Jacob Hacker

Jacob S. Hacker is Stanley Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University, is the author, with Paul Pierson, of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class (2010).

Recent Articles

It Wasn't Just Iraq

Just about everyone understands the importance of Iraq to the Democrats' success in the 2006 midterm elections. Far fewer, we suspect, understand that the Democrats owe a good chunk of their 2006 success to an issue that has historically been one of their strongest: the economy. Throughout the campaign, polls regularly indicated that the economy was the second most important concern of voters (behind Iraq); polls taken in the last weekend by Pew, ABC News/ Washington Post and Newsweek confirmed this. On Election Day, 39 percent of voters deemed the economy “extremely important” to their House vote, and those voters backed the Democrats by a wide 59 percent to 39 percent margin. Similarly, a post-election poll by Democracy Corps and the Campaign for America's Future found that jobs and the economy was cited by 26 percent of voters as their most or second-most important issue (again, only lagging behind Iraq), and those voters supported Democrats by a 63 percent to 36 percent margin...

Risk Assessment, Round 2

This week, the Prospect 's Matthew Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and Mark Schmitt have been discussing The Great Risk Shift: The Assault on American Jobs, Families, Health Care, and Retirement -- And How You Can Fight Back with the book's author, Jacob Hacker of Yale University. See the first round of this exchange here . Round 2 : Hacker , Friday Jacob Hacker , Friday: Matt, Ezra, and Mark are some of the most thoughtful commentators and writers I know, and so I'm grateful they've cast their keen eyes on The Great Risk Shift and found it illuminating. Despite kind words for the book, however, both Matt and Ezra appear to want something more -- in Matt's case , a more full-throated attack on inequality; in Ezra's , a deeper exploration of political power, or rather the lack of it among Americans facing the trends I describe (and the challenge of restoring it to them). Mark is more sympathetic to my focus on the “near-universal” experience of insecurity, and the universalist prescriptions that...

Bigger and Better

Remember those bumper stickers during the early-1990s fight over the Clinton health plan? “National Health Care? The Compassion of the IRS! The Efficiency of the Post Office! All at Pentagon Prices!” In American policy debates, it's a fixed article of faith that the federal government is woefully bumbling and expensive in comparison with the well-oiled efficiency of the private sector. Former Congressman Dick Armey even elevated this skepticism into a pithy maxim: “The market is rational; government is dumb.” But when it comes to providing broad-based insurance -- health care, retirement pensions, disability coverage -- Armey's maxim has it pretty much backward. The federal government isn't less efficient than the private sector. In fact, in these critical areas, it's almost certainly much more efficient. To grasp this surprising point, it helps to understand how economists think about efficiency. Although politicians throw the word around as if it were a blanket label for everything good and...

Good Medicine

Across the political spectrum, alarm bells are ringing about Medicare, America's giant health program for the aged and disabled. To conservatives, Medicare is a huge, Kremlin-esque bureaucracy destined to soak up more and more of the American economy. To critics on the left, it's an inadequate program that nonetheless siphons off increasingly limited funds that could be used to broaden coverage for children and working families. The White House–backed Medicare reforms passed late last year only confirmed each side's worst fears, promising a meager and ill-designed drug benefit at a hugely inflated price. While millions go without basic coverage and budget deficits explode, critics asked how we can countenance pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into a system for the aged that already provides pretty decent protection. Here's how: Make improvement and expansion of Medicare the route to universal health coverage in the United States. Medicare does badly need upgrading. Medicare does...

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