Charles Koch complains about the character assassination he experiences at the hands of Barack Obama, who he says is acting like the despots of the twentieth century like Hitler and Stalin. But why is he silent about the real character assassination he suffers? For that we have to resort to the archives, and the bemused Justin Fox:
Justin Fox (2009): on the crazed right-wingers who lead the character assassination of Charles Koch: "Update: Lew Rockwell weighs in...
on my taxonomy of Austrians:
The author hilariously sees Austrian economics as divided into two parts: the nice one, entirely in the super-wealthy Koch Brothers ambit, and the mean one, in mine! A little background: when I started the Mises Institute (an organization unmentioned by Time) 26 years ago, the head of the Koch Family Foundation angrily pledged to destroy me if I went ahead. "We have worked too hard to rid Austrian economics of Mises," he said. Hayek, he claimed, was their man, though, of course, he was far better than that, and a good supporter of the Institute. But the real problem turned out to be Murray Rothbard. It was the greatest of the Misesians and the founder of modern libertarianism whom the Koch World Empire longed to smash, and still does. Murray, founder of Cato, was the one man in the ambit to say no when the Kochs decided to jettison Mises for reasons of DC preferment.
Harold Pollack: Reports of ACA demise: greatly exaggerated: "For this edition...
...I Skyped with Dr. Jonathan Gruber, who is the Ford Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and director of the health care program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is also the most famous health economist in the United States. He has won numerous awards, and written countless papers and academic articles. He has even written a graphic novel about health reform.
Joshua Holland: Obamacare Is Widening The Gap Between “Red” And “Blue” America: "When the Supreme Court ruled that states could decline Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion without facing a penalty...
...the justices set in motion a process that’s now pushing our two countries even further apart as about half of the states passed on the opportunity to insure their poorer residents.... Obamacare appears to have extended insurance coverage to about ten million people who didn’t have it before.... The rate of uninsured is now almost 50 percent higher in states that refused the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion (18.1 percent) than in those that embraced the policy (12.4 percent)....
It is unclear whether Paul Ryan understands what he is doing or not. But if he does, he is laying it all out there--that the Republican health-care endgame is as follows:
If you are already sick, have the wrong genetic markers, or are poor, the plan is for you to beg at your church for money to pay your health care bills.
Health insurance is to be reserved only for those from the middle class who lack adverse genetic markers and who have no preexisting conditions.
Why? Because freedom!
I swing back and forth between thinking that Paul Ryan understands, thinking that he does not understand, and thinking that he just isn't thinking about it but, instead, simply taking whatever step looks most solid without raising his eyes... READ MOAR
...When they took my insurance card, they asked "Is this marketplace or employer insurance?" I answered that it was from my employer. The receptionist said, "Great. We don't take Obamacare." I had a perplexed look on my face, I guess, because she said, "The marketplace has so many kinks that we're just not participating." Is there any reason that this isn't totally kooky? I mean, why should the doctor's office have any idea if an individual plan was purchased on the marketplace, or if the individual just went to Blue Cross Blue Shield directly? Are they saying "no individual policies at all"? Sure enough, there was a sign hanging in the office, which I'll put below the jump. I assume this is just civilian Republican asshattery...
but referenced throughout–which makes the joke yet richer and more multi-layered by the book’s dense 349 page end. It goes like this: There are two people who actually understand the American health system, and both Victor Fuchs and Alain Enthoven are 90 and 83 years of age, respectively. I don’t care if Zeke Emanuel wrote the joke himself because what he did write is the book that should make all of us a little less fearful…. READ MOAR
At least three ex-Governors have assured me over the past three weeks that all or nearly all states will find some way to do Medicaid expansion before the 2016 presidential election--that current governors, even in the reddest of red states, are now more scared of their doctors and their hospital administrators than they are of the Tea Party. And they are beginning to fear that the Keynesians are right and that a failure to expand Medicaid could throw their states back into recession--for state governors and legislators do believe that their state prosperity depends on workers doing things that create exports and thus dollars flowing into the state, and in the flow-of-funds Medicaid expansion is an "export".
Ed Kilgore: Greasing the Skids for Medicaid Expansion: "Arkansas’ expand-but-privatize approach (which recently survived a near-death experience in the Arkansas legislature, at least for the next year),
and Iowa’s expand-with-“personal-responsibility” approach (allowing more copays and deductibles, and more coercive “healthy choice” programs, than are allowed in traditional Medicaid).... Utah is on the brink of cutting a deal.... Progressives could look at such developments as paving the way for more Republican-governed states to expand Medicaid, which is a good thing, or as concessions that threaten the safety-net features (and “single payer” structure) of Medicaid, which is a bad thing....
