Sunday, September 10, 2017

Heiress Apparent?

Grand Duchess Ivanka Donaldovna in Harper's Bazaar, 2007, via Time.
I never really know how serious I am talking about Emperor Trump and Grand Duchess Ivanka and so on, or when I call Ross Douthat a monarchist for that matter, but here's the Monsignor calling for Her Grace to succeed His Imperial Highness, not exactly with great enthusiasm, but remarkable equanimity, as a logical next development ("The Ivanka Way"):
in a White House where everything is inappropriate, Ivanka has been considerably less embarrassing than most, and in an administration whose populist agenda keeps misfiring, she has stayed surprisingly on target.
Trumpism as an ideology is on life support, but its 2016 success means that at some point, Trump will have a would-be ideological heir. It could be some enterprising Republican senator, some as-yet-unknown governor, even a political neophyte. Or it could be yet another celebrity with an aspirational brand, critics to her left and right, and an instinct for heterodox-but-popular ideas.
In our increasingly imperial republic, sometimes the most likely heir is already in the line of succession.
The Grand Duchess's heterodox-but-popular ideas Ross cites because they "reminded me of Ivanka’s father’s 2016 approach to many questions—the Trumpian habit of ignoring the ideological assumptions around an issue, and groping toward views that more Americans might be likely to support" are

  • when she proposed splitting up Planned Parenthood into two separate organizations, one providing abortion services and the other doing all the other things PP does, so that the latter would be an organization that His Altitude and the Republican Congress would be willing to fund, and
  • when she suggested increasing the $1000-per-child tax credit for parents 100% or more, giving beneficiaries the money by subtracting it from their monthly payroll tax
which would mean you couldn't get the whole $1500 additional money per child unless you were paying that much in Social Security and Medicare tax (which is $3,825 for the median income of $50,000).

In Politico, I read on the tax proposal that
Trump, who has been working with Sen. Marco Rubio’s office to develop the policy details, indicated that she would like to see the child tax credit double from its current level of $1,000 annually to at least $2,000 — with the extra money routed to taxpayers by reducing the amount of payroll taxes they pay.
Where "working with Rubio's office" means getting the policy details by email, because Rubio and Mike Lee have been hawking this proposal since early 2015, based on one of those loony conservative double-taxation theories, the theory of the Parent Tax Penalty: if you're raising kids, the theory goes, they will one day get jobs and start paying payroll taxes themselves, so by feeding them you are ensuring future revenues to Social Security and Medicare, so why shouldn't you get a break on your own payroll tax? No evidence the duchess knows that, though I'd think Ross might. And certainly no evidence she's some kind of policy thinker: this is something she simply went shopping for, and Little Marco was having a sale.

It's also a particularly horrible proposal, too, as Elizabeth Bruenig explained in The New Republic back then, explicitly designed to give no benefits to the poorest 20% of the population:
According to [the plan's architect, Robert] Stein, the plan is intentionally "not designed to encourage fertility in the poor over and above what we already do," meaning that its disproportionate boost to the wealthy is a piece of social engineering, not an unintended facet of the policy. But this sort of deprivation is deeply at odds with the stated Parent Tax Penalty rationale. After all, poor parents raise children that go on to pay payroll taxes and therefore suffer the Parent Tax Penalty. Yet under this plan, they receive little to no relief from that monetary penalty—lest they find it easier to give birth and raise children.
Because the plan is specifically designed to penalize poor families and their children, it incidentally penalizes traditional families (defined as those with a single breadwinner and a stay-at-home parent), young families, and large families as well.
Like the Duchess's previous proposal for helping out the working mom, tax writeoffs for day care and preschool, it benefits only the older, wealthier parents. How Douthat thinks it might be "popular" I don't know.

The idea for Planned Parenthood spinning off its abortion activities is lousy too, of course; PP was indeed responsible for 328,348 abortions last year, as Ross is eager to remind us, but note that that's just over 500 abortions a year for each of its 650 centers, or less than two per day, and as is always noted, 3% of the total services PP provides, including 226,254 well-woman exams, 293,799 pap smears, 321,700 breast examinationss, 767,830 emergency contraception kits (averting an estimated 557,672 pregnancies), provision of reversible birth control to 1,936,360 women, and administration of STI (sexually transmitted infection) tests to 3,559,075 women and men, including 654,218 HIV tests.

Putting it another way, demand for PP abortions alone could only support about 20 spun-off abortion clinics nationwide, or no clinics at all in a majority of states, a desperate loss of accessibility, especially for women in rural areas.

The idea is also not original with Ivanka; it goes back to at least 2011, when a group of Indiana state legislators put it forward as a way of allowing them to give PP some money over then-governor Mitch Daniels's brutal defunding plan. It's even not wholly inconceivable that one of the stops on the idea's way to Ivanka is none other than Monsignor Ross Douthat, since Douthat wrote in August 2015 (at the time when he and his friends were pushing the false story of PP's goulish traffic in aborted baby parts, for which deception David Daleiden and his confederates are now facing 15 felony charges, but Ross Douthat still has a job),
It is not the pro-life movement that’s forced Planned Parenthood to unite actual family planning and mass feticide under one institutional umbrella. It is not the Catholic Church or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the Southern Baptist Convention or the Republican Party that have bundled pap smears and pregnancy tests and HPV vaccines with the kind of grisly business being conducted on those videos. This is Planned Parenthood’s choice; it is liberalism’s choice; it is the respectable center-left of Dana Milbank and Ruth Marcus and Will Saletan that’s telling pro-life and pro-choice Americans alike that contraceptive access and fetal dismemberment are just a package deal...
Or, as translated into the less strangled diction of Phil Lawler at,
As Douthat observes, there’s no reason why the two PP services—the abortion service and the contraceptive service—need to operate under one institutional roof. The abortion business brings in millions of dollars: in payments from the women who procure abortions, from their health-insurance carriers, from the profiteers who traffic in the organs of dismembered babies. It’s the contraception business that needs public subsidy.
So why hasn’t Planned Parenthood split up into two different corporate entities: one handling abortions, and generating its own income; the other distributing contraceptives, relying on government support? That would be the obvious solution IF Planned Parenthood was what it claims to be...
So both those so-called ideas are among the most Republican, indeed Douthatian ever. Maybe Ross is interested in a job if and when the duchess ascends the throne—he could be her cardinal, the court's Gray-Green Eminence.

The Pirate Princess, from somebody's Pinterest.

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