Five of the Best

The top five pieces on the death of Ted Kennedy

The New Republic's Sean Wilentz reflects on Kennedy's political durability and tenacity:

The sadness, the squandering, the might-have-beens of his life would have crushed others, but Kennedy endured, his principles intact. Of him, it could be written, in Yeats's words, that "[b]eing Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy".

The New York Times's Sarah Wheaton discusses the complex process for electing a successor to Kennedy. In 2004 Massachusetts law was amended to prevent the state governor appointing a temporary replacement and the wait for a special election may hinder the Democrats' attempts to muster the necessary votes for health-care reform.

When Senator John Kerry, a Democrat, was running for president in 2004, the Democratic-controlled state legislature wanted to deny the governor at the time -- Mitt Romney, a Republican -- the power to name a successor if Mr Kerry won. The resulting law requires a special election within 145 to 160 days after the vacancy occurs.

The Guardian's Michael White argues that Kennedy represented the "redemptive power of American life" despite his dark side:

I remain a stubborn believer in the redemptive capacity of American public life. Health-care reform, the parallel battle over climate change, the unravelling of the Bush administration's torture policies . . . It is currently very tough, but this is also evidence of the United States's enduring ability to repair its own mistakes.

Ted Kennedy was born to privilege and screwed it up. But he went a long way towards repaying his debts.

Steve Clemons writes in the Huffington Post that Kennedy was the "last lion" of the United States Senate:

Senator Kennedy's political franchise had no rival in the legislative branch of government, and the youngest brother of the Kennedy political trio may very well have been the very best "Executive Legislator" this country has ever seen.

Over at Salon, Joan Walsh rebukes Senator Orrin Hatch for suggesting that Kennedy would have sponsored a bipartisan health-care bill:

That's completely dishonest. If Kennedy moved hearts and minds in the Senate, it would be by moving Republicans towards sanity. Since I don't believe Republicans have any interest in bipartisan compromise, a healthy Ted Kennedy would be kicking Republican asses.

 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The 5 things the Tories aren't telling you about their manifesto

Turns out the NHS is something you really have to pay for after all. 

When Theresa May launched the Conservative 2017 manifesto, she borrowed the most popular policies from across the political spectrum. Some anti-immigrant rhetoric? Some strong action on rip-off energy firms? The message is clear - you can have it all if you vote Tory.

But can you? The respected thinktank the Institute for Fiscal Studies has now been through the manifesto with a fine tooth comb, and it turns out there are some things the Tory manifesto just doesn't mention...

1. How budgeting works

They say: "a balanced budget by the middle of the next decade"

What they don't say: The Conservatives don't talk very much about new taxes or spending commitments in the manifesto. But the IFS argues that balancing the budget "would likely require more spending cuts or tax rises even beyond the end of the next parliament."

2. How this isn't the end of austerity

They say: "We will always be guided by what matters to the ordinary, working families of this nation."

What they don't say: The manifesto does not backtrack on existing planned cuts to working-age welfare benefits. According to the IFS, these cuts will "reduce the incomes of the lowest income working age households significantly – and by more than the cuts seen since 2010".

3. Why some policies don't make a difference

They say: "The Triple Lock has worked: it is now time to set pensions on an even course."

What they don't say: The argument behind scrapping the "triple lock" on pensions is that it provides an unneccessarily generous subsidy to pensioners (including superbly wealthy ones) at the expense of the taxpayer.

However, the IFS found that the Conservatives' proposed solution - a "double lock" which rises with earnings or inflation - will cost the taxpayer just as much over the coming Parliament. After all, Brexit has caused a drop in the value of sterling, which is now causing price inflation...

4. That healthcare can't be done cheap

They say: "The next Conservative government will give the NHS the resources it needs."

What they don't say: The £8bn more promised for the NHS over the next five years is a continuation of underinvestment in the NHS. The IFS says: "Conservative plans for NHS spending look very tight indeed and may well be undeliverable."

5. Cutting immigration costs us

They say: "We will therefore establish an immigration policy that allows us to reduce and control the number of people who come to Britain from the European Union, while still allowing us to attract the skilled workers our economy needs." 

What they don't say: The Office for Budget Responsibility has already calculated that lower immigration as a result of the Brexit vote could reduce tax revenues by £6bn a year in four years' time. The IFS calculates that getting net immigration down to the tens of thousands, as the Tories pledge, could double that loss.

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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