But I tell you what: if, God forbid, I were a Republican governor, I’d come up with a package of every conservative pet rock reform I could think of that was applicable for Medicaid, put it into a waiver package, and tell my conservative friends that I was going to try to get Barack Obama to pay for turning Medicaid inside out. However it turned out, I’d be a political winner with the Right.
But Kilgore is wrong: it won't be a political winner on the right--no matter how many bells and whistles are added to the waiver application. The deal-breaker for the right is cooperation--or apparent cooperation--in any way with President Obama...
Sokrates: Production is currently mired some 8% below the growth trend that back in 2008 we confidently thought of as normal and highly unlikely to be disturbed.
Glaukon: It is indeed.
Thrasymakhos: And employment is currently mired some 7% below the proportion of the population that back in 2008 we confidently thought of as normal and highly likely to be quickly reattained after macroeconomic shocks.
Khremistokles: What will you say next, Thrasymakhos? That the sky is blue?
Aristokles: Nobody now expects a return to the "old normal"...
Thrasymakhos: Actually, the sky is grey here in Berkeley, California where we exist, and the morning fog has not yet burned off...
Khremistokles: But why doesn't anyone expect a return to the "old normal"?
Sokrates: If you can say that we "exist" at all, being simply of figments of Brad DeLong's imagination, as he sits at Espresso Roma, drinking coffee, trying to wake up, writing this dialogue, intermittently watching lectures from the "Reason and Persuasion" MOOC of John Holbo, and waiting for Nicholas Lemann... READ MOAR
in so many respects, as... Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius.... Lower court opinions... as well as a majority of the more than eighty briefs filed in the Supreme Court, have been devoted to a question... whether corporations... can exercise religion in a way protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act... that is, at best, a distraction.... Those opinions and briefs also repeatedly mischaracterize the relevant statute and regulations... failed to critically examine the facts.... And, contrary to what the plaintiffs and many lower courts have argued, it is untrue that the government’s compelling interests are undermined by an alleged vast network of exemptions that will leave “millions” of women unprotected....
Ezekiel Emanuel is Vice Provost for Global Initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. A breast oncologist with a doctorate in political philosophy, he served for many years as chair of the Department of Bioethics at The Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health. From 2009 to 2011, he helped to craft the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a special advisor for health policy to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. While serving in that role, Emanuel was the target of one of the most unfounded political attacks I have witnessed in health policy.
If you could only read one book about the American health system and ACA’s valuable (albeit imperfect) contribution to improving that system, his new book Reinventing American Health Care: How the Affordable Care Act will Improve our Terribly Complex, Blatantly Unjust, Outrageously Expensive, Grossly Inefficient, Error Prone System might be the best one.
Noam Levey: In northern Maine, collaboration brings better health - latimes.com: "Many of the nation's healthiest communities are wealthy and have large numbers of college-educated residents.
But northern Maine is among a handful of telling exceptions, making it an important guidepost as the country searches for ways to improve health.... The region now is among America's poorest.... Yet northern Maine ranks high on national measures of health.... Residents of the region receive recommended screenings and medical care more often than other Americans. They suffer fewer complications in nursing homes and are less frequently prescribed risky medications. And they are nearly half as likely to die from preventable diseases as residents of other low-income areas.... Maine's success owes much to the type of care that Patterson typifies — intensely personal, data-driven and highly coordinated. The approach grew out of a decades-long effort by local leaders that many experts consider a model for how to improve community health.
For some reason David Weigel feels like he has to defend PauL Ryan and Bill Bennett:
David Weigel: Paul Ryan accused of racism for suggesting that there's endemic poverty in inner cities.: "ThinkProgress provides the clip, which is—shock—less definitive than the headline.
Ryan says there's a problem "in our inner cities in particular," of "generations of men not even thinking about working." "In particular" is a useful qualifier, isn't it?... Ryan's problem, it seems, is that he's talking about inner cities while being 1) a Republican who is 2) about to unleash poverty legislation heavy on work requirements. If you're a Democrat, you can talk about the inner city in the same way Ryan does.
And so he drives Steve M. into shrill ululating madness:
There is evidence of deep-seated cultural and ethical failures at many large financial institutions....
In 2008... people probably thought that our largest banks were just guilty of shoddy risk management, dubious sales practices, and excessive risk-taking... we’ve had to add price fixing, money laundering, bribery, and systematic fraud on the judicial system....
Framing the problem as a 'trust issue'—customers no longer see banks as trustworthy institutions—is beside the point. Wall Street’s main defense is that its clients already realize that investment banks do not have their buy-side clients’ best interests at heart, and clients who don’t realize that are chumps. And in the wake of the financial crisis, I suspect there are few individuals out there who believe that their banks are there to help them. The banking industry has discovered that it can thrive without trust, which is not surprising; retail depositors trust the FDIC, and bond investors know that trust isn’t part of the equation...
