September 25, 2014

In America, a rising economic tide lifts all boats, right? Not anymore. Pavlina Tcherneva, an economist at Bard College, plotted the distribution of income growth between the bottom 90 percent and the top 10 percent during economic expansions in the United States. The red bars are the richest 10 percent of people, the blue bars are everyone else:

Now, this is only economic expansions, which explains the wonky interval choices at the bottom — 1974 is missing, for example, because that whole year was taken up by recession. Those recessions would also probably claw back some of the rich's income gains, since they get a lot of income from financial assets which crash in price during recessions (see p. 8 here).

But the trend here is undeniable. Economic expansions are supposed to be when the American economy distributes the fruits of growth to everyone. And that used to be true! But slowly and steadily the rich have gained on everyone else. They advance almost regardless of which party is in control of government — Reagan speeds it up, while Clinton slows it down, but not by very much.

Most staggering of all, during our current economic expansion, the bottom 90 percent is posting an average income decline. Not only is the rising tide not lifting everyone equally, it's actually distributing less than nothing to nine-tenths of the population, on average. Ryan Cooper

9:31 a.m. ET

The New York Times editorial board dished up some advice for the Clinton family Tuesday: Step away from the Clinton Foundation now. Hillary Clinton has already pledged to completely ban all contributions to the foundation from "any foreign governments, corporations, or citizens," as well as donations from American corporations. But if she wins in November, The New York Times recommends that the Clinton family do more — and sooner — to save herself the trouble she'll inevitably face from her political foes:

Mr. Clinton has said he will resign from the board of the foundation and the CHAI board if Mrs. Clinton wins the presidency. Simply closing the foundation, as even some Democrats recommend, could kill programs helping tens of thousands of people. While that's unwarranted, the foundation could do much more to distance itself from the foreign and corporate money that risks tainting Mrs. Clinton's campaign. Its plans to restrict its funding sources only after the election will likely dog Mrs. Clinton.

A wiser course would be to ban contributions from foreign and corporate entities now. If Mrs. Clinton wins, Bill and Chelsea Clinton should both end their operational involvement in the foundation and its affiliates for the duration of her presidency, relinquishing any control over spending, hiring, and board appointments. [The New York Times]

Clinton has already caught flak for not drawing stark enough lines between the Clinton Foundation and herself during her tenure as secretary of state. The sooner she takes action to cut ties, the editorial board contends, the less chance there will be for the Clintons' two worlds to become further entangled. Read the full editorial over at The New York Times. Becca Stanek

8:50 a.m. ET
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Donald Trump does not need to do anything to help Camden, New Jersey, despite the fact that the city has more than twice as many homicides as Chicago, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Christie and other Republicans have blasted Chicago's Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel for "liberal policies," which they say have resulted in rampant homicides in the city. Emanuel "has refused to do anything about the fact that's there's over 2,000 of these incidents in a year," Christie said.

The homicide rate in Camden this year is at least 2.3 times what it is in Chicago; Camden has a homicide rate of at least 40 per 100,000, while Chicago, a much larger city, has a rate of 17 per 100,000 residents.

Still, while insisting Trump will make "safer streets," Christie said the Republican nominee needs to do "nothing" for the city of Camden.

Trump "doesn't have to worry about liberal policies in New Jersey" if he gets to the White House, Christie said. He needs to "worry about places like Chicago" instead. Jeva Lange

8:43 a.m. ET
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Hillary Clinton's big lead over Donald Trump took a tumble in this week's NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll. The latest national poll out Tuesday reveals that Clinton now leads Donald Trump 48 percent to 42 percent — a winning margin 2 points slimmer than the week before.

While Clinton has fallen 2 points, from 50 percent to 48 percent, Trump has stayed steady with his 42 percent support. Trump's support did, however, inch up among Independents who don't lean towards either party. Just two weeks ago, Trump dragged 8 points behind Clinton with this group, 40 percent to 32 percent. Now, he's behind by just 4 points.

