Tax Cuts and Bonuses

by Veronique de Rugy

Two articles in the Wall Street Journal about the wave of bonuses and higher pay that seem to be triggered by the recent tax reform bill caught my eyes this morning.

I wrote about this on Friday over at Reason, arguing that the impressive number of companies’ announcements, are great for the several million Americans who will receive bonuses, pay raises and higher 401k contributions from their employers, but don’t quite fit with the standard economic theory of why and how reductions in corporate taxes trigger higher wages over time.

As the theory goes:

Economists usually argue that lowering marginal tax rates on investment gives companies an incentive to earn more taxable income leading them to invest in other businesses and the expansion of their factories. This in turn raises workers’ productivity, and ultimately leads to higher wages.

In other words, it takes time for companies to invest new capital, and reap the benefits of their investment.

I quote the Tax Foundation’s Scott Greenberg who offered two alternative theories about the bonuses and pay raises. 

“One such theory, which has been suggested by Kevin Hassett, is that workers may have some ability to bargain for a share of the windfall from a business tax cut.” He isn’t sure how to evaluate yet whether that theory is correct, but he acknowledges that “it is true that some of the companies providing bonuses and wage increases have done so after demands by labor unions.”

Greenberg also offered another, more cynical theory. “Companies may have been planning on raising labor compensation anyway, due to increasingly tight labor market, and chose to attribute bonuses and wage increases to the tax bill, as part of an effort to build public goodwill for the legislation.” With Moody’s estimating that the unemployment rate will drop to 3.5 percent by the end of the year, the raises probably indicate a tighter labor market, and employers taking steps to retain their employees.

The second theory finds some support in these two pieces in the Journal. First:

With the unemployment rate low and unfilled job openings high, losing workers to a competitor can be more costly than handing out bonuses. Indeed, the concentration of tax-cut bonuses and raises in certain industries suggests one reason companies handed them out was that they didn’t want their employees to view them as stingier than competitors. Several airlines and dozens of banks got on the bandwagon.

So the real news in the flurry of bonuses and raises might be that the job market has tightened to the point where wage growth, which has long been stagnant, is beginning to pick up. As that occurs, more companies will need to hand over more money to employees. The tax cut will make it easier, but they will still have to pay.

Second:

In terms of costs, though, wage pressures may be more substantial than bonuses in the long run. They aren’t so much a product of tax reform as a necessity of an increasingly tight market for unskilled labor. Despite a supposed retail apocalypse, demand for retail workers is high. As of November 2017, there were 711,000 such job openings—the highest number since the data was first collected in 2000, according to the National Retail Federation.

“We’ve been waiting for a wage increase as the unemployment rate has come down,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist of the National Retail Federation. “It’s probably just starting to percolate up.”

A tight labor market is good news for employees because companies have to compete to retain them and are willing to jack up wages to do so. Both articles acknowledge that the tax cuts make the cost of bonuses and pay raises easier to digest, so the tax reforms and a year’s anticipation for such changes have played some role in this. The timing, however, was a brilliant move from the companies who are always taking a beating for being greedy and never sharing their benefits with employees.

In my opinion, the more important news is that, as companies were announcing bonuses and wage hike, many of them also made commitments to jack up their capital expenses significantly. Indeed, as we have seen in recent days, capital expenses are  seriously heating up and we should expect this trend to continue with positive results for the economy and workers.

 

 

 

 

 

The Las Vegas Shooter’s Motive — Is the Simplest Explanation the Best Explanation?

by David French

On the day after the Las Vegas massacre, I wrote a post calling the shooting “one of the most chilling and mysterious events I’ve ever seen.” A man expended an immense amount of time and money to kill dozens of his fellow citizens, and he left no manifesto, had no known radical affiliations, and and had no record of mental illness. We knew what he did. We had no idea why.

It turns out that we still don’t. Late last week the Las Vegas police department released an 81-page report detailing the results of the investigation so far — an investigation that involved a comprehensive examination of the shooter’s life and health right up until the moment of his suicide. The conclusions?

Paddock acted alone. Thousands of hours of digital media were reviewed and after all the interviews conducted, no evidence exists to indicate Paddock conspired with or acted in collusion with anybody else. This includes video surveillance, recovered DNA19and analysis of cellular phones and computers belonging to Paddock.

No suicide note or manifesto was found. Of all the evidence collected from rooms 32-135 and 32-134, there was no note or manifesto stating Paddock’s intentions. The only handwritten documentation found in either room was the small note indicating measurements and distances related to the use of rifles.