And based on a report in the Washington Post, it will look a lot like their old health care proposals—the ones that would have done very little to improve access, reduce financial distress, and contain health care spending. But this new plan would be different in one key respect. Implementing this sort of Republican plan now would probably mean taking away coverage from quite a lot of people who just got it. That’s a pretty big deal.... The interesting question is how Republicans intend to present this plan.... If Republicans intend to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the framework that Costa's story describes—or even something with a bit more money behind it—a lot of those people are going to lose... insurance altogether. Until this year, taking away Obamacare meant taking away a hypothetical benefit. Now that benefit is real.... But really, the policy details are sort of irrelevant here. Notwithstanding the efforts of a few dedicated intellectuals and a tiny cadre of federal lawmakers, the vast majority of Republican officials have zero interest in health care reforms that significantly increase access to care. The new House Republican plan was supposed to show otherwise. If they actually manage to produce something—this isn’t the first time they’ve promised a proposal wasn’t imminent—and if it looks like the media reports suggest, the plan will merely confirm everybody’s suspicions: Significantly increasing access to health care just isn’t a priority for today’s Republican Party.
Over at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth: Lessons from the National Restaurant Association Astroturf Letter: Tuesday Focus: March 18, 2014: Jared Bernstein learns
three four lessons from the National Restaurant Association’s right-wing sock puppets economists letter.
Lesson 1: the NRA would rather not have its role in the debate public:
Jared Bernstein: The Paradoxical Position of the National Restaurant Association in the Minimum Wage Debate: “We learn in today’s paper that unknown to its signers, the opponents’ letter was organized and even partially drafted by the National Restaurant Association (NRA)…. OK, clearly smarmy but biz as usual in DC. Clearly, the (other) NRA thought they’d lose signatories if they revealed their role, a fear the Economic Policy Institute, a research organization (where I used to work), did not share. READ MOAR
Mike Konczal: Adolph Reed's Harpers Essay About Obama is Naive: "A Democratic president’s economic agenda is a failure, lost to business class acquiescence, the embrace of austerity, and an overall lack of vision.
This was the conclusion of The New Republic, summarizing Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal in May 1940.... Though the magazine believed the New Deal did more for the general welfare than any other administration, and even helped shift the ideological space against laissez-faire conservatism, they weren’t sure whether they could say they supported it. “If the New Deal is to deserve our support in the future, it must not rest on what it has already done, great as that is, but tell us how it is going to finish the task.” In other words, being disappointed in Democratic presidents is what opinion editors refer to as “evergreen” content....
a Nobel Prize-winning professor of economics and law at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., concluding that the minimum wage “is a poorly targeted antipoverty measure.”... But the statement itself and the news release heralding the effort made no mention of the fact that the statement had been initiated by staff at the restaurant association, who through an intermediary asked Mr. Smith if it could be distributed under his name, the association and Mr. Smith acknowledged in interviews Friday.
“If that was not made clear, I will apologize for that,” said Sue Hensley, the senior vice president for public affairs at the National Restaurant Association. She said the restaurant association had distributed the statement the way it had because it was technologically the easiest method, not because of any intentional effort to hide the organization’s role.
Dianne Feinstein: "Over the past week, there have been numerous press articles written about the Intelligence Committee’s oversight review of the Detention and Interrogation Program of the CIA,
specifically press attention has focused on the CIA’s intrusion and search of the Senate Select Committee’s computers as well as the committee’s acquisition of a certain internal CIA document known as the Panetta Review.
I rise today to set the record straight and to provide a full accounting of the facts and history.
Ed Kilgore: The Central Flaw in Hobby Lobby’s Suit: "To hear many conservatives and even some liberals, the suit brought by the for-profit company Hobby Lobby seeking relief from the contraception coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act represents a last line of defense by religious believers (of a certain type, to be sure) against the aggressive secularist agenda of the Obama administration.
Buying into that idea has always required some mental gymnastics. The coverage mandate does not require that employers supply employees with contraceptives. It simply requires that if they provide health insurance it must include coverage for certain preventive procedures, devices and medications, including contraceptives. The employee chooses whether or not to avail herself of this coverage, and no reasonable person would hold the employer morally responsible for that choice, any more than if the employee used her wages to purchase the very same contraceptives, which—lest we forget—are not only legal but are constitutionally protected as legal.
