Democrats seized on a remark by Jeb Bush on Thursday, saying his comments on phasing out Medicare showed he was out of touch with senior citizens.
"We're not going to have adequate coverage for our children or our grandchildren without Medicare," a woman at a town hall in Gorham, N.H. told him, according to Politico's Eli Stokols. "It's not an entitlement. I earned that." (The average female worker born in 1945 will take $521,000 in benefits over her lifetime, having paid $374,000 into the system in taxes.)
"It's an actuarially unsound system," the former Florida governor replied.
"The people that are receiving these benefits, I don’t think that we should touch that," Bush went on to say. "We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they're not going to have anything."
At The Week, Ryan Cooper notes that MSNBC's Steve Benen writes that cost projections for Medicare are less dire than they were before President Obama's health care reform took effect, and The Week's Ryan Cooper argues the problem isn't with Medicare, but with this country's exceptionally expensive health care system.
A spokesman tells Bloomberg's Michael C. Bender that Bush didn't mean he believes Medicare should be scrapped entirely. Instead, Bush wants to raise the retirement age and force wealthier beneficiaries to pay more. If he were elected, Republicans in Congress might send him something similar to the proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who converts Medicare into a voucher system.
As Vox's Matthew Yglesias notes, Bush is making a distinction without much of a difference. Adding a means test to a program that has always been a universal benefit, or giving the elderly vouchers for health insurance, would alter Medicare's fundamental character. It would hardly be the same program.
What's in Wonkbook: 1) Clinton's speech on Wall Street 2) Opinions, including Brooks on the minimum wage 3) Trump cashes in, even when the properties that bear his name go under, and more
Chart of the day: After a sharp increase in prices, eggs are not the cheapest source of protein. "The price index for eggs, which tracks the average national increase people have to pay, rose by almost 20 percent in June alone, on the heels of one of the worst egg crises this country has ever seen. The single month spike is the largest we have endured in more than 30 years... The reason egg prices are out of wack dates back to December, when a yet unfamiliar virus was first discovered in Washington State. For months, the avian flu lay somewhat dormant, spreading slowly, leaving egg supplies virtually untouched. But then in April the flu caught fire, causing chicken farmers around the country to kill off entire flocks." Roberto Ferdman in The Washington Post.
Clinton wants CEOs to think about the long term. "Hillary Clinton is set on Friday to unveil a new round of economic proposals aimed at a problem that liberals and conservatives largely agree exists in America today: Companies aren't investing enough in the sorts of things that could lift the economy in the long run. In the speech at New York University, according to Clinton aides, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination will denounce the 'tyranny of today's earnings report,' criticizing companies for taking steps to boost quarterly profits instead of plowing money into working training, research and development and other measures that improve corporate and national economic health over time." Jim Tankersley in The Washington Post.
She'll argue for more transparency around stock buybacks. "Clinton will say companies need to be more transparent about the use of stock buybacks, which can temporarily boost a company's share price, and that disclosing them in bulk at the end of every quarter was not enough... Although the email did not spell out how greater disclosure might help, the economist Bill Lazonick, an informal adviser to Clinton's campaign, has said a lack of daily disclosures on buybacks gives executives the opportunity to trade without being easily detected, possibly on inside information." Jonathan Allen for Reuters.
Some on Wall Street like her approach to capital gains taxes. "Clinton will propose raising capital gains taxes for investors who hold stocks for only a short period of time... The idea of taking on so-called activist investors who pressure corporations to jack up their share prices at all costs is broadly popular with executives who might not ordinarily line up with Clinton’s agenda. And Clinton will not pitch the change as an effort to raise significant new tax revenues but rather as a way to boost long-term growth, people familiar with the speech said. ... Clinton plans to wrap herself in the banner of 'buy and hold' investors like Warren Buffett who rail against the influence of hedge funds who move in and out of stocks quickly." Ben White and Annie Karni at Politico.
BROOKS: The evidence for the minimum wage is muddled. "As a poverty-fighting measure the minimum wage is horribly targeted. ... There are as many individuals in high-income families making the minimum wage (teenagers) as in low-income families. ... The costs of raising the wage are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Minimum-wage workers often work at places that disproportionately serve people down the income scale. So raising the minimum wage is like a regressive consumption tax paid for by the poor to subsidize the wages of workers who are often middle class. What we have, in sum, is a very complicated situation. If we do raise the minimum wage a lot of people will clearly benefit and a lot of people will clearly be hurt." The New York Times.
