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Wonkbook's Number of the Day: $530 billion. That was the base military budget in 2012. That's up from $287 billion in 2001, and it doesn't even account for spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which is counted separately, and has often added another $150 billion a year to that total. As Barney Frank -- yes, that Barney Frank -- writes in a lengthy article for the journal Democracy, "The public does not fully understand that the defense budget is paid for to a certain extent as people pay lawyers who are on retainer, but who then get extra funds if they have to go into court." Guiding this budget down to more normal levels while maintaining American military strength will be a key challenge for the next defense secretary.
Wonkblog's Graph of the Day: 82 percent of the Bush tax cuts are now permanent.
Today in Wonkbook: Everything you need to know about Chuck Hagel; the Obama gun-control plan is starting to take shape; McConnell vs. Pelosi on taxes; Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, and the Republican re-think; and dispatches from the American Economic Association's annual meeting.
Top story: A Chuck Hagel primer
Obama to nominate Chuck Hagel for defense secretary. "Hagel’s successful nomination would add a well-known Republican to the president’s second-term Cabinet at a time when he is looking to better bridge the partisan divide, particularly after a bitter election campaign. But the expected nomination has drawn sharp criticism in recent weeks, particularly from Republicans, who have questioned Hagel’s commitment to Israel’s security." Scott Wilson in The Washington Post.
Just the basics, please: The Associated Press' biographical information on Chuck Hagel.
OK, a little bit more info: Biographical highlights from the Almanac of American Politics.
Long-form on Hagel:
The New Yorker's Connie Bruck profiled Hagel in 2008 as the GOP's "odd man out": "Hagel, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, is an ardent internationalist -- 'All of us are touched by every event that unfolds in every corner of the world,' he often says. An advocate for a strong military, he also believes that military force should be the last tool of statecraft...A traditional pro-business, small-government conservative, Hagel is a graduate of a Catholic high school, who is pro-life and supports school prayer. He occasionally broke with his party—on immigration reform, on the No Child Left Behind Act, on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage—but, according to Congressional Quarterly, in 2006 he voted with the President ninety-six per cent of the time. Hagel’s heresy on the Iraq war overshadowed the rest of his record, however."
In The New York Times, Joseph Lelyveld characterized Hagel in 2006 as a "heartland dissident" and a "Republican loner": "The fact that Hagel himself emerged with two Purple Hearts from Vietnam, where he served as an enlisted man in the infantry, has often been mentioned in news reports quoting him on Iraq as if memories, or maybe nightmares, dating back to the war from which he still carried bits of shrapnel in his chest were primary and extenuating factors shaping his seemingly irrepressible utterances on the latest intervention, his regular brushes with apostasy. Compelling as it is, Chuck Hagel's history as an ordinary soldier, a grunt from small-town Middle America who grew up to be a senator, is more layered, less simple. Unlike Senator Kerry, he had never been a Vietnam veteran against the war."
The Washington Post's Craig Whitlock shows how Hagel's time in Vietnam affected his foreign-policy views: "Although his views on whether the Vietnam War was justified have changed over time, Hagel’s combat experiences have consistently driven his approach to foreign policy, his political passion...As a senator, he voted to authorize the war in Iraq but soon became the most vocal and cutting Republican critic of the George W. Bush administration, accusing it of bungling the occupation."
And you have to read Hagel's own words: How he defines a 'Republican foreign policy' in a 2004 piece in Foreign Affairs magazine: "A wise foreign policy recognizes that U.S. leadership is determined as much by our commitment to principle as by our exercise of power. Foreign policy is the bridge between the United States and the world, and between the past, the present, and the future. The United States must grasp the forces of change, including the power of a restless and unpredictable new generation that is coming of age throughout the world. Trust and confidence in U.S. leadership and intentions are critical to shaping a vital global connection with this next generation."