Friday, March 14, 2014
4:00 - 5:30 PM
UC Berkeley Labor Center
2521 Channing Way #5555
Berkeley, CA 94720
- Lisa Aliferis - KQED, State of Health blog
- Larry Jacobs - University of Minnesota, Political Science and Public Policy
- Anthony Wright - Health Access California
- Ken Jacobs - UC Berkeley Labor Center
- Margaret Weir - UC Berkeley, Sociology and Political Science
- Charlie Eaton - UC Berkeley, Sociology
Over at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth: The Social Insurance State, Economic Problems of the North Atlantic, Redistribution, and the Lesser Depression: Monday Focus: March 10, 2014: Back in the 1970s and 1980s I was told over and over again–by pundits, right-of-center politicians, political scientists, and not a few economists–that the source of the North Atlantic’s economic problems play in its overly-democratic politics.
The argument went more-or-less like this:
Some voters want goodies; other voters want low taxes; politician satisfy them by expanding programs and cutting taxes, producing debt. The debt must either be amortized through high taxes that discourage investment and entrepreneurship or through printing money which produces inflation and also deranges the price system and slows growth.
Thus, I was told over and over again, the economic problems of the north Atlantic in the 1970s and 1980s–the productivity growth slowdown in the inflation of the 1970s–were the result of an overly-large welfare state produced by an overly-democratic government. Both of these, the argument went, needed to be fixed.
This never seemed to me to make quantitative sense… READ MORE
Thomas Frank: Paul Krugman won’t save us: “When President Obama declared in December that gross inequality is the ‘defining challenge of our time’, he was right, and resoundingly so…. However, he quickly backed away… at the urging of pollsters and various Democratic grandees. I can understand the Democrats’ fears… a throwback to an incomprehensible time…. Unfortunately, they really have no choice. Watching… the bankers steered us into disaster in 2008 and then… harvested the fruits of our labored recovery–these spectacles have forced the nation to rediscover social class…
My thought here is to ask the Tonto question: “Who is this ‘us’, kemosabe?” The nation–with the exception of the top 1%, who understand social class very well–has not rediscovered social class. If the nation had rediscovered social class, “inequality” would poll better and “upward mobility” would poll worse–would be seen as the mess of overdone pottage that it is. I think we would have a healthier politics if the 99% had rediscovered social class. But pretending it has does not make it so. There is a big task of education and analysis ahead. And trashing Paul Krugman is a rather odd exercise to engage in, given that Paul Krugman has been raising the hue-and-cry about the disastrous consequences of rising inequality for America since Thomas Frank was in diapers. READ MORE
Last night pieces by the thoughtful and knowledgeable Uwe Reinhardt, the smart and hard-working Marty Lederman, and that brilliant man of unsound methods Richard Epstein collided on my computer screen, and then held an all-night insomniac hoedown.
This is the result:
Jon Perr: Georgia Republicans are Killing Hospitals--and People: "By now, millions of Americans--most of them in red states-- are growing familiar with the 'coverage gap'.
Thanks to their rejection of the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid in states they control, GOP leaders are leaving at least five million people in an insurance "dead zone," earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to obtain federal subsidies to purchase coverage... with as many as 17,000 people forecast to needlessly die each year for lack of health insurance. But GOP obstruction won't just kill people in places like Texas, Mississippi and many more. As the case of Georgia shows--where over 600,000 residents will fall into the coverage gap and as many as 1,175 will die this year--Republican policy is killing hospitals, too.... A fourth rural hospital in Georgia is shutting its doors due to a lack of patients who can pay for their medical expenses:
Over at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth: One of the many, many interesting things in the Federal Reserve's 2008 transcripts is the staff briefing materials for the mid-December FOMC meeting, which include:
Daniel Kuehn: Facts & other stubborn things: Krugman back in 2009 on the downturn: "Recently Bob [Murphy] claimed that Krugman is 'rewriting' his stimulus history....
Now DeLong actually said that he trusted the CEA forecast at the time (more on that a little later), but Krugman didn't. His post stuck pretty closely simply to what we think about the properties of different time series with respect to unit roots. It's not even like he left his view about the possibility of extended crisis unstated - he said that we can expect output to grow "if and when" slack capacity was used again. "When", sure - but "if and when"!?!?
Over at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth: I Am Sorry. What Was Tim Geithner Looking at in January 2008?: Saturday Focus: February 22, 2014: "Steven Perlberg:
Tim Geithner January 2008 FOMC Minutes: “The World Is Still Looking Pretty Good”: “In January 2008–right as the U.S. economy entered a recession–the former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman (and later Treasury Secretary) was still very optimistic….
