Think Tank Round-Up: Indispensable Partner Edition.

This election-day TTR identifies new benefits from health-care reform, warns of pernicious behavior from the credit-card industry, argues for a stronger Europe, and provides the latest data on higher education during the recession.

  • Health-care reform will lower your premium. In a new paper, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber provides evidence that market reforms and subsidies included in proposed health-care reform legislation will bring down the cost of individual premiums. CBO studies, Gruber says, imply that "the same plan that cost $6,000 without reform would cost $4,540 with reform, or almost 25 percent less," and in Massachusetts, whose health-care reform efforts are similar to the new national initiatives, "the average individual premium in the state fell from $8,537 at the end of 2006 to $5,143 in mid-2009, a 40 percent reduction, while the rest of the nation was seeing a 14 percent increase." His findings suggest that even people who already have health-care insurance can expect to benefit from the passage of health-care reform legislation. -- TF
  • Watch out for more bank fees. Pew Charitable Trusts reveals the continued unfair and deceptive practices by credit-card companies since the passage of the Credit CARD Act earlier this year. The report, covering 12 banks that control over 90 percent of the nation’s outstanding credit-card debt and 12 credit unions, finds that no banks currently issue credit cards that meet the requirements of the Credit CARD Act of 2009. In fact, banks have increased penalty rates and more have moved toward a "variable rate with minimum rate requirement" model that prevents cardholders from enjoying the benefits of a falling index rate. Hopefully, the new federal regulation will succeed in imposing "reasonable and proportional" limits on charges to protect consumers, and do so soon. -- LL
  • A Post-American Europe? In a study released yesterday, the Brookings Institute highlights the importance of a strong Europe. “In foreign and defense policy the relationship [between the U.S. and Europe] remains one of patron and client,” the authors note with regret. Arguing that a strong EU with an assertive foreign policy would be an asset to the United States, they advise Europe to develop its own foreign-policy agenda, particularly with regard to Afghanistan, Russia, and the Middle East. As the U.S. shifts from world superpower to “indispensable” partner, a more unified and forceful Europe would be a useful ally. -- PL
  • School’s in. Drawing on recent U.S. Census Bureau data, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press confirms that in the midst of a nationwide recession, college enrollment is higher than it's ever been. Results show in 2008, just under 11.5 million students – or about 40 percent of people ages 18 to 24 – were enrolled in a two- or four-year college. Community colleges benefited most – adding about 300,000 students to their enrollment rosters from 2007 to 2008. Meanwhile, four-year universities saw virtually no change. According to Pew, the split is consistent with the countercyclical nature of community institutions – “tend[ing] to rise as the economy worsens.” -- MH

-- TAP Staff

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