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Hence some links below are broken.
One thing to try if a “www” link is broken is to substitute “faculty” for “www”
For example a broken link
can be changed to corrected link

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Tidbits Political Quotations
To Accompany the March 15, 2017 edition of Tidbits         
Bob Jensen at
Trinity University

Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side because it's been fertilized with more bullshit.


Shoot for the space in between, because that's where the real mystery lies.
Vera Rubin


Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
T.S. Eliot

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Margaret Wheatley
Even conversations that are not politically correct.

Why, we grow rusty and you catch us at the very point of decadence --- by this time tomorrow we may have forgotten everything we ever knew. That's a thought isn't it? We'd be back to where we started --- improvising.
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Act I)

It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.

Babe Ruth, Historic Home Run Hitter
What's sad is to witness what Syria has become because nobody will give up.

And "because they're nonstate actors, it's hard for us to get the satisfaction of [Gen.] MacArthur and the [Japanese] Emperor [Hirohito] meeting and the war officially being over," Obama observed, referencing the end of World War II.
President Barack Obama when asked if the USA of the future will be perpetually engaged in war.

We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
Joseph Campbell

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
George S. Patton
Why were nearly all poll statisticians thinking alike in 2016?

If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there.
Yogi Berra

Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.
Henry David Thoreau

Economists are the idiot savants of our time.
John Stuart Mill

UN: World facing greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945 ---

CBO:  U.S. Is On Path To Highest Budget Deficits And Debt In Our History ---

No. 1 Amazon bestseller: 266 blank pages on why to vote Democrat ---
Yale Professor Michael J. Knowles
For a laugh read the price and reviews on Amazon ---
I don't recommend buying this book for any reason other than as a conversation piece in your living room. Make a game out of filling in the pages among your guests.

Everyone is talking about WikiLeaks’ massive CIA data dump — here’s what’s going on ---

Americans Are Caught Between Trump’s Lies and Clapper’s Lies. That’s Why Trust in Institutions Keeps Declining.---

Washington Post:  Washington Post catalogues the biggest lies Obama ever told (at least some we know about)---

Trump Ads Were More Policy-Focused, Less Negative Than Clinton's 2016 Election Ads, Find Wesleyan Researchers ---

Former AG: Yes–The President Is Right To Think That Trump Tower Was Under Electronic Surveillance ---

The IRS Scandal, Day 1402: IRS Locates 7,000 Documents Related To Tea Party Targeting (but don't hold your breath for the IRS to relaease them) ---
Jensen Comment
Perhaps this scandal could've been avoided if Lois Lerner had not refused to testify under oath that the White House did not order her to target the conservative groups that she confessed to targeting..

Race and Intelligence ---
Debate at Middlebury Over Co-author of the "Bell Curve" (race and intelligence) ---

Ten examples of "Hate Crimes" that turned out to be scams.

Five ways Trump’s new travel order is different from the earlier “Muslim ban” ---

Preet Bharara’s Crusade to Clean Up New York Politics Is Redundant, Counterproductive, and Curiously Selective ---

The (Political Correctness) Mob of Faculty and Students at Middlebury

Despite Modi’s anti-corruption drive, 70% of Indians must still pay bribes for basic services ---

Bob Dylan's Nobel Speech ---

As a performer I've played for 50,000 people and I've played for 50 people and I can tell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singular persona, not so with 50. Each person has an individual, separate identity, a world unto themselves. They can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth of your talent is tried. The fact that the Nobel committee is so small is not lost on me.
Bob Dylan

They say that patriotism is the last refuge
To which a scoundrel clings.
Steal a little and they throw you in jail,
Steal a lot and they make you king.
There's only one step down from here, baby,
It's called the land of permanent bliss. 
What's a sweetheart like you doin' in a dump like this?

Bob Dylan

Well, the rifleman’s stalking the sick and the lame
Preacherman seeks the same, who’ll get there first is uncertain
Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks
Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain
False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin
Only a matter of time ’til night comes steppin’ in

Bob Dylan

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son
And what did you see, my darling young one
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin'
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Bob Dylan

Patti Smith Sings Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rains Gonna Fall” at Nobel Prize Ceremony & Gets a Case of the Nerves ---

What nationalities are deported in the greatest numbers from Canada?
A Look at Canada's Unwelcome Index

In Rank Order

France (where the attraction is Quebec)
North Korea
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Theorem ---

Kenneth Arrow's Impossibility Theorem ---

Among the (other) theorems named after economists are: the Coase theorem, the Modigliani-Miller theorem, the Stolper-Samuelson theorem, the GibbardSatterthwaite theorem, and the Debreu-Scarf theorem.  Kudos to any graduate student who can summarize the content of all 6 of them or remind me of others.
Larry Summers

Jensen Comment
The proof of a theorem rests upon the hypotheses and assumptions from which it that proof is derived. Economics at best is a soft science since underlying assumptions of so many of its conclusions are usually controversial. Real world tests are generally corrupted by departures from underlying economic assumptions.

