Manhattan Institute Daily Update

Keeping you up-to-date on the latest by Manhattan Institute scholars
November 21, 2014


The Typical Beneficiary Of Obama's Immigration Plan Won't Pay Net Income Taxes

Avik Roy,'s "The Apothecary," November 20, 2014
On Thursday evening, President Obama unveiled his plan to offer legal status to approximately 5 million undocumented aliens. "If you're willing to pay your fair share of taxes," said Obama, "you'll be able to apply to stay in this country." But the President neglected to mention that the income of the typical illegal immigrant is so low that he would pay no net income taxes, and become eligible for welfare benefits like Obamacare. . .

WNYC 93.9 FM NPR, 11-21-14

How Obama's Plan On Immigration Could Benefit Wal-Mart

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, WSJ's, November 20, 2014
How large is the potential market for Wal-Mart's new foray into banking? The company's GoBank is especially helpful to those without bank accounts or with only basic accounts who can benefit from additional banking services, potentially numbering 35 million in the U.S. If President Obama moves ahead with his anticipated executive order to defer the deportations of up to 5 million undocumented workers, the potential market might grow even larger. . .

Legal Reform

Energy & the Environment

Five Numbers Reveal Our Energy Future

Mark P. Mills, USA Today, November 21, 2014
When the newly elected Congress convenes in January, energy will be a priority. In fact energy is the "foundation" action item according to the just-released roadmap from Speaker of the House John Boehner. So this is a particularly good time to map out just how different the energy world is today, and will be in the future. In this context, consider the implications for America, and the world, of five key numbers. . .

Why The Keystone XL Pipeline May Not Be Built

Robert Bryce, The Daily Beast, November 19, 2014
When viewed as a political grudge match, the ongoing battle over the Keystone XL pipeline remains one of the hottest fights in Washington. Proof of that can be seen by looking at yesterday's vote in the Senate on the project, which failed to get the 60 votes needed for filibuster-proof passage. But when considered solely on its economic merits, Keystone XL may end up being the pipeline equivalent of a jilted bride left waiting at the altar. . .

Keystone Voted Down

One America News's "On Point w/Tomi Lahren" interviewed Mark Mills, 11-19-14
Al Jazeera's "Primetime News Show" interviewed Diana Furchtgott-Roth, 11-17-14

Global Demand For Coal Supersedes U.S.-China Agreement

Robert Bryce, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, November 12, 2014
Rajendra Pachauri, the Indian academic who chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recently declared that we have "the means to limit climate change" and that "all we need is the will to change." That's a rather glib statement given that just five years ago, Pachauri was lamenting the fact that so many of his fellow Indians were living in dire energy poverty. . .

Reprinted here: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Fredericksburg Free Lance Star, Indiana Gazette, Fresno Bee, Lexington Herald-Leader, The Merced Sun Star, The Olympian, Sun Herald, Charlotte Observer, Glens Falls Post-Star, and Albany Times Union.

Bloomberg TV's "Bloomberg Surveillance" interviewed Robert Bryce, 11-17-14
FBN's "The Independents" interviewed Robert Bryce, 11-17-14

City Journal

The Microaggression Farce

Heather Mac Donald, City Journal, Autumn 2014
. . .The pattern would repeat itself twice more at UCLA that fall: students would allege that they were victimized by racism, and the administration, rather than correcting the students' misapprehension, penitently acceded to it. Colleges across the country behave no differently. As student claims of racial and gender mistreatment grow ever more unmoored from reality, campus grown-ups have abdicated their responsibility to cultivate an adult sense of perspective and common sense in their students. . .

Delusions Of A Goo-Goo

Stephen Eide, City Journal Online, November 14, 2014
Review of Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizen's United, by Zephyr Teachout
Myopia is the characteristic fault of campaign-finance reformers. Viewing everything as a question of "money in politics," they mistake effects for causes and problems for crises. Zephyr Teachout owes her career to this distorted perspective. Challenging New York governor Andrew Cuomo from the left in this year's Democratic primary, the 43-year-old Fordham law professor ran a symbolic campaign devoid of ideas. . .

