Kevin Glass talks to writers and analysts of all political persuasions to suss out why they take the positions they do and to challenge them from a different P.O.V.
On Rational Actors, Kevin and Alex discuss the GOP’s tactics vs. its strategy on the shutdown and debt ceiling. Are Republicans just grandstanding over the debt limit, as Obama did when he was a senator? What would happen if the debt ceiling was actually breached? They discuss public reaction to the shutdown, and fault the White House’s media strategy. Alex argues that good government reforms, like banning earmarks, have unintentionally created Congressional dysfunction. But is this crisis actually the fault of American democracy itself?
On Rational Actors, Kevin and Stephen consider whether economics is a science. Stephen outlines the disagreements between behavioral economists and experimental economists. Is the “rational actor” theory alive and well? Stephen makes the case for government gridlock, and Kevin wonders whether the current gridlock is exactly what the American people want.
On Rational Actors, Kevin and Travis discuss the significance of the NFL’s concussion settlement. They note that superstar salaries are not representative of the average NFL player’s career. Are rules changes fair to retired players who won’t directly benefit? Is youth football threatened by growing public awareness of the health risks? Is there any way to build a safer football helmet? How does the NFL Players Association compare with unions in others sports, such as basketball or baseball? Finally, they discuss the politics of sports and congressional involvement in labor disputes.
On Rational Actors, Kevin and Francesca discuss voter ID and the Justice Department’s lawsuit to overturn Texas’s recently implemented law. Are left and right having an honest conversation about the benefits and drawbacks of voter ID? Is the GOP shooting itself in the foot by pursuing these laws? Francesca outlines President Obama’s proposals to make college more affordable. But will anything actually get done? And are too many people going to college in the first place?
On Rational Actors, Kevin and Jim start off by discussing President Obama’s proposal to reform the housing market. Kevin notes that by praising renting, Obama is rejecting Bush’s vision of an “ownership society,” which many conservatives came to reject as well. They discuss how the popular view of the financial crisis as a morality tale prevented government action on behalf of irresponsible homeowners. What are the political prospects for reform? Kevin wonders whether predictions that the sequester would tank the economy have been proven false. If we take Republicans’ goal of reducing the long-term deficit seriously, what are politically feasible alternatives to sequestration?
On Rational Actors, Kevin asks Ben to explain libertarian populism. How is it different from other kinds of reform conservatism? What does libertarian populism have to offer middle- and working-class voters? Ben points toward a number of areas ripe for reform: the payroll tax, farm and energy subsidies, and big banks. Would the GOP base accept a more progressive tax code? Kevin and Ben next discuss the changing media landscape, where ad-supported models are collapsing while paid subscriptions are on the rise. Plus: What Glenn Beck, Andrew Sullivan, and Netflix have in common.
On Rational Actors, Kevin and Zack discuss Rand Paul’s embattled aid Jack Hunter and his defense of the Confederacy. They explore the intellectual divisions among libertarians and how they affect Paul’s presidential ambitions. Are neo-Confederates by definition racists? Moving on to agricultural policy, they debate the House GOP’s decision to separate food stamps from farm subsidies. Kevin suggests Republicans are more influenced by the farm lobby than by grassroots conservatives. Zack accuses Republicans in Congress of having no interest in legislating.
On the debut episode of Rational Actors, Kevin and Ashe consider the GOP’s divisions on the immigration reform bill. Was the bill rushed too quickly through the Senate? What can conservatives do to promote high-skilled legal immigration? Turning to Texas, they discuss the huge response to Wendy Davis’s filibuster of a conservative abortion bill. Ashe argues that pro-life conservatives should make their case in terms of safety, referring to the infamous Gosnell case. Plus: Why can’t the House pass a farm bill?