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A few quick hits:

  • The Economist’s Erica Grieder is at a Sarah Palin rally in Houston and reports that she’s a lot better in person talking to an adoring crowd than she is on television being grilled by skeptical journalists. (And who wouldn’t be, after all?) But there’s also this: “Although Mrs Palin often attacks other politicians and says that her policies would be better than theirs, she doesn’t welcome debate, and her preferred oppositional strategy is abrupt withdrawal. Think about the resignation from the Oil & Gas commission and from the statehouse, or her choice to “go rogue” rather than convince the McCain campaign of the merits of her approach. That’s how you get 30% of the vote, not 51%.”
     
  • A state department SUV plowed into a Daily Caller reporter last week. Result: a broken left knee, lacerations, bruises, and a ticket for jaywalking. Nice.
     
  • Healthcare premiums paid by employers aren’t taxed. This lowers its effective cost, and simple economics says that it therefore increases consumption of employer-based healthcare. Austin Frakt is trying to figure out how much less healthcare we’d consume if we did away with its tax subsidiy, and comes up with a rough guess of $100 billion per year. “And that’s the price tag of health reform.” So we’d spend less and the government would get an additional revenue stream. That’s why so many of us like the idea of the excise tax, which is basically a start at taxing employer healthcare premiums like ordinary income.
     
  • Felix Salmon reports that Citigroup plans to start selling risk protection against a financial crisis. What could possibly go wrong?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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