You know, we have the implausible kind of Goldilocks view of the world, which is it’s going to be a little slower, taking some of the edge off inflation risk, without being so slow that it’s going to amplify downside risks to growth in the United States. That may be too optimistic, but the world still is looking pretty good. Central banks in a lot of places are starting to soften their link to the dollar so that they can get more freedom to direct monetary policy to respond to inflation pressure. That’s a good thing. U.S. external imbalances are adjusting at a pace well ahead of expectations. That’s all good, I think. As many people pointed out, the fact that we don’t have a lot of imbalances outside of housing coming into this slowdown is helpful. There’s a little sign of incipient optimism on the productivity outlook or maybe a little less pessimism that we’re in a much slower structural productivity growth outlook than before. The market is building an expectation for housing prices that is very, very steep. That could be a source of darkness or strength, but some people are starting to call the bottom ahead, and that’s the first time. It has been a long time since we’ve seen any sense that maybe the turn is ahead. It seems unlikely, but maybe they’re right. In the financial markets, I think it is true that there is some sign that the process of repair is starting. Having said that, though, I think it is quite dark still out there…. Like everyone else, we have revised down our growth forecast. We expect very little growth, if any, in the first half of the year before policy starts to bring growth back up to potential....
What was he looking at in January 2008 to say that? READ MORE
Igor Volsky: This New Study Proves That Background Checks Save Lives: "Missouri’s decision to repeal its law requiring all handgun purchasers to obtain a 'permit-to-purchase' (PTP) verifying they passed a background check led to a 16 percent increase in the state murder rate, a new study from Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research has found....
State legislators eliminated the permit requirement in June of 2007, as part of a larger firearms bill granting criminal and civil immunity to homeowners who use deadly force against intruders.... Removing the licensing requirement contributed to an “additional 55 to 63 murders per year in Missouri between 2008 and 2012.” The increases occurred in the first full year after the repeal, during which the state saw “large increases in the number of guns diverted to criminals and in guns purchased in Missouri that were subsequently recovered by police in border states that retained their PTP laws.” The analysts controlled “for changes in policing, incarceration, burglaries, unemployment, poverty, and other state laws adopted during the study period that could affect violent crime,” a press release for the study says....
Alicublog: New Realities: "Remember when conservatives considered Costco as American as cheeseburgers and credit default swaps?...
The basic idea was [that] large stores selling large lots at large discounts... excited the Common Man and that was what conservatism was all about. (Rick Santorum tried to split the difference in his last Witchfinder General campaign by calling his chosen people "Sam's Club and Costco folks.")... NROniks like Jennifer Graham sneered at a feminist who didn't want to have kids and wind up shopping at Costco.... Larry Kudlow protested John Kerry's NAFTA stance as "trade protectionism" that "undermines the living standards of the near 135 million Americans who shop at Wal-Mart, Kmart, Costco, Target, Home Depot, and Best Buy." This schtick persisted into the early Obama era... added Costco to the honor roll of big companies "in Obama’s crosshairs" for high socialist taxation.... Mitt and Ann Romney went shopping at Costco and gushed about all the stuff they'd bought and would keep in a shed till the election was over and they could quietly get rid of it.
But this week, National Review's Alec Torres headlines,
Costco: The Arugula of Chain Stores
Arugula--the most dreaded of conservative curse-words!
Washington Center for Equitable Growth: Afternoon Must-Read: CBO: Frequently Asked Questions About CBO’s Estimates of the Labor Market Effects of the Affordable Care Act:
Q: Will 2.5 Million People Lose Their Jobs in 2024 Because of the ACA?
We would not describe our estimates in that way. We wrote in the report: “CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor.”…
Because the longer-term reduction in work is expected to come almost entirely from a decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply in response to the changes in their incentives, we do not think it is accurate to say that the reduction stems from people “losing” their jobs.
Prairie Weather: Can Mitch McConnell survive so many hits?:
They're coming at him from all sides....
Republicans are buoyant they can capture the Senate this year – but will Mitch McConnell still be there as majority leader?... The Bluegrass Poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for several local TV stations and newspapers, showed McConnell trailing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes by four points, 46 percent to 42 percent.... Maybe most troubling for the 29-year incumbent are his persistently low approval ratings — 60 percent disapprove of the job he’s doing in office — which make him as unpopular as Obama in the Bluegrass State. Fifty percent of Kentuckians also view McConnell unfavorably.... TheHill
Time reports that he's still a favorite, though favorite to whom remains a mystery. The logic here seems overly sunny, maybe Koched up:
A new poll that shows Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell trailing his Democratic opponent.... McConnell’s spokeswoman told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the campaign was “very comfortable about where this race stands...”
McConnell took over from Bill Frist as head of the Republican Senate caucus at the start of 2007--and his strategy from the get-go was: total gridlock. The idea was that if government failed to function, voters would get angry at Democrats--the party of a working government--the Republicans would retake the Senate, and then he could do some legislatin'. Didn't work. I don't understand why his Republican colleagues haven't thrown him out of the Minority Leader's office already. And I don't understand why he doesn't recognize that, from the viewpoint of the voters of Kentucky, he is Washington--a dysfunctional Washington is a dysfunctional McConnell...