The ultimate test of a "theorem" is the robustness of the conclusions in it's real-world tests. There is no such thing as a perfect right angle in the real world. But usually the Pythagorean Theorem is sufficiently robust for construction of things like bridges. The theorems of famous economists are not so robust. For example, market inefficiency is real, variable in different markets, and variable in a single market over time. Mathematical conclusions that assume market efficiency are always suspect.

Edward MacNeal in a book entitled Mathsemantics: Making Numbers Talk Sense discusses some of the robustness problems of famous theorems ---
I bought my used copy of this book for less than a buck on Amazon. What a buy!

Economists are the idiot savants of our time.
John Stuart Mill

CBO:  U.S. Is On Path To Highest Budget Deficits And Debt In Our History ---

Bob Jensen's threads on the entitlements disasters ---

Trump, Wiretapping and the New York Times ---

President Trump has a predisposition toward self-inflicted wounds,” writes New York Times Public Editor Liz Spayd . “He proved so once again last Saturday when he claimed he had been wiretapped by President Barack Obama, and called him a ‘sick guy’ who had conducted a Watergate-style operation.”

Mr. Trump actually called Mr. Obama a “bad (or sick) guy.” But Ms. Spayd, who serves as a sort of ombudsman for the paper, is accurately reflecting conventional media wisdom that the President once again blundered with a misguided tweet that cannot possibly be true and is bound to hurt him politically.

It’s difficult to evaluate Mr. Trump’s claim without public evidence, just as it’s difficult to evaluate the claims by Mr. Trump’s adversaries that his campaign colluded with the Russian government in the absence of public evidence. But Mr. Trump’s latest alleged Twitter disaster seems to have put the Times on the defensive.

“Several readers have written in this week saying they’re having a hard time squaring The Times’s own past reports of wiretapping with the paper’s assertions that there is no firm evidence that any warrants for wiretaps have been issued,” writes Ms. Spayd. “Readers also expressed confusion with The Times’s assertion that it would be illegal for a White House to receive information about such investigations, when its own wiretapping story in January said the Trump White House was given some information from intercepted communications,” she adds.

Times is a newspaper that has spent years explaining the intelligence tools used by our government, for example publishing a 2006 story despite pleas from our government not to let terrorists know how the United States tracks their finances. The Times has explored the myriad ways Washington’s powerful intelligence-collection capabilities could be abused and now finds itself in the odd position of reassuring the public that the man who led our government was surely not involved in any investigation related to his political adversaries.

“Distinguishing between Trump’s assertions and The Times’s reporting is essential. Yet readers at this juncture may be understandably confused on what is true and not in one of the most important ongoing news stories in the country,” writes Ms. Spayd. “On the surface, there are similarities. Both The Times and Trump have referred to wiretaps. Both have referenced White House knowledge of the investigations. And both have described efforts by officials from the Obama administration to involve itself in the continuing investigations of Trump and Russia,” she adds.

This would normally suggest that reporters at the Times would be looking up the chain of command to see where exactly the buck stopped in the Obama Administration. But Ms. Spayd notes that the Times position is that “Obama himself was not involved.”

One would also expect a vigorous effort to explore whether there was any abuse of federal data-gathering powers if the feds were examining Mr. Trump’s associates or former associates. Ms. Spayd reports that she checked in with the paper’s Washington bureau to figure out how wiretaps could have been conducted when according to the paper’s reporting no warrants had been issued. “Elisabeth Bumiller, the bureau chief, said the January story was referring to information picked up from wiretaps and other intelligence collected overseas, a process that requires no warrants,” writes Ms. Spayd.

Does this mean the Times is now comfortable with at least some forms of warrantless wiretapping that yield information on American citizens? Judging by Ms. Spayd’s report, many Times readers are not comfortable with this story and would like to know what exactly our government did to the party out of power and who authorized it.


Huffington Post:  The 10 Worst Colleges For Free Speech: 2017 ---

Cardiff University Provides a Listing of Banned Politically Incorrect Words ---

Jensen Comment
Some don't make a whole lot of sense to such as why is "polio victim" banned and "polio survivor" allowed. The two phrases are not equivalent since not all polio victims survive. And "efficient" does not necessarily mean "workmanlike" since some quality products were not produced efficiently such as painstaking handmade crafts.

