This Economics Professor Thinks College Is Useless

Bryan Caplan may make his living in higher education – but for the most part, he believes that education is a useless experience.

On today’s show, the author of “The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money” explained why college is about conforming, not learning.

“If you really think about all the classes … throughout your life, how many can you safely forget after the final exam?” Caplan asked. “And why do employers care?”

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: So I personally think that the world is changing so fast, that -- that you're not going to recognize it in ten to 15 years. Your kids. If you have a five or 6-year-old, they probably will never have a driver's license.

Maybe that's a little early. But, you know, if they come of age at 2030 or so, they're probably not going to have a driver's license. They won't probably believe that you were ever allowed to drive a car, at some point.

Things are changing are just the car industry, with Uber. What's going to happen to the taxi jobs with Uber? What's going to happen with the Uber jobs, with self-driving cars, with self-driving trucks? That's 5 percent of the workforce. What do we do on education?

I have been reading a lot lately on -- on high-tech. And the book I'm currently working on is life 3.0. Being human in the age of artificial intelligence. And it is really good because of the questions half an hour in it.

But it talks a little bit about educating your kids. And there are three things for the future that, if you want your child to be successful, there are three things that you really need to focus on.

One, does their future job, the thing they want to do, does it require interacting with people and using social intelligence? Because robots are not going to be able to do that. Computers can't do that. They can be an accountant. They can be a driver. But they're not going to be -- they're not going to have social intelligence yet. And they're also not going to be great with interacting with people. So you don't want to be the person that takes the x-ray or is the x-ray tech that is getting it ready for the doctor. You want to be the doctor.

Does it involve creativity and coming up with clever solutions? And does it require working with an unpredictable environment.

Those three things are what your kids -- you should be preaching to your kids and talking to your kids about on their future career or your future career. Those three things.

I contend that the current education system is -- it does require -- it is teaching people how to socially interact and use social intelligence.

But it is putting you in a box on that. Because it's killing the other two things. Does it require creativity and coming up with clever solutions?

No. There's no clever solutions. They'll tell you exactly what the answer is, and you dare not disagree. And the third one is, does it require working in an unpredictable environment? No. Every college is a safe zone.

We are killing the opportunity for our kids by using this kind of educational system. Now, there is a -- there is an actual professor, that is part of this institution, who has just written a new book, the case against education.

STU: Yeah, The Case Against Education from a professor. I love that. Bryan Caplan, he's the author of the book. He's an economics professor at George Mason University. And he joins us now.

GLENN: Bryan, how are you?

BRYAN: Doing fantastic.

GLENN: Very good.

How do you respond to those three questions and the idea that the educational system is teaching us to live in a box that no longer exists or will no longer exist?

BRYAN: Well, I mean, the truth is that the economy is changing much more slowly than people realize. The high tech sectors that you're talking about are only a small part of the economy. The world is changing a lot more between 1945 in the '70s, than it has in the last 30 years.

GLENN: So I'm specifically talking about the thinking creatively and thinking out of the box, to be able to adapt to whatever comes.

BRYAN: Yeah. Let me put it this way. You know, if we could do something much less than that, it would be a big improvement of what we have. I mean, right now, just to get kids able to read and write and do basic math would be an improvement for a lot of them. I mean, creativity, most jobs are not creative. So -- meaning, like it would be great for tech people to be creative. But if you could just get basic skills up to a reasonable level, that would be a lot better than what we have.

GLENN: So if you had a -- you know, a 10-year-old that you were raising now, are they --

BRYAN: I have an 8-year-old.

GLENN: You have an 8-year-old?

BRYAN: Yep.

GLENN: Are you preparing them for college as it is now?

BRYAN: Basically. So a lot of what I say in my book is that, even though the world is changing dramatically, colleges have been locked in the same system for about 1,000 years. And here's the amazing thing: Modern employers keep rewarding people with fancy college degrees, even though it doesn't seem like they're adapting to the modern world very well. And my main story is that the point of college isn't really to train people for the future anyway. It's more to jump through a bunch of hoops and show off and say, "Hey, look at me, I can do a lot of what most people can't do."

STU: This is the difference in the book. The difference between signaling and capital. Can you explain what those things are and what the difference is?

BRYAN: Yeah, sure. So human capital story is basically the one that parents and teachers and propaganda say about education. Which is, you go into school, and they pour skills into you. You learn reading, writing, math, all this great stuff. And at the end, you are a transformed child. You know how to do all these things. And then you're suddenly employable.

And obviously, there's something to that. But if you really think about all the class of these things throughout your life, how many can you safely forget after the final exam?

I mean, I don't know about you. But I think 75, 80, 90 percent of classes, once you're done with the final exam, you never need to know this stuff again. But then why do employers care? And that's where signaling comes in. It says, you know, whenever you do anything impressive, when you go and get an A in your Aristotle class or complete four years of Latin, or any accomplishment that's irrelevant to virtually any job you'll ever do, still when you put that on your transcript, employers look and say, wow, look at what this kid did. I think he's worthy of being trained to be a secretary.

STU: That is -- essentially, the education system as -- what it's signaling, designed to do, not to actually teach people things. But to be able to signal to employers that in theory, you're smart enough to do something else.

BRYAN: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly.

You start getting sorted. So think about this, there's two ways you can raise the value of a diamond. One is to be an expert gem smith who cuts it perfectly to make it great. The other one is to be the guy with that monocle on his eye. And he looks at it, and he goes, oh, look at this. This thing is a wonderful diamond. Yes, I'll put a Grade A sticker on it. A lot of what the education system does, is the second thing. They're not really cutting you and making you great. They're looking at you and putting a sticker on you and saying, see, this is worthy of being hired for certain kinds of jobs. And if you don't get the sticker, it's like, no, not good enough.

STU: Hmm.

GLENN: So there's -- there's another theory out there that has been popular. Called Common Core. Which this is, in my opinion, what Bill Gates was trying to solve. He was trying to put that sticker on you really early. By, you know, really watching you closely and then sorting you out for the right job.

I don't think that education is -- for me, education -- good education is not teaching me what to think, it's -- it's teaching me how to think. It's teaching me how to find answers.

And that's not what we're doing now. We're teaching answers. You learn them. You test them. You forget. And then you go and be a little worker bee.

That's not the future.

BRYAN: So, Glenn, you're being an optimist there. Even the idea that kids are learning a lot of stuff is really optimistic. So if you especially just look at what adults know about any of the substance they learned in school, they've forgotten almost all of it. So if you get an education system that actually durable taught them even a bunch of facts, that would be better than what we have. Sure, it would be great if we teach them how to think. But that's really a moon shot.

GLENN: So let's go there. I'll take a quick break. And then we'll come back. And tell me how bad the education system is. And then, what do we do about it? And I'm looking for much more simple answers. What do I do about it as a parent?

(music)

STU: You may have witnessed the first time anyone has ever come on the program and accused Glenn of being an optimist. We'll get back to that in a minute. It's Bryan Caplan. It's The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money.

GLENN: We have Bryan Caplan on. He is the author of the book The Case Against Education: Why the Education System is A Waste of Time and Money.

It's interesting to me or ironic that he is a university professor, and the book is published by Princeton Press. And he is saying, there's real problems here, and we need to have a discussion.

So let's talk a little bit about -- quickly, the problems of education and how bad they are.

BRYAN: All right. Well, I mean, if you just go and measure the literacy and numeracy of adults, say about a third to a half, are -- are -- their skills are so bad, you would almost call them illiterate enumerate. On the other hand, if you go over to college graduates, I would say that basically their literacy and numeracy, kind of what you would look for in high school graduates.

STU: That's a problem. That seems like that would be a problem.

