The Phony Campaign

2019-11-03 Update

[phony baloney]

Readers, we are precisely 1 year away from Election Day (366 days, because 2020 is a Leap Year). And I'm sure things will only get phonier as that day approacheth. But here's the state of play as of today.

President Bone Spurs has regained his rightful place at the top of the phony standings, edging out that phony pretender, Mayor Pete.

According to the folks wagering their own money, Mayor Pete was Most Improved over the past week, his win probability gaining 2.3 percentage points.

The Big Loser: Senator Liz, who saw 3.3 percentage points shaved off her probability. This may be due to the universal derision that greeted her "plan" to pay for her M4A scheme; even reliable flack Paul Krugman punted on whether her numbers were realistic. Since "it’s very unlikely that Medicare for all will happen any time soon", who cares if her proposals assume we will quickly harness the power of dilithium crystals and unicorn farts?

And the bettors persist in finding Hillary Clinton a more likely president than allegedly-actual candidates Amy, Cory, Tulsi, Tom, Andrew, …

Candidate WinProb Change
Donald Trump 41.0% -0.2% 1,780,000 -400,000
Pete Buttigieg 7.4% +2.3% 1,100,000 -1,650,000
Hillary Clinton 2.9% +0.4% 978,000 +263,000
Bernie Sanders 6.6% +1.7% 540,000 +5,000
Joe Biden 11.2% +0.7% 445,000 +15,000
Elizabeth Warren 18.2% -3.3% 258,000 -7,000
Andrew Yang 2.0% unch 40,800 +8,000

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

  • President Bone Spurs improved his standings by explicitly deeming Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution to be "phony". Which drew a number of boos, for example: Republicans' fantasy Constitution: Trump and the "phony emoluments clause" from Paul Rosenberg at Salon:

    Donald Trump's recent criticism of the "phony emoluments clause," used in defense of his since-abandoned G7 scam, was striking for its bluntness. But it’s part of a long history of conservatives flagrantly ignoring the actual Constitution and substituting an imaginary version in its place. At Vox, Ian Millhiser thoroughly debunked the notion that Trump wasn’t violating the Constitution by seeking to hold a summit meeting at his own hotel, including reference to work by Georgetown’s John Mikhail, whose examination of 40 different dictionaries made mincemeat of any “public meaning” argument to try to defend Trump.

    That's 40 dictionaries, pal. Different ones, too!

    [The Reason-hosted Volokh Conspiracy has hosted a few recent articles on the Emoluments Clause. Bottom line: it may not apply to the President at all.]

    But that drive-by slam at "conservatives flagrantly ignoring the actual Constitution and substituting an imaginary version in its place"? Here's what Rosenberg considers to be an example:

    This view can be found in the so-called “constitutional sheriff’s” movement, which believes that county sheriffs get to pick and chose which laws to enforce and can keep federal law enforcement agents out of their counties. Tellingly, the word "sheriff" — like the word "God" — doesn’t even appear in the Constitution.

    This conservative/libertarian is no legal scholar, but I'm reasonably certain that a whole bunch of the current activities of Your Federal Government do not "appear in the Constitution". If Rosenberg wants to argue consistently on that basis, I will enthusiastically cheer him on.

  • A recent comment from Wheezy Joe drew tweetfire from Trump War Room.

    Hey, maybe Joe was thinking of the Treaty of Paris. That's important too!

  • At the Federalist, Christopher Jacobs explained Why Pete Buttigieg's 'Medicare For All Who Want It' Is A Sham.

    After the most recent Democratic presidential debate, when South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg criticized Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren for evasiveness on her single-payer health plan, Warren’s staff circulated a Buttigieg tweet from February 2018. The tweet indicates Buttigieg’s support for single-payer 20 months ago, which makes him a hypocrite for criticizing her now, according to the Warren camp.

