Lunchtime Must-Read: Emily Oster: Why is the U.S. falling behind in life expectancy?
Watching Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Etc...

Things to Read on the Evening of December 27, 2013


  1. Emily Oster s graph of the year Why is the U S falling behind in life expectancy Wonkblog: Emily Oster’s graph of the year: Why is the U.S. falling behind in life expectancy?: Emily Oster: "Amidst all the focus on health insurance, I think it’s crucial not to lose focus on the fact that--insurance or not--the United States is lagging behind in health status. This chart--from a broader report--demonstrates not only how low our life expectancy is relative to other developed countries, but also how far we have fallen even in the last 30 years. Why are we not realizing the same gains that countries with comparable incomes are?"

  2. Menzie Chinn: British Economic Triumphalism in Perspective: "Prime Minister Osborne has lauded the recent UK growth numbers as validation for the policy of austerity (recently relaxed, although he doesn't mention that). Paul Krugman refers to the the Three Stooges in explaining the deficiencies of this logic. And Richard Portes (head of CEPR) states: 'The current policies have been disastrous.... My view is pretty much the view I had a little over three years ago when I said the austerity program would be a disaster. And it has been. It has been responsible for the painfully slow recovery.' So who is right? Well, I think it useful to compare the US and the UK. The former embarked upon a policy of fiscal stimulus, and then retrenchment, but nothing compared to the retrenchment implemented in the latter. And in the US, per capita GDP growth was much more rapid than in the UK."

  3. George Zornick: The dark money in climate change: "Robert J. Brulle... [finds] that climate-denial money has largely been driven underground to dark-money sources. About 75 percent... untraceable, primarily via conservative foundations and shadowy tax-exempt groups that obscure their funding sources.... ExxonMobil and Koch Industries... have withdrawn their publicly traceable funding in recent years, and that withdrawal tracked closely with an increase in untraceable funding. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out what’s happening there. So why is industry money going underground?... Environmentalists have been able to achieve in the past decade or so is making climate denialism (1) seem increasingly kooky and unfounded, and (2) seem like the efforts of an industry that is protecting itself rather than one that wants an honest debate about the science.... The rush by ExxonMobil and other industry funders to obscure their funding of climate denialism could be a confirmation of those vulnerabilities.... If you force transparency into the system, corporate giving could at least moderate. The trends in climate denial funding suggest again that’s probably the case."


  1. Don Taylor: More on catastrophic plans: "In May 2012 I blogged that the ACA was going to allow quite high deductibles, even as Republicans criticized it for ending the practice, and I have generally felt that default catastrophic options hold the best chance for a future reform deal between the two political sides. Now we’ve come full circle and Republicans are criticizing high deductibles... lining up against narrow networks... cost control measures.... I will assume that at some point Republicans will realize they are running out of their own ideas that Democrats actually tried... so at some point [it] has to get back to the policy (right?)..."

  2. Donald Taylor (2012): Title VIII of Ryan’s Patients’ Choice Act: "I have written lots about what I consider to be the hypocrisy of Rep. Paul Ryan for criticizing the IPAB given what is proposed in title VIII of the Patients’ Choice Act (two expert boards) that he introduced along with co-sponors Devin Nunes in the House and Sens. Burr and Coburn on May 20, 2009. This post outlines the argument, and looks closely at selected portions of the text, this one elaborates on the topic given a repeal-of-IPAB-hearing held during the Summer of 2011, and this one follows up by discussing a response from Rep. Ryan’s spokesperson to my criticisms. Keep in mind that I praised the board contained in the Republican bill in this July 24 2009 newspaper column, and said that such a board based loosely on the base closing commission could represent a bipartisan way ahead to address costs! (silly me)..."

  3. Matthew Yglesias: Bing: How long will it last.: "Steve Ballmer's run as Microsoft CEO hasn't been great for Microsoft's shareholders, but it's been a boon to the world since his determination to pour money into an Online Services division that competes with Google on several fronts has given Mountain View a dose of competition. But Ballmer's been more-or-less fired, and Microsoft's board is supposed to appoint a new CEO next year. Will Ballmer's successor share his determination to go head to head with the king of search? If you were given the job, would you? I wouldn't. Online Services has been a huge financial disaster for Microsoft. But if it goes away, then suddenly Google becomes a real monopolist."


