Jacob S. 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) and American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper (2016).  

Recent Articles

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...