As GOP presidential candidates clamor incessantly about their tax plans to save America, Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum breaks down their plans in this handy and revealing series of graphs. Consider yourself enlightened.
The Article: John McCain’s Grudge Politics by Steve Kornacki in Salon.
The Text: John McCain returned to New Hampshire, the state that made him a star in 2000 and set him on course to win the GOP nomination in 2008, this afternoon to endorse Mitt Romney for president. It’s possible that he did this because he believes Romney would make a good president and would pursue sound policies. But it’s more likely that he was motivated by something much rawer.
As I wrote before, the “maverick” reputation that McCain enjoyed for much of the aughts reflected a basic misunderstanding about his character. What the press tended to regard as the mark of an unusually principled politician — his various high-profile breaks with Republican leaders and conservative orthodoxy — was more easily understood as the product of McCain’s opportunism, thin skin, grudge-holding, and sore loserdom. This is how a very personal confrontation with George W. Bush in the 2000 GOP primaries led McCain to suddenly embrace Democratic positions and rhetoric in the early years of the Bush presidency, only to abandon them when he realized that the 2008 GOP nomination could be his if he became a loyal Republican once more.
What makes his Romney endorsement so interesting is that it seems on the surface like an unusually forgiving gesture. After all, none of McCain’s ’08 GOP rivals got under his skin like Romney did. This was a result of Romney’s decision to position himself as the right’s consensus alternative to McCain, a strategy that required Romney to pretend he’d never said or done anything remotely moderate or liberal in Massachusetts while attacking McCain as an untrustworthy ideological apostate. The initial effectiveness of this approach and its transparent phoniness infuriated McCain, who didn’t even try to mask his contempt for Romney in debates. But now, four years later, here’s McCain providing a potentially key New Hampshire endorsement for Romney. Maybe he’s mellowing!
The Article: How Banks Cheat Taxpayers by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone.
The Text: A good friend of mine sent me a link to a small story last week, something that deserves a little attention, post-factum.
The Bloomberg piece is about J.P. Morgan Chase winning a bid to be the lead underwriter on a $400 million bond issue by the state of Massachusetts. Chase was up against Merrill for the bid and won the race with an offer of a 2.57% interest rate, beating Merrill’s bid of 2.79. The difference in the bid saved the state of Massachusetts $880,000.
Afterward, Massachusetts state treasurer Steven Grossman breezily played up the benefits of a competitive bid. “There’s always a certain amount of competition going on out there,” Grossman said in a telephone interview yesterday. “That’s good. We like competition.”
Well … so what, right? Two banks fight over the right to be the government’s underwriter, one submits a more competitive bid, the taxpayer saves money, and everyone wins. That’s the way it ought to be, correct?