GLENN: So --

BRYAN: Yeah. I mean, like the amazing thing is, I look out my window here in Philadelphia and see this amazing society. You know, how is it that we're able to get it done when people's skills are so poor?

And the truth is, most of the time, people learn on the job by practice. And most of what you fail to learn in school never comes up again anyway. So thank God for that.

GLENN: So MIT, for instance, you can audit every single class online for free.

BRYAN: Oh, yeah.

GLENN: If you did that, you make the case, that really wouldn't be -- that would be very useful in the current system because there's no little stamp of approval that says, MIT loves you. Right?

BRYAN: Yeah, that's exactly right. You didn't even have to wait for this. I never heard a professor that kicks out visitors. Professors love it when someone comes to their class. Someone actually wants to learn what I have to teach. This has never happened before. They get a tear in their eyes. But almost no one takes you up on this offer, because people don't really want the learning so much as that sticker.

STU: That is amazing. Because you talk about this with -- with graduation years, versus intermediate years. In your first and second year in college, is not as valuable as your graduate year.

But it's not like they're waiting until your last year of college, until they start teaching you things of value. It really does explain that the stamp of approval is really what we're looking for when we get into the system.

BRYAN: Yeah, exactly. This is true for high school. True for college. True for graduate school. It's crossing the finish line that has most of the reward. If you do 3.9 years of college and then give up, the labor market barely gives you anything. Your application still goes in the trash with the other applications of people who didn't finish college. But you just get right over that finish line, and then a lot of doors open up for you.

Which, again, would be very puzzling if the main thing that you were learning in school were your job skills. But if you're trying to show, hey, look at me. If you say -- want four years, I do what you say. When you say jump, I say how high, not how can I weasel out of this.

If you're that kind of person, then employers take you seriously. And, you know, striking if you go to countries where college lasts three years. Then, of course, it's the third year that really counts a lot. It's all just about what is the social expectation, and if the people who fulfill it, they look good, the world likes them, and employers like them -- and if you fall short, then, oh, no, you're not good enough.

GLENN: You, in fact, in the book said we need a lot less education. What do you mean by that?

BRYAN: Right. So if you just go back to 1945, back then maybe 25 percent of American adults finished high school, and yet back in those days, with a high school degree, you could become a manager. You could get all kinds of high status jobs. Now, of course, you can't. There's been quite a bit of research just looking at what's happened to the labor market over these last 70 years or so, is the main thing that's happened, is that jobs become more cognitively demanding. And now you need to have these college degrees to do the kind of work that we do today.

Whereas, the main thing that's happened, that for one in the same job, you need extra degrees in order to even get your foot in the door. And both stories are somewhat true. But the second story is the main story.

You know, now we have lots of waiters with college degrees. Bartenders with college degrees. Cashiers with college degrees. Parking lot attendants with college degrees.

And, you know, this is pretty bizarre if you think about it. It's like, do you really need these degrees to do the job? No, but if you want to go and get a job at a good restaurant now, for example, a college degree really helps.

GLENN: That's unbelievable. We'll come back and I'll start to apply this to our lives and our children, and what do we do about it?

Economics professor, George Mason. University. Author of the book, the case against education. Bryan Caplan, when we come back.

GLENN: Hello, America. Welcome to the program. So glad that you are here. We're spending a few minutes with Bryan Caplan. He's an economics professor. George Mason University. He's the author of The Case Against Education. And he's also going to be speaking today at the public library of Philadelphia. It's free. If you would like to, you know, get a free education. Today at 7:30.

So, Bryan, let me just speak for, I think, the average person in America, whether it is a parent, a person going to college or thinking about going to college -- we know the -- we don't know it like you do.

I mean, the stats that you lay out are -- are pretty frightening, of what -- of how bad education is right now. However, I think most people kind of know. Especially conservatives.

I think they send their kids saying, they're going to have all this debt. They're building water parks at universities now. They're not really getting a real education. In fact, I'm sending them almost against my will, because I'm afraid of what those professors and what these universities are going to teach my kids on social justice and all this nonsense. But every parent -- most of them will say the same thing -- but they've got to have a degree.

So what do we do right now? There's two questions: One, what do we do as a society? But let's start with, what do we do right now as a parent or somebody that has to go to college?

BRYAN: Right. Well, the first thing to ask yourself is, how good was your kid in high school?

The idea that every kid should go to college is -- makes sense if you can know for sure your kid can finish. But completion rates are shockingly low. So only about 40 percent of full-time students will finish a bachelor's degree in four years.

After five years, it's up to 55 percent to finish. But there's a really big chunk that just don't finish.

And as I was saying, if you don't finish and you don't get that diploma, then the payoff is really crummy. So I would say the very first thing is, was my kid good enough in high school, to think he's going to finish? Right now, I'd say for maybe a third to a half of students going to college, you know, the right answer is no.

In a way, you might say, well, thank goodness we don't have to pay for this stuff now. And then we need to look for something else for my kid to do, at least until he gets serious enough to start studying.

GLENN: I'm friends with Mike Rowe. And this is something that he has been fighting.

BRYAN: Oh, yeah.

GLENN: And that is this instinct. This knee-jerk answer. Well, it doesn't matter. They have to go to college. What, do you want them to be a janitor the rest of their life?

BRYAN: Oh, yeah. And, of course, there are tons of other jobs. Many of them high-paying that don't -- that, still, to this day, don't require college. Plumber, electrician. If you just go -- like you say, if you go through government statistics, what are high-paying jobs that don't require college? You know, there are still a lot of them. There are ones where especially upper middle-class families, they don't really know anyone who does these jobs anymore, so it's kind of hard for them to really visualize it. But they're out there.

If your kid is super bored sitting listening to some windbag go and talk about some abstract stuff, then, yeah, really you should look into getting your kid vocational education. And instead of pressuring him to do something that he's probably just has no interest in, find something that he has -- that actually engages him. And, of course, that doesn't require you to have four years of college debt, which is pretty crazy if your kid is going to drop out anyway.

STU: You break this into kind of the selfish return and the social return. Which is an interesting way of looking at it. Because you go through really the numbers of the selfish return on education, which a lot of times can turn out better, even financially for a lot of kids to not go to college. Because they don't have all that debt.

But can you talk a little bit about the social return? What's the actual path forward for us, when you're talking about policy and how to design an education system that actually works for the country.

BRYAN: Sure. So if you remember I was talking about human capital versus signaling. So there's the optimistic view that college is actually transforming you into a skilled and able adult. And then there's the not-so-optimistic view that I'm pushing, that most of it is just about putting a stamp on your forehead and saying, good enough to be trained. All right?

Now, selfishly speaking, it doesn't really matter why employers will reward you for getting your degree. Who really cares why they're doing it. But from the point of view of society, from the point of view of taxpayers, it makes a huge difference. Because if school is really actually remolding our youth into the skilled workers of the future, then it's making our whole society richer. But if the main thing you're doing is putting stickers on people's foreheads, you can't get rich by putting a bunch of stickers on people's heads. So there's really a saying, you're in the top 25 percent of the distribution. Then when you go and you encourage education, the main thing you do isn't get skilled workers. It just means you have to spend more and more years in school, just to get on to first base, just to go and start learning the job.

GLENN: Yeah. I will tell you, there's a lot of people that I have met -- and I'm in media. So it's slightly different. But nobody takes the college person seriously. Like, oh, you have some latest information. You've got some new. Okay. That's great. Watch. Because they usually don't walk into a job. They've got that great degree.

But they don't have any practical experience. They don't really have practical understanding, many times of what we're doing. It really is, okay. You're smart. So we'll train you from the beginning on how to do things.

