Must- and Shall-Reads:


  1. Uwe Reinhardt: Medicare: A Seasoned Adult Conceived and Born in Sin: “MEDICARE AND MEDICAID! We all know you had breech births and your life has been tough. But you made it to your 50th birthday in spite of all your handicaps, that that is an achievement! In the meantime, you have kept us in the club of civilized nations. Prior to passage of Medicare and Medicaid, close to 40% of America’s elderly were too poor to afford the then available, modern health care, as were millions of non-elderly Americans. Leading members of the WWII generation who had emerged from the Great Depression and WWII with a strong egalitarian streak sought to respond to this problem. But the providers of health care… permitted the U.S. Congress to express this egalitarian sentiment in legislation only on the condition that it surrender to them the key to the U.S. Treasury…. It was unseemly for powerful interest groups to demand from Congress the key to the nation’s Treasury. Of course, it was also clear that the promises made to these interest groups sooner or later would have to be broken–and broken it was, in the 1980s and early 1990s.It seems to come as surprise to many that in spite of these earlier, built-in handicaps imposed on Medicare, over the long run Medicare actually has been able to constrain the growth of Medicare spending per beneficiary better than… the private sector…”

  2. Mark Thoma: Economist’s View: Ten Years: “Today is the ten-year anniversary for this blog. Ten years! It hardly seems like that long. When I started, I didn’t expect much. So far as I can recall, I haven’t missed a single day in all that time. Sometimes it’s just a simple post with links, etc., but there have been new posts every single day for 10 years. My life has changed a lot in the last year and a half, and I can’t promise that I won’t miss a day now and then–there will be times soon, I think, when the record may end. Ten years straight seems like enough in any case. But for now, it continues… Thanks to all who have stopped by over the years!”

  3. Timothy B. Lee: NIMBYism Is Holding Back Silicon Valley and the American Economy: “Most city leaders would be overjoyed to be selected as the site of a new headquarters for one of the world’s richest companies…. The Mountain View City Council has been unenthusiastic about Google’s plans to build a new headquarters… worried about the traffic, and about further development changing the character of their city… that Google employees could become a majority of the city’s voter base…. Other technology companies in the region have also faced resistance from not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) advocates. The result: not only is the Valley failing to deal effectively with growing congestion and soaring housing costs, these myopic local policies could end up hampering the country’s most important driver of economic growth. So what looks like a local issue has broader implications…”

  4. Nicholas Bagley: Deferring to the IRS: “Given the Chief Justice’s near-silence at oral argument in King v. Burwell, much will be made of Justice Kennedy’s sensitivity to the argument that accepting the plaintiffs’ interpretation of the statute would raise serious federalism concerns. That’s completely appropriate. But I want to call attention to a different question that Kennedy asked… whether Chevron should apply…. ‘Well, if [the statute is] ambiguous, then we think about Chevron. But it seems to me a drastic step for us to say that the Department of Internal Revenue and its director can make this call one way or the other when there are, what, hundreds of millions, billions of dollars of subsidies involved here?… And it–it seems to me our cases say that if the Internal Revenue Service is going to allow deductions using these, that it has to be very, very clear.’… There’s an answer to Kennedy’s question. I drafted an amicus brief…. ‘It is true–but irrelevant–that “when an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate ‘a significant portion of the American economy’, this Court typically greets its announcement with a measure of skepticism.”… [Yet, f]ar from unexpectedly arrogating to itself regulatory powers on the basis of statutes enacted some decades earlier, Treasury has issued a predictable… rule…. It is unclear how Treasury could have implemented the tax-credit provision at all without first resolving whether tax credits were available in states that declined to establish their own exchanges.’ Chevron deference is all the more appropriate when agencies confront big, difficult questions that arise in the course of administration. ‘It is then that the agency’s expertise and political accountability are most essential—and where the structure of the federal government most forcefully counsels judicial restraint.’ The plaintiffs are also wrong to suggest that Chevron has no application where the statute in question involves tax credits… Mayo Foundation… v. United States…”

Should Be Aware of:


  1. Ross Douthat: The Dilemmas of King v. Burwell: “I’m not convinced by the plaintiffs’ argument that the people responsible for drafting for Obamacare consciously intended to limit subsidies in order to induce states to set up their own exchanges…. [Since] we’re talking about the intent of the drafters as a collaborative group, my sense is that they’re telling the truth about having no such plan in mind, and thus that the text as we have it is the result of accident and oversight and blundering…. Hopefully the potentially-awful politics of letting the problem fester would suffice to motivate Republicans to get serious about health policy, or at least to act to keep the subsidies available while they try harder to get serious. I’m sure, though, that the Congress is filled with lawmakers who would rather not put that possibility to the test…. The administration really is dealing with an extraordinary level of congressional dysfunction…. Unless [Roberts] or Kennedy comes up with a clever constitutional move, the court would be… enabling congressional abdication and dysfunction…. That in turn is why… I find myself hoping that the court rules for the plaintiffs..”

    I can only classify this as yet another example of low-functioning sociopathology: Douthat’s position is: “Congressional Republicans misbehave, so let’s punish the red states’ working poor and lower middle class!”