to prosper, but we could do much much worse.

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I’ll pass on the god bits, but a broad grounding in history (the study of how much things used to suck) leads me to thank providence or blind luck.

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" look at the world and think everything is mostly awful"

That's the big lie. In reality, it's never been a better time to be alive. For all of human history until just very very recently. Life was brutal and hard with back breaking labor from dawn to dusk just about everyone.

Then about 200 years ago, the miracle started happening. Real economic growth started happening, and people started seeing real improvement in their own lives, and even more improvement in their children.

The vast majority of us take the miracle for granted, instead of realizing how blessed we are. There literally has NEVER been a better time to be alive. Especially if you are a woman, a person of color, LGTBQ etc.

Are there still problems, of course. But there will always be problems. That doesn't change that what we have is miraculous, and fragile.

Thus any changes should be well thought out, and probably incremental. We don't want or need to blow up the system.

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"None of us has anything to lose" - I'm sorry if things aren't going well for you but don't count me or most people I know in your "none of us"

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I both think cynicism is a moral failing and I agree with you, lol. The November elections took a lot out of me, as has watching Build Back Better lurch on from month to month. I kind of feel like a chump for ever thinking it was going to pass. I keep telling myself that optimism requires a willingness to get your heart broken, but damn, getting your heart broken sucks.

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This comment is deeply absurd, presumably because it is based on a bunch of assumptions about who I am, what I believe, and so on. If you want a deep dive into what I think, look at (over)long post further down thread.

Or not. You do you, obviously. If there's one thing we know about the internet, it's that letting reality and nuance get in the way of A Sick Burn would be doing it wrong.

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This is sort of an interesting comment, and I would guess from it that there is stuff that you and I agree on in this space.

But it's unresponsive to what I actually said. That's what makes it absurd. You grabbed a fragment of a sentence--the second one--and went off in a direction that was pre-determined by your desire to express the idea you already had (about your take on the academy) to an audience that you want but I guess do not have (an academic) in a public forum (which is the difference between a sick burn and a very random email).

Like I said: this is very internet. It presumably pushes my comment up the engagement wall on this post, so that's a win, I guess? Thanks?

But that's what makes it absurd, in the way that a lot of performance art is absurd. And I say this as someone who probably agrees with you on a lot of what you think about the academy (and can I suggest Douthat's writing on decadence as an interesting take on some of your ideas?). But we might also agree on, say, the proper way to smoke a brisket (I'm from Texas). It would still be very weird--even absurd--for us to have a brisket discussion in the context of my original comment.

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One thing I've learned from discussing this on Twitter the last few days is that some of the angriest people in the debate quite literally have no idea what programs are even in the proposals. All they know is that Manchin is a bad guy, so they oppose whatever he wants, plus he's lying anyway (about whatever it is he's saying, though they have no idea what that is). It's totally politics as soap opera or pro wrestling match or [choose your metaphor].

Meanwhile, normie swing voters also have no idea what programs are in the bill proposals (some probably don't even know there's a bill, or that the current bill is different from the one that passed a few weeks ago) because they all have better things to pay attention to like Christmas shopping. If the Dems can somehow get it together and pass the kind of compromise bill that Matt's outlining here, all this sturm and drang will be forgotten within a month.

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My favorite "Angry Progressive" take is that Manchin should just become a republican if he hates democrats so much. Which Ignores two major things:

1. Joe Manchin votes with Biden 97% of the time.

2. Confirming judges (which Biden has done at a historic pace) is more important than any piece of legislation.

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It hasn't been a great week for us Manchin-apologists, but every time I get especially annoyed, I close my eyes and whisper "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell" ten times.

Then I feel better. Actually, I still feel really bad, but in a totally different way!

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Yeah obviously it's totally reasonable to be frustrated with him but the progressives act like there is a better alternative out there, when there isn't.

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Why would you be feeling bad about an adult in the room with an idea of fiscal sanity? National Democrats spewing money around wastefully like they do in New York City and San Francisco is a bad look.

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Because progressives don't view it as "spewing money around wastefully". I'm saying I understand why they would be frustrated but they should recognize its better than the alternative where Joe Manchin isn't a democrat.

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San Francisco is running a budget surplus, but thank you for your concern.

