Posts tagged ‘NRO’

Douthat, Brennan, even McArdle Making 3 Mistakes in Looking at Exchange Subsidy Numbers

Ross Douthat in the NYT quoting Patrick Brennan

About one-fourth of the people who have entered their income information on their applications were deemed eligible for subsidies on the exchanges (about 900,000 out of about 3.6 million), which is lower than the number we saw in October alone and remains really far from what was projected. The CBO projected that just 1 million out of the 7 million people to enroll in the exchanges in the first year would be ineligible for subsidies, so the ratio is way off from what was expected (15–75 vs. 75–25). I had some thoughts on that surprising fact a month ago, and I’ll add a couple now: Unsubsidized customers (basically, those above the national median income) are generally savvier and more likely to have the resources to enroll and make their payments ahead of time, so maybe this is understandable and doesn’t say anything about who will eventually enroll. On the other hand, it may demonstrate that the people to whom insurance was supposed to be expanded — the uninsured, who tend to be low-income and not well educated — aren’t getting to the exchanges at all, and covering them will be a much longer term project.

There is a huge, enormous analytical problem with this-- they are looking at entirely the wrong numbers.  Incredibly, Meghan McArdle makes this same mistake, and I generally respect her analysis of things.   I am going to pull out my summary chart of the Exchange numbers to try to make things clear (click to enlarge):



There are 3 major mistakes, each worse than the one before.

MISTAKE 1:  The 3.6 million total applicants number is in line 3 (3,692,599).  This is the wrong number.  The number he should use is line 4, the number of people who have had their eligibility processed.  So the denominator should be 3.1 million, not 3.6 million.

MISTAKE 2:  He leaves out the Medicaid piece.  Seriously, if we looking at numbers that are partially subsidized, why leave out numbers (Medicaid and CHIP) that are entirely subsidized?   This means the applicants eligible for subsidy are 803,077 + 944,531 or 1,747,608 which is 56% of the processed applicant pool.  The subsidy number may be lower than expected but I get the sense that the Medicaid percentage is higher than expected.

MISTAKE 3:  They are looking at the application pool, not the sign-up or enrollment pool.  That is understandable, because the Administration refuses to give the subsidy percentage breakdown of those who have selected a plan (a number which they certainly must have).  My guess is that people are putting in applications just to see if they are eligible for subsidies.  If not, they quit the exchange process and go back to their broker.   That is what I will probably do (out of curiosity, I would never accept taxpayer money for something I am willing to pay for myself).  The people who actually sign up for coverage are almost certainly going to skew more towards subsidized than does the applicant pool.

Making reasonable assumptions about the mix of subsidies in the "selected a plan" group, one actually gets numbers of 80-90% Medicare and CHIP and subsidies in the enrollment pool.

I do think McArdle is correct in saying that the uninsured numbers were both exaggerated and mis-characterized.  I have been saying that for years.

This Was My Take As Well: Cut Farm Subsidies, Not Food Stamps

First, as many of you may have guessed, the "massive cuts" in food stamps over the next 10 years proposed by House Republicans are basically just a modest reduction in their rate of growth.  All attempts to slow the spending growth in any government program will always be treated by the media as Armageddon, which is why government spending seldom slows (see: Sequester).

But I have been amazed through this whole deal that Republicans want to extract a pound (actually probably just an ounce or so) of flesh out of the Food Stamp program but explicitly left the rest of the farm bill with all of its bloated subsidies alone.  Henry Olson asks the same question at NRO.

I will add one other observation about food stamps that is sure to have just about everyone disagreeing with me.  Of late, Republicans have released a number of reports on food stamp fraud, showing people converting food stamps to cash, presumably so they can buy things with the money that food stamps are allowed to be used for.

Once upon a time, maybe 30 years ago in my more Conservative days, I would get all worked up by the same things.  Look at those guys, we give them money for food and they buy booze with it!  It must be stopped.  Since that time, I suppose I never really revisited this point of view until I was watching the recent stories on food stamp fraud.

But what I began thinking about was this:  As a libertarian, I always say that the government needs to respect and keep its hands off the decision-making of individuals.  If people make bad choices, paraphrasing from the HBO show Deadwood, then let them go to hell however they choose.  And, more often than not, it turns out that when you really look, people are not necessarily making what from the outside looks like a bad choice -- they have information, incentives, pressures, and preferences we folks sitting in our tidy Washington offices, chauffeured to work every day, may not understand.