Should Be Aware of:

  1. Laura Meckler: Republicans Shy Away From Their Own Health Plan: "Some Republicans are now worried that a GOP proposal to begin taxing health-care benefits offered through employers... would cause market disruptions far more severe and expose the party to its own political peril. The proposed tax change was proposed by President George W. Bush in 2007 and by Sen. John McCain as presidential nominee in 2008. A similar GOP plan in the House has 117 co-sponsors.... 'There's an acknowledgment that massive overturning of the employer-sponsored system is something people just aren't ready for', said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a leading Republican economist and chief policy adviser to Mr. McCain's campaign..."

  2. Kenneth Thomas: Watch this Link: Will Heritage Scrub Its Obamacare History?: "Heritage is an organization that I've already lost most respect for, it being famous both for proposing Obamacare's main components and denying that it is responsible for the individual mandate.... My modest contribution was to note that the January 1989 research report Taranto found in the Heritage archives was actually noted on its cover, "Revised Edition." This pushes the original research back into 1988 at least and clearly refutes Stuart Butler's claim that the individual mandate was a response to Hillarycare. In fact, it was a response to the considerable political groundswell for single payer in the 1980s. The question is how far the deterioration of the Heritage research mandate will go.... [If] A National Health System for America, Revised Edition, can no longer be downloaded, we will know another big step in the hyper-politicization of Heritage has taken place. Should it happen, and you need a copy, email me and I will send you a copy of the pdf document on a 'fair use" basis'..."

  3. Avik Roy: The Tortuous History of Conservatives and the Individual Mandate: "Some conservatives... began endorsing an individual mandate.... In 1989, Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation proposed a plan he called Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans.” Stuart’s plan included a provision to 'mandate all households to obtain adequate insurance*.... As far as I have been able to find, Stuart’s 1989 brief is the first published proposal of an individual mandate in the context of private-sector-managed health systems.... 1990s conservatives weren’t concerned with the constitutional implications of allowing Congress to force people to buy a private product. 'I don’t remember that being raised at all', Mark Pauly told Ezra Klein last year.... Last October, prompted by a Wall Street Journal piece by James Taranto, I recounted how the Heritage Foundation was once the leading conservative advocate of the individual mandate..... Stuart has published an op-ed in USA Today, in which he describes as a 'myth' the idea that Heritage invented the mandate.... Stuart says that Heritage’s version of the individual mandate contained 'three critical features' that distinguish it from Obamacare’s mandate: (1) it required... catastrophic coverage.... (2) it was primarily financed 'through the carrot of a generous health credit or voucher…rather than by a stick'; (3) Heritage’s mandate 'was actually the loss of certain tax breaks… not a legal requirement'.... It’s worth pointing out that: (1) Heritage proposed the individual mandate in 1989, well before Bill and Hillary Clinton were on anyone’s political radar screen; (2) Obamacare and Romneycare both finance individual insurance purchases through generous vouJohn Cochrane's Third-Order Derpchers (via the exchanges); (3) Obamacare’s mandate is 'enforced', weakly, by withholding tax refunds..."

  4. Dan Drezner: The Year of Living Hegemonically: "As 2013 draws to a close, it is not hard to find epitaphs for American hegemony. Perhaps the most recent and most articulate was Walter Russell Mead's claim that the 'Central Powers'--China, Iran, and Russia--were acting like an "Axis of Weevils," burrowing in and hollowing out the U.S.-created order.... What he's saying matches what many Americans and non-Americans believe... more people think the United States is less powerful.... Meanwhile, America's rivals have had an industrious 2013.... Here's the thing, though: at the same time that commentators were bemoaning U.S. decline, the world was looking up.... 'Every day in every way, the world grows richer, safer and smarter'.... Those fearful of disorder have made two fundamental errors in judgment. First, they assume that China, Iran, and others want to rewrite the global rules of the game. Not so.... The bigger error, however, has come from analysts confusing a U.S. reluctance to use military force in the Middle East with a decline in American power and influence..."


Michael Koplow: This Is What A Panicked Erdoğan Looks Like | Anne-Marie Slaughter:** China's recent political crackdown and Xi Jinping's economic-reform agenda | Paul Krugman: On the Asymmetry of Booms and Slumps | Brad Plumer: Seven things you should know about the expiration of unemployment benefits | Evan Soltas: North Carolina Shows How to Crush the Unemployed | John Timmer: Solar variability has a small effect on climate change |