Charles Murray and the Bell Curve ---

Race and Intelligence ---

Debate at Middlebury Over Co-author of the "Bell Curve" (race and intelligence) ---


The (Political Correctness) Mob of Students at Middlebury

A mob tries to silence Charles Murray and sends a prof to the ER.

Once again a scholar invited to speak at a university has been shouted down by an angry mob clearly unable to challenge him intellectually. On Thursday at Middlebury College, allegedly an institution of higher learning, a crowd of protesters tried to run Charles Murray off campus. Mr. Murray is the author of many influential books, including “Coming Apart,” which the kids might read if they want to understand their country and can cope without trigger warnings.

Amid the shouts, Mr. Murray was taken to another location where he was able to speak. But a Middlebury professor escorting Mr. Murray from campus—Allison Stanger—was later sent to the hospital after being assaulted by protesters who also attacked the car they were in. As if to underscore the madness, the headline over the initial Associated Press dispatch smeared Mr. Murray rather than focusing on the intolerance of those disrupting him: “College students protest speaker branded white nationalist.”

Middlebury President Laurie Patton apologized in a statement to those “who came in good faith to participate in a serious discussion, and particularly to Mr. Murray and Prof. Stanger for the way they were treated.” While she believes some protesters were “outside agitators,” Middlebury students were also involved—and she said she would be “responding.”

Mr. Murray tweeted: “Report from the front: The Middlebury administration was exemplary. The students were seriously scary.” Let’s hope President Patton follows through with discipline to scare these students straight.

In the eternal battle of Windows versus Mac, the tide is turning in Microsoft's favor ---

Jensen Comment
Microsoft was never a serious contender in the phone war. But Microsoft still dominates in the the computer war's general marketplace even though Mac computers have some niche markets and Linux has a loyal following in computer science departments.

Accounting students who aspire to become auditors and tax accountants are advised to learn MS Office software (think Excel), because most of their eventual clients will be users of MS Office.

MIT:  The FCC Graciously Sets Internet Providers Free to Sell Your Data ---

Comcast, Verizon, and other internet service providers got the go-ahead from the Federal Communications Commission today to sell your personal information without your permission. At least for now.

Last October the agency passed a set of rules that would have required internet providers to take steps to protect your private data from hackers, notify you if someone hacked your data, and require your explicit permission before selling your data. Today the FCC suspended those rules before they took effect.

“The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission are committed to protecting the online privacy of American consumers,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai and Federal Trade Commission chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen said in a joint statement today. “We believe that the best way to do that is through a comprehensive and consistent framework.”

The move may head off a congressional review of the rules that could have hobbled the FCC’s ability to make new privacy regulations in the future. The agency will now likely pass a set of less stringent rules more in line with the way the FTC regulates websites like Facebook and Google. If the FTC does at some point require websites to seek explicit permission before selling your data, the FCC may then follow suit for internet providers. Neither agency responded to a request for comment, but Pai has said in the past that he believed having divergent rules for websites and ISPs would lead to confusion among consumers. We’re not sure you’re going to find the new status quo exactly crystal clear.

Tracking Shots

Your internet provider has a view of of your most intimate online activities. Although Google uses encryption to prevent prying eyes from seeing your online searches, your internet provider can see what websites you visit, when you visit them, and how much time you spend there.

In 2012, Verizon began tracking its wireless customers’ activities across the internet. It then used that data to target ads on the various sites it owns, such as the Huffington Post. Eventually the company gave customers the option to opt out of that tracking, and later it limited tracking your behavior on Verizon-owned sites only. The FCC’s newer rules, which would have taken effect in December at the earliest, would have banned Verizon or any other provider from similar data collecting without getting customers’ permission. Pre-existing FCC rules do still ban providers from tracking customers without at least notifying them, but for now at least telcos will have much more freedom to sell your data.

Continued in article

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Buying your data may be easier for investigators than getting subpoenas.

University of California in San Francisco lays off 49 IT workers, jobs head to India ---

The University of California, San Francisco on Tuesday laid off 49 information technology (IT) employees and outsourced their work to a company based in India, ending a year-long process that has brought the public university under fire.

The university announced the plan last July as a way to save $30 million over five years. The University of California system, which includes health care and research-focused UCSF, has been struggling to raise revenue and cut expenses.

Globalization and outsourcing have become hot-button political issues in the United States, as more employers cut costs by farming out work to low-cost workers in far-flung parts of the world. President Donald Trump campaigned on promises to restore lost U.S. jobs and to penalize companies that move factories overseas.