Chris Cilizza is one of the best reporters the Washington Post has now that the Wonkblog crew is heading off to Vox Media. Chris Cilizza also sees nothing odd or ironic in writing:
Chris Cilizza: Why the CBO report is (still) bad news for Democrats: My job is to assess not the rightness of each argument, but to deal in the real world of campaign politics in which perception often (if not always) trumps reality…
Note the assumptions here:
And at this point, all you can do is quote extensively from Plato’s Republic, the passage on the Allegory of the Cave, and urge Jeff Bezos to immediately change the culture of the Washington Post completely so that it can at least try to step up its game...
Political documentaries lionize candidates: It worked for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Barack Obama | Memo explains why the U.S. can kill its own citizens without trial | Koch seizes on “Obamacare Kills Jobs” message | The CBOghazi of Chris Cilizza and Many Others: Journalists have no idea "what will matter" in an election |
The University of Michigan's Chris House appears to suffer from the searching-for-false-balance disease.
It's not a big deal.
But it is a neat, clean, and comprehensible example of the damage done by the opinions-of-shape-of-earth-differ disease that Chris House and many others have: the net effect is to excuse the bad faith, ideological partisanship, and failure to do their homework on the part of those working to degrade the quality of our public sphere--and to aid in the drip-drip-drip eroding-away at the influence of those working hard to improve it. Not good. Not good...
Chris House: The Wisdom of Laureates: "Ed Prescott... [has the] most people talking...
is quoted as saying:
It is an established scientific fact that monetary policy has had virtually no effect on output and employment in the U.S. since the formation of the Fed....
Prescott is wrong. It is NOT an established fact the monetary policy has no effect on economic activity. The balance of the evidence suggests the opposite. Monetary policy seems to have clear measurable effects on the economy....
Should we grant Ed Prescott, or Paul Krugman, or Robert Lucas, or Peter Diamond much more credence than other smart observers?... Nobel Prize winners have typically devoted their entire careers to a rather narrow study of a particular area.... They are also often radical thinkers.... Academics are rewarded... for having path-breaking ideas.... An academic who has one or two... might well be viewed as... worthy of a Nobel, even if most of their ideas are crazy.... The price we pay for having unusual insights might be that we often have unorthodox approaches.... Prescott didn’t win the Nobel Prize for having a balanced assessment.... This isn’t limited to Prescott. Even Paul Krugman has been known to say some rather nutty things at times.
The biggest bit that is idiocy is the claim that Nobel Prize winners in general are prone to say "rather nutty things" because saying such is closely linked to what makes them Nobel Prize-caliber. Prescott says nutty things--very nutty things, hugely nutty things, completely nutty things--about what is supposed to be the core area of his expert knowledge on a regular basis. But Krugman? Diamond? Lucas might come within two orders of magnitude of Prescott, but not one (or, if every one, only very rarely). And I see whatever wrong things Krugman and Diamond says as at least three orders of magnitude less than Prescott on the nuttiness scale.
So I (and others) asked Chris House where his ideas were coming from: what evidence made him generalize from Prescott; to the quartet of Prescott, Lucas, Krugman, and Diamond; and then to the quartet of Nobel Prize winners in general?
The conversation did not go terribly well. Samples:
Stephen Bainbridge: The media is ignoring the moral equivalence between Obamajams and Christie's bridge:
So at worst NJ Governor Chris Christie created some traffic jams as political payback.... Democrats... and their allies in the liberal mainstream media [are] all worked up.... But where were the latter when Obama knowingly repeatedly flew into Los Angeles and created massive Obamajams so that he could rake in political payoffs by the billions from his liberal Hollywood groupies.... I've had personal experience of Obama's incredibly deleterious effect on our traffic. To me, the difference between jams for payback and jams for payola is trivial. But because he's a Democrat, nobody in the media cares about the latter.
Is there any way to read Bainbridge other than that he is really, really angry that (a) a Black man (b) is President and (c) dares to visit Los Angeles (d) with secret service protection in order to (e) maintain his political coalition and (f) raise money for electoral campaigns?
Which of these six do you suppose makes Bainbridge angriest?
Yes, it's funny. But the normalization of the crazy is perhaps the most worrisome thing.