There was no evidence of radicalization or ideology to support any theory that Paddock supported or followed any hate groups or any domestic or foreign terrorist organizations. Despite numerous interviews with Paddock’s family, acquaintances and gambling contacts, investigators could not link Paddock to any specific ideology.

And:

Reference the 1,965 investigated leads, 21,560 hours of video, 251,099 images obtained and 746 legal notices filed or sent, nothing was found to indicate motive on the part of Paddock or that he acted with anyone else.

The more I think about this case, the more I think the “motive” could be the simplest and most chilling of all. He killed just to kill. The classic reasons for spree killings — vengeance, insanity, radicalization, etc. — are horrific, but their explanation suggests a solution. We can focus on better mental health. We can watch for warning signs. We can counter radical propaganda.

Can we do anything to stop a man who simply decides to kill? He had no criminal record. He bought his guns legally. There isn’t an easy, enforceable gun control solution. While there’s some thought that a bump-stock ban could have made his spree less deadly (if he complied), in a way we’re fortunate that he chose to use rifles to carry out his plan. Police found explosive precursors in his vehicle, and a bomb attack — especially one delivered via vehicle — could have been far more deadly.

The investigation continues, and perhaps law enforcement will one day uncover the evidence that makes more sense of one of the worst days in recent American history. But for now it seems that we’re no closer to discovering the truth of the motive than we were during the sad and terrible hours immediately following the attack.

Why did the shooter kill so many? Perhaps it boils down to one thing. Perhaps he was just evil, and that’s all we’ll ever know.

Having Grounds for Complaint, Leftists Smear Speaker as Racist Anyway

by George Leef

Leftist virtue-signaling requires that practitioners not only refuse to listen to anyone who is perceived as an enemy, but also to make up nasty accusations if they can’t find any other mud to throw. A recent trip by Professor Paul Gottfried to Hamilton College to talk about two of his areas of expertise (American conservatism and European fascism) provided some good examples of the academic Left at work. He writes about his experience in a new Martin Center article.

Gottfried isn’t famous or provocative. He’s a retired professor who has written a lot of scholarly books and articles. Neither he nor the Hamilton faculty members who invited him expected any trouble — but they underestimated the capacity for “progressives” to get nasty. A gauntlet of students accosted him before he had said a single word, tossing around epithets and accusations. Nevertheless, both of Gottfried’s talks proceeded without incident, as did his presentation at the Alexander Hamilton Institute. But after he left the campus, trouble began.

Gottfried writes,

Within a few days of my departure, I learned that my visit to Hamilton had stirred up quite a disruption. The Government Department saw fit to send around a statement to the Hamilton community. It said that the faculty members were concerned over “multiple complaints from students about racist remarks allegedly made by Gottfried” in his talks. Nothing I had said could be regarded as “racist” except in that “racist” has become a universal smear for any disagreement with leftist thinking. The statement went on to “unequivocally condemn any and all such racist remarks, written or spoken.”

So a few social-justice-warrior–type students make up allegations of racism and their ideological buddies on the faculty feel compelled to make a big fuss. In a sensible world, that would have been the end of the matter, but we don’t live in a sensible world. Hamilton’s president, David Wippman, felt that he had to say something about the Gottfried Horror, so he penned a letter to the community. Gottfried continues:

Wippman wrote to “address issues of serious concern” over my appearance on campus. “First,” he wrote, “we are a community that values all its members. We want and need to foster a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive environment. . . . Racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and all other forms of bigotry are anathema to our core values. Claims of racial hierarchy based on spurious notions of genetics are scientifically bankrupt, morally repugnant. I understand, intellectually, morally, and viscerally, the anger and pain members of our community experience when faced with such claims, particularly in the current political climate and historical context.”

Never mind that Gottfried had not in fact said anything that a reasonable person would construe as racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, or bigotry. Wippman couldn’t be bothered to find out if the charges had any validity. Academic leftists can’t be bothered with truth when the feelings of students are involved.

Wippman didn’t even succeed in placating all of the students. Some accused him of being “too tolerant.”

One more bit of damage — the instructor in the first class where Gottfried spoke will apparently lose his position on the faculty. Someone must pay for subjecting Hamilton to the terrors of Paul Gottfried!

He concludes the article with this observation, “One should expect anger and collateral damage whenever you deviate from PC sentiments on college campuses these days.”

Delaware Push for Intellectually Disabled Assisted Suicide

by Wesley J. Smith

Assisted suicide/euthanasia advocates want a very broad and easy latitude to have death by overdose or lethal jab. 

