The incomparable David Dayen explains how tax amnesty plans for corporations could do worse than simply let corporations off the hook -- they could actually "doom the economy." Long story short: tax amnesties generally don't create jobs (since the corporations that benefited the most from the 2004 amnesty mostly cut jobs and give the money to their executives and shareholders), and they encourage further offshoring of profits, which further reduces the "effective corporate tax rate" and deprives Americans of needed tax revenues. Amazing how President Obama's plan looks like a step forward and a step backward at the same time, but as I said last time, the corporate tax rate for offshore cheaters should be higher.
The Obama Administration announces it will make some small changes to its NSA data-vacuuming program. I suppose forcing the NSA to delete records on innocent Americans collected "incidentally" is a good thing, but you know what a better thing is? Getting a damn warrant every time you do your damn snooping. Then you don't have to have so many rules. You're welcome, President Obama.
"Jeb Bush's Middle Class Speech Was a Historic Shift -- and More of the Same," announces the Washington Post, and once you read the article you'll be irritated at how generous that headline is. At least the article notes that the sort of Republican policies that Mr. Bush described in his "historic" Detroit speech about the gap between rich and poor, the kind he said would consistently yield 4% GDP growth, never yielded 4% GDP growth during the administrations of his father and brother! Let some debate moderator ask about that and I'm sure Mr. Bush will recite a litany of excuses, just like right-wingers say liberals always do.
Noah Millman at The American Conservative notes that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker "has got a really valuable card to play" during the Republican Presidential nomination process -- one that would defend him from charges of "squishiness" resulting from his recent backing down on the University of Wisconsin charter controversy. That card, of course, is Mr. Walker's destruction of public sector unions in Wisconsin, but I actually think Mr. Millman sells Mr. Walker short -- Mr. Walker only won that battle because of his real talent, of being simultaneously firm and soft-spoken while pushing radically reactionary policies, and that's the "card" that will win him the nomination. (But Mr. Millman might be wrong that other candidates won't claim "his policies are bad ones" -- Republicans will say anything to win, after all, and criticizing his policies might damage him in the general election.)
Catherine Thompson at Talking Points Memo provides a helpful timeline delineating how the false connection between vaccines and autism got a foothold in America, to the point where two potential Republican Presidential candidates could make fools of themselves about it in one week. You'll recognize familiar villains (Wakefield, McCarthy), but you may not have remembered the part where both 2008 Presidential nominees wouldn't say that vaccines don't cause autism, which (since the Lancet didn't retract the Wakefield study until 2010) is, I guess, only mostly their fault.
Finally, a Republican legislator in Vermont proposes a new state motto in Latin -- one with historical meaning to Vermont residents and everything! -- and the knuckle-dragging crowd confuses Latin for Latin American and gets all go-back-to-Mexico about it. The article dutifully catalogues some of the worst comments on the matter; future historians may conclude that "I hate having to press 1 for English now" must have been written by someone with calcium deposits the size of walnuts in their index fingers. But the episode doesn't prove that American democracy "is conducted by morons" -- it proves that the emptiest wagon makes the loudest noise. The task of civilized people? Fill those wagons the best we can -- and be louder, together.