The politics around the Hagel nomination:
Why Obama wants Hagel in the Secretary of Defense job. "Of all the possible candidates, he trusts Hagel. Hagel was the head of Obama's intelligence advisory board, and was a frequent informal 'red cell' brain that Obama privately turned to when he wanted a second opinion. He has been picking Hagel's brain on subjects as diverse as Afghanistan, China, special operations force posture, and intelligence for several years now. (Hagel has all the required clearances.)" Mark Ambinder in The Week.
Primary source: Hagel's Senate voting record on foreign policy issues.
McConnell says Hagel should get ‘fair hearing’; Cruz not sold on record. "Hagel has also run into opposition from some Senate Republicans who have warned that he could be in for a difficult confirmation process. The former senator’s opposition to elements of the Iraq War and sanctions against Iran, among other things, stoked GOP concerns." Sean Sullivan in The Washington Post.
@gideonrachman: I like the idea of Hegel as defence secretary. The Pentagon needs more German philosophers. And maybe Marx for Treasury?
How Obama has defended Hagel. "'I’ve served with Chuck Hagel. I know him. He is a patriot. He is somebody who has done extraordinary work both in the United States Senate. Somebody who served this country with valor in Vietnam. And is somebody who’s currently serving on my intelligence advisory board and doing an outstanding job.'" Sean Sullivan in The Washington Post.
Sen. Durbin's defense of Hagel. "Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Sunday defended President Obama’s likely nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) as Secretary of Defense, calling his former colleague a 'serious candidate.'Chuck Hagel was a Republican Senator from Nebraska, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam war, a person who has a resume that includes service on the foreign relations committee as well as the intelligence committee.' " Meghashyam Mali in The Hill.
Some Jewish leaders are uncomfortable with Hagel as Secretary. "[H]undreds of American Jewish leaders visited the White House to celebrate Hanukkah, but many also came with a less celebratory agenda: They were there to deliver a warning to President Barack Obama about the potential nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel...Hagel has been a frequent target for Jewish Democratic and Republican groups for more than a decade...Hagel is hardly overtly anti-Israel, but he's been less sympathetic to the Jewish State than most members of Congress in both parties. He was a critic, for instance, of Israel's assault on the Lebanese group Hezbollah in 2006." Zeke Miller in Buzzfeed.
Pick puts pro-Israel Dems in bind. "The biggest factor in determining whether former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel will win confirmation as Defense Secretary won’t come from his former Republican colleagues in the Senate, but from influential senators in the president’s own party. Hagel’s litany of past comments criticizing pro-Israel interest groups and less-than-enthusiastic support of the Jewish state will put a handful of prominent Democratic senators with a long record of supporting Israel under pressure." Josh Kraushaar in National Journal.
@mattyglesias: Obama nominating Chuck Hagel is basically the highest-profile act of presidential trolling in history.
Hagel has a history of going his own way on foreign policy. "At a time when Republican leadership in Washington seems to be all but absent, and courage nonexistent, perhaps we should remember that an antiabortion GOP senator with a respectable lifetime rating of 84 from the American Conservative Union made the same choice, a decade ago, as the heroic figures portrayed in JFK’s book [Profiles on Courage]. In the process, Chuck Hagel effectively sacrificed his political career for his beliefs -- which, by and large, turned out to be right." Michael Hirsh in National Journal.
@blakehounshell: So with Brennan to CIA, and Hagel to the Pentagon, is Flournoy left hanging? Is she the Hagel backup? Or a candidate for DNI?
Hagel has retracted a 1998 statement he made on gays . "[Hagel:] 'My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive...They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights. I am fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to LGBT military families.' " Peter Wallsten in The Washington Post.