They hide this truth behind blithe assurances of strict protections and feigned desires to limit assisted suicide to the very few as a “safety valve.” They say it will always be limited to the competent. But sometimes, they let that cat out of the bag before legalization.

Such is the case in Delaware where the sponsor of that state’s assisted suicide legalization bill has amended the proposal to include the terminally ill ”intellectually disabled,” who by definition, will often not be able to fully comprehend the nature of what is being discussed.

First, note the definition of “intellectually disability,” standard in the field. From Amendment 2 to House Bill 160:

“Intellectual disability” means a disability, that originated before the age of 18,  characterized by significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills.”

This means disabled people with significant intellectual impairments. They could be eligible for assisted suicide if a social worker says they understand (my emphasis):

(b) If the patient has a documented intellectual disability, the attending physical shall refer the patient to a licensed clinical social worker who shall ensure that the patient fully understands the information provided pursuant to § 2504B(3). 

No medication to end a patient’s life in a  humane and dignified manner may be prescribed unless the licensed clinical social worker has confirmed in writing to the attending physician that the patient understands the information provided pursuant to § 2504B(3).”

These are people who can’t legally enter contracts! They can’t control where they live! They can’t make their own medical decisions! They also can’t vote, pursuant to the Delaware Constitution!

No person adjudged mentally incompetent . . . or incapacitated under the provisions of this Constitution from voting, shall enjoy the right of an elector. DEL. CONST. art. 5, § 2.

Yet, if they have a terminal illness, they are going to be able to commit assisted suicide if a social worker–who may be ideologically predisposed in favor–confirms that they “understand” that they are receiving a poison prescription? 

It doesn’t even require approval of a guardian, as would corrective surgery or treatment to cure or palliate. Good grief!

Assisted suicide corrupts everything it touches. For those with eyes to see, let them see.

I, Tonya’s Comedy

by Jonah Goldberg

Response To...

What If Tonya Harding Were ...

I watched I, Tonya this weekend, and I thought it was a very compelling movie, but I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. I’ve gone back and read Kyle Smith’s review and Kevin Williamson’s soft dissent from it. I guess I’m more in Kevin’s camp. I think Kyle makes many fine points, even if I don’t wholly subscribe to all of them. Kyle takes great exception to the decision to tell Harding’s story as a dark comedy. I think it was the right decision. If you told this story as a tragedy — which it easily could be since that’s what it was in real life — it would be an intensely grim affair. That’s okay, there’s a place for grim movies. But I don’t think it would be a better movie or one I would want to watch.

The fact that it would be a very different movie if Tonya Harding were black is a very interesting idea to noodle, but I don’t think that standard should be dispositive in any way. I can think of all sorts of comedies and dramas centered around black characters that wouldn’t work the same way — or perhaps at all — with white characters. That merely reflects the fact that black culture and white culture — and all of the myriad subdivisions between those overly broad categories — are complicated.

I liked I, Tonya, though it did make me uncomfortable at times. But, ultimately, I saw it as a cousin of various Coen brothers’ movies. The Coens are masters at zeroing in on slices of America, both contemporary and historic, and making them compelling. Fargo is not strictly speaking a comedy, but it wins a great number of laughs at the expense of upper-mid-westerners. (Interestingly, the Fargo TV series is listed as a comedy, even though I don’t think it goes for the yucks that much more than the movie that inspired it.) Raising Arizona is a comedy, but it is not sparing in its lambasting of “white trash.” Similar points can be made about O Brother, Where Art Thou, A Serious Man, and maybe a couple others.

I might have felt even more sorry for Tonya Harding if the movie had been shot as a dreary examination of her life, but the laughs did not prevent me from feeling sympathy for her. And I suspect that’s true for a lot of people who saw the movie — people who might not have seen at all if the director had been faithful to the bleak story that inspired it.

IMF Credits U.S. Tax Cuts with Uptick in Global Growth

by Philip H. DeVoe

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) adjusted its forecast for world economic growth in both 2018 and 2019 up to 3.9 percent (an uptick of 0.2 percentage points from its last forecast), crediting the expected impact of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In addition, it predicts real GDP in the U.S. will be 1.2 percent higher by 2022 than it would have been without tax reform. It also predicts  2.7 percent annual growth in the U.S. in 2018 (up from 2.3 percent).

“The U.S. tax policy changes are expected to stimulate activity, with the short-term impact in the United States mostly driven by the investment response to the corporate income tax cuts,” the IMF said in a report summary.

