The first official day of spring heralds the arrival of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which begins today and continues through April 14. There aren’t any blossoms yet — in fact, the National Park Service revised its peak bloom prediction to April 3-6 — but there are plenty of blossom-related events, beginning with tonight’s Pink Tie Party.
Time roughs up presidents. Photos of Barack Obama on Election Night 2008 look like they were taken much longer ago. Now his face has deeper creases and crow’s feet, while his hair has turned white. “You look at the picture when they’re inaugurated and four years later, they’re visibly older,” said Connie Mariano, White House physician from 1992 to 2001. “It’s like they went in a time machine and fast-forwarded eight years in the span of four years.”
Military and National Guard officials held a press conference to detail some of the 2014 Inauguration plans at the Armory in D.C., using a 40 by 60 foot map of the National Mall and its surrounding areas to plan logistics and staging.
Regular Fix readers know that we are BIG fans of the Patchwork Nation project — an attempt to go beyond the simplistic geographic or socioeconomic categories by which we slice and dice voters and instead develop a richer (and more accurate) way to view the various subsets of our American electorate.
So, when we saw a map of the 2012 presidential election results split into the 12 Patchwork Nation voter categories on the WNYC website we had to have it. Thanks to their good will, it’s reproduced below.
The last time the tax code got a deep clean was 1986. Since then, it’s been clogged back up with deductions, credits, and loopholes that have made tax time a burden for individuals and tax decisions distortive for businesses. Eliminating many of these special carve-outs would pay for a reduction in tax rates, deficit reduction, or perhaps even both.
But the minute one moves from that vague goal of making the tax code simpler into the knotty questions of what provisions of the tax code ought to be eliminated, the broad consensus breaks down. Should the next president limit the mortgage-interest deduction, and if so, by how much? Should he end the charitable deduction? What about the tax-free status of employer-provided health benefits?
The reason for trying to fill Romney’s tax plan—as opposed to Obama’s second-term plan—is that you can try filling the shortfall with a mix of tax cuts and tax increases of various types. It explores the different party approaches and their feasibility for the current budget (setting aside the longer-term impact). WaPo and Ezra Klein offers three generalized packages but also the ability to select options in each category.
If only ballots included stuff like this, just for measuring support.
Despite a stunning drop in homicides in the District — from a peak of 482 in 1991 to 108 last year — murder remains a stubborn crime to solve and prosecute in the nation’s capital.
A Washington Post review of nearly 2,300 slayings in the city between 2000 and 2011 found that less than a third have led to a conviction for murder or manslaughter, although the numbers have improved in the past few years. More than 1,000 cases remain unsolved.
There are a lot of numbers and assertions in these statements by the president. We will primarily focus on the first statement, since it raises interesting questions of presidential responsibility.
But we do want to note the tax statement, since we seem to have a rare moment when Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney appear to agree. Here’s what Romney said on Tuesday: “I admit this, he has one thing he did not do in his first four years, he’s said he’s going to do in his next four years, which is to raise taxes.”
Generally, Republicans have argued (and the Supreme Court agreed) that Obama’s health-insurance mandate is a tax. The health-care law also included a number of taxes aimed mostly at the wealthy. But broadly speaking, Obama has reduced taxes for most Americans, so much so that the Congressional Budget Office says that effective tax rates are at their lowest point in three decades.
Hey, I think it’s election season, and you know what that means. It’s time to dig into campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission. The Washington Post gives you a view into the amount of money raised and spent in both camps, where it’s coming from and where it’s going. They start with the high-level aggregates, and as you scroll down, you get the time series, followed by the breakdowns for money raised.
The Washington Post has a fine graphic on swimming world records and the changing swimsuit, from speedo to full rubber body suit.
How often are lawmakers trading stocks of companies with a vested interest in the very legislation they over see? Pretty often, a new Washington Post analysis of OpenSecrets.org data and other records finds. Almost one in eight trades made by Congress between 2007 and 2010 intersected with legislation that could impact that company.
One-hundred-thirty members of Congress or their families have traded stocks collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars in companies lobbying on bills that came before their committees, a practice that is permitted under current ethics rules, a Washington Post analysis has found.
The lawmakers bought and sold a total of between $85 million and $218 million in 323 companies registered to lobby on legislation that appeared before them, according to an examination of all 45,000 individual congressional stock transactions contained in computerized financial disclosure data from 2007 to 2010.
The New England Journal of Medicine looks through 200 years of back issues to understand how we die differently.
Want to see how severely we humans are scouring the oceans for fish? Check out this striking map from the World Wildlife Fund’s 2012 “Living Planet Report.” The red areas are the most intensively fished (and, in many cases, overfished) parts of the ocean — and they’ve expanded dramatically since 1950:
The Obama administration releases a list of visitors who pass through the White House security gate every month. The database currently has more than 2.2 million entries for the period from January 2009 through Jan. 31, 2012.