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Ezra Klein “The Republican Party’s play is Fred Upton’s “Keep Your Health Plan Act.” The law is poorly named: It doesn’t actually guarantee that you can keep your health care. Instead, it allows insurers to keep offering their current plans and also allows them to offer new plans that aren’t ACA compliant.

At a slim 235 words, Upton’s bill is a master class in the pitfalls of soundbite legislation. It manages to fail to solve the problem it’s actually aimed at while creating a new political problem — this time, for Republicans.

The bill gives insurers the option of renewing their cancelled plans — but, crucially, it doesn’t require them to do so. Few insurers want to renew those plans, as they don’t expect them to be profitable in a post-Obamacare world. So Upton’s bill doesn’t mean people can keep their current health insurance, but it means they can begin (wrongly) blaming their health insurer rather than the Obama administration for the cancellation of that insurance.

Meanwhile, Upton’s bill has a secondary provision allowing insurers to offer new plans in 2014 that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections. So if an insurer wants to continue turning people away for being sick, they can go right ahead. If they want to offer shoddy coverage that’ll evaporate the moment a health crisis strikes, that’s their prerogative. The result is that Upton guts the law’s extremely popular insurance regulations. “A vote for the Upton bill, in short, is a vote for everything Americans say they hate about their health-care system,” Jon Cohn writes.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/11/14/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-plans-to-fix-obamacare/

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Ezra Klein “Think back to July 2011. The problem was simple. Republicans wouldn’t agree to raise the debt ceiling without trillions of dollars in deficit reduction. Democrats wouldn’t agree to trillions of dollars in deficit reduction if it didn’t include significant tax increases. Republicans wouldn’t agree to significant tax increases. The political system was at an impasse, and in a few short days, that impasse would create a global financial crisis.

The sequester was a punt. The point was to give both sides a face-saving way to raise the debt ceiling even though the tax issue was stopping them from agreeing to a deficit deal. The hope was that sometime between the day the sequester was signed into law (Aug. 2, 2011) and the day it was set to go into effect (Jan. 1, 2013), something would…change.

There were two candidates to drive that change. The first and least likely was the supercommittee. If they came to a deal that both sides accepted, they could replace the sequester. They failed.

The second was the 2012 election. If Republicans won, then that would pretty much settle it: No tax increases. If President Obama won, then that, too, would pretty much settle it: The American people would’ve voted for the guy who wants to cut the deficit by increasing taxes.

The American people voted for the guy who wants to cut the deficit by increasing taxes.

In fact, they went even further than that. They also voted for a Senate that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes. And then they voted for a House that would cut the deficit by increasing taxes, though due to the quirks of congressional districts, they didn’t get one.

Here in DC, we can get a bit buried in Beltway minutia. The ongoing blame game over who concocted the sequester is an excellent example. But it’s worth remembering that the goalposts in American politics aren’t set in backroom deals between politicians. They’re set in elections. And in the 2012 election, the American people were very clear on where they wanted the goalposts moved to.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/23/on-the-sequester-the-american-people-moved-the-goalposts/

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Ezra Klein”The truth is, the most important piece of economic policy we pass — or don’t pass — in 2013 may be something we don’t think of as economic policy at all: immigration reform.

Congress certainly doesn’t consider it economic policy, at least not officially. Immigration laws go through the House and Senate judiciary committees. But consider a few facts about immigrants in the American economy: About a 10th of the U.S. population is foreign-born. More than a quarter of U.S. technology and engineering businesses started from 1995 to 2005 had a foreign-born owner. In Silicon Valley, half of all tech startups had a foreign-born founder. One-quarter of all U.S.-based Nobel laureates of the past 50 years were foreign born. Right now, about half of the PhDs working in science and technology are foreign born.

Immigrants begin businesses and file patents at a much higher rate than their native-born counterparts, and while there are disputes about the effect immigrants have on the wages of low-income Americans, there’s little dispute about their effect on wages overall: They lift them.

The economic case for immigration is best made by way of analogy. Everyone agrees that aging economies with low birth rates are in trouble; this, for example, is a thoroughly conventional view of Japan. It’s even conventional wisdom about the U.S. The retirement of the baby boomers is correctly understood as an economic challenge. The ratio of working Americans to retirees will fall from 5 to 1 today to  3 to 1 in 2050. Fewer workers and more retirees is tough on any economy.

There’s nothing controversial about that analysis. But if that’s not controversial, then immigration shouldn’t be, either. Immigration is essentially the importation of new workers. It’s akin to raising the birth rate, only easier, because most of the newcomers are old enough to work. And because living in the U.S. is considered such a blessing that even very skilled, very industrious workers are willing to leave their home countries and come to ours, the U.S. has an unusual amount to gain from immigration. When it comes to the global draft for talent, we almost always get the first-round picks — at least, if we want them, and if we make it relatively easy for them to come here.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/31/worried-about-the-economy-then-pass-immigration-reform/

Posted February 1, 2013 by tmusicfan in Politics, Quote of the Day

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