While the IMF estimates that the tax cuts will spur growth until 2022, it stressed that this would change if the individual cuts and other elements of the law set to expire were allowed to do so. As it stands now, the IMF predicts global growth will be lower than had been forecasted beginning in 2022 and for a few years onward.

For now, the news is positive: It points to the fact that corporate and individual tax cuts are predicted to drive global growth and gives Congress a good reason to lock in the cuts. 

Democrats Learn the Hard Way that Americans Don’t Like Government Shutdowns

by Jim Geraghty

Response To...

Democrats Cave, Shutdown to End

As noted this morning, Red State Democratic senators didn’t like the shutdown, and the polling didn’t look that great, either. Most Americans may want to see the DACA kids no longer at risk for deportation, but they’re unconvinced that goal is worth a government shutdown. Apparently this morning Democrats looked at the polling numbers and realized the public sentiment was shifting to “a pox on both your houses.”

The Huffington Post lays out what the Democrats think they have won:

Democrats insisted they weren’t caving, even though they didn’t get what they wanted: an immediate vote on protections for undocumented young people often called Dreamers. But the deal gave them a way out of what could have been a politically damaging shutdown. The promise of a vote on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, although it could be reneged on, is something Democrats didn’t have before. It’s the first time Democrats received a firm deadline for a vote on an immigration bill. And if McConnell doesn’t follow through, Democrats will be able to use this promise to vote against the next spending bill and pin the blame on Republicans.

Having promised a vote on DACA, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should keep his word. 

But whether the Senate holds that vote or not, in three weeks, when this continuing resolution runs out, the basic political dynamic will be the same: Americans will still like DACA, but not enough to accept a government shutdown over it. Nothing will have changed,  except the Children’s Health Insurance Program will soon be funded for the next six years.

Not too long ago, the shoe was on the other foot. Obamacare was unpopular in 2013, and because of that, Senator Ted Cruz and other Congressional Republicans thought they could use a government shutdown as leverage to defund it before it was fully implemented. But Americans didn’t like seeing the government shut down in an attempt to stop Obamacare. For example, at the end of September 2013, a CBS News survey found that 39 percent of Americans approved of the health care law, but 51 percent disapproved. But only 19 percent said they were willing to shut down the government to stop funding for Obamacare. 

The bottom line is that most Americans don’t like government shutdowns, and will rarely find other political goals sufficient to justify them. They don’t like closed Smithsonians, delayed tax refunds, delayed processing for veterans benefits, furloughed civilian DoD employees, delayed passports, a shutdown of E-Verify, and all of the other inconveniences and problems that come with a government shutdown. 

A Generation’s Ignorance

by Douglas Murray

In recent months there has been a more than usually large glut of World War II films. Just as screenings of Dunkirk were thinning out there was the release of Darkest Hour. Both followed on from last year’s historically inept Churchill. But the success of Darkest Hour (and praise for Gary Oldman’s performance in particular) has been such that U.K. audiences have been giving standing ovations in the nation’s cinemas at the end of the film.

“What does this mean?” various British pundits have pondered. Is it a melancholic expression of nostalgia for grander times? Or an expression of relief at some moral clarity after the ups-and-downs of the post-Brexit period? Or perhaps a new generation is rediscovering in the cinema part of their island’s story about which they can feel pride?

While being skeptical of many such claims, the latter seems particularly unlikely. On Sunday in London there was a “women’s march” once again mirroring its sister event in Washington. Once again, as last year, the event centered around opposition to President Trump and the waving of vulgar placards to proclaim various causes from “anti-racism” to abortion rights.

If one placard summed up the day (and, not to be too grandiose, something of the era) it would have to be this:

Of course, the young woman waving the placard proclaiming “No country for old white men” would seem to be white herself. And she probably also stands the usual chances of becoming old. More significant is the fact that behind her, just within shot of the camera, is the monument to the women of World War II. A little further behind that, just out of shot, is the cenotaph commemorating “The Glorious Dead” from both the First and Second World Wars. Every November, some of the remaining “old white men” gather in that place to remember their fallen comrades — young white men who never got a chance to get old.

I suppose it is no use pointing out that if it weren’t for all those “white men,” our young pink-haired warrior wouldn’t be able to holler against “structures of oppression” and the like. Or, rather, she would have real “structures of oppression” to contend with. We’ll need more than a few big-budget films to address generational ignorance like this.

Re: Illegal Immigration and Crime

by Robert VerBruggen

Response To...