O'BRIEN: Finland shows why the euro is a failure. "Its schools are among the best in the world, its government is among the least corrupt, and, for rich countries, its public debt is among the lowest. But despite the fact that the fundamentals of its economy are strong, its economy is not, in fact, strong. Finland is actually stuck in its longest recession in living memory. ... It started when Apple made Nokia go from being synonymous with smartphones to being synonymous with old smartphones. As Finland found out, it isn't easy to replace a company that, at its peak, made up 4 percent of your economy. ... Finland hasn't been able to do what a country would normally do in this situation: devalue its currency. That's because Finland doesn't have a currency to devalue. It has the euro." The Washington Post.
WILKINSON: Donald Trump is a genius. "When asked if he would pursue a third-party candidacy should he fail to secure the GOP nomination, Mr Trump was coy: 'so many people want me to, if I don’t win,' he said. 'I’ll have to see how I’m being treated by the Republicans,' Mr Trump explained, with just a hint of blackmail. 'If they’re not fair, that would be a factor.' ... What, Republicans may now be wondering, does the man mean when he demands 'fair' treatment? ... You'd have to be astoundingly brazen to run for president, churning up toxic xenophobic sentiments, just to get the political leverage to win a huge tax break, or to build a casino or to stop somebody else's casino. But Mr Trump is neither a meek nor public-spirited man. And, astonishingly enough, he may have actually succeeded in putting the Republican Party in a corner. If cutting a sweet deal is what Mr Trump was aiming to do all along, we might have to admit that he is more than the attention-seeking buffoon he appears to be." The Economist.
Officials requested a criminal probe of Clinton's private email account. "Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday. The request follows an assessment in a June 29 memo by the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence agencies that Mrs. Clinton’s private account contained 'hundreds of potentially classified emails.' ... Since her use of a private email account for official State Department business was revealed in March, she has repeatedly said that she had no classified information on the account." Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo in The New York Times.
Trump cashes in, even when his properties fail. "As he seeks the Republican presidential nomination, Trump is promoting his success as a real estate mogul to argue that he has the proven skills to fix the nation’s problems. He brags that he made his money 'the old-fashioned way,' building iconic properties such as Trump Tower in Manhattan and, soon, a luxury hotel in the Old Post Office Pavilion blocks from the White House. ... Trump has become increasingly reliant on a different business model — one in which he makes money by harnessing his celebrity brand rather than risking capital in real estate investments. Dozens of properties around the world bear his name or will after they are built, with some — a golf course in Dubai, a posh resort in Hawaii, gleaming condominium buildings in Panama and Istanbul — giving Trump cachet and big profits if they succeed but allowing him to avoid liability if they fail." Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman in The Washington Post.
A new study finds chemotherapy at the end of life can be harmful. "Chemotherapy doesn't improve dying patients' quality of life. In fact, for those terminal cancer patients who were doing the best at the beginning of the study and were least disabled by their cancer, receiving chemotherapy was associated with worse quality of life near death. ... In an accompanying editorial, two physicians from the Oregon Health and Science University wrote that there are only two reasons to give a patient chemotherapy, which can be time-consuming, expensive, and have side effects: it should either extend their lives or make their lives better. The new study, they write, brings 'troubling' data to one of the most difficult problems in cancer treatment. It also challenges one of the biggest prevailing ideas about cancer: the analogy to a battle. The study suggests 'that equating treatment with hope is inappropriate,' Charles Blanke and Erik Fromme wrote." Carolyn Johnson in The Washington Post.
The trade debate in Congress kept lobbyists busy. "Washington lobbying by companies and groups involved in global trade boomed in the past nine months, records show... Lobbying expenditures by members of a pro-TPP coalition increased to $135 million in the second quarter of 2015, up from $126 million in the first quarter and $118 million in the fourth quarter of 2014... Labor union AFL-CIO increased its lobbying expenses by more than 43 percent between the first and second quarters to $920,000, not including subsidiaries." Alex Wilts for Reuters.
Why aren't all of you paying more attention to Martin O'Malley? "Taking on Wall Street has been a consistent campaign theme in the former Maryland governor's rhetoric. Earlier this month, O'Malley released a detailed white paper that explained how he would go beyond Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform, which should appeal to progressives dissatisfied with Clinton's ties to the industry and who wanted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, famous for her critiques of big banks, to jump into the race. On Thursday, O'Malley reaffirmed his commitment to challenging the financial industry, and his policies read like a wish list of progressive proposals, including bringing back Glass-Steagall, the regulation repealed by the Clinton administration that separated commercial and investment banking. ... But without Warren's gravitas, Sanders's track record, and Clinton's eclipsing name recognition, there might not be room for him in the conversation." Eric Garcia in National Journal.