Albany Psychosis

E. Fuller Torrey, City Journal, Autumn 2014
Adapted in New York Post, 11-1-14
. . .The state's abandonment of Seifert and similarly sick individuals leads to immeasurable human tragedies and very measurable social costs. Once a leader in public psychiatric services, New York State now shows how not to treat the mentally ill. . .

Remembering When Smokers Weren't Demonized

Matthew Hennessey, The Dallas Morning News, November 16, 2014
Adapted from City Journal, Autumn 2014
We are out of matches, and I need to light the grill. Rummaging around the back of the junk drawer, my fingers find an old Bic lighter, a relic from my smoking days. I hold it up to check the butane tank, and my 6-year-old son asks, "What's that?" His ignorance stirs something. Smoking culture, its hardware and miscellany, tactile and once so familiar, is on the verge of extinction. . .

Deasy's Defeat

Larry Sand, City Journal California, November 14, 2014
John Deasy is a blunt man with little use for nuance. At times, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District seems to enjoy getting in people's faces. As Doug McIntyre observed in the Los Angeles Daily News, "Even Deasy's supporters acknowledge he can be prickly, humorless, stubborn and thin-skinned." Others describe him as bull-headed and impatient. . .

Letter To A Manhattan Resident

Francis Menton, City Journal Online, November 14, 2014
I am a resident of Greenwich Village in Manhattan. Recently, I received a letter from an oddly named group calling itself "The Rest of the Country." Since the letter is not addressed specifically to me, I thought the senders wouldn't mind if I shared it more widely. Dear Manhattan Resident. . .

Connecticut Targets Homeschoolers

WATR's "Talk of the Town w/Larry Rifkin" interviewed Matthew Hennessey, 11-17-14

Look In The Mirror

AM 1300's "Live From The State Capital w/Fred Dicker," interviewed Fred Siegel, 11-17-14

Health Care

Gruber And Barro Are Wrong to Assume The Public Is Stupid

Charles Blahous,, November 19, 2014
A ton of virtual ink has been spilled over Obama Administration advisor Jonathan Gruber's admission that he and others intentionally misportrayed the effects of the Affordable Care Act to facilitate its passage. I share the frustration over belated acknowledgments that the law's effects were inaccurately described when it was first debated. . .

Jonathan Gruber Sheds New Light On ACA

NBC's "Meet The Press" interviewed Avik Roy, 11-16-14
AFR's "News w/Chris Woodward" interviewed Yevgeniy Feyman, 11-21-14
Sirius XM's "The Wilkow Majority" interviewed Paul Howard, 11-20-14
CBS 2 New York interviewed Paul Howard, 11-18-14. Watch video.
77 WABC's "The John Batchelor Show" interviewed Avik Roy, 11-18-14
MSNBC's "The Ronan Farrow Show" interviewed Avik Roy, 11-17-14

In Obamacare's Wake, New York's Tale Of Two Medicaid Programs

Paul Howard and Yevgeniy Feyman,'s "The Apothecary," November 17, 2014
With round two of Obamacare enrollment here, New York's policymakers should take stock of where the Empire State is and where it's heading. . .

FBN's "The Willis Report" interviewed Paul Howard, 11-17-14

Economy & Finance

Turning To One Debt To Pay Off Another

Nicole Gelinas, The New York Times' "Room for Debate," November 20, 2014
In her recent Times op-ed, Bethany McLean aptly diagnosed one of America's housing problems: we use houses as credit cards. Alan Greespan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was wrong about many things. But he was right when he noted in 2003, three years before the housing bubble peaked, that middle-class and even affluent Americans were using "home equity extraction" - cash-out refinances - to "directly finance household purchases of goods and services." At the time, he pointed out, Americans were taking $200 billion annually out of their homes, $70 billion of which was used to "reduce higher-cost credit-card debt." And that wasn't even the peak of the bubble. There are two problems here - and they are related. . .