Illegal Immigration and Crime

I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic over the past week or so, between a new study of Arizona by John Lott and what Peter Kirsanow wrote here over the weekend. I find it to be an especially thorny issue, even setting aside the sketchiness of our data on both illegal-immigrant crime and the size of the illegal-immigrant population — the numerator and denominator, respectively, in any calculation of crime rates.

Here’s a long and winding discussion of the assorted complications, so buckle up.

Probably the biggest stumbling block is that illegal immigrants and natives have completely different demographic profiles. According to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute, illegal immigrants are highly concentrated in the 16–34 age range where criminal behavior is most common: That range covers 43 percent of illegal immigrants but only 26 percent of the native-born. (In part this is because illegal immigrants’ U.S.-born children are automatically made citizens and thus not counted in the illegal-immigrant population.) They are also significantly sex-skewed, at just 46 percent female, to 51 percent for natives.

This demographic gap has profound implications for crime rates. This weekend, using numbers from MPI, the Census, and the Justice Department, I took a stab at estimating what the murder-rate gap between illegal immigrants and natural-born citizens “should” be, based on arrest data for the general population broken out by age and sex and the two groups’ demographic profiles. I’m a journalism major, so my math is always suspect — and there was some outright guesswork involved (owing to a lack of arrest data for those over 65) — but my conclusion was that they should have a murder rate something like 60 percent higher than natural-born citizens do, based on demographics alone.

Yikes! But to put that a different way, if in fact their murder rate is anything less than 60 percent higher, they’re actually less likely to commit murder than natives of the same age and sex.

Keep reading this post . . .

Monopoly: The All-American Board Game

by Dan McLaughlin

Jonathan Kay in The Atlantic has an interesting article on the rise of German and German-style board games like Settlers of Catan, and how they’ve changed the gaming landscape at a time when the video game was supposed to have turned board games into dinosaurs. Kay notes that these games’ creative turn away from war games reflects the ethos of postwar European consumers, but what seemed unnecessary to me is the article’s multiple potshots at Monopoly as the icon of the outdated “roll-and-move games”:

The gulf between the traditional American games of yore—“Ameritrash,” as the genre is dismissively referred to by the board-game cognoscenti—goes beyond the divide between militarism and pacifism. In Monopoly, that great bonfire of friendships, the conflict between players is direct, brutal, and zero-sum: You bankrupt me or I bankrupt you. Which is why so many rounds of Monopoly finish on a note of bitterness. The one game of Monopoly I ever played with my wife ended with her staring me down icily and declaring, without any hint of warmth or irony, “I have never seen this side of your personality.”

This is quite unfair. Monopoly, like any board game, has its drawbacks and its frustrations, but it has earned its place as the iconic, best-selling king of board games since the 1930s. More than any other game, it laid the groundwork for the whole concept of a multi-player board game that rewards strategy and adult skills like managing your budget, exploiting scarcity, and trading with your opponents – the very foundations of games like Settlers of Catan. Is the game a zero-sum battle that requires players to bleed each other dry? Sure. But even most of the modern, complex board games have some aspect of that.  Monopoly, unlike Settlers of Catan, doesn’t employ a robber or a pirate that allows you to out-and-out steal stuff from your neighbors – in Monopoly, only the government does that, by arbitrarily taxing and jailing you and assessing property taxes at irregular intervals.

To be sure, Monopoly reflects the all-American enthusiasm for economic competition, and in a small way maybe a game about Atlantic City real estate and hotel development played a role in paving the way for our current president. But the game also reflects America’s longstanding ambivalence about economic bigness, having been largely copied from a 1903 game designed by a progressive who believed in busting trusts to create competition, and having taken off during the Depression, when the idea of being a hotel magnate seemed all the more distant a dream for average Americans. (One of my favorite Monopoly stories: according to Peter Carlin’s biography, Bruce Springsteen originally got his nickname “The Boss” from playing Monopoly with other starving New Jersey musicians and freely bribing them with candy to give him favorable deals on property).

Competitive games are fun and require us to learn the skill of leaving grudges at the table, and tastes change over time: my family does play a lot more of Catan and similar games these days than Monopoly. But in the long run, most of today’s games are less a rejection of Monopoly than its heirs. If they have to compete for sales and game time, well, that’s the American way. But it’s not necessary to run down Monopoly to praise Catan.

Democrats Cave, Shutdown to End

by Theodore Kupfer

The Senate passed a short-term continuing resolution this afternoon by a margin of 81–18, effectively ending the government shutdown. In a stark reversal from the position they staked out on Friday night, 33 Senate Democrats voted for the bill. “In a few hours, the government will reopen,” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor.

