Squeeze Health Supplier Costs Down, Sport!
A Delicious Quote from Barney Frank

links for 2009-08-20

  • I agree with Mark Thoma that Mr. Posner apparently has little understanding of macroeconomics, either of old-style Keynesian type, or the new(er) real business cycle type, or certainly New Keynesian approaches. His charge that her current pronouncements are at sharp variance with her earlier academic work really makes me wonder if he's read any of Dr. Romer's previous work. I suspect that he's taken at face value the conservative mis-apprehension that her tax cut paper contradicts the view that government expenditures can have an impact on growth.
  • If the public option needs to be dropped to secure passage of the final bill, then that may be the unfortunate reality of the situation. But that's the context in which you drop something like the public option: A context in which you get something significant for the concession, like passage of everything else, or much more money in subsidies and much stronger exchanges. You don't drop it in the hopes that the compromise will be seen by opponents as reasonableness rather than weakness. The public option is good policy and, if it comes down to it, the largest bargaining chip. You don't give it away lightly. But you do have to keep it in perspective.
  • It was the blooper heard round the world. In an editorial denouncing Democratic health reform plans, Investor’s Business Daily tried to frighten its readers by declaring that in Britain... handicapped physicist Stephen Hawking “wouldn’t have a chance,” because the National Health Service would consider his life “essentially worthless.” Professor Hawking, who was born in Britain, has lived there all his life, and has been well cared for by the National Health Service, was not amused. Besides being vile and stupid, however, the editorial was beside the point. IBD would like you to believe that Obamacare would turn America into... a dystopian fantasy version of Britain. The screamers ... would have you believe that the plan is to turn America into the Soviet Union. But the truth is that the plans on the table would, roughly speaking, turn America into Switzerland — which may be occupied by lederhosen-wearing holey-cheese eaters, but wasn’t a socialist hellhole the last time I looked.
  • Making it all the odder, the level of self-interest at stake isn’t all that high. Selling the public good down the river to bolster your re-election chances isn’t like stealing a loaf of bread to feed your starving children. The welfare rolls are hardly stocked with the names of former members of congress. Indeed, it’s not even clear that voting “the wrong way” poses particularly serious threats to one’s re-election. But even if it did, one might assume that people who bother to dedicating their lives to securing vast political power did so because they actually wanted to accomplish something and get in the history books, perhaps, as one of the big heroes of their era. Nobody ever writes a biography about the guy who did a good job of reconciling his party’s ideological base with the parochial interests of local businesses and his campaign contributors.
  • Jonathan Freedland simply doesn’t get what it is that banks do.... One definition of a bank (first seen at Brad DeLong’s) is someone who borrows short and lends long. Any system that isn’t doing that is not going to be able to replace them. Peer to peer lending is just fine, a useful addition to the marketplace. But it just ain’t gonna replace the people who move savings and loans inter-temporally.
  • The current debate's lack of coherent content has been quite startling, and indeed dismaying insofar as one naively hoped for better. I generally support what the Obama Administration is trying to do (though sometimes what that is, isn't entirely clear).... Concerning the other side in the debate, perhaps the less said, the better. I really can't say anything temperate at this point. What is the set of problems to which the Administration's healthcare reform proposals might, with luck, be an at least partial solution? Brad DeLong once put the point quite crisply (in his moderate rather than shrill persona). To liberal economists, the big problem is adverse selection. To conservative economists, the big problem is moral hazard. And I myself would say they're both right, plus there also are externalities...
  • Waldmann['s] dedication to public science kept him at NIH. "I thought I was going to be here for two years, but I became so excited with the opportunities to do research and the ability to develop our own drugs and... do my own clinical trials.... It was not matched, not in industry, not in academia."... [T]he field of cytokines... molecules that control human immune responses.... Zenapax, which has been associated with complete remission in over 60 percent of patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma who did not respond to any other treatment.... "The challenge to get the product to meet quality control standards is extremely hard, but Tom has been unwavering.... He did it all himself.... He paved the way for others," Katz said. Katz said that Waldmann, throughout his long career, has been "committed to using science for the betterment of humanity."... 78, Waldmann has no plans to retire because he believes there are many medical breakthroughs on the horizon "We have just begun," he said.