BRYAN: Yeah. This really is one of the greatest frauds on campus. The communications major is enormous. And yet, every year, they graduate more communications majors than the total number of jobs in every kind of media that exists. So, you know, it's a major that you're preparing them through your job, Glenn. And yet, of course, you can't have a million kids get to be Glenn Beck.

STU: Nor do we want them, by the way. We don't want a million Glenn Becks, believe me.

GLENN: That's a really bad thing. Yeah. One is enough.

Nor do I know the people that really excel in media, really excel, you know, were the top of their class and the one that we just had to have from Harvard. That's generally not them.

BRYAN: Right. The nice thing about that entertainment is that there is a very clear market test, which is, do people actually watch you? Whereas, for a lot of jobs, being on a team, it's like, well, is this person really pulling their weight or not? So there's some confusion there.

And then -- you know, say you're not going to -- you're not going to keep someone employed just because you hired them and they're on the team, if you -- if they're on the radio. Whereas, for a lot of jobs, once you get hired, people will keep you there, at least until the next recession comes along. And they just, well, we got to get rid of somebody. So how about the person who is a huge disappointment?

STU: We're talking to Bryan Caplan, author of The Case Against Education: Why the Education System is a Waste of Time and Money.

Bryan, the way we've moved toward signaling, when it comes to universities, does that explain great inflation at some level, where we've seen back in the day, it used to be 10 or 15 percent of kids got A's in classes. And now it's sometimes 60 and 70 percent.

BRYAN: Yeah, that's a great question. So it's actually pretty weird when you think about it. Because if the main thing that college is doing is signaling, you might think that there would be a lot of pressure on us to really separate the great students from the good ones, from the not so good one.

GLENN: Hello. Oh, my gosh.

STU: Lost him there.

GLENN: There he is.

BRYAN: Professor to give out better grades.

STU: We lost you in the middle there. Can you give that to us one more time?

BRYAN: Right. So it has a lot more to do with universities are nonprofits, and the professors are regarded as basically artists. You can't tell them what to do.

And so, you know, if we really wanted to maintain the purity of the signal, we would have kept the high standards. But it's just so much easier for a professor to go and give high grades to everyone. And then the students don't complain. Since it's nonprofit, there's no one at the top saying, we must maintain our brand at all costs. You professors get in line. So I think that's more of what's going on.

STU: Because it seems like there's a series of incentives. Because if I'm now sending my kid to college because I want them to get that piece of paper, if at the end of this, where I've spent all of this money, I don't get that piece of paper, there's -- I'm not going to want to continue that process with the next kid. And it feels like there's an incentive for colleges to be able to push these people through and give them the piece of paper whether they want it or not, because that's all I'm really asking them for in the first place.

BRYAN: Yeah. I mean, that sounds right, until you take a look at the low graduation rates. If colleges really wanted to just pass people along, they would just cut standards even more than they already have. Which, it's a little scary to think about.

But, I mean, there is a point, where you say, how low can we have the standards, before the students -- before everyone will get over them? A lot of it is honestly just to get the students to even bother to show up in class. Typical college class has maybe 60 percent attendance on an average day. Forty percent, a lot of those kids are the ones that are not going to get it through. A reasonably good student can still squeak by, even not attending all that often. Standards are strangely low. And yet, there are many standard students that fall below even those low standards.

GLENN: If I could reflect what I think people feel for a second, Bryan, we -- we are concerned about the standards, obviously. We're concerned about the price. Because how do we or our kids afford this.

But we are also -- growing concern. And I hear this from the left as well. They are very concerned about the things like the freedom of speech and thought on campus. And it is becoming -- it feels as though it is becoming dangerous to the republic, to get this indoctrination sometimes. And when you're talking about all these problems, you're saying, we need to fix this.

From the inside of these powerful institutions, you're a freak. Aren't you? Or do others -- is there a movement inside to say, we have real problems, and we've got to change this.

BRYAN: So here's the thing. You know, professors vary very widely amongst themselves. Different departments are very different. So, here's the main thing I would say just to help people calm down a bit. Most professors are so boring, that the brainwashing doesn't work.

And most -- and attendance is so low, that a lot of the students are not hearing the stuff that you don't want them to hear. So, I mean, it's important to keep in mind, that, you know, when students -- even when they're getting a grade for the class and everything else, a lot of them just stay in the room and play video games. And -- and, like, even when they're in the classroom, their minds are wandering. They're not paying that much attention. So I agree that if you just look at the syllabi or if you just listen to a recording of many lectures, then you say, this is horrible. Kids are being taught this stuff. But the reasons to feel at least somewhat less bad about it, is if you were to go and turn the camera around and look at the face of the students and see how they're sleeping and not paying that much attention, and bored out of their minds. There is actual like empirical research where they try to see how much does college change students minds. And, you know, it doesn't seem to change them that much. Again, the kids you see on the news, those are the ones that -- it's a small minority of kids that really love this stuff and want to be activists. But most kids don't want to be activists. They want to play video games.

GLENN: I have a friend who is in college, and they sent a screenshot of one of their tests that happened in science, just last week.

Which of the following answers do you think characterizes the political views of the person to your right? He or she is the founder of the alt-left, leaning liberal, middle of the road, leaning conservative, founder of the alt-right. Your answer. The next one was: Which of the following answers characterize your political views?

I'm a founder of the alt-left, leaning liberal, middle of the road, leaning conservative, founder of the alt-right.

Can you, for the life of you, figure out what that has to do with science?

BRYAN: I mean, if I were in that class, I would be curious if the professor is trying to get on your show. You know, maybe they're saying, hey, I want to go and show how brainwashed these kids are. I mean, if you're brainwashing people, the last thing you want to do is call attention to the brainwashing. You just want to act, I'm not brainwashing them. It's just oxygen we're breathing here. It's not anything anyone someone should be paying attention to. So maybe it was an effort to politicize science. Although, maybe it was just the professor was curious about what kinds of kids he's teaching. I don't know.

GLENN: Bryan Caplan. He is the author of The Case Against Education: Why the Education System is a Waste of Time and Money.

And he is going to be speaking again tonight. The public library of Philadelphia. Tonight at 7:30. Thank you so much, Bryan. Good to talk to you.

BRYAN: All right. Fantastic to talk to you.

STU: Once again, he's going to be speaking at the free public library in the city of the Super Bowl champion, Philadelphia Eagles.

GLENN: At least according to Amazon --

STU: Alexa, that's right. Yeah. BCaplan.com. Or @Bryan_Caplan. I mean, really, if you want to dive in and really see what's happening to our education system, there's a lot of material. We only scratched the surface about.

GLENN: Really -- page 41 is terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.

STU: Yeah.

As we move along this endless primary season, we implement our first major adjustments to our power rankings model. Because of all the changes on the model itself, we'll keep the write ups short this week so that we can get an update posted before we hit the second round of debates.

There are now 40 separate measures of candidate performance which are summarized by the 0-100 score that helps us makes sense out of this chaos.We also have a new style of graphs, where the section highlighted in blue will show the progress (or lack thereof) made by each candidate over the life of their campaign.

In this update, we have our first campaign obituary, a couple of brand new candidates (when will it ever stop) and plenty of movement up top.

Let's get to it.

In case you're new here, read our explainer about how all of this works:

The 2020 Democratic primary power rankings are an attempt to make sense out of the chaos of the largest field of candidates in global history. Each candidate gets a unique score in at least thirty categories, measuring data like polling, prediction markets, fundraising, fundamentals, media coverage, and more. The result is a candidate score between 0-100. These numbers will change from week to week as the race changes. The power rankings are less a prediction on who will win the nomination, and more a snapshot of the state of the race at any given time. However, early on, the model gives more weight to fundamentals and potentials, and later will begin to prioritize polling and realities on the ground. If you're like me, when you read power rankings about sports, you've already skipped ahead to the list. So, here we go.