The vote comes after a bipartisan group of senators hashed out a deal: Democrats would vote for the continuing resolution if Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell would promise to hold vote on immigration legislation before February 8, when the CR expires. But, with blame for the shutdown falling mostly to the Democrats, the GOP made no substantive concessions. “The strategy of shutting down the government over the issue of illegal immigration is something the American public did not understand,” McConnell said.

The bill, like the one Democrats blocked on Friday, reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program for the next six years.

Abolish Shutdowns

National Review Summer Internship

by NR Staff

National Review is accepting applications for its summer internship. The intern will work in our New York office, receive a modest stipend, participate in every part of the editorial process, and have some opportunities to write. The ideal candidate will have an excellent academic record and some experience in student or professional journalism. If you wish to apply, please send a cover letter, your résumé, and two of your best writing samples (no more, please) to editorial.applications (at) nationalreview.com.

Are Democrats Certain They’re Going to Emerge Unscathed from a Shutdown?

by Jim Geraghty

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Are Democrats Certain They’re Going to Emerge Unscathed from a Shutdown?

Government shutdowns happen when one side is convinced they can’t lose. They feel like almost all of the blame for the shutdown will end up assigned to the other political party, and that thus they can demand considerable concessions, because time is on their side.

The side that feels that way in these fights is usually the Democrats, and they have good reason to feel that way. Democrats “won” the government shutdown fights in the mid-1990s, and they would have won the one in 2013 if they hadn’t followed the reopening of the government with the launch of Healthcare.gov, the highly-touted, extraordinarily expensive online platform to buy health insurance… that didn’t work.

The reason Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer feels so confident is because he is convinced that the media will echo the narrative he prefers. That narrative is roughly, “caring, common-sense Democrats want to keep the government open, but the cruel, cold-hearted Republicans want to destroy the DACA program and deport all of these adorable moppets and inspiring high school valedictorians.”

Schumer is so confident, Democrats filibustered a continuing resolution that would keep the government open and fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years. There were 50 votes in favor of that continuing resolution, without Senator McConnell voting. The 50 included Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin, W.Va.; Joe Donnelly, Ind.; Heidi Heitkamp, N.D.; and Claire McCaskill, Mo. – all up for reelection in 2018 in Trump states – and newly-elected Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama. Four Republicans voted no: Sens. Lindsey Graham, S.C; Rand Paul, Ky.; Mike Lee, Utah; and Jeff Flake, Ariz.

The fact that red-state Democrats didn’t want to launch a shutdown over DACA probably ought to make other Democrats nervous. The public support for DACA is probably akin to the public support for innocuously-worded gun control proposals: a mile wide but an inch deep. On Friday, a poll from CNN indicated Americans didn’t want a government shutdown to preserve DACA: “Still, 56 percent overall say approving a budget agreement to avoid a shutdown is more important than continuing the DACA program, while just 34 percent choose DACA over a shutdown. Democrats break narrowly in favor of DACA — 49 percent say it’s more important vs. 42 percent who say avoiding a shutdown is the priority — while majorities of both Republicans (75 percent) and independents (57 percent) say avoiding a shutdown is more important.”

This morning, the Politico/Morning Consult poll showed similar numbers.  When asked whether it was worth shutting down the government to ensure passage of a bill “that grants young people who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children, often with their parents, protection from deportation,” the sample split evenly, 42 percent to 42 percent.

The numbers on blame aren’t that much of an advantage for Democrats, either: “more voters would blame Republicans in Congress for the government shutdown, 41 percent, than would blame Democrats, 36 percent. Democratic and Republican voters, by wide margins, held the other side responsible. But more independents said they would blame Republicans, 34 percent, than Democrats, 27 percent.”

You don’t have to look that hard to find Democrats wondering if they’re making the right calculation. The people hit hardest by a government shutdown, federal workers, are a Democratic constituency, and it’s not clear how much economic anxiety they’re willing to endure for the DACA program. (See below.) Democrats are expecting a constituency that does vote for them (federal workers) to take a hit for a constituency that, at least under current law, cannot vote for them (DACA kids). If the shutdown stretches on, federal workers who live in Virginia and Maryland will notice soon that Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin had a chance to vote to send them back to work and didn’t.

David Leonhardt, writing in the New York Times: “The smart move now for Democrats is to accept a short-term funding bill that ends the shutdown and diffuses the tension.”