Yellen Should Not Let Wages Be Her Guide

Caroline Baum,, November 19, 2014
Everyone, it seems, is focused on wages: specifically, the failure of wages to endorse the 5 1/2-year-old U.S. economic expansion. Wage stagnation is the reason consumers are not more optimistic about their own or their children's prospects. It is the reason the public overwhelmingly supports an increase in the minimum wage. And it is the reason the Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates near zero. . .

Obama's War On Working Women

Diana Furchtgott-Roth,, November 18, 2014
Now that the midterm elections are over, the Department of Labor is getting ready to release new proposed rules on overtime pay. These rules will fulfill President Obama's promise to raise the salary level at which employers are required to pay overtime. In March, at the White House, the President said, "Overtime is a pretty simple idea: If you have to work more, you should get paid more. . ."

Steven Rattner's Missing Case For Reducing Inequality

Scott Winship,, November 18, 2014
In yesterday's New York Times, Wall Street executive Steven Rattner attempts to revive income inequality as a political issue. Rattner is perplexed that inequality "resonated so little with politicians" during the election and speculates that "we are inured to a new Gilded Age." Surveys, however, consistently show that while Americans believe inequality is rising and too high, it is nevertheless a low priority for them as a policy problem. . .

Governor-Elects: Lower Tax Rates And Simplify The Code

Jared Meyer,, November 17, 2014
Maryland and Massachusetts both have lower GDP growth and higher unemployment rates than the U.S. average. Voters in both states elected Republican governors who ran on platforms of economic growth. Can Massachusetts governor-elect Charlie Baker and Maryland governor-elect Larry Hogan deliver?. . .

Events @ MI

Event Audio: Arthur Laffer On Tax Reform

At a Manhattan Institute lunch this week, economist Arthur Laffer discussed the findings of his new book, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of States: How Taxes, Energy, and Worker Freedom Change Everything, coauthored with Stephen Moore, Rex A. Sinquefield, and Travis Brown. Listen to the event audio here.

FDA Reform

How To Upgrade Ebola Fight

Andrew von Eschenbach and Paul Howard, USA Today, November 19, 2014
Nearly 40 years have passed since Ebola was identified in 1976, but today the United States seems to be caught flat-footed in fighting it. This is despite billions of dollars spent by the federal government after 9/11 preparing for pandemic outbreaks and bioterror attacks. . .

State and Local Budgets

How Pension Reform Shrinks R.I. Deficit

Steven Malanga,, November 19, 2014
Rhode Island Governor-elect Gina Raimondo rose to political prominence engineering a difficult pension reform in the Ocean State back in 2011. Now one of her challenges as governor will be grappling with a state budget deficit that, by her calculation, will be much larger if the courts overturn those reforms after a long legal battle. . .

WATR's "Talk of the Town w/Larry Rifkin," 11-20-14

Unfunded Pension Liabilities Are Worse Than We Thought

Dean Ball,, November 14, 2014
State Budget Solutions just released a new report analyzing the funding status of pension systems across the country. The news is far from good. The report, which incorporates data from more than 250 pension plans in all 50 states, estimates pension funding levels far more realistically than the plan administrators themselves do. . .


'Bracing' For Violence In Ferguson

Heather Mac Donald, National Review Online, November 19, 2014
Beleaguered store owners in Ferguson, Mo., are boarding up their shop windows again; police departments throughout the area are purchasing riot gear; and the governor of Missouri has declared a state of emergency, a condition precedent to activating the National Guard -- all in anticipation of the grand jury's imminent decision on whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in August. These depressing precautions are considered normal. . .

