Difficulties of Having Policy Negotiations Today: Outsourced to Kevin Drum and David Weigel
Lunchtime Must-Read: Everything by Timothy Jost About the ACA on Health Affairs

Things to Read on the Afternoon of January 22, 2014


  1. Claudia Goldin: Close the Gender Pay Gap, Change the Way We Work: "The gap increases with age... wage differences are concentrated within occupations.... The earnings gap is most pronounced in occupations such as law that place a premium on the willingness and ability to work long hours, be in the office at specific times, and build face-to-face relationships with co-workers and clients.... Consider the case of women with master degrees in business administration. At 10 to 16 years into their careers, they are typically earning only 55 percent of what men do. Child bearing is a primary reason for the divergence.... The huge value that so many employers place on a standard work schedule affects more than the careers of women. Anyone who, for whatever reason, needs to take time off or work flexible hours gets penalized.... To be sure, some professions may never be able to offer much flexibility.... [But] many professions that once tied people to specific hours are finding ways to reduce the cost of flexibility.... Not everyone stands to gain in a world of greater job flexibility. Some of those willing to sacrifice their lives to work might no longer be able to reap outsize rewards. In the interests of a happier, wealthier and more equitable society, though, that would be a small price to pay."

  2. Washington Post: TwitLonger — When you talk too much for Twitter: "We regret to announce that Ezra Klein, Melissa Bell and Dylan Matthews are leaving The Post for a new venture. All three were instrumental in two of The Post’s most successful digital initiatives, Wonkblog and Know More. We plan to continue building those brands and expanding their reach, and we’ll have some exciting announcements related to them in the coming days..."

  3. Josh Barro: We Need A New Supply Side Economics: "Demand stimulation remains the right goal today, but it's not going to be the right goal forever.... We're going to need a new supply side economics that encourages people to work, invest and innovate.... [This] doesn't mean an agenda of small-bore and meddlesome initiatives designed to promote specific industries, particularly manufacturing, as often described by President Barack Obama.... Invest in smart infrastructure.... Reform means-tested entitlements.... Move the deregulatory agenda down to the state and local level.... Deregulate America's most overrated industry: real estate.... Reform intellectual property--by weakening it.... Improve education, somehow.... Admit more high-skill immigrants.... Make taxes more progressive. This isn't a supply-side reform; in fact, it is likely to discourage investment and economic growth at the margin. But it's the most effective way to offset rising pre-tax income inequality, and a revenue source will be needed to pay for some of the above reform ideas..."

  4. Ryan Avent: Secular stagnation: The second best solution: "Larry Summers has revived discussion in the 'secular stagnation' hypothesis. Income has become concentrated in... groups... with low propensities to [spend]... generat[ing] excess saving.... [One solution] is to raise inflation expectations in order to reduce real... interest rates.... Mr Summers' preferred course of action.... It is a rare rich country that doesn't have a list of infrastructure needs that could justifiably be addressed in the best of times. Pulling those off the shelf and taking them on amid rock-bottom interest rates and weak demand is a no-brainer.... Mr Summers reckons that while fiscal policy is the first best means to address stagnation, using higher inflation to reduce real interest rates and boost private demand is a clear second best.... My sense is that Mr Summers reckons the inflation strategy is not... easy to deploy successfully.... I often return to higher inflation as a strategy because something like Mr Summers' five-year programme of deficit-financed public investment looks politically unachievable to me. Higher inflation, by contrast, is something the technocratic Fed could deliver.... But... central banks don't generally propel economies out of slumps like these without significant political pressure being applied..."

  5. Timothy Jost: All posts by Timothy Jost on Health Affairs Blog: The most recent: "On January 15, 2014, the Affordable Care Act won a very important legal victory in Halbig v. Sebelius. Judge Paul Friedman of the District Court for the District of Columbia held that the ACA unambiguously supports an IRS regulation allowing the agency to issue premium tax credits to individuals enrolled through federal, as well as state, exchanges..."


  1. Jay Ackroyd: Eschaton: Obviously Good Public Policy: "A bank account at the Fed for every adult. ATMs at every post office."