The best commentary on the Hagel nomination:
What Frmr. Sec. State Richard Armitage and Gen. Brent Snowcroft have to say for Hagel. "[Armitage:] 'I happen to know the guy. He's not owned by anybody, he happens to think for himself, and this apparently causes some fear in some cases. He's got an unerring bullshit sensor, he's got real stones, and he doesn't mind telling you what his opinion is, which will stand him in very good stead in the Pentagon if the president nominates him...Chuck Hagel might be just the guy to come in to steward the Pentagon through what's going to be a tough budget environment...He is a straight thinker, he thinks for himself, and if that makes him subject to criticism from either party, so be it.' [Snowcroft:] 'Senator Hagel is one of the most well-respected and thoughtful voices on both foreign and domestic policy...At an uncertain time in America-with a significant debt burden, a polarized Congress, and a host of challenges facing the international community, I am confident Senator Hagel will provide a vibrant, no-nonsense voice of logic and leadership to the United States.'" Josh Rogin in Foreign Policy.
@ezraklein: The case against Hagel is laughably overblown. But I don't really understand what the case for him is vs. Carter or (especially) Flournoy.
9 U.S. ambassadors weigh in on his behalf. "He has always supported the pillars of American foreign policy -- such as: a strong NATO and Atlantic partnership; a commitment to the security of Israel, as a friend and ally; a determination to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons; and the defense of human rights as a core principle of America’s role in the world...We can think of few more qualified, more non-partisan, more courageous or better equipped to head the Department of Defense at this critical moment in strengthening America’s role in the world." Foreign Policy.
Round-up: Arguments for and against Hagel.
CORN: Hagel is the only other person besides Biden who voted for the Iraq resolution but understood the costs of war. "Hagel:...'If disarmament in Iraq requires the use of force, we need to consider carefully the implications and consequences of our actions. The future of Iraq after Saddam Hussein is also an open question. Some of my colleagues and some American analysts now speak authoritatively of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds in Iraq, and how Iraq can be a test case for democracy in the Arab world. How many of us really know and understand much about Iraq, the country, the history, the people, the role in the Arab world? I approach the issue of post-Saddam Iraq and the future of democracy and stability in the Middle East with more caution, realism and a bit more humility...Imposing democracy through force in Iraq is a roll of the dice. A democratic effort cannot be maintained without building durable Iraqi political institutions and developing a regional and international commitment to Iraq's reconstruction. No small task.'" David Corn in Tom Paine.com in 2006.
FALLOWS: The bogus case against Hagel. "What is poisonous, and should be resisted, is the effort to rule out Hagel through the bogus charge that he is anti-Israel or, worse, anti-Semitic. This campaign is charmingly being led by William Kristol (also here) and others at Kristol's Standard, with predictable backup from the WSJ op-ed page, the WaPo's right-wing blogger, and its often-neocon main editorial page...[You can smell] the stench of trying to remove someone whose policies you dislike with the damning accusation that underneath it all is outright bigotry." James Fallows in The Atlantic.
WRIGHT: Smearing Hagel. "Hagel believes that AIPAC, like the NRA, is powerful enough to sometimes intimidate legislators. Now, it does follow that AIPAC and the NRA influence policy in their domains, but not that they 'control' it." Robert Wright in The Atlantic.
KAPLAN: The real reason Republicans hate Hagel . "These resisters have four main concerns. They fear that Hagel will cut the military budget. They fear that he’ll roll over if Iran builds a nuclear weapon. They fear that he’s too reluctant to use military force generally. And they fear he doesn’t much like Israel; the extremists on this point claim he’s anti-Semitic." Fred Kaplan in Slate.
MCCONNELL: The Hagel brand . "[T]he nomination gives Republicans a valuable opportunity to do some much needed rebranding, and to do it without actually having to do much of anything. As Secretary of Defense, even in an Obama administration, Hagel will become one of the three or four most visible and prominent Republicans in the country. Moreover, he is an exemplary representative of a political type which used to be prominent, when the party was far stronger nationally; a type which has since become nearly invisible, to the party’s great detriment. Hagel is essentially an Eisenhower Republican -- a fiscal conservative, with combat experience in war, roots in the American heartland, and an awareness that it is far easier to get into wars than get out of them. " Scott McConnell in The American Conservative.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Hagel not the right choice for Defense Secretary. "Chuck Hagel, whom President Obama is reportedly considering for defense secretary, is a Republican who would offer a veneer of bipartisanship to the national security team. He would not, however, move it toward the center, which is the usual role of such opposite-party nominees. On the contrary: Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term -- and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him" The Washington Post Editorial Board.
