Thursday Edition


1. What Gay Marriage Backlash Is Really About

Bubba’s Two Cents: Republican support for same-sex marriage had been steadily climbing for decades until dipping recently. Did conservatives suddenly become less tolerant of gay relationships? That’s one way to see it, but it’s likely a reaction to the culture war heating up. LGBT activists have undeniably gotten more radical on certain issues, like gender ideology, and that’s provoked a backlash.

New data from the Public Religion Research Institute shows the share of Americans who back same-sex marriage dropped two points (69% to 67%) from 2022 to 2023 –– the first decline in nearly a decade. (The Hill)

  • From 2014 and 2015 (just before a Supreme Court decision made same-sex marriage legal nationwide), support for gay marriage dipped slightly (54% to 53%).

While the PRRI survey wasn’t broken down by party, a recent Gallup poll found a 7-point drop in acceptance of same-sex relationships was mostly driven by Republicans. The share of Republicans who said they agreed with same-sex relationships fell from 56% in 2022 to 41% last year. This cuts against a longstanding trend that’s seen GOP voters become much more tolerant of gay marriage.

Majorities of Americans think discrimination against transgender people is wrong. But polling shows a growing share of the public is uncomfortable with the LGBT movement’s more fringe beliefs. A recent New York Magazine essay from writer and transgender activist Andrea Long Chu (in which she admits even liberals have reservations about gender ideology) captures the kind of radical thinking that’s freaking out a lot of people, especially conservatives.

Chu: “We must be prepared to defend the idea that, in principle, everyone should have access to sex-changing medical care, regardless of age, gender identity, social environment, or psychiatric history.”

2. We Are So F***ed on Social Security

Bubba’s Two Cents: Social Security in its current form won’t last much longer. The growing imbalance between the number of people who receive Social Security and the number of taxpayers has led critics to describe the system as a Ponzi scheme. On the other hand, calling for even moderate reforms (such as raising the minimum Social Security age) is on par with committing political suicide. This leaves us with questions instead of answers and a ticking clock.

Social Security is a hot topic in the news right now. (Mediaite)

Earlier this week, Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro caught a ton of flak online for saying the eligibility age is too low.

On Monday, former President Trump suggested he’d be open to making cuts to Social Security and other entitlements. After some blowback, a campaign spokeswoman walked back the comments, saying Trump was “clearly talking about cutting waste, not entitlements.”

The Trump and Shapiro incidents show why most politicians don’t want to go anywhere near the Social Security issue. But a good deal of evidence suggests the system is pretty strained already, and it’s just getting worse. Take the decades-long decline in the ratio of workers to Social Security beneficiaries:

What Milton Friedman said about Social Security in 1999: “Taxes paid by today's workers are used to pay today's retirees. If money is left over, it finances other Government spending — though, to maintain the insurance fiction, paper entries are created in a ‘trust fund’ that is simultaneously an asset and a liability of the Government. When the benefits that are due exceed the proceeds from payroll taxes, as they will in the not very distant future, the difference will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing, creating money or reducing other Government spending. And that is true no matter how large the ‘trust fund.’“

3. The CDC’s Public Image Problem

Bubba’s Two Cents: Journalists, academics, medical professionals and other elites have gone blue in the face warning us about the dangers of right-wing conspiracies and disinformation. And sure, a lot of the stuff coming out of the right is pretty crazy (and weird). But in recent years, the “experts” have gotten a lot of things wrong and made some awful judgment calls. If you’re going to be the adult in the room, your credibility is paramount, otherwise, people are going to turn to alternative sources.

The CDC wildly overestimated the maternal mortality rate because of flaws in the data, according to a new study. (CNN)

Twenty years ago, many hospitals added a pregnancy checkbox to death certificates. This led to many deaths being wrongly marked as pregnancy-related deaths. The study found that from 1999 to 2021, the real death rate was 10.4 women per 100,000, not 32.9 as the CDC claimed.

Steven Clark, an OB-GYN at Baylor College of Medicine: “I think it's a very important study – I was happy to see it. It confirms statistically what most of us who actually deal with critically ill pregnant women on a regular basis thought for years. We are bombarded with these statistics saying how horrible maternal care is in the United States, and yet we just don't see it.”

American trust in institutions had already been falling, but the pandemic led to a big decline in confidence in scientists and health officials. A Pew Research Center poll last year found only 23% of people have a “great deal” of confidence in scientists (a 16-point decline since 2020). Trust in the CDC fell 10% during the pandemic.

4. Argentina’s Capitalism-Loving Wild Man

Bubba’s Two Cents: With his flamboyant personality, provocative rhetoric and tantric sex coach past, it would be easy to dismiss Argentine President Javier Milei as an entertaining yet unserious kook. But the guy appears to know his stuff when it comes to free market economics, and perhaps more importantly, seems genuinely committed to implementing some pretty transformative reforms. Can “El Loco” actually turn the country around?

It’s still early days, but Milei’s deregulation measures are already chipping away at Argentina’s economic crisis. (AP)

Inflation was out of control when Milei took office, but it’s eased up for two consecutive months. Argentina's monthly inflation rate slowed to 13.2% in February, down from 20.6% in January and 25.5% in December. Despite recent slowdowns, annual inflation reached 276.2% in February, the highest level in 30 years.

Milei’s war on big government: Since taking office, Milei has fired 5,000 government workers, cut the number of government ministries in half and lowered the peso’s value so it lines up with the market rate.

5. The Corporate Tax Rate Tradeoff

Bubba’s Two Cents: For now, let’s put aside debates about whether we should increase taxes on corporations for moral reasons (aka reducing wealth inequality). What’s the likely impact if President Biden raises corporate tax rates to what they were before Donald Trump reduced them? Well, the government gets more revenue when you hike taxes on corporations, but you miss out on investment into the economy and wage gains for workers.

On Monday, Biden released a budget which would raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. (NYT)

Biden's budget aims to cut the deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years through revenue raised by tax increases on companies and the wealthy. According to a Tax Foundation analysis, “economic research has consistently shown, corporate taxes are among the most damaging types of revenue raisers, disincentivizing investment and reducing long-run wages for workers.” Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

A new study found Trump’s corporate tax cuts increased U.S. investment and provided workers with an average wage gain of about $750 per year.

  • Investment spurred by the cuts grew the American economy by about 0.1% each year.

  • On the other hand, the tax cuts didn’t end up paying for themselves as Trump claimed, and will reduce corporate tax revenues by 40% over a decade.

  • That means they’re adding more than $100 billion annually to the national debt, which now exceeds $34 trillion.

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