  2. Daniel Kuehn: Dube et al. on the Minimum Wage: "As best as I can tell, Bob Murphy has two related concerns [about Dube et al.'s estimates of a very low disemployment effect from the minimum wage]. First, he's concerned that we're including other controls when we were supposed to be dealing with all that by matching counties.... [But] even good comparison groups can be improved upon. You never have a perfect comparison group until you have random assignment.... [Second] Bob wrote: 'What Dube, Lester, and Reich are really saying here, is that maybe for some reason minimum wage hikes happen to be concentrated in regions that have lower than average employment growth. Hence, just because we find that teenage employment grows more slowly in regions with higher minimum wages, doesn’t mean we can blame it on the relatively higher minimum wage....' The concern is that somehow we are absorbing the effect of the minimum wage. This may happen under very special circumstances, but generally it's not a problem. Bob is--I think--forgetting the panel element to the data. We are subtracting out the pre-period from the post-period for both the treatment and the comparison, and then comparing those two differences.... What special circumstances might justify Bob's fear? Time trends that are not the same before and after the minimum wage and that are not related to the minimum wage."

  3. Daniel Kuehn: Facts & other stubborn things: Brief, and entirely unsatisfying post on Ozimek and the minimum wage: "It ultimately boils down to whether we think the time-trends are appropriate or not and if there's an obvious econometric test for it I'm not sure what it is. Time-tends may be wrong, but Occam's razor seems to suggest we should include them.... Spatially heterogeneous time trends seem more reasonable than just the right circumstances that would actually introduce bias by including time trends.... DLR offers the most sensible default--just at first appearances. That doesn't mean there isn't something else going on, but I think it needs to be demonstrated."

Neil H. Buchanan: The Great Inequality Debate, and the Reemergence of Distribution as a Respectable Subject of Discussion | Bruce Bartlett: The Roots of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 | Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato, an economist at Stanford University, and Owen Zidar: Want to help the middle class? Don’t kill corporate taxes | Matthew Yglesias: Janet Yellen should ignore unemployment rate: Focus on inflation and keep interest rates low | Andrew Anglemyer et al.: GHaving guns in the home triples the risk of suicide and doubles the risk of homicide |

Should Be Aware of:

  1. Sahil Kapur: Sen. Tom Coburn's Greatest Hits: "'GOP Lawmaker Blasts NBC For Airing 'Schindler's List.' As the Chicago Tribune reported at the time, the then-congressman fumed that the network had sunk 'to an all-time low, with full-frontal nudity, violence and profanity' by airing the graphic and emotional film about the Holocaust during a family hour. He declared that parents and 'decent-minded individuals everywhere' should be outraged.... Coburn... supported the death penalty for 'abortionists and other people who take life'.... In July 2009, Coburn told Sonia Sotomayor, who would soon become the first ever Hispanic Supreme Court justice, that 'you have lots of 'splainin to do'... ompared federal funding of political science research to waterboarding his grandchildren... cited the rationing of AIDS treatment by the government as an example of why a public insurance option would be a bad idea... mused that it might be a 'wonderful experiment' to breach the debt ceiling..."

  2. Ta-Nehisi Coates (2009): Tell Us How You Really Feel, Rod Dreher: "Hilzoy pulls out this amazing nugget from a [Rod] Dreher post on homosexuality: 'If homosexuality is legitimized -- as distinct from being tolerated, which I generally support -- then it represents the culmination of the sexual revolution, the goal of which was to make individual desire the sole legitimate arbiter in defining sexual truth. It is to lock in, and, on a legal front, to codify, a purely contractual, nihilistic view of human sexuality. I believe this would be a profound distortion of what it means to be fully human. And I fully expect to lose this argument in the main, because even most conservatives today don't fully grasp how the logic of what we've already conceded as a result of being modern leads to this end.' There are these moments when, even during polite dialogue, you have to concede that you aren't living in the same world as other people. I'm at one of those moments. The idea that two gay cats marrying 'would be a profound distortion of what it means to be fully human' leaves me flabbergasted. I thought 'Rock Of Love' took care of that. But again we see a social conservatism that defines itself by a stigma of others, by an insistence that it has monopoly on what it means to be human, that the world would be a better place if we had more Ted Haggards, not less."

  3. Daniel Fincke: After I Deconverted: I’ve Usually Felt Honored and Understood When Christians See Me As “Still Christian”: "Some atheists might bristle at all of this. They might see it as Christians attempting to co-opt everything they like.... Christianity has a long long annoying history of what Christians themselves call 'plundering from the Egyptians'... routinely try[ing] to take credit for morality itself, marriage itself, democracy itself–basically anything they think is good. And then they try to convince people they need to be Christians to have that good thing.... 'You can’t just run around being moral without being a Christian.... Either become a Christian or eat your children like a logical person, Mr. Science!'... When appropriating humanity’s collective achievements, Christians are ahistorical and unscientific and culturally chauvinistic in a way that reaches the heights of megalomania and narcissism.... Nonetheless... I usually like it a lot... when Christians identify with me and my stuff..."