See previous editions here.

Campaign Obituary #1

The Eric Swalwell Campaign

California State Congressman

April 8, 2019 - July 8, 2019

Lifetime high: 20.2

Lifetime low: 19.5

I ended my initial profile on Eric Swalwell with this:

"There's a certain brand of presidential candidate that isn't really running for president. That's Eric Swalwell."

amp only placement

It's now more true than ever that Swalwell isn't running for president, because he has officially dropped out of the race.

To any sane observer, Swalwell never had a chance to win the nomination. This was always about raising his profile with little downside to deter him from taking money and building a list of future donors.

In one of many depressing moments in his FiveThirtyEight exit interview, he noted that one of his supporters told him he definitely thought he'd eventually be president, but it wasn't going to happen this time. (This supporter was not identified, but we can logically assume they also have the last name Swalwell.)

Swalwell did outline a series of reasons he thought his ridiculous campaign might have a chance.

  1. He was born in Iowa. After all, people from Iowa will surely vote for someone born in Iowa, even if they escaped as soon as possible.
  2. He had what he believed was a signature issue: pretending there was no such amendment as the second amendment.)
  3. He's not old.

It was on point number three where Swalwell made his last stand. In an uncomfortably obvious attempt to capture a viral moment that would launch his fundraising and polling status, Swalwell went after Joe Biden directly.

"I was 6 years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic Convention and said it's time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans. That candidate was then-Senator Joe Biden." This pre-meditated and under-medicated attack, along with Swalwell's entire campaign future, was disassembled by a facial gesture.

Biden's response wasn't an intimidation, anger, or a laugh. It was a giant smile that somehow successfully communicated a grandfathery dismissal of "isn't that just adorable."

Of course, headlines like this didn't help either:

Eric Swalwell is going to keep comparing the Democratic field to 'The Avengers' until someone claps

The campaign of Eric Swalwell was pronounced dead at the age of 91 days.

Other headlines:

Eric Swalwell ends White House bid, citing low polling, fundraising

Republicans troll Swalwell for ending presidential campaign

Eric Swalwell Latest 'Cringe' Video Brags About Omar Holding his 'White' Baby

Eric Swalwell's message to actor Danny Glover is 'the cringiest thing I've ever seen in a hearing'

Eric Swalwell's 'I Will Be Bold Without The Bull' Bombs

25. Joe Sestak 11.0 (Debut) Former Pennsylvania State Congressman

Joe Sestak is a former three-star admiral who served in Congress for a couple of years in the late 2000s. Besides his military service, his most notable achievement is figuring out a way to get Pat Toomey elected in a purple state.

With Arlen Specter finally formalizing his flip from Republican to Democrat in 2009, he was expected to cruise to reelection. However, Sestak went after him in the primary, and was able to knock him off in the by eight points. Sestak then advanced to face Republican Pat Toomey in the general election. He lost by two points during the Tea Party wave election of 2010.

Needless to say, losing to the former president of the fiscally conservative Club For Growth isn't exactly an accomplishment that is going to help Sestak in the Democratic presidential primary.

Unfortunately, with the current state of the party— his distinguished service in the Navy probably isn't helpful either.

Other headlines:

Joe Sestak on the issues, in under 500 words

Joe Sestak, latest 2020 candidate, says it's not too late for him to gain traction

Sestak aims to 'heal the soul of America' with presidential bid

Joe Sestak Would Move the US Embassy 'Back Out of Jerusalem'

24. Mike Gravel: 12.5 (Previous: 24th / 15.3) Former US Senator from Alaska

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Gravel was able to get celebrities and other candidates to send out pleas to raise funds in effort to get above 65,000 donations and qualify for the second debate.

We may never know if it was grift or incompetence, but Gravel probably should have known that crossing this line made no difference. He'll still be yelling at the TV when the debate starts.

Other headlines:

Gravel meets donor threshold to qualify for Democratic primary debate

Gravel spends a bit of cash to run an ad against Joe Biden in Iowa

Mike Gravel: Why the American People Need Their Own Legislature

Mike Gravel Is the Anti–Joe Biden

23. Wayne Messam: 12.7 (Previous: 23rd / 15.8) Mayor of Miramar, FL

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Messam has made no impact in this race so far, and has fundraising numbers that don't even get into the six digits, let alone seven. He's not really running a campaign at this point, so there's no real downside in staying in for now.

Other headlines:

Wayne Messam: Money Kept Me Out of the First Democratic Debate. Will It Keep Me Out of the Second?

22. Seth Moulton 17.2 (Previous 20th / 21.5) US Rep. from Massachusetts 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Seth Moulton is the invisible man on the campaign trail. Most people don't even know who he is when they're talking to him. His appeal to the Democratic party is heavily flavored with his military service and appeal to patriotism.

Good luck with that Seth.

Other headlines:

Moulton: Buttigieg Was a Nerd at Harvard

Moulton: Democrats shouldn't go on 'moral crusade' against Trump

Moulton talks reclaiming patriotism from Trump, Republicans

Moulton: 'Trump is going to be harder to beat than many Democrats like to believe'

Presidential candidates hear challengers' footsteps at home

21. Tim Ryan 18.4 (Previous: 18th / 24.3) US Rep. from Ohio

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Tim Ryan's first debate performance was so bad he lost about a quarter of his score with this update. He's not without a plan to get that support back though. He wants to bring hot yoga to the people.

Other headlines:

Tim Ryan on CNN: Trump 'clearly has it out for immigrants'

Ryan Falls Way Behind in Q2 Fundraising Race, New Poll

20. Marianne Williamson 20.7 (Previous: 21st / 20.6) Author, Lecturer, Activist

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Williamson is not going to be the nominee for the Democrats, but if you throw a debate watch party, she might supply the most entertainment. So much so, Republicans have started to donate to her campaign to keep her in future debates.

Other headlines:

"I call her a modern-day prophet": Marianne Williamson's followers want you to give her a chance

Williamson Uses Anime to Explain 2020 Candidate's Holistic Politics

What Marianne Williamson and Donald Trump have in common

Marianne Williamson's Iowa director joins John Delaney's 2020 campaign

19. John Hickenlooper 22.5  (Previous: 11th / 32.0) Former Gov. of Colorado 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Hickenlooper has been shedding campaign advisors at a relatively furious pace as he admits "there's just a bunch of skills that don't come naturally to me" when it comes to campaigning.

Probably best to pick another line of work.

Other headlines:

Hickenlooper defends campaign fundraising to The Onion: 'The race is wide open'

WP: 'You are who?' The lonely presidential campaign of John Hickenlooper

Gary Hart Warns John Hickenlooper Against Campaigning On Bipartisanship Message

Hickenlooper refuses to condemn protesters who hoisted Mexican flag at ICE facility

18. Michael Bennet 27.4 (Previous: 14th / 28.8) US Senator from Colorado

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Michael Bennet is a bit of a boring no name, but give him credit for actually trying to differentiate himself from the field. He's one of the only candidates willing to criticize his socialist opponents from the center, calling out the open borders crowd and student debt. Obviously this has no chance of success in the democratic party, but at least he's trying.

Other headlines:

George Will touts Bennet to beat Trump in 2020

Bennet: America doesn't know what the Democratic Party stands for

17. Steve Bullock 28.3 (Previous: 16th / 27.7) Gov. of  Montana 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Bullock's biggest moment of his campaign, and quite possibly his only important moment , will come in this round of debates. He missed the first round, but squeaks in for round two after Eric Swalwell decided to take his zero percent and go home.