So if we are going to give people charity - money to survive on when poor and out of work - shouldn't we respect them and their choices?  Why attach a myriad of conditions and surveillance to the use of the funds?  Of course, this is an opinion that puts me way out of the mainstream.  Liberals will treat these folks as potential victims that must be guided paternally, and Conservatives will treat them as potential fraudsters who must be watched carefully.  I think either of these attitudes are insidious, and it is better to treat these folks as adults who need help.

More Evidence We Are Lacking A Strong Opposition Party

This is another in a series of my lamentations on this country not having a strong and credible opposition party.  Previously, I have derided the Democrats for not coming up with a viable foreign policy alternative, but they appear just as week on domestic policy issues.

I have made my disdain for Kelo fairly clear.  It has taken a while, but someone other than a major beneficiary of eminent domain (e.g. the NY Times, which got their new HQ building courtesy of an eminent domain condemnation) has tried to defend it.  The defender is Nancy Pelosi, and boy has it become clear why we don't have a stronger opposition party in this country.  The Democrats have chosen this mental midget as their Congressional leader?  Check out this interview, via NRO:


"Q: Later this
morning, many Members of the House Republican leadership, along with
John Cornyn from the Senate, are holding a news conference on eminent
domain, the decision of the Supreme Court the other day, and they are
going to offer legislation that would restrict it, prohibiting federal
funds from being used in such a manner.

Two questions: What was your reaction to the Supreme Court decision
on this topic, and what do you think about legislation to, in the minds
of opponents at least, remedy or changing it?

Ms. Pelosi: As a Member of Congress, and actually all of us and
anyone who holds a public office in our country, we take an oath of
office to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Very central to
that in that Constitution is the separation of powers. I believe that
whatever you think about a particular decision of the Supreme Court,
and I certainly have been in disagreement with them on many occasions,
it is not appropriate for the Congress to say we're going to withhold
funds for the Court because we don't like a decision.

Q: Not on the Court, withhold funds from the eminent domain purchases
that wouldn't involve public use. I apologize if I framed the question
poorly. It wouldn't be withholding federal funds from the Court, but
withhold Federal funds from eminent domain type purchases that are not
just involved in public good.

Ms. Pelosi: Again, without focusing on the actual decision, just to
say that when you withhold funds from enforcing a decision of the
Supreme Court you are, in fact, nullifying a decision of the Supreme
Court. This is in violation of the respect for separation of church --
powers in our Constitution, church and state as well. Sometimes the
Republicans have a problem with that as well. But forgive my

So the answer to your question is, I would oppose any legislation
that says we would withhold funds for the enforcement of any decision
of the Supreme Court no matter how opposed I am to that decision. And
I'm not saying that I'm opposed to this decision, I'm just saying in

Q: Could you talk about this decision? What you think of it?

Ms. Pelosi: It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants
to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a
constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken. It's an elementary discussion now. They have made the decision.

Q: Do you think it is appropriate for municipalities to be able to use eminent domain to take land for economic development?

Ms. Pelosi: The Supreme Court has decided, knowing the particulars
of this case, that that was appropriate, and so I would support that.

(emphasis added)

This is just crazy.  I guess as a Kelo-hater, I should be happy in this case that the opposition is so weak, but my god it is a depressing revelation for the future on other issues.

A Bit More on Academia

I have tried to resist the temptation to blog much on the whole Ward Churchill situation.  In part this is because it has been kicked around so thoroughly in other venues, and in part because I just knew I would get emails purposefully misunderstanding my point.  I have instead tried to focus some positive attention on emerging examples of scholarship where none existed before.  That said, I would like to try to add my own postscript on the whole Churchill fiasco.

First, while he has made some truly egregious statements that point to his moral bankruptcy,such as those he made about the 9/11 attacks and victims, I don't think that UC has grounds to fire him for these comments, at least based on the accepted rules and purpose of tenure.  One of the reasons for tenure is to give academics the freedom to pursue scholarship in any direction, without threat of political retribution.

However, Churchill should be fired for his complete lack of quality scholarship or principled academic research.  Churchill, through his poor scholarship, plagiarism, and outright fabrications have helped to set back historic studies about Native Americans and their tragic interaction with Western Civilization.  Churchill has become the poster boy for one of the leading problems in academia today, that is the ability of certain individuals to substitute vocal leftist politics and minority status for intellectual rigor and true scholarship in getting tenure at major universities.   A non-protected group white male of moderate politics with the same body of academic work as Churchill couldn't get a job teaching at any self-respecting university, but put the same work under the banner of radical leftist native American, and suddenly he has tenure at the University of Colorado.

Anyway, Victor David Hanson has a great piece in NRO summarizing why Ward Churchill represents what is wrong in academia today.