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Why outrage politics has such a grip on American life – The Hill

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Moral outrage can be a healthy part of the American democratic process, motivating people to advocate for their beliefs and hold leaders accountable. The founding of the country, after all, is rooted in rebellion and a list of grievances outlined in the Declaration of Independence.

But top leaders are expressing worries about the dark side of outrage politics and how it is incentivized through structural factors in the media and in the political system.

In an Independence Day op-ed in The Atlantic, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) lamented that “carefully constructed, prejudice-confirming arguments from the usual gang of sophists, grifters, and truth-deniers” have led to America being in “denial” of serious threats.

“The phenomenon is basically the same on both sides. There’s always a wing that will never be happy, where you can never be liberal enough for them, or progressive enough for them. And on the right, never be right-wing enough for them,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said in an interview.

“They engage in grievance politics more than anything else. They self-victimize in very mysterious ways. And they use that self-victimization as a weapon to wield,” Crenshaw said.

To some, recent confrontations motivated by political outrage have gone too far.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), one of two Republicans on the House Jan. 6 select committee, has shared threatening letters and voicemails he’s received. Protesters gathered outside the homes of Supreme Court justices to protest the overturning of Roe v. Wade and then outside a D.C. steakhouse as conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh dined, prompting condemnation from the restaurant.

Humans may be wired to be attracted to outrage.

Mark Lenker, a librarian and assistant professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas who has written about political outrage, pointed to the philosopher Robert Solomon describing anger as being an energizing experience.

“In the case of politics, and moral issues, it gets tinged and heightened with moral expectations. So not only do I move from being a victim to being the accuser, but it’s more like I moved from being the victim to being the judge of your actions, and there’s more power in that,” Lenker said.

Other systems then build on capitalizing on moral outrage.

Jeffrey Berry, a professor of political science at Tufts University and co-author of “The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility,” said that technological and market changes have increased political outrage in the media.

Americans used to listen to the radio for music, but the advent of CDs and digital music prompted a shift toward talk radio and the creation of conservative talk radio giants such as Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin.

Before the advent of cable and satellite television, networks would need to partner with hundreds of local affiliates across the country to get a national audience, incentivizing them to appeal to the widest audience possible. A cable network, on the other hand, does not have that structural hurdle and can be profitable by appealing to a smaller audience.

“Outrage is a business and it’s feeding a product. It’s supplying a product to people who want to be angry, and want to be even more angry about politics,” Berry said.

The advancement of social media since his book’s 2014 publication has further increased political outrage, Berry said. 

Major technology platforms have taken steps in recent years to try to combat the spread of false information on their platforms. But according to a Yale University study released last year, incentives such as “likes” and “shares” on social media amplified expressions of outrage over time. 

“The mere existence of social media — it makes very fringe ideas seem much more mainstream than they really are,” Crenshaw said.

Crenshaw noted that political fundraising also incentivizes weaponizing outrage, which targets the most passionate individuals who are likely to donate.

Republicans regularly paint opponents as “RINOs” — Republicans in name only — when campaigning and fundraising.  

Missouri GOP Senate candidate Eric Greitens garnered criticism after he released a video last month encouraging supporters to order a “RINO hunting permit” and showed him breaking into a house with a firearm.

Democrats capitalize on outrage for fundraising purposes too.

Marcus Flowers, the Democratic nominee in the race against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) is not expected to win the 14th Congressional District in Georgia. But by targeting those outraged by Greene’s comments and promising to counter her, he is raking in small-dollar donations.

Flowers raised $8.2 million as of March 31 — the most of any non-incumbent candidate and the 11th-highest amount of all House candidates, Federal Election Commission data shows. More than $2.6 million of that has gone to the consulting firm Blue Chip Strategies.

Beyond fundraising, the dominance of America’s two-party system and the primary system, with gerrymandering creating more polarized districts, also can incentivize outrage.

“Grifting” candidates, Crenshaw said, “will do whatever their 24-year-old consultant tells them to do if they think it’ll get them that key 10,000 votes out of the district of 750,000 that can deliver them a primary, because normal people just don’t get out and vote anymore.”

“There’s an obvious problem with the redder a district gets, the bluer a district gets, when the only people that representatives have to talk to are primary voters — now you’re obviously going to get that kind of populist pandering,” Crenshaw said.

Berry cautioned against equivocating outrage with ideology but acknowledged the impact of primary voters. 

“Every politician is a bit of a marketing scientist. And they’re very aware of what their base wants,” Berry said. “So there’s a real structural element in terms of American party politics, that contributes to the success of outrage, and that is the party primary.”

Those that can identify factors that foster outrage in politics, though, have few suggestions for remedies.