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Dec 29, 2021·edited Dec 29, 2021

Oh congratulations! So if you tax the populace and the tech companies enough, you too can spend over $12,000 per inhabitant of your city while presiding over a surplus, a homeless crisis, a drug crisis and a crime crisis! I'm not sure what you think you're proving with your non-sequiter, that San Francisco is wasting its money in a financially responsible way? I mean if Silicon Valley boomtown San Francisco is running a debt, they'd really be in trouble. Wouldn't want to see what would happen when the economy slows down.

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I almost entirely agree with you but the "votes with Biden 97% of the time" thing is a smidge misleading because Manchin not supporting something decreases its chances of ever reaching the Senate floor.

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Yeah that's fair, it definitely comes more into play with nominations than it does with legislation.

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Probably more like 80%.

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In the immortal words of Homer J. Simpson, "Five days? But I'm mad now!"

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This is definitely true. Many people don't even know about the phaseouts are, or what "universal" actually means regarding FMLA and Preschool programs. It is also just really hard to not feel "glass half-empty" right now, as Matt said. $3.5T with universal childcare, preschool, and a bunch of other great stuff sounds insanely good, as a young person who believes America can invest in itself to overcome any challenge. But, as a budding econ student, policy wonk, and rational person, it is still incredible that a Senator from WV is willing to vote for a bill that is more expensive than the ACA, right after he voted for a deficit financed infrastructure bill that was about as expensive as the ACA. Not to mention formerly-known-as Endless Frontier Act. We really are living in an incredible period of legislation.

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To be fair, hardly anyone knows what's in it. That's one of the recurring downsides of any large and complicated bill. But I agree that being super angry and not knowing what's in it is a bad look

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I feel like outside of that weird soap opera it's really hard to get worked up about any part of this bill because it is such a weird piece of legislation.

Like I really think it's awful how little day care staff is paid and how hard it is for my parent friends to find good day care and so in principle I think this bill is okay and then I look at the mechanisms by which it provides it and it's a real kludge that seems maybe better than nothing but if you want to say hey maybe that's not the best thing to do I understand.

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In fact, I think it would be worse than nothing. Matt has already written a couple pieces about it:

https://www.slowboring.com/p/what-is-the-goal-of-child-care-policy

https://www.slowboring.com/p/job-creation

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I think I disagree because I think we should raise the prices on upper class parents in order to fund paying a salary to childcare workers that can create an expert professional workforce.

Not so much they need to get degrees but they need to be able to accumulate experience and stay for years.

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I’m not sure I see this in Orlando. Child care positions still pay peanuts even in very affluent neighborhoods, maybe I’m just not in rich enough listings.

But isn’t the structure of it a subsidy for poor parents, and a raise for child care workers, at least ones who get qualifications. And then to keep the costs down y costs go up. Which seems like a tax by any other name on more affluent families who can’t get subsidies.

It’s pretty complicated and worse than my preferred system of a large investment directly into care centers, with teacher like salaries, but the system we have now where people doing necessary work are being paid nothing and 100 percent of parents are being charged a ton. So now at least poor families get a good subsidy.

I’m not sure how much col adjustments are needed in south and Midwest as much as just more earnings but if you can do that it’s great.

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I agree with most of this, but unfortunately, I doubt the effects of this negativity will be gone in a month.

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If Democrats can't pass a good bill with $1.75t to spend, they don't deserve to be in power.

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I don't care about who "deserves" to be in power. Probably no one deserves to be in power.

But someone *will* be in power, and I'd much rather it be someone who passes a mediocre $1.75t bill than someone whose main goal is revenge fantasies.

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The alternative I have in mind is new leadership for the Dems. Biden, Pelosi and Schumer are all 75+ and have been in office for over 40+. That would be enough to cause turnover at almost any organisation. If they can't do their jobs competently, there's really no reason to keep them in place.

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Pelosi has been by far the most competent politician of my lifetime, unless you count Mitch McConnell (who has simpler goals, and thus achieves them more often). She clearly deserves to keep the leadership post she has had for 15 years, though her age does suggest it is very important that she have some transition plan in place.

Schumer and Biden have been in leadership positions for less long, but have also not shown themselves to be particularly competent. The case for replacing them is much stronger.