Some of What I Saw at the March for Life

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Today is the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s grave Roe v. Wade decision. On Friday, over 100,000 of us were on the mall, marching up to the Hill to Supreme Court, emphasizing the urgency of bringing love to this issue on the frontlines (the theme of the March this year was “Love Saves Lives”) where women and families need support and in our politics surrounding the issue of abortion often comes across as salt being poured into open wounds, as so many people carry the pain of these four decades of death. 

We’ve had some excellent pieces over the last few days by Kevin and Alexandra and over the years by Ramesh Ponnuru especially ( and we have a new NR Pro-Life Reader that captures some of the pieces from over the years that have appeared in the print magazine and online we’re using as a hand-out at NRI events surrounding life issues — it made its debut at the March for Life expo last week). This is what I wrote for over the weekend, as the prayer vigil the night before had begun. And here are just a few of my encounters ripped from my hyper tweeting (until my phone battery died) on Friday: 

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Meet the Browders

by Jay Nordlinger

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” What are the Browders? Happy or unhappy? Both, probably — like most families — but mainly they are interesting.

In Wichita, Kan., Earl Browder had to leave school and go to work before the age of ten — that’s because his dad went bust. Earl became a union organizer and a Communist. He went to the young Soviet Union, meeting his hero, Lenin. He became general secretary of the American Communist party.

He and his wife had three sons: Felix, Andrew, and William. They became chairmen of the math departments at Chicago, Brown, and Princeton. Felix won the National Medal of Science.

He and his wife had two sons: Tom and Bill. Tom entered the University of Chicago at 15 and today is a leading particle physicist. Bill got an MBA and became a capitalist — the leading foreign investor in post-Soviet Russia. Then the Kremlin turned on him and tortured his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, to death. Bill is now a leading human-rights activist, and the instigator of “Magnitsky acts,” which apply sanctions to murderers and thieves.

His son Joshua is a student at Stanford, figuring out how to get artificial intelligence to replace lawyers in a variety of tasks. He is a poster child for IBM — literally. The poster lit up New York’s Times Square last summer.

I’ve written about this unusual family — on the homepage here.

Monday links

by debbywitt

Animated map of the changing borders and population of Europe: every year since 400 BC.

Why all the actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age have such a distinct and strange accent.

We All Nearly Missed The Largest Underwater Volcano Eruption Ever Recorded.

Wave tank demonstration showing the impact of coastal defenses on flood risk.

Found: Two New Drawings by Vincent van Gogh.

Big Brother on wheels: Why your car company may know more about you than your spouse.

ICYMI, Friday’s links are here, and include weird vintage beauty hacks, the birthdays of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Stonewall Jackson (including the story of his left arm’s separate grave), how apple pie became “American”, and the anniversary of  French King Louis XVI’s guillotining.

McConnell’s Next Move

by Rich Lowry

McConnell has gotten Graham and Flake behind a proposal to move the expiration date for the continuing resolution up to February 8 and a promise to have the Senate vote on any and all immigration proposals if there is not a deal on DACA before the CR expires. He also said, subtly, that he’s not bringing up an immigration bill if there’s a government shutdown. This should put some more pressure on moderate Senate Democrats, since it is a guarantee to debate the DACA issue (although not a guarantee of an outcome). We’ll see how this latest proposal fares when there is a vote tomorrow; it will pass the House if it passes the Senate. If it fails, it sounds like McConnell is going to stick this out for a while. The Democrats have, naturally, gotten incredibly sympathetic press given that they forced a shutdown of the government, and there’s no predicting what Trump’s Twitter account may bring. But this shutdown really should be on them, and McConnell’s move cuts some more ground out from under Schumer.

McConnell’s speech:

Mr. President, I wanted to give my colleagues an update on where we are.

First, I would like to thank Senator Graham, Senator Flake, Senator Collins, and many others who have been working across the aisle to help resolve this impasse.

When the Democrat filibuster of the government funding bill ends, the serious, bipartisan negotiations that have been going on for months now to resolve our unfinished business — military spending; disaster relief; healthcare; immigration and border security — will continue.

It would be my intention to resolve these issues as quickly as possible so that we can move on to other business that is important to our country.

However, should these issues not be resolved by the time the funding bill before us expires on February 8, 2018, assuming that the government remains open, it would be my intention to proceed to legislation that would address DACA, border security, and related issues. It is also my intention to take up legislation regarding increased defense funding, disaster relief, and other important matters.

Importantly, when I proceed to the immigration debate, it will have an amendment process that is fair to all sides.