“My message to voters always is stop falling for it,” Crenshaw said. “These people are here to lie to you, and get more sides to lose whatever side you’re on, they want you to lose, because that’s how they get their clicks. That’s how they get their engagement and that’s ultimately how they make money.”

It can be difficult to strike the right balance on outrage, Berry said.

“We want to live in a society where there’s protest, and we want to live in a society where people have the right to use outrage. What we would like to do, though, is live in a society where there are some boundaries and some norms of civility. So even if you’re animated and passionate and angry, you still don’t do things that are disruptive to the whole system, in politics in general,” Berry said.

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Liberals planning temporary solution to dental care promise: sources

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OTTAWA — Sources close to the government’s proposed $5.3-billion dental-care program say the Liberals are planning a temporary solution that involves giving money directly to patients in order to keep their promise to the NDP while they work on a permanent answer.

The Liberals promised the NDP a new dental-care program for low- and middle-income families in March as part of a supply and confidence agreement to prevent an election before 2025.

The government has until the end of the year to provide some kind of coverage for children under the age of 12 with an annual household income of less than $90,000.

The NDP have vowed to walk away from the deal if the deadline isn’t met.

Four sources with knowledge of the government’s plan, but who are not authorized to speak publicly, say the government is unlikely to meet its deadline, and is planning a stopgap solution until a permanent incarnation of the program is put in place.

Though details are scarce, the sources say the temporary solution would involve giving qualifying families the money directly to fund their dental health services while the government works on a more permanent, expanded program.

In a statement, the health minister’s staff did not confirm or deny the temporary plan but say they are on track to deliver on the dental-care commitment as outlined in the agreement with the New Democrats.

NDP health critic Don Davies did not directly address the temporary plan either, but said in a statement the party has “identified several ways to ensure the target groups can access dental care on the identified timelines.”

The NDP are now focused on pushing the Liberals to introduce dental-care legislation when Parliament resumes in the fall, Davies said.

“That legislation will deliver the resources needed to help children under 12 see a dentist and care for their teeth this year,” he said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh echoed the health minister’s faith about meeting the deadline last week.

“We’re very confident we can achieve that before the end of the year, as our agreement outlines,” Singh said at a news conference last Thursday.

The agreement isn’t prescriptive about how the coverage should be achieved, and the government hasn’t committed to any particular means of administering the program yet.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos’s office has said repeatedly the department is looking at several options to meet its commitment and its end-of-year deadline.

The NDP originally envisioned a federal program that functions similarly to the federal health-benefits program run for uninsured First Nations and Inuit people.

The federal government could also offer money to provinces and territories to take it over, since many already offer similar programs and dental care has traditionally fallen within their jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, the Liberals put out a formal request for information (RFI) to members of the insurance industry two weeks ago to explore what role private companies could play in administering the program.

In that RFI, the government says if a contract is awarded the winning company would be given six months to get ready before processing claims. That timeline would be impossible to achieve before the end of December.

According to the statement from Duclos’s staff, they’re still consulting on the best way forward.

The Liberals have promised to extend the program to qualifying teens, seniors and persons living with disabilities next year and everyone else in the qualifying family-income bracket by the end of the supply and confidence agreement in 2025.

“It comes as no surprise that the Trudeau government is not living up to a commitment it made to buy the NDP’s support,” Conservative health critic Michael Barrett said in a statement.

Barrett said Canadians should be concerned that the government is not committed to maintaining the current health system, “much less adding a new complex and expensive program to it.”

The government set aside $5.3 billion over five years for the program, but the parliamentary budget officer’s estimate is nearly double that at $9 billion.

Once the program is fully implemented, the Liberals’ 2022 budget predicts it will cost about $1.7 billion per year to run, which is in line with the PBO’s estimate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 8, 2022.

 

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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Pakistan politics based on element of vindictiveness; Imran latest victim – Business Standard

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in is based on an element of vindictiveness which often tends to make the creator or supporter of a particular law, victim of his own doing. This vicious political cycle has affected the lives and careers of several prominent politicians in the country and would now come to haunt former Prime Minister .

The accusations against Khan in the Toshakhana case is far more complex than it appears and is a matter of serious concern for the former premier. While on the face of it, the case might not appear as part of a major corruption scandal involving embezzlement of crores of state funds, it nevertheless hinges on a principle stand adopted by the Supreme Court on need for earnings to be declared by politicians, including Prime Ministers.

In the case of Nawaz Sharif, the Supreme Court had disqualified him from participating in national for life, which also became the basis for his removal from the post of Prime Minister. In the Sharif case, the accusation against him was for having not declared a certain amount which he was to have received (but had not yet received) from certain sources. The initial part of the Supreme Court declaration in the case had mentioned: “It is hereby declared that having failed to disclose his unwithdrawn receivables constituting assets from XYZ sources in his nomination papers filed for general elections held in 2013, Sharif remains disqualified from being member of Parliament as per Article 62(1)F of the Constitution.”

