links for 2009-12-09
Statistics: Industrial Revolution as a Treatment

Another Such Defeat and We Will Be the Winners!

Is there a word for the opposite of a Pyrrhic victory?

Robert Waldmann on the health care "compromise":

The Current Health Care Reform Compromise: the public option is replaced by an sub–exchange of private non profit insurers (which is very close to nothing at all), and people from 55 to 65 can buy into Medicare.... Ezra Klein beat me to it.... [T]he compromise is actually better than a level-playing-field public option, assuming that extended Medicare pays Medicare rates.... His key sentences are:

Right now, Medicare's rates are largely hidden, as no one pays the full premiums, and so no one can really compare it to private offerings. But if the premiums become visible, and Medicare's superior bargaining power is capable of offering rates 20 to 30 percent lower than its private competitors can muster, we'll see how long it is before representatives begin getting calls from 50-year-olds who'd like the opportunity to exchange money in return for insurance as good as what 55-year-olds can get...

I agree with Klein that if the public sees what a good deal they can get from the US government, provided it uses its bargaining power with providers, the compromise will not last... people and firms... will demand the option to buy it from the US government. He has, by the way, been arguing this since Edwards proposed a reform with a public option.... The 55 year limit is totally arbitrary and unfair. I don't think that's an easy line to hold once 54 year olds see how much extra they are paying to keep private insurance companies in business. The 65 year minimum... is now so long standing and familiar that tea partiers can sincerely argue that government run health insurance is unacceptable because it isn't good for Medicare. I can't even imagine how people will argue that it was OK to let people over 55 buy in but not to let people under 55 buy in.

65 made sense because it was the "retirement age." But I agree that 55 is not sustainable.

We should compromise like this more often!