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I read all this thoughtful effort, and imagine the possibilities, yet I’m left with the distinct impression that when it comes to how real people experience this legislation, the media narrative about the content of bill matters more than the actual content of the bill.

This bill is well-intentioned, and can make an actual difference in people’s lives. But I also think it’s so complicated, and the workings of the bill so arcane, that for most Americans, the primary experience of the bill, no matter how helpful it is to them, is what the media says about it.

All that being said I hope they can get something passed.

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The point of passing it is for it to work. Using it to win in 2022 was never in the cards.

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I agree with you. I am curious the extent to which the bill “working” is connected to the subjective experience of the people who materially benefit from it.

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Depends. Certainly there doesn’t seem to be any outcry among what I’ll politely term “high-fertility right-leaning voters” to maintain the CTC in current form.

If there were, Rubio or someone would be signaling that a stand-alone bill could be brought to the Senate floor.

So I’m guessing “very little.”

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Totally agree. Matt Y wrote one of his best posts related to this a while back:

https://www.slowboring.com/p/making-policy-for-a-low-trust-world

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I had forgotten about that one! It’s probably why I have this opinion, haha!

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"This bill is well-intentioned, and can make an actual difference in people’s lives. But I also think it’s so complicated, and the workings of the bill so arcane, that for most Americans, the primary experience of the bill, no matter how helpful it is to them, is what the media says about it."

But that's fine, if your goal is to improve people's lives and you care a lot less about hearing their expressions of gratitude for doing so.

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Dec 21, 2021·edited Dec 21, 2021

Although long forgotten, I think Romney presented a serious proposal for the Child Tax Credit earlier this year. It even got plaudits from Matt's former co-workers at Vox and I think Matt had good things to say about it on Twitter.

https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/22280404/mitt-romney-child-allowance-tax-credit-biden

Maybe I've watched too many West Wing re-runs but I think you had hammer out a good CTC deal with Romney outside of BBB on regular order and I think he could bring 9 other Republicans along.

Something like this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv70tm-Gh3A

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I think that Romney’s plan has a lot of merit.

But here’s the problem. In order to craft a proposal that is plausibly conservative, Romney pays for it by cutting other anti-poverty programs and by eliminating the SALT deduction. Since SALT is regressive, that leaves the poor and most of the middle class better off and it’s a good plan. But it’s also a plan that will inevitably alienate *some* Democrats. Which is fine if you do it as a bipartisan bill. But Romney hasn’t brought any GOP votes to the table.

If we were talking about Romney and Collins and Murkowski (the usual moderates) plus Rubio and Lee (who like CTC) then I’d say sure — Biden should go do a deal over the objections of Bob Menendez and a handful of House members. But it doesn’t work as just Romney; he needs to gain more support from his side.

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I’d be fine with his proposal if he funded it by eliminating the capital gains, dividend, and step up on death tax breaks, even if it including eliminating the SALT deduction (which might even allow for some reductions in the top rates lower in the brackets). Unfortunately that is likely a non-starter on both sides of the aisle.

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I wish. There seems to be very little indication that 9 other Republicans could possibly convinced to create an excellent social program. Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong about that. The country desperately needs a reasonable center right that doesn’t hate government.

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Because of the rather large families in the LDS community, I think Lee comes along. Capito would vote for this. This is Rubio's signature proposal. Portman and Toomey are retiring. There's your footsteps to 60.

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founding

You presumably need more than 10 Republicans if you're going to lose a few Democrats over something or other.

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Is there any basis for thinking is a likely outcome, other than watching West Wing?

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I would hesitate to use the word likely, but it's a Romney proposal so that's at least one Republican and others in a competitive races may think this is something good to pass because it polls really well. Also as another poster said, Republicans are the ones with kids.

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Sounds like speculation. I can't think of any basis in voting records to expect 10 Republicans to get this across the line.

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they just pass an infrastructure bill not to long ago on a bi-partisan basis.

yes, compromise is hard, but it's usually worth it

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It’s not unimaginable… If there were actually signals or posturing to suggest it.

Certainly it’s not as far fetched as Cruz volunteering 10 GOP Senators to back a stand-alone climate bill.

But there’s no particular reason to expect them to do it now.

I could absolutely see it garnering support in 2025 under a GOP administration in a mediocre economy alongside a bunch of business handouts.