The White House :: Office of the Press Secretary: Administration Kicks Off "Recovery Summer" with Groundbreakings and Events Across the Country:
For Immediate Release June 17, 2010
Administration Kicks Off "Recovery Summer" with Groundbreakings and Events Across the Country
President Obama, Vice President Biden and Other Administration Officials to Highlight Surge in Recovery Act Infrastructure Projects This Summer
WASHINGTON, DC – The Administration today kicks off “Recovery Summer,” a six-week-long focus on the surge in Recovery Act infrastructure projects that will be underway across the country in the coming months – and the jobs they’ll create well into the fall and through the end of the year. The Recovery Act has already funded tens of thousands of projects and put about 2.5 million Americans to work, but summer 2010 is actually poised to be the most active Recovery Act season yet, with tens of thousands of projects underway across the country that will help to create jobs for American workers and economic growth for businesses, large and small....
So I was reading:
Jagadeesh Gokhale, Ph.D., and Angela C. Erickson: The Effect of Federal Health Care ‘Reform’ on Kansas General Fund Medicaid Expenditures
and I ran across this graph:
and the paper's accompanying conclusion:
By 2023, 21 percent of the Kansas population is projected to be on Medicaid under the PPACA—up from 13 percent currently. Kansas Medicaid expenditures are projected to grow by an additional $4.7 billion (29 percent) beyond the increase projected without PPACA.... With ongoing court and congressional challenges, the final chapter of the PPACA law and state Medicaid spending has yet to be written. However, since a federal court judgment has declared PPACA unconstitutional, Kansas lawmakers should vigorously oppose the implementation of PPACA’s health exchanges and other administrative and operational infrastructure...
And then there is, by Gokhale alone, a 2013 update on the Cato Institute's website:
and the paper's updated conclusion:
Kansas’ lawmakers face a crucial decision about whether to expand Medicaid according to the dictates of the ACA. That decision would expand the program and possibly improve health outcomes for low income households. However, that benefit must be weighted against the lost opportunities to spend on other budget programs that are also valuable.... The incremental 10-year cost to the Kansas general fund from expanding Medicaid of $625 million would arise “at the margin”.... It may be better to spend the $625 million on other Kansas budget items...
But there is one number that I cannot find on either graph or in either version of the policy brief:
That $8 billion is the amount of federal dollars the U.S. government will commit to match 100% of extra costs for the first three years and 90% for the next seven if Kansas expands the Medicaid program as ObamaCare envisions. And that is money that will not flow to Kansas if Medicaid is not expanded by Kansas.
The argument that Kansas has better things to spend its $625 million on over the next decade than on expanding Medicaid rings a little hollow when you reflect that cutting $625 million over the next decade from ACA-projected levels reduces what Kansas can buy by not $625 million but rather $8.625 billion. Kansas would have to get 14 times as much state welfare out of a dollar spent elsewhere than out of a dollar spent on its Medicaid program for that argument to apply.
But, I suppose the honchos of the Cato Institute and of the Kansas Policy Institute think, if you don't mention and certainly don't stress the $8 billion number, maybe Kansas's Republican state legislators won't understand what they are doing in rejecting Medicaid expansion.
Here's the context of all mentions of this $8 billion over the next decade--all mentions of the word "match" in the 2013 version of the policy brief:
That's it. No $8 billion number anywhere I can find.
I could go on. I could point out that Gokhale's claims that sustaining the high match rate that produces the $8 billion number is "infeasible" are grossly overstated--and that we will see whether they are true or not in two years, when we will see whether Gokhale's claim that the "100 percent match rates specified for the first three years of the ACA's implementation" are "simply not feasible". That applies to his (12), (10), (7), (6), (3), (2), and (1). I could point out that his claim that federal Medicaid spending would not boost the Kansas economy rests on a bizarre and empty assertion that in the health care sector and the health care sector alone supply curves do not slope upward. That applies to his (11), (10), and (4). I could point out that his claim that federal lawmakers recognize that "such generous matching of new state Medicaid spending on account of Medicaid expansion is, in reality, infeasible" is simply a lie--a misrepresentation of the meaning of proposals and counterproposals in failed 2011 Supercommittee negotiations. That takes care of his (12), (10), and (6).
Now the federal government does have the power to break its deals with states: no congress can fully bind any future congress. But only in Cato Institute-land does the fact that circumstances may change and the optimal level of Medicaid funding for a state may fall in the future carry the implication that the optimal level of state Medicaid funding for a state is low now.
But the thing that strikes me the most is how anxious both Cato and the KPI appear to be to direct attention away from the numbers: that by failing to commit $625 million, Kansas is losing $8.625 billion.
It's as if they fear that their verbal case would simply dry up and blow away if they were to even whisper the terms of the deal being offered...
Jonathan Chait: WSJ: Obama Isn’t Hitler But He’s Pretty Hitler-y: "The Journal’s editorial underscores that the widespread mockery of Perkins, far from piling on a bewildered plutocrat, actually understates the broader problem.