The poll, which surveyed 24,104 adults across the U.S. from Aug. 22 to Aug. 28, has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percentage points. Becca Stanek

8:33 a.m. ET
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Over the last century, temperatures have risen at a rate 10 times faster than the historical average, NASA scientists have found. Temperature reconstructions fom NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revealed that, over the last 5,000 years, temperatures rose by about 4-7 degrees Celsius. But in the next century, NASA predicts the world will start warming at a rate "'at least' 20 times faster than the historical average," The Guardian reported.

NASA's Gavin Schmidt has lost confidence that temperature increases can remain below the 1.5C limit set just last year at the Paris climate accord. "In the last 30 years we've really moved into exceptional territory," Schmidt, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told The Guardian. "It's unprecedented in 1,000 years. There's no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination (of temperatures)."

And, Schmidt added, there's "no evidence it's going away and lots of reasons to think it's here to stay."

You can read more about the temperatures to come at The Guardian. Becca Stanek

8:09 a.m. ET

Taking care of simulator baby dolls has long been thought to dissuade young women from pregnancy, but according to a new study, caring for the dolls actually results in more teenage girls getting pregnant, CNN reports.

The baby simulator program includes workbooks, documentary viewing, four educational sessions, and required care of baby dolls that cry and need to be fed, burped, and rocked. The dolls, which cost about $900, also track how well a teen is caring for it.

The study looked at girls in Western Australia who both did and did not participate in the baby doll pregnancy curriculum; girls who did not instead received a more traditional course on pregnancy prevention. Of the girls taking care of the dolls, 8 percent had given birth and 9 percent had an abortion by the age of 20, compared to 4 percent who gave birth and 6 percent who had an abortion by the age of 20 in the standard course.

"It is definitely more than just a trend," the lead author of the study, Sally Brinkman, said. Researchers even accounted for factors like socioeconomic status, prior sexual experience or care for babies, and education, and discovered the trend remained. "Clearly, the program doesn't work."

The president and CEO of Realityworks, the company that makes the baby dolls, argued that the study "was not a representation of our curriculum and simulator learning modality, but the researchers' 'adaptation' and is consequently not reflective of our product nor its efficacy." Brinkman responded by saying the Australian study was "very similar" to what Realityworks recommends and that "I would be surprised to see a couple more educational sessions … make a difference on the results."

Still, it is difficult for researchers to understand exactly why the program backfires; it might have to do with the positive association and attention girls get from friends and family while caring for the fake babies. "It gives them confidence," Brinkman suggested. "They think, 'maybe it wasn't that bad. I could do this.'" Jeva Lange

7:53 a.m. ET
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Voters go to the polls Tuesday in Florida and Arizona, and two powerful incumbents — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) — face unusually strong primary challenges. McCain is expected to survive a long-shot bid to unseat him by State Sen. Kelli Ward (R), but is hoping for a big enough win to assuage doubts about his general election fight against Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a moderate Democrat with national party backing who is competitive with McCain in the polls. With the volatile electorate, and a GOP base that chose Donald Trump, McCain is expecting a clear win but bracing for a tighter-than-expected result. That has led to talk of this being the fight of his political life, which daughter Meghan McCain shot down on Twitter.

Wasserman Schultz, who stepped down as Democratic National Committee chairwoman amid leaked emails suggesting DNC favoritism for Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders, faces Tim Canova, a law professor endorsed by Sanders. Canova has raised $3.3 million, outpacing Wasserman Schultz. Florida Democrats will also choose between Rep. Patrick Murphy and Rep. Alan Grayson to determine which one faces Sen. Marco Rubio (R), expected to win his GOP primary on Tuesday. Democratic leaders are hoping Murphy wins. Peter Weber

7:49 a.m. ET
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Forty Republican insiders have been invited to a "look inside" the Donald Trump presidential transition effort, but exclusive access to the information will cost them a $5,000 donation, Politico has learned. The event at Bernard's Inn in Bernards, New Jersey, is hosted by Gov. Chris Christie and offers "an inside look on the work underway on planning for the transition," according to the invitation.

The $5,000 cost for the peek goes toward the transition effort, not Trump's campaign, and is not disclosed until "after the inauguration of the president-elect as president." Jeva Lange

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