I would hope there would be cooperation on these matters in advance of yet another funding deadline. There is a bipartisan, bicameral group that will continue its negotiations, and I look forward to the completion of their work. It would be my strong preference for the Senate to consider a bipartisan, bicameral proposal that can be signed into law.

But the first step in any of this is reopening the government and preventing any further delay. The shutdown should stop today. And we’ll soon have a vote that will allow us to do that.

Let’s step back from the brink. Let’s stop victimizing the American people and get back to work on their behalf.

Beware a Democratic ‘Surrender’ on the Wall

by Rich Lowry

Luis Gutiérrez says he’s willing to build the Wall himself if it helps the Dreamers, and Chuck Schumer put funding for the Wall on the table in his Friday meeting with Trump. There should be an enormous amount of skepticism about this. 

Even if everyone in Washington has the best of intentions, a Wall is unlikely to be built anytime soon, given the the logistical, legal, and bureaucratic challenges. And Democrats don’t have good intentions. If they take back Congress, surely one of their first priorities will be to defund and stop whatever Wall has been authorized. 

Also, border security, properly considered, is about much more than the Wall — it requires all sorts of resources and authorities to make sure that people who are caught at the border don’t make it into the country anyway. Are Democrats going to accede to those? 

Finally, this isn’t a big departure for immigration doves — they were also willing to throw money, about $30 billion, at the border to sweeten up the Gang of Eight bill. They are in a position now where they can make a theatrical concession on the border to try to get the kind of deal that restrictionists have always opposed — an immediate amnesty, for border security later.

Translating the Lord’s Prayer

by Nicholas Frankovich

Sensationalized headlines about the pope’s wanting to “update” or “reword” the Lord’s Prayer have provoked a predictable reaction. He was speaking about translations into modern languages. The traditional English translation of the Lord’s Prayer is longstanding and etched in deep strata of the Anglophone Christian’s mind; he memorized the words in childhood. Through loving repetition over many years, they have been assimilated into his inmost being. If in his old age dementia begins to touch him, he might still be able to recite “Our Father, who art in heaven . . .” even after he has lost most of his ability to gather and assemble words to express himself coherently, and after memories closer to the surface have fallen away, layer by layer.

Pope Francis threatened to uproot that sturdy oak of Christian practice and identity when last month on Italian TV he explained his view that the Italian translation of the Lord’s Prayer is “not good.” At the same time, he spoke favorably of the new translation that went into effect in Catholic churches in France in November. “I don’t want anybody messing with the Lord’s Prayer,” a conservative Catholic friend wrote to me, echoing many, “even if it’s the pope.”

Much of the reaction against the pope’s comments can be attributed to his reputation among conservative skeptics. They see him as more interested in upending settled doctrine than in doing his job of preserving the Church’s deposit of faith. Then add the bitterness that traditional Catholics tend to harbor toward ressourcement, the movement of 20th-century theologians seeking to recover a Catholic tradition older and purer than the one that existed at the time. The primary fruit of that project was the new Mass and related liturgical changes, which seem to reflect the mind and tastes of the mid 20th century far more than those of any earlier period in Church history. Against that background, talk of reaching back behind traditional translations of the Our Father to recover the true meaning of the prayer in its original form sounds too much like “Here we go again.”

Francis’s brief remarks were confused, and I disagree with his understanding of what Jesus means by, as we say in English, “Lead us not into temptation,” but the philological discussion that has ensued in Catholic media is a delight for traditionalists, or should be. Traditional Catholics are keen on the value of the Latin from which Scripture and Catholic liturgy are translated into modern languages. In the case of Scripture, the Latin Vulgate itself is a translation, from Hebrew and Greek, and the traditionalist’s convictions about the primacy of primary sources should lead him naturally to those ancient tongues.

Some of the Church Fathers, including Ambrose, interpreted the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer to mean “Let us not be led into temptation,” which is the wording (Ne nous laisse pas entrer en tentation) recently approved by the French bishops. Lots of hand-wringing then, as now, about whether it’s right to imply that God would tempt us to sin. Close readers are correct to home in on that line and question its meaning, but debates about whether the Greek expression meaning “Carry us not into” can be interpreted as “Let us not be led into” are fussy and miss the mark, in my view.

Bear in mind that the line in question is part of the earthly petitions, the first of which is our request to God for daily bread. It’s good that we see the spiritual applications of the petition, but God loves our humanity, too, and we deny his interest in attending to our mundane needs if we insist that “bread” means only the Eucharist or Scripture as nourishment for our soul. Read the last two petitions of the prayer in the same light. I explain further in a short piece at Commonweal.