Perkins’s letter provided a peek into the fantasy world of the right-wing one percent, in which fantasies of an incipient Hitler-esque terror are just slightly beyond the norm. The Journal editorial defines persecution of the one percent as the existence of public disagreement. Liberals are mocking Perkins, therefore Perkins is basically right. For Perkins to be wrong — for the rich to enjoy the level of deference the Journal deems appropriate — a billionaire could compare his plight to the victims of the Holocaust and nobody would make fun of him at all."
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
David Lieb: Ex-Missouri GOP Senator Kit Bond Now Lobbying For Medicaid Expansion: "As a Republican senator, Kit Bond voted against... [Obamacare.] Now... Bond is pushing Republican legislators in his home state of Missouri to embrace a key provision of the law by expanding Medicaid eligibility.
Bond said Friday that... "I'm getting involved in Medicaid reform now because if our State sits on the sidelines, I'm concerned hospitals in rural and inner city Missouri won't survive."... The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry declined to say how much it is paying Bond's consulting firm.... Bond already has met with Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon about the potential to expand Medicaid eligibility. "He understands the issues very well, and we're trying to capitalize on his stature, his relationships that he has and his reputation as a one of the best statesmen that this state will ever have," Mehan said.
Fifty years from now which will play worse in historical memory: the conservative southern Democrats' massive resistance to try to civil rights in the 1950s and the 1960s or the conservative Republicans' massive resistance to their poorer fellow-citizens getting health insurance in the 2010s?
I cannot tell. I do, however, think that history will judge the second as stupider: practically everyone has somebody uninsured or at risk of rapidly becoming uninsured in their extended family, and throwing federal Medicaid and exchange subsidy dollars down the toilet does run a measurable risk--10%? 20%? 50%?--of send the red state economies as a group back into recession over the next two years.
But things aren't all going their way. Sy Mukherjee reports:
We're now at the point in "Obama's Katrina" when the number of uninsured people in West Virginia has been reduced by a third.— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) January 21, 2014
Are you a doctor? A specialist, perhaps? A surgeon? If you are, there's a seminar for you, taking place on January 31st in Kentucky. The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons is sponsoring a seminar in how you and your colleagues can 'Keep Obamacare out of your office'....
You can learn all about how the AAPS is fighting to stop maintenance requirements on specialty certifications, delivered by none other than Andrew Schlafly. The DC Update will be delivered by Charlie Sauer, a self-proclaimed economist and former staffer for Jeb Bush and Chuck Grassley... Tea Party challenger in KY-3, Dr. Michael MacFarlane, and Dr. Alieta Eck from NJ-12. More conference highlights will be delivered by Ayn Rand acolytes Josh Umbehr, MD, who runs Atlas MD Family Practice, and Mark Schiller, MD, who runs the Mind Therapy Clinic in the San Francisco area...
John E.: A View of Obamacare:
Way back in the '80´s, during a downturn in the Oil Patch, a Wall Street Journal reporter visited several highly-skilled Texans who suddenly found themselves without work. One, after describing the hardships of raising a family without income, confessed to finally having to accept unemployment insurance. Whereupon he burst into tears, protesting that he was no socialist, and, in so many words, vowing to make the liberals who had so humiliated him with such an indignity, pay, once he was on his feet again, and able to defend himself. That was what made me finally realize some of what we're up against.
Buce and Juan Cole:
Buce: Underbelly: Slow Boring of Hard Boards: Gates, Shultz, Acheson And the Art of the Political Memoir: "I'm barreling through Robert Gates' much-hyped memoir of his tour as secretary of defense under two Presidents and they are right, it is a delight--one of the very best memoirs of actual governing that I've ever read (although maybe I need to read more such).
It is also, be it said, not remotely that farrago of political gamesmanship that the prince of courtiers, Bob Woodward, described in his first-out-of-the-box Washington Post review a couple of weeks back--why anybody still takes that guy seriously is beyond me.
Belle Waring: David Brooks Says:
Anderson, I’m sorry to hear you’re getting divorced. That’s shitty all around even if the eventual outcome is happier people 2 years down the road. Best luck.
Bloix, I do think you’re allowing your (perfectly natural) feeling that you wouldn’t want people talking smack about you behind your back if you happened to get divorced for reasons they could never understand color your views. See, none of that means we shouldn’t be talking smack about David Brooks. David Brooks has repeatedly, with po-faced seriousness, and to the actual detriment of America’s well-being (if he lulled anybody to sleep when they had their hand on the regulatory tiller somewhere, and I do think he did) talked smack about every other damn person getting divorced in America who made less than $200,000 a year. And quite without hedging.