Most psychologists who have studied the relationship between politics and happiness have concluded that conservatives tend to be happier people. That might be wrong, writes Rachel Feltman in The Washington Post:
Researchers believe that conservatives may have a reputation for being happy because it's in their nature to talk themselves up.
Previous work on the "happiness gap" between liberals and conservatives took a relatively simple route: Just asking. Study subjects were asked to self-report their own happiness levels. ...
New results, published Thursday in the journal Science, took a different approach. Led by Sean Wojcik, a doctoral student in psychology and social behavior at the University of California at Irvine, the experiment analyzed photos and language analysis from the LinkedIn and Twitter profiles of those identified as either liberal or conservative.
"Common sense would dictate that if you want to know how happy someone is, you can ask them," said Peter Ditto, UCI professor of psychology & social behavior and co-author of the paper. "But what do you do if someone says they're happy, but doesn't act that way?"
Wojcik and Ditto don't claim their work definitively disproves the happiness gap -- they're just hoping their colleagues in the field will take a closer look at the question. It's an interesting one.
What's in Wonkbook: 1) Net neutrality 2) Opinions, including O'Brien, Barro, Yglesias and Jonathan Bernstein on "the Puppies and Rainbows Tax Plan" 3) The strong dollar, and more
Chart of the day: Major crimes in New Haven, Conn., declined by 30 percent after the police department assigned more officers to foot patrol. Gary Fields and John R. Emshwiller in The Wall Street Journal.
1. Top story: FCC publishes net neutrality rules
Now the legal debate over the 400 pages of regulations will begin in earnest. "The release of the rules comes two weeks after the FCC voted to approve them in a historic, polarized vote at the commission. Now begins the next chapter in the story. Expect Internet providers to comb through the publication, probing the rules for legal weaknesses they can take to court." Brian Fung in The Washington Post.
The debate will likely focus on how much leeway the commission has given itself. "The full text of the new order also raised uncertainties about broad and subjective regulation. One catchall provision, requiring 'just and reasonable' conduct, allows the F.C.C. to decide what is acceptable on a case-by-case basis. ... The 'just and reasonable' provision, said Roger Entner, the lead analyst at Recon Analytics in Boston, 'can be stretched like chewing gum.' He suggested that it would inspire a flood of proactive, permission-seeking petitions from businesses large and small. He pointed to mobile-messaging companies like Snapchat or WhatsApp that may be transmitting voice or video and seeking money from investors who want legal assurances before signing checks. 'Before acting, you need to know: Is this kosher with the F.C.C.?' " Rebecca R. Ruiz in The New York Times.
Civil rights groups are divided on what the rules will do, too. "The civil rights charge against the FCC's plan was marshaled by the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), which in July wrote a letter warning the FCC not to implement regulations based on Title II of the Communications Act, which is used to regulate phone services. More than 40 civil rights organizations signed the letter. The letter said the FCC's plan would raise prices on consumers, a pinch that would be felt more sharply among low-income and minority communities. ... A coalition of civil rights organizations emerged that argued strongly for Title II regulations ahead of the FCC's February vote. Those groups say that implementing restrictive regulations is the only way to prevent large Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon, who aren't up against much competition, from underserving poor and minority communities." Kaveh Waddell in National Journal.
2. Top opinions
O'BRIEN: The new Republican tax plan is to go back to the old Republican tax plan. "Look at what happened to Senator Marco Rubio and Mike Lee's tax plan. It started out as what was supposed to be a warm and cuddly kind of supply-side economics that was like the Bush tax cuts only a little less regressive. But then the CNBC class decided that this crossed the line into heresy, and demanded more tax cuts for themselves to appease the pro-growth gods. They got them. The result is what would in all likelihood be an even bigger budget-busting giveaway to the top 1 percent than anything George W. Bush ever dreamed up. That's the price 'reform conservatives,' or reformocons, apparently have to pay to get the rest of the Party to go along with anything that helps the middle class. And it's even higher than it used to be." The Washington Post.
BARRO: Rubio and Lee try to give everyone what they want. "It's better to describe the Rubio-Lee proposal as the Puppies and Rainbows Tax Plan. After all, it’s full of things everybody likes, at least on the Republican side: family tax cuts that will make it easier to buy the children a puppy, and capital tax cuts that chase a pot of capital investment gold at the end of the rainbow. The main problem is that both puppies and rainbows are expensive. According to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a previous version of the plan advanced by Senator Lee would have cost the government $2.4 trillion in lost revenues over 10 years, and this plan adds new deep tax cuts (including the capital gains cut) that would cost trillions more." The New York Times.
JONATHAN BERNSTEIN: Republicans will pass a large, unfunded tax cut if they win in 2016. "It’s extremely likely that Jeb Bush will soon propose something that trumps the puppies and rainbows plan. How about: puppies, rainbows, nice summer days and motherhood? That what his brother did in a similar situation 16 years before. George W. Bush, like Jeb, was perfectly acceptable to the party on core policies such as abortion, but was a bit shakier on some peripheral issues, and wanted to run a relatively centrist general election campaign. The solution was to push farther than any of his major primary competitors on taxes, figuring that tax cuts were an important enough party goal that any skeptics would overlook other deviations from party orthodoxy. Jeb Bush’s situation today is essentially a variation of his brother's. If immigration, Common Core, and other issues are disqualifying, then Bush is toast. And he can’t really flip-flop on them now. " Bloomberg View.
