Democrats shouldn’t put themselves in a fiscal straitjacket.On Thursday, the best House speaker of modern times reclaimed her gavel, replacing one of the worst. It has taken the news media a very long time to appreciate the greatness of Nancy Pelosi, who saved Social Security from privatization, then was instrumental in gaining health insurance for 20 million Americans. And the media are still having a hard time facing up to the phoniness of their darling Paul Ryan, who, by the way, left office with a 12 percent favorable rating.
There’s every reason to expect that Pelosi will once again be highly effective. But some progressive Democrats object to one of her initial moves — and on the economics, and probably the politics, the critics are right.
.. The issue in question is “paygo,” a rule requiring that increases in spending be matched by offsetting tax increases or cuts elsewhere.
You can argue that as a practical matter, the rule won’t matter much if at all. On one side, paygo is the law, whether Democrats put it in their internal rules or not. On the other side, the law can fairly easily be waived, as happened after the G.O.P.’s huge 2017 tax cut was enacted.
But adopting the rule was a signal of Democratic priorities — a statement that the party is deeply concerned about budget deficits and willing to cramp its other goals to address that concern. Is that a signal the party should really be sending?
.. Furthermore, there are things the government should be spending money on even when jobs are plentiful — things like fixing our deteriorating infrastructure and helping children get education, health care and adequate nutrition. Such spending has big long-run payoffs, even in purely monetary terms.
Meanwhile, the federal government can borrow money very cheaply — the interest rate on inflation-protected 10-year bonds is only about 1 percent. These low borrowing costs, in turn, reflect what seems to be a persistent savings glut — that is, the private sector wants to save more than it’s willing to invest, even with very low interest rates.
Or consider what happened after Democrats enacted the Affordable Care Act, going to great lengths to pay for the additional benefits with tax increases and spending cuts. A majority of voters still believed that it increased the deficit. Reality doesn’t seem to matter.
.. Anyway, the truth is that while voters may claim to care about the deficit, hardly any of them really do. For example, does anyone still believe that the Tea Party uprising was a protest against deficits? From the beginning, it was basically about race — about the government spending money to help Those People. And that’s true of a lot of what pretends to be fiscal conservatism.
.. In fact, even the deficit scolds who played such a big role in Beltway discourse during the Obama years seem oddly selective in their concerns about red ink. After all those proclamations that fiscal doom was coming any day now unless we cut spending on Social Security and Medicare, it’s remarkable how muted their response has been to a huge, budget-busting tax cut. It’s almost as if their real goal was shrinking social programs, not limiting national debt.
.. So am I saying that Democrats should completely ignore budget deficits? No; if and when they’re ready to move on things like some form of Medicare for All, the sums will be so large that asking how they’ll be paid for will be crucial.
For the first time in the game’s modern era, the five best players in the world—and the five top seeds at Wimbledon—are all over 30 years old.
.. Half of the 32 seeds at Wimbledon, which starts Monday, are older than 30. Four others are 29.
.. According to Gilbert, tennis players began thinking they could play longer when Agassi made the U.S. Open final in 2005 at 35.
.. a variety of factors—including skyrocketing prize money, better knowledge of fitness and nutrition, and the shaky psyches and physical weaknesses of players who were supposed to bump off the aging greats—have made thirtysomething the new twentysomething in tennis.
.. Tennis experts say both players have recaptured their former glory with a similar strategy—improving their backhands and using the shot as a weapon rather than a defensive tool to set up a forehand.
.. Money, and the opportunities and comforts it provides, is driving the demographic change.
.. The money allows the top players to travel with entourages that include coaches, trainers, physiotherapists, masseuses and nutritionists.
.. Instead of banging balls on the court for four hours of practice, they may hit for 90 minutes but do 90 minutes of strength, agility, flexibility and fitness training.
.. serial beatdowns have likely caused chronic mental damage.
“Generally if you are going to be a multiple slam winner you will win when you are young,” he said. “When you don’t do that the mental game comes into play.