Bullock has a theoretical argument that doesn't look half bad on paper, but it seems impossible for another "moderate*" to make noise with Biden still hanging around.

(*-None of these moderates are actually moderate.)

Other headlines:

For Democratic presidential hopeful Steve Bullock, it's all about the 'dark money'

Steve Bullock hates 'dark money.' But a lobbyist for 'dark money' donors is helping his campaign.

Steve Bullock looking to introduce himself as someone who won in Trump country

Bullock said he's not one to eliminate all student-loan debt

Steve Bullock raises $2 million for 2020 bid in second quarter, campaign says

Lowering of state flag at capitol draws criticism

15. John Delaney 29.5 (Previous 19th / 20.3) Former US Rep. from Maryland 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

The power ranking model likes Delaney more than voters seem to like him. He continues to pour his own money into the race and at some point you have to believe someone in his life stops him from setting his cash on fire.

He did steal a key advisor from Marianne Williamson's campaign, which doesn't seem like a path to success.

Other headlines:

Delaney: "Non-Citizens Are Not Covered By My 'Better Care' Plan, But…"

Delaney says he opposes decriminalizing border crossings

Undaunted by low polling, John Delaney keeps his show on the road

Delaney presidential campaign theme: fix what's broken, keep what works

14. Andrew Yang 30.0 (Previous: 15th / 28.3) Attorney and Entrepreneur 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Before the campaign started, if you would have said Yang would be in the middle of the pack at this point, he probably would be happy with that result. His embrace of quirky issues like banning robocalls, giving everyone free cash, and spending $6 billion to fix the nations malls is enough to keep him in the news.

His fundraising was decent, and he remains an interesting and thoughtful candidate. But, Yang has a better chance of dropping out and running on a third party ticket than winning in this Democratic Party.

You do have to wonder how long it will be before the word "Math" moves from his campaign slogan to the reason he needs to drop out.

Other headlines:

Andrew Yang Is Targeting The 'Politically Disengaged' To 'Win The Whole Election'

You can't turn truck drivers into coders, Andrew Yang says of job retraining

Yang's plan to give $1000 a month to everyone is popular with young, poor Democrats

13. Jay Inslee 31.4 (Previous: 12th / 30.4) Gov. of Washington state

CANDIDATE PROFILEf

Expect Inslee to capture the king-czar-chancellor role of the new climate police or whatever draconian nightmare the actual Democratic nominee creates if they win.

In the meantime, he should try to avoid cringe inducing nonsense like this.

Other headlines:

Presidential hopeful Jay Inslee says Trump's immigration policies will 'end his presidency'

Crowd roars for Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee follows to tepid applause

Inslee on listening to Carole King, wanting an anchor tattoo

Inslee Says He Tried to Arrest Fleeing Republicans

12. Tulsi Gabbard 33.4 (Previous: 13th / 28.8) US Rep. for Hawaii 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Tulsi Gabbard really wants to be Joe Biden's vice president. Or, at least, she wants to hold an important role in his cabinet, like Secretary of Defense.

Gabbard has been running interference for Biden, aggressively going after Kamala Harris for her very successful but substance free bussing attack, while hammering Harris as not qualified to be President. These have been among the harshest criticisms levied by any candidate in the race so far, and there is definitely a purpose to all of it. Her presence in the same debate as Biden and Harris should be something Harris prepares herself for. Expect incoming fire.

Along with Yang, Gabbard remains among the most interesting Democratic candidates to Republicans and Libertarians, which is not helpful to her chances of actually winning the Democratic party nod.

Other headlines:

Gabbard says Harris used "political ploy" to "smear" Biden on raced

Which U.S. Wars Were Justifiable? Tulsi Gabbard Names Only World War II

Tulsi Gabbard Says It's A 'Good Thing' Trump Met With Kim Jong Un

Gabbard Sympathizes With Amash, Says the Two-Party System Sucks

Tulsi Gabbard Files Bill To Study Hemp's Uses For Just About Everything

Gabbard: '14-year-old girl hacked into a replica of Florida's election system'

11. Tom Steyer 33.5 (Debut) Billionaire hedge fund manager

Tom Steyer is a Democratic billionaire that has spent millions plastering his face all over MSNBC for the past two years begging people to consider impeaching Donald Trump.

The campaign power ranking model loves Steyer's potential because of his unlimited money and theoretical ability to put together a serious campaign team.

All of this is theory at this point though, as the millions spent so far has lead to a giant pile of zilch. If he's serious enough, he should be able to buy his way into the low single digits, and squeak his way into a debate or two.

Steyer's billionaire status isn't an obvious fit as the party of inequality attempts to take down Donald Trump. But, he does have legitimate movement credibility, tons of cash to buy support, and a long developed immunity to embarrassment—so the sky is the limit.

Other headlines:

Tom Steyer on the issues, in under 500 words

Tom Steyer announces 2020 bid, reversing course

Why We're Not Treating Tom Steyer As A 'Major' Candidate (Yet)

Steyer banks on South Carolina in 1st presidential bid stop

10. Kirsten Gillibrand 37.1 (Previous: 9th / 36.7) US Senator from New York

CANDIDATE PROFILE

There is probably no candidate that enters the second round of debates more clearly in do-or-die mode than Gillibrand. With headlines like "The Ignoring of Kirsten Gillibrand" lighting up her feed, she needs something big to happen, and fast. Her performance in the first debate wasn't actually horrible, but still went unnoticed.

She has zero percent in lots of polls, and that includes all of the benefits she says she's received from white privilege. Imagine if she didn't have that going for her.

Other headlines:

Gillibrand: I'd Tell Concerned Coal Miner the Green New Deal Is 'Just Some Bipartisan Ideas'

Struggling in White House bid, Democrat Gillibrand seeks bump in Trump country

Gillibrand Annoyed by Question About Immigration 'Reversal'

9. Robert Francis O’Rourke 40.7 (Previous: 6th / 52.8) Former state Rep. from Texas

CANDIDATE PROFILE

The free fall continues for Betomania.

When campaigns show signs of death, reporters start to write long profiles that aim to tell the story of the demise, or launch the amazing comeback.

Politico's headline (What Beto O'Rourke's Dad Taught Him About Losing) probably wasn't all that helpful.

Beto did secure Willie Nelson's vote though, meaning he can now count on 2 votes, assuming his "Republican" mother votes for him.

Other headlines:

Welcome to America—It's a Hell Hole!

A desperate Beto O'Rourke goes for broke, claims America was founded on white supremacy

Beto O'Rourke finds 'personal connection' to slavery, argues for reparations to unite 'two Americas'

Beto boldly vows not to prosecute people for 'being a human being'Rebooto O'Rourke

Fact Checker: Has Beto O'Rourke visited the most Iowa counties? No.

Beto O'Rourke: Let's Forgive All Student Loan Debt For Teachers

8. Amy Klobuchar 42.9 (Previous: 8th / 41.9) US Senator from Minnesota 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Klobuchar has been a massive underachiever so far, but is still sticking around in that third tier of candidates. Along with Beto, Booker, and maybe Castro— they aren't exactly eliminated, but can't seem to catch fire. Or even get warm.

Klobuchar would serve herself well to focus on the fundamentals and avoiding desperate pleas for attention if she wants to remain in the Biden VP sweepstakes. Or she could totally shake things up by throwing binders at her opponents in the debate.

Other headlines:

Klobuchar: I Don't Support Open Borders Like Warren, Castro

Deportation raids are about distracting from issues: Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar hoping 'nice' finishes first

Sports bookmakers put Klobuchar as "heavy underdog" in presidential race

7. Julian Castro 43.2 (Previous: 10th / 34.5) Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Castro is a good example of how overblown debates can be. His first debate performance was quite solid, but did more to sink Robert Francis O'Rourke than actually help his own candidacy.