It is worth noting that in the Nawaz Sharif case, even though he had not received the said amount, the fact that he was due to receive the amount, and had consciously avoided declaring the same in the statement of returns before the Election Commission, led the Supreme Court to come up with, what many members of the Pakistani legal fraternity considered as, a ‘controversial’ and ‘harsh’ decision. However, the fact remains that the decision was implemented and Nawaz Sharif was removed from position. Members of the PTI and PML-Q celebrated the occasion appreciating the decision of the Supreme Court.

According to reports, Khan had earned around 36 million PKR by illegally selling three watches gifted to him by foreign dignitaries to a local watch dealer. Apparently, Khan during his tenure as prime minister earned millions of rupees from these jewel-class watches collectively worth over 154 million PKR. The watches were gifted to him by foreign leaders. The most expensive watch, of more than 101 million PKR value, was apparently retained by Khan at 20 per cent of its value after his government amended the Toshakhana rules and settled the gift retention price at 50 per cent (not 20 per cent) of its original value. Moreover, he did so without ever declaring the gifts to the Election Commission and getting them evaluated.

If Nawaz Sharif was considered ‘dishonest’ by the Supreme Court for not declaring an amount he had not received, in the case of Khan his having received a certain amount from the sale of gifts received by him during his foreign tours and not declaring the same, poses an ever more serious threat to Khan. The precedence thus set by the Supreme Court would be a challenge to Khan to deal with. The more sinister aspect of the Khan case is that on receiving the costly gifts, he failed to declare them to the Toshakhana and retained them with him before disposing them.

Khan had received most of the gifts in 2018 during his foreign travels and should have ideally declared these in the 2019 statement of returns. Likewise, he did not declare the gifts received in 2019 in the 2020 statement of returns, thus committing a serious act of “dishonesty” towards the nation and the people of .

Even though the Supreme Court decision against Nawaz Sharif was considered ‘drastic’ and ‘unusual’ and was criticised by the legal fraternity and political analysts, the fact remains that the Supreme Court decision has become a precedence and remains in place. Moreover, considering Nawaz Sharif had to give up the post of Prime Minister and has been banned for life from participating in elections, based on this decision of the Supreme Court, there is no reason why the same norms would not apply in the case of Khan.

The Sharif brothers would ensure that Khan is not spared on this count even though Khan would try to exploit his support base in the public domain to create strong opposition against the decision. The situation undoubtedly looks bleak for Khan as his fate now remains in the hands of the judiciary and the establishment.

–IANS

ksk/

 

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Politics Trump Policy – AAF – American Action Forum

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It is done. The Senate has passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) using reconciliation procedures. Outside of the political imperative to “get something done,” there is little in the IRA to commend. It won’t reduce inflation. As a stand-alone, the health provisions are incoherent. And “historic” investment in combatting climate change is part of a larger strategy that never made sense, is chump change compared to the cost of the problem, and has been badly warped by the administration’s fealty to unionization efforts. It’s all bad enough.

That includes the tax policy – especially the book minimum tax. The basic idea was that a large firm ($1 billion in financial income) would pay the greater of 21 percent of its taxable income or 15 percent of the income reported in financial statements (book income). This was never a good idea.

It was tried in 1986 and eliminated in 1989. It was too complex to administer and comply with – nothing has improved on either front with the passage of time. It provided an incentive to distort the financial reporting for tax purposes; why would the United States want to do a U-turn on the progress made on this front in the aftermath of the Enron and Worldcom scandals? It also punished the wrong firms. The only legal way to get the effective rate down is to take advantage of things that Congress itself wrote into the tax code – accelerated depreciation and expensing, research and development tax credits, and so forth. Even advocates of the IRA acknowledged this was not good policy. It was softened to acknowledge depreciation deductions to reduce the hit on manufacturers and defended on the grounds that it would affect only 100 to 200 firms.

The Senate even tried to make it worse. On Saturday when the legislative text for the tax provisions was finally, and for the first time, made public, it contained a huge “gotcha.” Suppose that there were four firms, each with $300 million in book income, each of which had as a common majority investor an investment fund like a private equity. Under the IRA, these four firms would be deemed a $1.2 billion single firm, and subject to the 15 percent book tax.

This would have increased the number of affected firms dramatically, perhaps by as many as 15,000 to 20,000. But more important, it would have distorted much more economic activity and raised the headwinds to growth considerably. Fortunately, the provision was dropped during the debate, limiting the impact of the book tax.

In sum, the IRA won’t reduce inflation, is anti-growth, assaults innovation in the biopharma sector of the economy, and its climate provisions are poorly designed and puny relative to problem. As years pass, the IRA will appear less and less appealing. There may be political celebrating, but it is not a policy win.

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