Fox Radio's "The John Gibson Show," 11-20-14

New York City/State Policy

Identity Politics Crashes At City Hall

Myron Magnet, City Journal Online, November 18, 2014
The trouble with thinking that the personal is political, as late-1960s feminists taught American radicals to say, is that it is not merely wrong but also dangerous, as yesterday's sad and sordid departure of Rachel Noerdlinger from her $170,000-a-year job as chief of staff to New York mayor Bill de Blasio's wife demonstrates. This fundamental tenet of identity politics, a shorthand way of saying that your personal unhappiness stems from larger political forces. . .

Avoiding Congestion Chaos?

Nicole Gelinas, City & State, November 17, 2014
Congestion pricing is coming to New York. The question is whether it will come after an enlightened debate about what kind of transportation we want, and how to pay--or whether it will come amid the chaos of a fiscal emergency, with the money not going to transportation investment but to ever-higher labor costs. . .

'Afroducking' The Law: Deadly Excuses For Endangering Others

Nicole Gelinas, New York Post, November 17, 2014
Afroduck turned chicken: Adam Tang, who used that pseudonym after recording himself looping Manhattan in record time 15 months ago, jumped bail rather than face a jury for his crime. It's not as special a case as it seems. And good for Manhattan DA Cy Vance for showing that New York will enforce the rules that save lives. Tang made his "Afroduck" alter ego famous last year when he posted a video of himself speeding around Manhattan's periphery in 24 minutes, 7 seconds. . .

Conference Examines State's Infrastructure Needs

AM 970's "The John Gambling Show" interviewed Nicole Gelinas, 11-20-14

Higher Education

The "Truthy" Project Will Monitor Your Tweets

Charlotte Allen,, November 18, 2014
The"Truthy" project at Indiana University should have set off alarm bells right at the start. Described as a research project to study how memes spread on social media, it was created in 2010 by university computer science professor Filippo Menczer, and began tracking "suspicious memes," and "false or misleading ideas" on Twitter. So far it has focused almost exclusively on conservative tweets, websites, and hashtags. . .

Are College Degrees The New Taxi Medallions?

Rachelle Peterson,, November 16, 2014
In 2011 two of New York City's prized taxi car medallions sold for $1 million dollars apiece. In June 2013, another went for $1,050,000. These high prices weren't terribly surprising, since taxi drivers can only legally pick up passengers if they possess these medallions. Some are beginning to think of college degrees in similar terms. As tuition and student debt continue to grow but college degrees are still linked to higher earnings and better career prospects, students now view degrees as pricey but essential investments. . .


Stop The Democrat-Sponsored Elmendorf Bandwagon

Ernest S. Christian,, November 21, 2014
Republicans now have the opportunity and the responsibility to govern in accordance with their longstanding principles of civic decency and egalitarian upward mobility based on merit instead of privilege or government fiat. . .

Are Democrats Out Of Data Analysts?

Scott Winship, National Review Online, November 20, 2014
Ezra Klein recently took up the question of whether the Democratic party is out of ideas. I tend to agree with Yuval Levin that both the Left and the Right haven't modernized their agendas. But there might be a more pressing problem for Democrats: Are they running out of rigorous, clear-headed data analysts, too?. . .

No Budget, No Pay (And Other Modest Proposals For Congress)

Amity Shlaes and Matthew Denhart,, November 20, 2014
One thing that the Keystone XL defeat reminds you of is the importance of procedure. Had the filibuster process not been in place, the project, likely to generate strong U.S. growth, would be heading towards President Obama's desk. Even 14 Democrats, most heroically Senator Mary Landrieu, pushed for the pipeline. But because of this very technical gizmo, the filibuster, the solid majority of 59 in support for the pipeline did not suffice to win the pipeline passage in the U.S. Senate. . .

Here's How Republicans Can Win In California

Ben Boychuk, The Sacramento Bee, November 15, 2014
Another election, another statewide drubbing for California's Republicans. Yet the hapless state GOP managed to deny the Democrats a supermajority in both the state Senate and Assembly by focusing on a handful of winnable races - including a few in wobbly districts where Democrats had nominal advantages. That got me thinking: Hypothetically, what if I ran for Assembly in my district in 2016? . . .

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