Archive

  • The "Theft" of Health Care by Immigrants: Does It Matter?

    The New York Times ran a front page story on Sunday that could have been a case study of why it is essential to put budget numbers in context. The article, " Medicaid Rule For Immigrants May Bar Others ," explains how new rules intended to prevent illegal immigrants from getting Medicaid may also prevent many eligible beneficiaries from getting assistance. The problem is that many low income people don't possess the necessary documentation (e.g. drivers licenses or birth certificates) needed to receive Medicaid under the new rules. The key flaw in an otherwise excellent article is the brief reference to the potential budget savings from the new rules. The article reports that the Congressional Budget Office projects the savings as $220 million over five years and $735 million over ten years. Many readers may have been misled into thinking that this is real money. The projected savings are equal to 0.0015 percent of projected spending over the next five years and 0.0022 percent of...
  • Immigration: Die at the Border and Open Borders

    I want to follow up quickly to a couple of notes on my posting where I referred to the "Die at the Border" policy. I was not arguing for open borders. I don't think that anyone who has given the issue serious thought advocates open borders, since a literal open border policy would almost certainly imply an inflow of hundreds of millions of people in the next couple of decades. My point is that we don't have open borders; instead we have very serious limitations on immigration. Immigration is restricted both by the danger of the border crossing and the prospect of deportation due to a random encounter with law enforcement (e.g. a traffic ticket). These threats ensure that most immigrants will not be well-educated, since well-educated people in the developing world will not take these risks to work in the United States. This means that less-skilled workers in the United States have to worry about competition from undocumented workers, while the people who design and debate immigration...
  • DINING WITH DEAN....

    DINING WITH DEAN. From Tuesday�s American Prospect breakfast with Howard Dean : Walter Shapiro: Governor, from where you sit, is the fact that there will be two caucuses between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary a done deal, or is this still open for negotiation, as to whether there will be caucuses and/or whether New Hampshire will have its traditional unmolested Iowa/New Hampshire role in American history? Howard Dean: We don�t molest anybody. We leave that to the deputy press secretary of the Homeland Security agency. For this and more, listen to this recording of the event. --The Editors
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP: THE OUTRAGE GAP. The last thing Democrats need is an electorate on the fence, says Terence Samuel. --The Editors
  • THE TRUTH ABOUT...

    THE TRUTH ABOUT IRAN MIGHT WORK -- BUT WILL DEMS TELL IT? Matt , Ezra , and Garance all give very thoughtful answers to my question below about Iran -- no question, arguments about cost and effectiveness should certainly prove more effective this time around. My concern, however, is that some Dems -- primarily the presidential contenders and their advisers, and we all know who I'm talking about here -- won't see it our way. It's hard to imagine Dems supporting a full-scale military adventure, but if Bush talks up limited strikes, some ambitious Dems might conclude that backing Bush's plan is the safest way to go -- that their presidential hopes will go up in flames if they don't appear prepared to use limited force against a regime with nuclear ambitions. I don't at all agree with that argument, but it isn't hard to imagine certain Dems thinking it. They might calculate that if anything goes wrong with the Iran adventure -- if it proves more costly or less effective than advertised...
  • MITT ROMNEY CHANNELS...

    MITT ROMNEY CHANNELS JOHN EDWARDS. This is a bit of an old story already, but I think it's still worth noting for the historical record, since I haven't seen it noted elsewhere, that John Edwards , not Mitt Romney , was the first presidential candidate to propose making health insurance mandatory . Romney's just the first to get that approach to health care policy enacted into law -- an outcome attributable to the difference between being a senator from a conservative state and the governor of a liberal one. --Garance Franke-Ruta
  • WHITE REPUBLICANS' BLACK REPUBLICAN PROBLEM.

    WHITE REPUBLICANS' BLACK REPUBLICAN PROBLEM. Here's an interesting preview of a forthcoming article by a Yale economist demonstrating that "white Republicans nationally are 25 percentage points more likely on average to vote for the Democratic senatorial candidate when the GOP hopeful is black," and that there is no noticeable boost in black voter turnout when the Republican candidate is black. Similar findings also apply to House and gubernatorial races. The sample size for black GOP senatorial candidates is, needless to say, limited -- the economist, Ebonya Washington , identified and analyzed five such races between 1982 and 2000. I know Alan Keyes 's senatorial bids in Maryland account for two of them; anyone know what the other three races were? The study is obviously relevant to both Michael Steele 's Senate bid in Maryland and Ken Blackwell 's gubernatorial race in Ohio this year. But of course, as Alec showed in our last print issue, Steele's campaign currently has plenty of...
  • BUT WHY? ...

    BUT WHY? The Urban Institute's C. Eugene Stuerle writes : a postwar boom in the U.S. labor force is just now ending. Since around 1950, the percentage of adults who worked rose almost every year except in recessions. But now the great swell of working boomers is starting to retire, and most of the gain in female labor force participation is over. If Americans keep retiring at the same ages they do today, the share of adults who are working will fall markedly. The effect on the economy will be roughly equivalent to increasing the unemployment rate by 3/10 of 1 percent every year for 20 years straight starting in 2008. He goes on to argue for older folks to remain in the workforce longer. I think, for a variety of reasons, that's a good outcome. The longer you work, the healthier, happier, richer and more mentally alert you tend to remain (though there are questions of correlation v. causation there). Nevertheless, a decrease in the number of workers, particularly as the boomers, who...
  • PLAYING POLITICS ISN'T...

    PLAYING POLITICS ISN'T A POLICY. I'm going to dissent, with Ezra , from the emerging TAPPED line on Iran here and say that any Democrat who comes out and argues that we can't deal with Iran until Bush is out of office will do nothing more than reaffirm to the nth degree the perception that Democrats cannot handle national security matters. Iran is not just an American problem and is not going to go away as an issue if Democrats choose to punt on it. The U.S. did not precipitate this conflict. The entire world, through the United Nations National Security Council, is concerned about Iran becoming the ninth state to acquire nuclear weapons. The Europeans were taking the lead on exerting pressure on Iran until quite recently, and Russia attempted to broker a deal that would prevent the present intensification of tensions. A nuclear Iran governed by a madman is of far graver concern to Europe and Israel than it would be to the more distant U.S. The issue for us right now is that the U.S...
  • THE RETURN OF...

    THE RETURN OF POTTERY BARN . I'll second Matt 's comments below; so much as George Bush 's staggering incompetence should have a prime part in the Democratic production of "No Sequel: Why We Shouldn't Fight Iran," to build the whole argument around Bush himself would be a profoundly unstable edifice for the anti-war camp. Indeed, it would take little more than Bush replacing Don Rumsfeld with some media-recognized vessel of establishment gravitas and hardheaded competence to short-circuit the argument. Imagine if noted warmonger John McCain were ushered into the cabinet, or if some retired general were brought in to replace Dick Cheney . No, the aura of competence is something the Bush administration can reclaim, what Democrats need to do is discredit this war as a concept. Luckily, I don't reckon that'll be so tough. The great gift of the Iraq War, for Republicans, was its apparent ease. During the selling period, word on the street was we were going to invade, occupy, and rebuild...

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