RUBIN: The Hagel litmus test. "If Republicans had nervy firebrands like the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, someone would rise up to declare, 'Chuck Hagel’s America is a land in which gays would be forced back in the closet and Jews would be accused of dual loyalty. Chuck Hagel’s world is one in which devastating defense cuts become a goal, not a problem; we enter direct talks with the terrorist organization Hamas; and sanctions on Iran wither.' The Hagel nomination expected to come on Monday is so outrageous and the rationale for his nomination so weak that it becomes an easy no vote for all Republicans." Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post.
@davidfrum: The Obama Hagel question: how many minutes of his post-reelection January does President want to spend debating Israel/Iran?
KRISTOL: Introducing Hagel. "The Weekly Standard has obtained a fact sheet circulating widely on Capitol Hill. It details the record on a number of issues of former GOP senator Chuck Hagel, a leading candidate to be nominated by President Obama as the next secretary of defense." William Kristol in The Weekly Standard.
TERZIAN: Hagel, eccentric and inappropriate to run the Defense Department. "Policy and personal opinions aside, he is, by any measure, an eccentric choice to run the vast defense establishment...Simply stated, there is no evidence that Chuck Hagel has the experience or temperament to master the gigantic defense establishment, or deal effectively with Congress on delicate issues. On the contrary, there is every indication that he would quickly suffocate in the details of running the Pentagon, and run afoul of his political masters in the White House." Philip Terzian in The Weekly Standard.
ACKERMAN: Is Chuck Hagel a hippy? Only if you ignore his record. "Conservative critics of the former Republican senator have called him a wimp, insufficiently bellicose toward Iran, Hamas, Syria, the Taliban and other global malefactors. All of that overlooks the Vietnam combat veteran’s record in the Senate. Spying on Americans’ communications without warrants? Have at it, said Hagel. A ballistic missile shield? Yes, please, and who cares if it angers the Kremlin. NATO’s 1999 war in Kosovo? Hagel was willing to flood it with U.S. soldiers. Hagel earned his reputation as a skeptic of American military adventurism, as anyone who remembers his consistent criticism of the Iraq war will remember. But that criticism has blown Hagel’s reputation for dovishness out of proportion: after all, he voted in 2002 to authorize the war." Spencer Ackerman in Wired.
Music recommendations interlude: Peter Gabriel, "Solsbury Hill," 1977.
MISHKIN AND WOODFORD: The Fed should be talking about growth, nut unemployment. "The central bank needs to reiterate that it does not have a 'target' unemployment rate and is not determined to achieve a specific unemployment rate regardless of the amount of monetary stimulus required to reach it. That type of overreaching ended badly in the 1970s, with rising inflation and unemployment. The Fed also needs to clarify that the threshold of 2.5% for the inflation rate in no way suggests that it is weakening its commitment to its long-run inflation target of 2%. It would be dangerous to weaken this commitment, as it would lead to a permanent ratcheting up of inflationary expectations and inflation...It would have been better if the FOMC had explained its temporary policy by describing the size of the nominal growth shortfall that needed to be made up." Frederic S. Mishkin and Michael Woodford in The Wall Street Journal.
KING AND SONEJI: Social Security is forecasting mortality incorrectly. "he Social Security Administration underestimates how long Americans will live and how much the trust funds will need to pay out -- to the tune of $800 billion by 2031...We reached these conclusions, and presented them in an article in the journal Demography, after finding that the government’s methods for forecasting Americans’ longevity were outdated and omitted crucial health and demographic factors. Historic declines in smoking and improvements in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease are adding years of life that the government hasn’t accounted for." Gary King and Samir Soneji in The New York Times.