One more good debate performance should be enough to get him into the next round of debates, as he has already passed the donor threshold. Polling, however, has been elusive. Perhaps there is a swath of America that is uncomfortable voting for a Castro for president, like say, all of south Florida?

Still, in a field of a zillion candidates that have shown no potential, he stands out as a long shot with a punchers chance to make some noise. This is reflected with a nice bump in his score for this update.

Other headlines:

Julián Castro Doubles Down On Decriminalizing Migration: Repeal Felony For Reentry, Too

Julian Castro: 'Instead of breaking up families, we should break up ICE'

Bill Maher rips Julián Castro for remark about abortion for trans women

Julián Castro declines to hold baby

Julián Castro can't speak Spanish

Julian Castro wants to solve homelessness by 2028

A consulting firm made specifically to prevent sexual harassment is providing Castro and other 2020 campaigns advice and training

5. Pete Buttigieg 65.8 (Previous: 2nd / 68.8) Mayor of South Bend, IN

CANDIDATE PROFILE

There probably isn't a campaign that has been more bizarre than Mayor Pete. He was a complete nobody to the public, though as we initially noted, he had support from a bunch of Obama era celebrinerds.

This helped him rise to a top tier candidate with all the money and momentum to make a run at the nomination. Since then we've seen a complete fizzle. He is using the cash to build the infrastructure to make himself a serious candidate, and he should last a while, but he probably must win Iowa to have a chance at the nomination.

Also, finding one African American who will vote for him would be nice.

Other headlines:

Pete Buttigieg goes on hiring spree after top fundraising quarter.

Buttigieg, Struggling With Black Voters, Releases Plan to Address Racial Inequities

South Bend police call out Buttigieg for sending pizza rather than apology after race comments

CNN's Axelrod Rips Buttigieg: Blacks Doing Worse Under His Leadership

Only Pete Buttigieg gets standing ovation from Corn Feed audience

New Republic Drops Out Of Climate Forum Over Backlash To Pete Buttigieg Op-Ed

Pete Buttigieg says it's "almost certain" we've had gay presidents

Pete Buttigieg Sets Hollywood Fundraisers With Ellen DeGeneres, Chelsea Handler and More

4. Elizabeth Warren 70.4 (Previous: 5th / 53.4) US Senator from Massachusetts 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Looking back at my initial analysis of this field, I'd say it's played out pretty closely to what I expected. Warren has surprised me though.

In an election where beating Trump is the most important characteristic for democratic voters, she seems to be grown in a lab to lose to him. She comes across as a stern elementary school principal who would make kids terrified to be called into her office, because she'd bore them to death by reading them the handbook.

Her DNA kit roll out was so catastrophic, I assumed democrats would see that her political instincts are awful. When put under the intense pressure Trump is sure to bring, she's going to collapse, and I figured democrats would recognize that.

Instead, she's in the top tier. This rise has been legitimately impressive for Warren.

It's also a dream come true for Donald Trump.

Other headlines:

The Activist Left Already Knows Who It Wants for President

Netroots Nation was the day Elizabeth Warren became president of the American left

Elizabeth Warren pledges to decriminalize border crossings

Warren plans to increase annual refugee admissions nearly 800 percent from FY2018

Warren, Biden Campaigns Appear to Find Loophole Around Paid Internships

Warren says she'll push to end Israel's 'occupation'

Warren staffer: 'I would totally be friends with Hamas'

Elizabeth Warren reintroduces legislation requiring corporations to disclose climate risk exposure

Elizabeth Warren Wants Reparations For Same-Sex Couples

Elizabeth Warren proposes executive orders to address race and gender pay gap

This is how Elizabeth Warren plans to close the pay gap for women of color

How much would a wealth tax really raise? Dueling economists reflect new split in Democratic Party

Elizabeth Warren Brings Ad Buying In-House

Elizabeth Warren says she raised $19 million in the second quarter of the year

3. Bernie Sanders 71.1 (Previous: 3rd / 67.2) US Senator from Vermont

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Sanders has fallen slowly but steadily in the polls the past couple of months, and while not every metric yet reflects it, the socialist wing seems more likely represented by Warren.

That being said, Bernie holds her off for third place. Warren and Bernie have reportedly struck a truce to not attack each other, an arrangement which benefits Warren far more than Sanders.

Bernie's machine and name recognition continues to keep him near the top of the heap, but one wonders how long that lasts as name recognition for other candidates get higher, and Iowa gets closer.

No matter if he wins or loses, he's moved the Overton window of the party in a dramatic way. And don't underestimate the appeal of his Medicare-for-all-humankind dream. Bernie may be too old and cranky to see socialized health care into the end zone, but he has advanced that ball much further than he had any right to.

Other headlines:

Bernie Sanders has 'deep sense of satisfaction' his positions are now 'centrist' among Dems

Bernie Sanders: I Will Cancel All $1.6 Trillion Of Your Student Loan Debt

Sanders hits back at Biden over criticism of 'Medicare for All'

Bernie Sanders: Nancy Pelosi shouldn't 'alienate' freshmen House Democrats

Why Sanders Wanted His Meeting With a Rabbi Kept Secret

Bernie Sanders Says Being the First Jewish President Would Be 'Another Barrier Broken Down'

Liberal billionaire calls Bernie Sanders a 'Communist' and 'a disaster zone'

Blackstone's Byron Wien: Markets are terrified of far-left Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren

Antiwar candidate Bernie Sanders faces backlash over the $1.2 trillion war machine he brought to Vermont

The time Bernie Sanders ranted about baseball in a low-budget film

Bernie Sanders shows off sword Ross Perot gave him

Bernie Sanders Raises $18 Million in 3 Months, Trailing Buttigieg

2. Kamala Harris 79.2 (Previous: 4th / 65.9) US Senator from California 

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Harris has given back a good chunk of her post debate bounce, which is to be expected. While she rockets to number two in the power rankings, there are a few things to worry about.

The difference between Warren and Harris is notable. The candidates are nearly tied in most polls, but much of the strength of Harris is based on one spectacular moment. Warren alternatively seems to have a lower ceiling, but a stronger foundation.

The good news for Harris is she does incredibly well among voters that are actually paying attention, while her weakness lies with those who haven't really tuned in yet.

At some point, Harris has to clean up her mess of a policy package, which includes supporting a Bernie style Medicare for All without the Bernie style middle class tax hikes-- a combination that even the left admits makes no sense.

Quotes like this still feel way too accurate, "She's the easy-to-listen-to, poorly defined identity candidate." This needs to be sorted out eventually if she's actually going to win.

Other headlines:

It's Hard To Have A Conversation With Kamala Harris When She Doesn't Even Know What She's Talking About

Kamala Harris: Immigration Raids Are 'A Crime Against Humanity', there are 'babies in cages'

Harris doubles down on criticism of Biden's busing comments on The View

Mother Jones: Kamala Harris Wants to Bring Back Busing? Really?

Kamala Harris's Call for a Return to Busing Is Bold and Politically Risky

Race is 'America's Achilles' heel,' Harris tells African-American group

Kamala Harris claims her campaign is being targeted by Russian bots, also says she's not a plan factory

Harris proposes $100 billion plan to increase minority homeownership

What's Kamala Harris's record on Israel?

Kamala Harris Called Young People "Stupid" in 2015

Kamala Harris lags behind top-tier candidates in Q2 fundraising

Utah man arrested after alleged scheme to plan fake Kamala Harris fundraiser

1. Joe Biden 80.8 (Previous: 1st / 82.3) Former US Senator from Delaware and Former Vice President

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Biden's polling has mostly rebounded to his pre-debate status and he remains the favorite to be the nominee.