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House BBB is the equivalent of doing 10 bad one liners insulting every demographic

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How much longer until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training?

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Do pitchers and catchers make more for reporting earlier?

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If they don't get paid more, well then, that's a giant bowl of wrong. Also, I loved you in Half Baked (and everything else.)

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The fallacy of high US child poverty rates is based on the "relative" metric, not an absolute threshold. It's the same problem with so-called racial income inequality. Basing conclusions on the median is problematic. Take away the wealthiest 1% of the population and both child poverty and racial income disparities disappear. Another prog trick to engender a crisis is to base child poverty on household income, absent government assistance like SNAP, TANF, EITC and Housing vouchers.

Between the two options, we should have spent the stimulus dollars on this BBB legislation, but we can't afford both, especially with interest rates rising. At nearly 6 trillion dollars in spending on COVID so far, Gen Z is going to face shrinking government programs for debt payments as it is now.

If it were me, I would not eliminate SALT deductions AND I would repeal Trump's income tax cuts to payback the COVID spending so far.

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Actually the Trump tax cuts generated more revenue than was projected based on the prior tax code.

"in the 2021 fiscal year that just ended in September, federal tax collections soared. Specifically, this past year, the government collected $4.047 trillion in tax revenue, with corporate tax collections jumping 75 percent as the economy reopened. What’s amazing about that number is that in June 2017, the CBO projected that the government would collect $4.011 trillion in revenue in 2021. In other words, in the most recent fiscal year, the government raised $36 billion more than was expected before the Trump tax cuts were passed."

https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/10/cbo-blows-up-democrats-spin-on-taxes/

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Agreed....I would keep the corporate tax cuts, but repeal the personal income tax cuts.

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do you have a source that isn't national review?

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I am less interested in the details of what, and more frustrated Congress and Biden can't prioritize. Pick one or two things, and kill it. Run on THAT in '22 and give themselves a fighting chance.

Instead Progressives are acting like they will never have a chance to run Congress again and Biden is acting like he's a lame duck one term president despite his protestations.

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I’m confused with Matt’s position here. One Billion Americans Matt would have wanted a CTC that was as broad as possible to increase the birth rate. Now it seems that Matt wants CTC to reduce child poverty. But it seems Manchin is not aligned that free cash is good for the poorest of Americans (ie he believes that they are bad with money and will spend it on drugs etc).

So if you want Manchin onboard with CTC, you’d need to focus on the broad case that this will increase birth rate. Which means the broad CTC. Which we can’t afford.

It seems Dems should kill expanded CTC and pass a CTC-less bill. Perhaps we can work with Romney instead of Manchin on a separate CTC bill.

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author

I mean in a broad sense I’d like to do a ton more stuff than can possibly fit in the $1.75 bn framework. But I think a narrow CTC increase is still a better use of money than most of the stuff on the table here so ideally I’d find room for it. But I agree with you, if Manchin really hates full refundability just take it off the table and try to start a process with Romney.

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These are great ideas and I hope the blowup this past weekend doesn't mean the Joes can't come together and agree on one of these proposals. (And if Joe+Joe stand arm in arm outside the White House proclaiming agreement, I assume everyone else will fall in line.)

What I doubt it will do is help the Democrats in the mid-terms. And that's because of my Rule of Electoral Success: the good things you do legislatively don't help you and the good things that happen that you have no control over do help you.

No one really cares about what legislation passes when they cast their vote, especially if there's any kind of phase-in for the new laws. By contrast, huge improvements in inflation (especially gas prices), the job market, wage growth etc *will* make voters favorably inclined toward the ruling party, even though they have little to no influence over those trends.

So, pass good laws because it's good to pass good laws, and cross your fingers and hope that trends affecting people's lives go in your direction.

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I feel like I'm taking crazy pills on this CTC thing. Someone please explain to me how a permanent CTC is a childhood poverty reducer and not simply pro-natalist. Now, I get that obviously a newly introduced CTC or CTC expansion reduces poverty by putting cash in the hands of people who have already made the choice to have children, but once it's a permanent program, and people adjust their expectations, doesn't it merely shift the perceived financial burden of parenthood however many thousand dollars down the income ladder? Don't you end up with the same number of children at the poverty margin? If anything aren't these children's parent's even less likely to be financially stable? If it has any impact at all I can't see how it doesn't exacerbate the damage of childhood poverty over time.