KRUGMAN: The big fail. "It’s tempting to argue that the economic failures of recent years prove that economists don’t have the answers. But the Ftruth is actually worse: in reality, standard economics offered good answers, but political leaders -- and all too many economists -- chose to forget or ignore what they should have known." Paul Krugman in The New York Times.
DIONNE: The real deficit argument. "Should our politicians dedicate themselves to solving the problems we face now? Or should they spend the ir time constructing largely theoretical deficit solutions for years far in the future to satisfy certain ideological and aesthetic urges? This is one of the two central choices the country faces at the beginning of President Obama’s second term. The other is related: Will the establishment, including business leaders and middle-of-the-road journalistic opinion, stand by silently as one side in the coming argument risks cratering the economy in an effort to reverse the verdict of the 2012 election? Yes, I am talking about using the debt ceiling as a political tool, something that was never done until the disaster of 2011." E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post.
BUCHANAN: Socioeconomic inequality causes crime. "First, seemingly trivial factors -- the location of street lights, road layouts, housing designs and so on -- often have a decisive influence on whether crime hits one place rather than another. Second, and more important, a sure recipe for more frequent crime is rising socioeconomic inequality. This ought to be especially worrying in the U.S. and U.K., where, over the past two decades, inequality has increased tremendously." Mark Buchanan in Bloomberg.
Old jokes, new twists interlude: Can a one-armed man get arrested for clapping? In Belarus, the answer is yes..
The Obama gun-control plan is starting to take shape
Lines drawn in gun-control debate. "An Obama administration task force led by Vice President Biden plans to offer recommendations this month on how to curb gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. The working group is weighing measures broader and more comprehensive than simply reinstating the expired ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. President Obama has said he favors reinstating such a ban. Other measures under consideration include regulations that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors." Sean Sullivan in The Washington Post.
Least likely gun-control advocate ever? GOP Sen. Cruz calls for strengthening background-check system for gun sales. "Sen. Ted Cruz said Sunday that the government's background-check system for gun purchases is flawed and needs strengthening. The Texas Republican, a strong backer of the National Rifle Association, said the Democrats' push for new gun restrictions is misguided, but he emphasized that there's plenty of room for Congress to make it tougher for those barred from owning guns from buying them." Mike Lillis in The Hill.
Get me a linguist! interlude: 21 emotions for which there are apparently no English words.
The next fiscal fight is already here
McConnell says further tax increases are unacceptable. "With looming deadlines on the nation’s federal borrowing limit and delayed across-the-board budget cuts, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday that discussions about new taxes are off the table in upcoming fiscal debate, and that reining in government spending must be the focal point." Sean Sullivan in The Washington Post.
...And Pelosi says the exact opposite: no more revenue would be unacceptable. "Pushing back against the Republicans' deficit-reduction strategy, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said this weekend that more tax revenues -- not just spending cuts -- must be a part of Congress's effort to rein in deficits." Mike Lillis in The Hill.
The next stage of the ‘fiscal cliff’ fight has officially begun. "In the next stage of the 'fiscal cliff' fight -- news outlets are already calling it the 'debt ceiling fight' though the White House would probably prefer to think of it as a sequester fight -- the debate will essentially boil down to two questions: What kind of entitlement and spending cuts will Republicans be demanding? And will Democrats manage to get revenue on the table? On the Sunday morning shows, leaders from both parties laid down their opening positions." Suzy Khimm in The Washington Post.
Political science explainer: The 'words hurt' model of political polarization.
Contractors quietly optimistic following sequestration delay. "While the two-month delay in planned federal spending cuts that Congress approved last week provides short-term relief for government contractors, many companies said the move does little more than maintain the uncertainty that has plagued them for months. Still, some are choosing to read the 'fiscal cliff' deal, which pushed back the start of about $1 trillion in automatic cuts, as a sign that neither Congress nor the president has any intention of letting sequestration take effect." Marjorie Censer in The Washington Post.