    In response, Buttigieg claimed, “Only in the last few months did it become the case that [single-payer] was defined by politicians to mean ending private insurance, and I’ve never believed that that’s the right pathway.” Apparently, Buttigieg never read Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bill — which Sanders, a Vermont independent, introduced in September 2017 — Section 107(a) of which makes private insurance “unlawful.”

    Mayor Pete is simply trying to do some impossible needle-threading: (1) placate the left who consider M4A to be part of their purity test; (2) don't scare the people who are happy with their private health insurance. If his rhetoric sounds wildly phony, that's why.

  • The National Review editors look at Elizabeth Warren’s Health-Care Ruse.

    What Senator Elizabeth Warren has just unveiled is less a plan to pay for the costs of Medicare for All than a plan to hide them. A massive tax on all workers, including the middle-class ones she claims to shield from new taxes, will be disguised by the fiction that it applies only to their employers — a point her own economic advisers have in other contexts shown they grasp perfectly well. In the first hours since the plan’s release, the press has indicated it is ready to go along.

    The editors ask a good question: what, exactly, is all this supposed to accomplish?

    My theory: the M4A acolytes simply see expansion of government power (and the accompanying increase in the dependency of the individual on the state) as a good thing in itself. Details don't matter! It's a faith-based tenet that doesn't need to be analyzed or justified.

  • But M4A isn't the only lousy idea in Liz's quiver. At AIER, Max Gulker looks at Elizabeth Warren’s Anti-Consumer Plan to Break Up Big Tech. Lots of discussion of the details, but here's the bottom line:

    Senator Warren’s plan to “break up big tech” raises more questions than it answers. With the novel issues regarding markets and regulation raised by these firms, it would be difficult to expect anything else from a 1,700-word document. What seems abundantly clear, however, is that a President Warren would aggressively pursue an antitrust policy against big tech largely informed by an antiquated view of what firm size means for consumers.

    Amazon and Google are both cases where a core business (retail and search, respectively) is a core part of the value proposition of a platform which they own. Such businesses and platforms are not readily separable without compromising the value of at least one of the two.

    Even those generally favoring active antitrust enforcement must take a step back as we come to terms with a new kind of large company. Amazon and Google deliver phenomenal value to consumers because of innovation. Should Senator Warren or others choose to apply a decades-old rulebook to split up or regulate these companies, their lack of innovation risks costing consumers dearly.

    Again: the solution Liz wants is totally out-of-whack with any actual problems. The motivation is simply: expand government power. Any excuse will do.

  • Anti-Trump fanatic Jonathan V. Last of the Bulwark bemoans: This Is How Warren Loses. Specifically, she could have (and maybe still could) make the election a simple up/down referendum on Trump.

    But nooooo…

    What do you think will happen when Republicans get to frame the election as a choice between center-right/populist economics and progressive/socialist economics not because that’s the best ground for them to fight on but because it’s exactly the battle the Democrats asked for?

    “Elizabeth Warren wants to take away your health insurance.”

    “Elizabeth Warren wants to force your children into failing schools.”

    “Elizabeth Warren wants to raise your taxes for government-run health care and government-run education.”

    All that's true, of course. Also: "Elizabeth Warren wants to destroy Google, Facebook, and Amazon."

    (But, arguably, Trump would like to do that as well.)

  • And finally, Issues & Insights delivers the ultimate insult:: Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Medicare for All’ Claims Are As Credible As Her Native American Heritage.

    Earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren promised that she’d reveal how she’d pay the $36 trillion (and climbing) cost of Medicare for All some time “in the coming weeks.” If she claims that it can be financed entirely on the backs of corporations and the rich, she will be lying.

    That’s made clear by a report from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which is decidedly non-partisan. After studying tax data, it concluded that “Tax increases on high earners, corporations, and the financial sector by themselves could not cover much more than one-third of the cost of Medicare for All.”

    Yeah, that's why she's throwing in a hefty dose of wealth confiscation too.