Posts from June 2012

Social Insurance

Health Care Reform Lives!

Blog Post by: Greg Anrig , on June 28, 2012

After the prolonged, tortured, cliff-hanging congressional deliberations leading to the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, hardly anyone imagined that the subsequent legal scrutiny would be comparably prolonged, tortured, and cliff-hanging. From the outset, supporters of the legislation defended the legality of its mandate to buy health insurance based on its enforcement mechanism: a fine to be collected by the Internal Revenue Service out of income tax refunds. The Constitution gives Congress the power to tax, and people who don’t buy health insurance would owe a new tax under the law. Why did any courts, much less the Supreme Court, need to confirm something so obvious?

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The Efficiencies of Publicly Provided Health Care, Revisited

Blog Post by: Andrew Fieldhouse , on June 28, 2012

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its lynchpin—the individual mandate—my Economic Policy Institute colleague Josh Bivens noted all the ways conservatives have tried to keep health care from being delivered efficiently, notably by blocking government from using its monopsony power and economies of scale wisely. This, of course, is difficult to square with conservatives’ professed concerns about public debt, because rapidly rising health costs are, by far, the single biggest impediment to stabilizing long-run public debt (if the economy operates at full potential over this long-run). Political opportunism aside, reasonable policy should unequivocally aim to lower health care cost-growth; so here’s some evidence worth revisiting on the comparative efficiency of public versus private provision of health care.

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Additional Focus

MAD Men

Blog Post by: Richard C. Leone , on June 26, 2012

According to press accounts, a gambling mogul has so far “invested” $35 million in the Republican campaign effort this year. And that’s just what we know about.  In the wide open casino atmosphere of politics 2012 there could also be unlimited additional amounts contributed to organizations that will not even report their contributors until after the election.  The sums involved are tremendous when compared to past campaign spending—$235 million, for example, has already been spent on television advertising designed to discredit the president’s signature health reform plan. Campaign 2012 will not only have the biggest price tag in history; it is sure to have the most seven- and eight-figure donors. Individuals and businesses can spend just about whatever they want. If they choose to, they can also easily be shielded from public view by a laundering they contributions through vehicles whose contributors can be completely anonymous.

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Education

Graph: Making Progress on Higher Education

Post by: Benjamin Landy , on June 17, 2012

Samuel Goldman, writing at The American Conservative, makes an excellent point in response to the debate last week between Robert Samuelson and William Kirwan in the Washington Post about how many people we ought to be sending to college. Samuelson's argument, that we need to push back against the "college-for-all crusade," is indeed a red herring; as Kirwan makes clear, no serious higher education professionals are calling for universal college education. But Kirwan also muddies the waters when he endorses President Obama's goal to "have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world."

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Workers & Economic Inequality

Graph: Where Can You Live on Minimum Wage?

Post by: Benjamin Landy , on June 3, 2012

Above is our own illustration of the NLIHC data, showing how many hours at minimum wage Americans must work to rent a one-bedroom apartment in each of the fifty states today.

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