I get that plenty of people are on the pro-natalist or parenthood is a human right line of thinking in this argument, or maybe it's all just a cover for wealth redistribution, but if you're coming with one of those takes then own that shit. Stop pretending this is about poverty when the program doesn't actually have any incentives to promote more money going to children rather than going to more people having children.

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founding

Look up Lyman Stone's work on the pro-natalist effects of various policies, both in the United States, Hungary, and elsewhere. The effect is always smaller than everyone thinks. While people *are* responsive to financial pressures in deciding whether to have kids, and how many, they're not *as* responsive as people might think. There would need to be a *large* increase in the number of children in families *well* below the poverty line in order for the absolute number of children in poverty to remain the same, let alone the fraction of children in poverty.

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I think the underlying assumption, which is reasonable to my ears, is that the CTC is not large enough to convince someone to have children who would otherwise not have children. It just improves the lives of children who would be born regardless.

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Could be some of both but:

Something like ~15% of current children live in poverty(googling a bit on 2 admittedly 'child poverty is a problem' sites). I'm not sure whether the CTC fully covers that, but suppose it gets 2/3 of those out (probably most of those are close to the line) so that's lifting 10% of children out of poverty.

There will be some pro-natalist part of the effect, but unless it increases number of children by > 10%, (unlikely in my view), then more is going to child poverty reduction than to more children.

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Doesn't the reality that most children "in poverty" are clustered near to the poverty line imply that most of these parents are in fact likely to be responsive to the financial incentive of the CTC? If the marginal impact of parental income on births wasn't substantial wouldn't you expect a more random distribution of children across the poverty income spectrum? I take this to mean that for most people there is in fact an income floor below which they avoid having children.

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Not necessarily. I don't assume the distribution of poverty ITSELF is random across the spectrum - I expect that it falls towards a tail, with most clustered closer to the high end - so a distribution of kids uniformly towards adults this way would also leave the kid distribution skewed.

Also:

US. Poverty Line (hhs.gov)

People in household:

1 $12,880

2 $17,420

3 $21,960

4 $26,500

So about 4,000 per each kid. Note that the poverty rate for kids is higher than the poverty rate over all (~15% vs ~11%) this is presumably at least partly because a household that was just over the line having kids pushes it below.

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I wonder how it works/would work for immigrant children who make up a substantial portion of child poverty, particularly US born children to illegal parents.

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I don't know, I'm skeptical that the particular cohort of people in poverty having children without regard for financial constraint or incentives are capable of directing an impactful amount of their CTC towards their child's wellbeing. At the least it seems like an incredibly inefficient way to target funding.

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It can be both. But you are right in the sense that this is really money for parents. It’s not clear to me, for instance, where the money goes in the case of divorced parents- presumably it’s to the parent who can claim the child on their federal taxes.

But I don’t know how you avoid that. Stricter means testing is a possibility but the federal government isn’t actually very good at doing that, particularly at the margins.

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Yes, giving the money directly to the kids would probably be inadvisable.

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Says you. I sell Pokémon cards for a living.

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Great article, but a data visualization nit--there are way too many categories for any human eye to make sense of these pie charts. Milan--you already have groupings done by shade of color, so why not use those to construct a treemap?

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I agree with this, but I am at the point I don't know what is true.

Does Manchin really agree to this?

It seems all hearsay.

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The insulin provision sure seems to be pretty underrated, but I'm glad it's cheap enough that it basically fits in any version of the bill. With the amount of attention insulin has had over the last couple of years as a symbol of everything wrong with Big Pharma, this seems to me like they should be touting how they are Doing Something about it.

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The out of pocket cost to patients for insulin is really a symbol of what's wrong with insurance. Insulin is necessary medical care and should be covered by insurance. Pharma is at most secondary to the problem, just like hospitals and surgeons are secondary to the problem of making sure patients can afford surgery.

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Dumb question: what does it mean for $250B in “deficit reduction” to be in the plan? How do you “spend” $250B in deficit reduction? Or is it an accounting thing where really the bill would be $1.5T instead of $1.75T because $250B is taken off the table?

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