Archives

Uncategorized

Here’s a bit of common sense analysis about the bumpy initial start-up of the Affordable Care Act and another reason for everyone to calm down: We’ve been down a similar road before and things quickly smoothed out just fine.

The year was 2006 and the program was Medicare Part D. As analyst Jack Hoadley of the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute reminded us a couple weeks back, that program started even slower and with similar sign-up snafus. As the graph below shows however, once the kinks got ironed out, enrollment shot up steadily. Read More

Lunch Links

It’s a brand new week of Lunch Links at N.C. Policy Watch, our recently revived daily feature to help get our readers through the day.

We’ll find out this week if Gov. Pat McCrory will sign or veto 38 pieces of legislation still on his desk, many about the controversies that have brought people to protest in the streets as part of the Moral Monday movement. Click here to see the list of the 38 bills on McCrory’s desk.

As a big fan of databases (and what investigative reporter isn’t?) my inaugural Lunch Links will be dedicated to databases I find useful and entertaining.

  • An oldie but a goodie, the OSHA database (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). You can see if the company you’re thinking of hiring has a history of workplace safety issues, what they were initially fined and if that fine was knocked down.
  • Want to figure out what political party your neighbor is registered under? Or find out if your school board candidate even votes in local elections?
    McCrory's voting history, from N.C. State Board of Elections.

    McCrory’s voting history, from N.C. State Board of Elections.

    The N.C. State Board of Elections has that information here and you can search by name and then pull up that person’s voting history.

A quick peek at Gov. Pat McCrory’s voting records show that he utilized early voting or absentee ballots in the last two years, instead of voting in person on Election Day as he did in years past.

Read More

Uncategorized

Dean BakerOne of the country’s keenest economic policy observers, Dean Baker, has an excellent take down of Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson’s latest demands that the U.S. slash social spending this morning at the Center for Economic and Policy Research website. His message: America’s obsession with near-term deficits remains utterly illogical and counterproductive: 

“First, the budget is only constrained at the moment by superstition. There is no obstacle to the government borrowing more money to meet needs and put people back to work. We are not spending more money because we have superstitious people with large amounts of power who are making claims about the dangers of deficits that they cannot support with evidence. Rather than lecturing seniors, who have a median income of $20,000, on the need for lower Social Security and Medicare benefits, Obama could try to confront the people spreading superstitions about deficits….

…In fact, according to the Social Security Trustees projections, Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Across North Carolina and the nation at large, we’re seeing a fundamental policy debate playing itself out, which boiled down to its essence asks a single, critical question: Do government benefits promote dependency among those who receive those benefits, or do they promote personal responsibility and a common baseline opportunity for all Americans?

The big picture answer is that everyone benefits from our government’s spending on things like schools, roads, public health.  But the narrower part of this debate focuses on entitlement spending who receives it and what is required in exchange for these supports.  As a recent study makes clear, over 90% of entitlement spending benefits like Medicare, Social Security, and SNAP go to Americans who are either working, paying into the system, have paid into the system in the past, or have disabilities.  This spending provides a critical support that promotes the ideal that we’re all in this together.

Read More

Uncategorized

(Cross-posted from the blog of the Center for Economic and Policy Research)

By Dean Baker

It is popular among Washington elite types to tut-tut criticisms of the plan put forward by Representative Ryan and the Republicans to replace Medicare with a voucher program by claiming that “at least he has a plan.” This is supposed to be in contrast to President Obama and the Democrats who have no plan to deal with Medicare’s projected shortfall.

It’s possible that these Washington insiders missed it, but President Obama and the Democrats pushed through a piece of legislation called the “Affordable Care Act.” This bill proposes a number of mechanisms for containing costs within the Medicare program. As a result the projected shortfall has fallen by almost two-thirds, from 3.88 percent of taxable payroll in the 2009 Medicare Trustees Report to 1.35 percent of taxable payroll in the 2012 Medicare Trustees Report.

People can criticize the mechanisms the ACA put in place or complain that they did not go far enough, but to claim that President Obama and the Democrats did nothing to address the projected shortfall in Medicare is not true.