British Big Brother interlude: Britain from Above, a BBC special.
Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, and the Republican re-think
Is Jeb Bush running in 2016? "As Republicans begin the early jockeying for the 2016 presidential race, the intention of one man, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, dominates conversations and informal strategy sessions. Within the party, Mr. Bush is seen as the one potential candidate whose decision on whether to run -- yea or nay -- has the power to scramble the rest of the field. Close aides and friends say he is actively weighing a run, something he didn't do in the last election cycle." Neil King Jr. in The Wall Street Journal.
And what's Paul Ryan's next act? "Mr. Ryan, his supporters say, did not necessarily return to the House to start building a presidential campaign. Instead, he is interested in continuing to mix things up as one of his party’s leading voices on budget matters. He is interested in forging an even tighter bond with Mr. Boehner as the fiscal fights play out, they say, starting in the coming weeks with a debate over whether to authorize raising the government’s borrowing limit and how to avoid deep across-the-board spending cuts set in motion by previous compromises." Ashley Parker in The New York Times.
Social sci interlude: It's not just Fukuyama -- you suffer from "end of history" bias too.
What they're saying at the American Economic Association's meeting
Are economists polarized? "The picture Gordon and Dahl derive from this evidence is quite benign. On most issues, particularly where there is a lot of research, there is considerable consensus; and they can’t find evidence of ideological divides driving disagreement. Economics, they find, looks a lot like a normal field of scientific inquiry; to the extent that it seems otherwise, they suggest, it’s only because sometimes economists are working for politicians and are obliged to seem supportive. This picture seems, of course, to be at odds with what I have written about the state of macroeconomics....In the spirit of the paper, however, I should do my best to justify that belief quantitatively, with as little subjective interpretation as possible." Paul Krugman in The New York Times.
The annoying debate over fiscal stimulus. "The final session of the American Economics Association conference I attended was a very popular throwdown between Paul Krugman and UCSD's Valerie Ramey on the subject of fiscal stimulus. It was, I thought, a frustrating affair that well summed up the dialogue of the deaf that proceeds in this debate." Matthew Yglesias in Slate.
Is the Fed doing enough -- or too much? "Uncertainty over the Fed's latest communications strategy figured as part of a broader debate at the economists' gathering over whether the Fed is doing enough—or too much—to boost the economic recovery and over the potential risks of the Fed's unusual and unprecedented policies. On the 100th anniversary of the central bank's creation, economists remain divided over whether the Fed's decisions to slash interest rates to nearly zero and buy trillions of dollars in bonds will fuel inflation or fall short of reigniting growth." Michael S. Derby and Kristina Peterson in The Wall Street Journal.
Study: Freer trade with China cut manufacturing employment by almost a third. "[A] new working paper from the Fed’s Justin Pierce and Yale’s Peter Schott argues that the 2000 granting of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to China was the rare high-profile trade deal that really mattered. PNTR did not actually involve much in the way of new tariff reductions, but what it did offer was certainty. It suggested that previously eliminated tariffs on Chinese goods weren’t coming back anytime soon. That reassurance, Pierce and Schott argue, mattered a great deal. All told, they argue that employment in the manufacturing sector in the United States was 29.6 percent lower than it otherwise would have been absent PNTR. That means that employment in that sector would have grown — by close to 10 percent, Pierce and Schott estimate — as opposed to shrinking considerably, as it actually did." Dylan Matthews in The Washington Post.
Photography interlude: The oldest person ever photographed.
Presidential chiefs of staff are all in a documentary. The Associated Press.
Europe's leaders say the worst of their crisis is over. Anthony Faiola and Edward Cody in The Washington Post.
Dems dig in against spending cuts to clean energy programs. Zack Colman in The Hill.
Can we make sovereign defaults more orderly? Robin Wigglesworth and Alan Beattie in The Financial Times.
Banks near $10bn foreclosure agreement. Tom Braithwaite and Shahien Nasiripour in The Financial Times.
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