He can't survive too many more performances like his first debate however, and he needs to show voters that he can stand up to the heat President Trump is going to bring. In other words, don't get smoked again, fall over on your walker, or look like your dentures are going to fall out in the middle of a debate.

This is a real test for Biden's candidacy. He's had time to prepare, and he's had time to stretch the old muscles. No more excuses.

If Joe can get spry, he probably wins the nomination. But, that is far from a sure thing.

Other headlines:

NBC/WSJ poll: Biden tops 2020 Democratic field...

Joe Biden Decides He Doesn't Need to Stay Above the Fray After All

Biden campaigns as Obamacare's top defender

Biden says Democrats haven't been straightforward about 'Medicare for All'

Biden under fire for mass deportations under Obama

Biden refuses to apologize for high deportation numbers during Obama years

Joe Biden's campaign office opens in Philly with a protest, not a party

AOC: Segregationist controversy and debate performance raised question Biden could be too old for office

Are Biden's Apologies Killing His Electability Argument?

Liberal activists at Netroots Nation bet Joe Biden drops out of race

Joe and Jill Biden have made $15M since leaving White House

How Joe Biden, who called himself 'the poorest man in Congress,' became a multimillionaire

Penn Paid Joe Biden $775,000 to Expand Its "Global Outreach" … and Give Some Speeches

Biden: 'Occupation is a real problem'Joe Biden raised $21.5 million in second quarter, campaign announces

Joe Biden: I Promise To 'End The Forever Wars In Afghanistan And Middle East'

Joe Biden promises to 'cure cancer' if elected president

No, stealth Obamacare won’t fix the failed status-quo

Online Marketing/Unsplash

Another day, another proposed fix to a pressing national problem by a Democratic presidential hopeful. Former Vice President Joe Biden has positioned himself as the "moderate" leader of the Democratic Party, putting pressure on him to come up with a "sensible" alternative to Sen. Sanders' (I-Vt.) Medicare for All plan. But Biden's healthcare proposal, released July 15, doubles down on flawed, top-down solutions without offering any new ideas. Presidential hopefuls should instead pledge to unleash market innovation and lower healthcare prices for all.

Of course, a former vice president will inevitably find it difficult to make a clean policy break from the administration he has repeatedly hailed and defended. Biden's tenure as vice president made him into a second-tier political rockstar, and it makes sense that he's reluctant to separate himself from former President Obama's Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"). It's also no surprise that "Bidencare" preserves Obamacare's disastrous expansion of Medicaid, the federal government's insurance program for low-income Americans. His plan even provides a public option for residents of states that have not expanded Medicaid. Perhaps more surprising, or just disappointing, is how thoroughly the Democratic orthodoxy has embraced government medical insurance even at gargantuan cost, despite little evidence that it'll work.

RELATED: Medicare for all: Obamacare was only the first step

Back when he was a heartbeat away from the presidency, Biden vigorously defended Obamacare, criticizing Republican governors for failing to expand Medicaid and predicting that all states would eventually see the light. That never quite happened (as of now, 17 states wisely refuse to expand health insurance targeted at low-income Americans). But the Obama administration tried to cajole red and purple states into expanding the Medicaid eligibility threshold "up to 138 percent of the poverty level." Nevertheless, states such as Texas, Florida, and North Carolina wisely considered the evidence that Medicaid was breaking the bank — without helping the poor get access to the care they needed.

This evidence isn't just based on one or two stray studies produced by the "right" think-tank. In June 2018, Health Affairs published a blockbuster analysis of 77 studies on Medicaid's effectiveness, and the results may be disappointing for fans of government-provided insurance. Around 60 percent of the studies included in the meta-analysis found that health status and quality of care failed to improve for low-income patients after Medicaid expansion. The analysis also finds that a majority (56 percent of studies) found no improvement in the financial performance of hospitals post-Medicaid expansion. This finding contradicts claims by Obama, Biden and co. that Medicaid expansion would shift patients from the emergency room to doctor's offices, lowering system-wide costs.

These findings are scandalous for an expansion program that costs federal taxpayers at least $70 billion per year. How could all of this money be failing to improve outcomes? Plausibly, the types of institutions that accept Medicaid are larger facilities that aren't as great at delivering quality health-care as smaller offices? The copious paperwork and documentation required by the program don't really allow smaller facilities the bandwidth to deal with Medicaid in an efficient manner. Yet this documentation is necessary to curb rampant fraud in the program that costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year.

Greater Medicaid funding and corresponding anti-waste measures fail to address the cancer undermining the healthcare system: sky-high drug prices and expensive medical equipment.

Greater Medicaid funding and corresponding anti-waste measures fail to address the cancer undermining the healthcare system: sky-high drug prices and expensive medical equipment. Instead of pushing for ever-higher government spending, a President Biden could push for a streamlined Food and Drug Administration approval process for drugs and medical devices, which would keep medical costs down and give a green light to innovators everywhere. The cost to develop a single medication is now more than $2 billion, and an onerous FDA approval process costs lives by being too risk-averse.

Presidential hopefuls such as Biden should also pledge to work with states to roll-back "certificate of need" laws, which force medical institutions to jump through countless barriers to expand their facilities and invest in new services. It's not just hospitals and their patients that suffer from these needless laws; Harvard medical scholar David Grabowski sums up the evidence that these laws make nursing homes far worse and costlier than they need to be. Getting rid of these laws nationwide would give patients and consumers far more options when shopping around for the care and facilities they need.

The price problem gripping the American healthcare system simply won't go away while regulatory barriers and onerous approval processes continue to stifle the sector. Presidential hopefuls such as Biden can make a dent in this problem by supporting market reforms, instead of doubling-down on failed government healthcare.

Ross Marchand is a Young Voices contributor and the director of policy for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both fulfilled their goal of living to see the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Then, both died later that day — July 4, 1826. Adams was 90. Jefferson was 83.

Because of their failing health, Jefferson and Adams each declined many invitations to attend July 4th celebrations. Adams sent a letter to be read aloud at the 50th Independence Day celebration in his local town of Quincy, Massachusetts. He wrote that the Declaration is:

... a memorable epoch in the annals of the human race, destined in future history to form the brightest or the blackest page, according to the use or the abuse of those political institutions by which they shall, in time to come, be shaped by the human mind.

It's remarkable how well the Founders understood human nature and what could happen to the United States. It's the postmodern mindset that increasingly rules the U.S. now. It has infected our institutions and untethered us from the bedrock principles of the Declaration. In its place? Hypocritical and vitriolic partisan righteous indignation.

Less than a century after Adams' and Jefferson's deaths, the most serious attempt to undermine the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution came from America's 28th president — Woodrow Wilson. He wrote:

Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence.

As if that's a bad thing.

During Wilson's career as a college professor, he thought deeply and wrote extensively of his contempt for our founding documents. His issue with them formed the core beliefs of Progressivism that are still alive today.

In 1911, before he was elected President, Wilson said in a speech:

I do not find the problems of 1911 solved in the Declaration of Independence ... It is the object of Government to make those adjustments of life which will put every man in a position to claim his normal rights as a living human being.

See what he does there? He completely inverts the Declaration — he's saying, you don't have inherent rights until government puts you in a position to claim them. That's the heart of Progressivism.

In a later speech, Wilson said:

If you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface.

Wilson did not think the equality, natural rights, and consent-of-the-governed parts of the Declaration defined the proper role of government. He preferred the Declaration's list of grievances because they addressed specific problems. That's what he thought government existed to do — solve problems for people. And since people's problems change over time, so should the Constitution and government to keep up with the times.