YGLESIAS: This tax plan is way more important than Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails. "The Clinton email story has been catnip for political reporters because it doesn't involve difficult-to-master and controversial-to-answer-policy questions. Instead, it offers ample opportunity to engage in ideologically neutral speculation about Clinton's competence as a campaigner. But political stories are interesting only because policy stories are important. The dynastic struggle between the Clinton and Bush families is profoundly boring compared with the dynastic struggle on Game of Thrones. It's only interesting because the real-world stakes are high. And the real-world stakes are high because of things like the Rubio-Lee tax plan." Vox.
SALAM: Clinton needs competition. "Any contest for the Democratic presidential nomination needs an earnest, nerdy liberal technocrat who appeals to the intelligentsia. ... My pick for this role is Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden. His steadfast opposition to dragnet surveillance has won him many friends among civil libertarians, and that’s no small thing in a Democratic primary, particularly in dovish, independent-minded states like New Hampshire. ... Sherrod Brown, the gravelly-voiced, tousle-haired senator from Ohio, could step in as the red-meat populist, who’d bash China for its unfair trade practices, offer a blueprint for revitalizing organized labor, and demand that the big banks be brought to heel. ... While Obama spoke cautiously about race during his 2008 presidential campaign, the conversation has changed. [Forrmer Massachusetts Gov. Deval] Patrick would, in theory, have the freedom to press harder on the theme of racial justice. ... I like the idea of Mike Bloomberg running as the sober centrist. ... And then there is Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who, despite having served eight years in the Senate, still counts as a fresh face. Klobuchar is one of America’s most popular senators, and she’s cultivated a reputation as an indefatigable, impeccably bipartisan problem solver." Slate.
MacGILLIS: What about former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley? "He has a real record of accomplishment to point to as a governing executive—he played a key role in the ever-so-gradual turnaround of Baltimore, and, on any number of fronts, he made Maryland, already one of the more prosperous and well-educated states in the nation, a better place to live. But his legacy is now at distinct risk of being at least partially dismantled. ... [Republican Gov. Larry] Hogan is now hard at work seeking to undermine O’Malley’s legacy on any number of fronts—reversing his cleanup policies for the Chesapeake Bay, steering transportation money into highways instead of public transit, and, most of all, proposing deep cuts to the state’s K–12 schools, whose high performance O’Malley invoked in the very first line of his lackluster speech at the 2012 Democratic convention." Slate.
SUMMERS: A trade deal in the Pacific should help middle-class American workers. "Trade and globalisation have increased inequality in the US by allowing more earning opportunities for those at the top and exposing ordinary workers to more competition. ... Arrangements such as TPP have the potential to tilt the gains from trade towards the American middle class. This is due to the fact that the US has been a very open market for a long time. It means that properly negotiated trade agreements bring down foreign barriers and promote exports to a much greater extent than they reduce American barriers and benefit imports." The Financial Times.
"Cop-killer" bullets should be banned. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives could have used its authority under a 1986 law to ban armor-piercing bullets that can be loaded into handguns, but gave up on the proposal. "That was a deplorable decision, but not just because it means 'cop-killer' ammunition that should be banned under the 1986 law will remain available. The government has allowed itself to be bullied by the gun lobby, which with its defense of these armor-piercing bullets has in effect aligned itself with violent criminals and against public safety," writes the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times.
Math interlude: Tomorrow is Pi Day, 3/14/15. (Those are the first five digits of π.) Katherine A. Briccetti in the Los Angeles Times.
3. In case you missed it
The strong dollar will be under discussion at the Federal Reserve's meeting next week. "The US currency’s seemingly relentless climb has hit foreign earnings at major multinationals including Apple and Procter & Gamble and is driving up the cost of the country’s exports, worsening America’s trade balance. ... For Fed officials, it poses a policy conundrum. The higher dollar will have an impact on US growth and inflation just as the Fed contemplates revising its signals on the interest rate outlook, intensifying the debate among rate-setters as to whether June is the right time to push the button on the first rate rise in nearly a decade." Sam Fleming in The Financial Times.
Protesters in Ferguson aren't satisfied by reforms. "Steps taken to improve the treatment of African Americans in the St. Louis suburb have yet to soothe the tensions that flared last summer when a white police officer gunned down a black teenager on a hot August afternoon. What’s more, by exposing the ugly details of racial bias among Ferguson officials — and revealing new evidence of widespread civil rights violations — the Justice Department report could be fueling a fresh wave of fury." Sandhya Somashekhar in The Washington Post.
Carly Fiorina, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, casts herself as Clinton's foil. "Ms. Fiorina easily sticks out among the wide field of possible Republican contenders for president: Most of the others are white men. But what has distinguished her most so far, aside from her gender, is not her private-sector experience or her pro-market policies, but her increasingly pointed attacks on Mrs. Clinton. Of course, every Republican contender has taken aim at Mrs. Clinton, the presumed Democratic opponent who looms in the distance. But Ms. Fiorina alone can present herself as a natural foil without the added risk of being labeled a sexist man." Amy Chozick in The New York Times.
UPCOMING EVENT: Washington Post Live presents “Changing the Menu,” March 26th at Arena Stage. Steve Case, chairman and chief executive, Revolution & co-founder, America Online; Debra Eschmeyer, executive director, Let’s Move! Dan Kish, head chef, Panera; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and many other innovators and experts will look at food and wellness -- what we eat, how we move and how to ensure a healthy, well-fed America. Learn more about the event and register to attend.