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May 13, 2006

ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING IT -- Drezner, McArdle, even Bainbridge -- so I'll take the Atrios/Drum "are you a liberal" test, too. The questions (in bold) and my answers appear below:

1) Repeal the estate tax repeal: I've never cared much about the Estate Tax, one way or another. Score me a weak no.

2) Increase the minimum wage and index it to the CPI. Nope. Drezner invokes wage-price spirals; I see this (like the Estate Tax is for both sides) as basically an issue of political demagoguery. It either does nothing (as now, when even most entry-level jobs are above minimum wage) or it does harm.

3) Universal health care (obviously the devil is in the details on this one). Drezner: "Do free ponies come with this one?" The current health insurance system sucks; turning it into a government monopoly will increase, rather than decrease, the overall level of suckage. I'd change the tax law to eliminate the more favorable treatment of employer-provided healthcare, and probably try to reduce legal barriers that make a true market difficult.

4) Increase CAFE standards. Some other environment-related regulation. Nope. The market will take care of this stuff. Government research on more-efficient technologies (or better batteries!) is okay. Stuff like ethanol, etc., looks more like vote-buying from farmers and corporate welfare to agribusiness to me.

5) Pro-reproductive rights, getting rid of abstinence-only education, improving education about and access to contraception including the morning after pill, and supporting choice. On the last one there's probably some disagreement around the edges (parental notification, for example), but otherwise. I'm basically in agreement here, though I agree with Megan that this question is a bit fuzzy. Abortion, as Dave Kopel and I have argued at length, shouldn't be considered a federal issue at all; regulation of pre-viability abortion, at least, is probably also outside a reasonable construction of state powers (as many state supreme courts have held). I think that abstinence-only education is a waste of money, and tends to veer into religious indoctrination.

6) Simplify and increase the progressivity of the tax code. Hmm. The tax code could certainly be simplified, but it's hard to do that while increasing progressivity. At any rate, given that people in the bottom half of the earnings distribution pay almost no federal income tax, we're pretty far along that road already.

7) Kill faith-based funding. Certainly kill federal funding of anything that engages in religious discrimination. In principle, I support this. In practice I note that when you look at who was providing relief after Katrina, there's not much in the way of secular humanism to be found. Churchy people seem better at helping the sick and dispossessed; non-churchy people probably get a disproportionate share of NEA grants. I can live with both.

8) Reduce corporate giveaways. I'm tempted to disagree just to be contrarian. But sure. Who could disagree with it when it's phrased this way? (Bainbridge: "Sure. Include the giveaways to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, however.")

9) Have Medicare run the Medicare drug plan. Here, I agree with Drezner: "Hell, no. Just kill the motherf#$er."

10) Force companies to stop underfunding their pensions. Change corporate bankruptcy law to put workers and retirees at the head of the line with respect to their pensions. No. As Drezner and McArdle note, this question betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation.

11) Leave the states alone on issues like medical marijuana. Generally move towards "more decriminalization" of drugs, though the details complicated there too. Leave the states alone in general. Drop federal laws on drugs in general -- except antibiotics, since their misuse has the greatest potential to harm innocent third parties.

12) Paper ballots. Oh, please. I was way ahead of the curve on this one.

13) Improve access to daycare and other pro-family policies. I agree, but probably not in an Atrios-friendly way. How about this: Federally override most state and local licensing and zoning laws to make daycare centers easier to open and operate. Most of those rules don't have much to do with protecting children anyway. (Federalize! That's a "liberal" solution, right? Er, but it's deregulation, so . . . Anyway, I'm pretty sure that what the question really envisions is taxpayer-subsidizd daycare, or even federally run daycare, and I'm against those.)

14) Raise the cap on wages covered by FICA taxes. I'd rather phase out Social Security entirely, in favor of a private pension system.

15) Marriage rights for all, which includes "gay marriage" and quicker transition to citizenship for the foreign spouses of citizens. I'd go farther: Separate marriage and state, and make it a matter of private contract only. On immigration -- I'm not sure how that would play out.

16) Undo the bankruptcy bill enacted by this administration. Already there. Though I thought it was Congress that enacted the bill, not the Administration, and that it did so with a lot of bought-and-paid-for Democratic support, to go along with the bought-and-paid-for Republican support. . . .

Anyway, there you are. Am I a liberal? Score this as you like.