Wilson said:

No doubt we are meant to have liberty; but each generation must form its own conception of what liberty is.

We hear this sentiment echoed all the time today: follow your heart, find your truth, etc.

Another key to Wilson's Progressive theory of government was human evolution. He thought that because humans were now more enlightened, they could be trusted not to abuse government power. The Declaration's committee of five (Adams, Sherman, Franklin, Livingston and Jefferson) would've laughed Wilson out of the room.

It's hard to believe that less than 150 years after the signing of the Declaration, the U.S. president — Wilson — was saying this:

We are not bound to adhere to the doctrines held by the signers of the Declaration of Independence: we are as free as they were to make and unmake governments. We are not here to worship men or a document. Every Fourth of July should be a time for examining our standards, our purposes, for determining afresh what principles, what forms of power we think most likely to effect our safety and happiness. That and that alone is the obligation the Declaration lays upon us.

Wilson was so effective at imposing his philosophy on government that he forever diverted the U.S. presidency away from the Constitution. Progressives have kept Wilson's torch alive ever since.

Progressives are still hostile to the Declaration of Independence because of this idea of “historical contingency" which holds that truths change over time. Progressives think the “self-evident" truths of the Declaration are outdated and may no longer apply. And that means the Constitution based on those truths may no longer apply either. Wilson and Progressives especially don't like the whole separation of powers thing, because it hinders the fast action they want out of government. They want a justice warrior president who will bring swift change by fiat.

The current trend in attacking the Declaration and Constitution is to tear down the men who wrote them. In late 2015, students at the University of Missouri and the College of William & Mary, placed notes all over the statues of Thomas Jefferson on their respective campuses. The handwritten notes labeled Jefferson things like, “racist," “rapist," “pedophile" (not sure what that one's supposed to mean), “How dare you glorify him," “I wouldn't be here if it was up to him," and “Black Lives Matter."

That is the handiwork of students who are blinded by self-righteous victimhood and can't see the value and merit that the Declaration still holds for us today. After these incidents, Annette Gordon-Reed offered a reasoned defense of Jefferson. Reed is a respected history professor at Harvard Law School, who also happens to be a black woman. She wrote:

I understand why some people think his statues should be removed, but not all controversial figures of the past are created equal. I think Jefferson's contributions to the history of the United States outweigh the problems people have with aspects of his life. He is just too much a part of the American story to pretend that he was not there ... The best of his ideals continue to influence and move people. The statues should be a stimulus for considering all these matters at William & Mary and the University of Missouri.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from Woodrow Wilson's disdain for the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln loved it. If there is one overarching theme in Lincoln's speeches, it is the Declaration. Lincoln pointed the nation back to the Declaration as a mission statement, which ended slavery and preserved the Union.

Unlike Wilson, who recommended leaving out the Preamble, Lincoln considered it the most vital part. To Lincoln, the self-evident truths were universal, timeless, and more important than the list of grievances. Lincoln wrote that these truths were:

... applicable to all men and all times ... that today, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.

In a speech Lincoln gave in 1861, shortly after he was first elected president, he said:

I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence… I have often inquired of myself what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the mother-land, but that sentiment in the Declaration which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time.

Lincoln went on to say that he would rather be assassinated than see the nation forfeit the principles of the Declaration. His Gettysburg Address is a brilliant, concise renewal of the Declaration:

... that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

We cannot assume that this radical idea of freedom will always be embraced by Americans. It has found hostility on our shores every step of the way. The Declaration's principles must be continually defended. Because while humans do have certain unalienable rights that are endowed by our Creator, there is darkness in the world, and for some strange reason humans, while valuing freedom, also seem to have a natural bent toward tyranny. That's why we must understand and discuss the Declaration. It's not alarmist. It's not a quaint history lesson. It's a reality, right now, that the fundamental principles of the Declaration are under attack. The Founders would have undoubtedly shuddered at most of the rhetoric from last week's Democratic presidential debates. Left to its own mob devices, even America would turn its back on freedom.

Shortly before his death in 1826, 90-year-old John Adams was asked to recommend a toast that could be given in his honor on July 4th. Adams didn't hesitate. He suggested, “Independence Forever." The small group of visitors silently glanced at each other for a moment, before someone asked Adams if he'd like to add anything else. Adams shifted forward in his chair, leaned on his cane, stared intently at the men, and replied, “Not a word."

China is having its Boston Tea Party moment

Unknown Wong / Unsplash

Freedom. It usually begins as a whisper. A secret passed on between patrons at a secluded bar or private meeting. And no matter how hard the tyrants may try and stop it, no matter how many dams they throw up to try and contain it, the whispers eventually become a flood. Sometimes it takes longer to break through, but it's the same EVERY TIME. Liberty and freedom always wins. It's an unstoppable force that knows no immovable object.

For us it was exactly 243 years ago to this month that those whispers became a flood. A group of ragtag colonists took on the world's only superpower —and won. Our forefathers proved it — freedom refuses to recognize tyranny as an immovable object. The world was forever changed.

And I can't help but see the poetic justice as more whispers became a flood, defying their own immovable object, just three days before all of us were buying fireworks to celebrate our Independence Day. But this time it was just off the coast of mainland China.

Last week over a MILLION protesters filled the streets in Hong Kong. Literally a FLOOD of humans looking for one thing — freedom. They stormed the government building that is the equivalent of their Congress. They smashed windows, broke down doors, and a photo was taken that I think just might be the picture of the year.

A British colonial flag, a symbol thrown out when Hong Kong was given back to China, was draped — BY THE PROTESTORS — over the chair of their head of government. I can't restate how historic this actually is. The people of Hong Kong, with a population that is over 90 percent ethnic Han Chinese, are saying to the mainland that they prefer colonial rule over the tyranny of the Chinese government. Leftists would tell you that communism is the remedy for colonialism, but for those living in the dark shadow of communism, they actually prefer colonial rule over what they now face.

The local Hong Kong government is caught between the immovable object of the Chinese communist government, and the unstoppable force of liberty.

When Hong Kong was given back to the mainland, China agreed to allow them a few freedoms that the rest of the Chinese don't enjoy. They're free to engage in protest against the government and they maintain a legislative body — both of which are outlawed on the mainland. But, as every tyrannical oppressor always does, China has been looking to reel that in. Most recently, China attempted to make it possible to extradite dissenters back to Beijing. The result? The quiet whispers of freedom, the secrets told in private at clandestine meetings, became a flood of millions in the streets.

On July 3rd, police began a crackdown. More than 13 people have been arrested so far. If China eventually gets their way, those 13 people will no doubt be the first of many to be extradited over to the mainland. Their crime? The dream of freedom. As of right now, the extradition law has been temporarily delayed. The local Hong Kong government is caught between the immovable object of the Chinese communist government, and the unstoppable force of liberty.

History has shown who will win in the end. Yesterday, over 200,000 protestors gathered at the high speed train station that links mainland China to Hong Kong. The message was just as clear as the British colonial flag hung inside their legislative building. For our forefathers it was symbolized with the Gadsden Flag and the phrase “Death To Tyranny." The message is simple: “we will not be ruled. Freedom knows no immovable object."

News of the protest movement has been censored in mainland China, but how long will they be able to contain THEIR OWN whispers with over two hundred thousand freedom lovers camped out at the bridge between Hong Kong and mainland China? How long before those whispers spread to secret meeting locations in Beijing or Shanghai? How long before that cascades to the Christian and Muslim minorities that are tired of being rounded up and thrown into camps?

We might have just witnessed the Chinese version of the Boston Tea Party. July 4th is still a long way away for them, but — as it does time and time again — freedom and liberty always win in the end.