This was the University of California's first outsourcing, said a spokeswoman who added that the layoffs were necessary due to rising costs of technology. In addition to the 49 staff layoffs, another 48 positions that were vacant or filled by contractors were eliminated.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein last year said the university had a responsibility to keep jobs in the United States and pledged to seek reforms to stop domestic jobs being outsourced.

Kurt Ho, 58, a laid off systems administrator, carried a box of his personal items with an American flag draped over it and said the university's decision will hurt service for a medical staff that relies on a smoothly running and secure computer network.

 Continued in article

Tesla is powering the Hawaiian island of Kauai with more than 54,000 solar panels and its giant battery packs --- --

Jensen Comment
What's cost efficient in Hawaii may not be cost efficient in other parts of the world where gas prices and hydro prices are much lower.

Reserve estimates of lithium needed for Tesla batteries are highly uncertain. Most estimates are encouraging for electric car needs but not for powering the world. Especially troublesome will be the inevitable lithium production cartel that will form due to only a few nations having a serious amount of reserves. There's lithium in sea water, but methods of extraction are yet to be discovered ---
Unlike natural gas, where the USA has massive untapped reserves, most serious lithium reserves are in South America and China.

In my opinion, regions should not become overly dependent upon any one energy source. Some of my professor friends in various parts of the USA now have home solar panels and Tesla battery storage for nights and cloudy days. In theory theory homes powered in this way might eliminate the need for power transmission lines to homes. However, there's a risk in tearing these ugly power lines down. For example, if lithium becomes prohibitively costly homes will once again need a power grid to back up the solar shingles and panels until low-cost  alternatives to lithium battery storage are available.

Biomass became more hype than hope mostly due to the fall in oil prices. Our regional hospital, for example, built a new biomass electric production plant that thus far is a an idle waste of money. It's designed to be fed by wood chips from our surrounding forests. However, propane prices became so cheap that it's just too costly for the hospital to run its biomass electric plant. Cutting down trees, chipping up those trees, and hauling the wood chips is more costly at the moment as well as being destructive of wild life habitats.

Here are some pictures I took when a timber-cutting crew moved in for abut 10 days across the road to clear about 10 acres for wood chips ---

Finding and Using Health Statistics ---

Reminder: Obamacare is Hurting Real People ---

"Chuck Schumer: Passing Obamacare in 2010 Was a Mistake:  The Senate’s No. 3 Democrat says that his party misused its mandate," by Sarah Mimms, National Journal, November 25, 2014 ---

Chuck Schumer upbraided his own party Tuesday for pushing the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2010.

While Schumer emphasized during a speech at the National Press Club that he supports the law and that its policies "are and will continue to be positive changes," he argued that the Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession.

"After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them," Schumer said. "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform."

The third-ranking Senate Democrat noted that just about 5 percent of registered voters in the United States lacked health insurance before the implementation of the law, arguing that to focus on a problem affecting such "a small percentage of the electoral made no political sense."

The larger problem, affecting most Americans, he said, was a poor economy resulting from the recession. "When Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought, 'The Democrats aren't paying enough attention to me,' " Schumer said.

Continued in article

"Sen. Chuck Schumer: Obamacare Focused 'On The Wrong Problem,' Ignores The Middle Class" by  Avik Roy, Forbes, November 26, 2014 ---

Despite the enduring unpopularity of Obamacare, Congressional Democrats have up to now stood by their health care law, allowing that “it’s not perfect” but that they are proud of their votes to pass it. That all changed on Tuesday, when the Senate’s third-highest-ranking Democrat—New York’s Chuck Schumer—declared that “we took [the public’s] mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform…When Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought, ‘The Democrats aren’t paying enough attention to me.’”

Sen. Schumer made his remarks at the National Press Club in Washington. “Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them…Now, the plight of uninsured Americans and the hardships caused by unfair insurance company practices certainly needed to be addressed,” Schumer maintained. “But it wasn’t the change we were hired to make. Americans were crying out for the end to the recession, for better wages and more jobs—not changes in health care.”

“This makes sense,” Schumer continued, “considering 85 percent of all Americans got their health care from either the government, Medicare, Medicaid, or their employer. And if health care costs were going up, it really did not affect them. The Affordable Care Act was aimed at the 36 million Americans who were not covered. It has been reported that only a third of the uninsured are even registered to vote…it made no political sense.”

The response from Obama Democrats was swift. Many, like Obama speechwriters Jon Lovett and Jon Favreau and NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor, took to Twitter. “Shorter Chuck Schumer,” said Vietor, “I wish Obama cared more about helping Democrats than sick people.”

The Economist Magazine in March 2017:  Admit it: Republicans’ proposed Obamacare overhaul offers relief for some middle earners ---

WHAT is the best part of House Republicans’ proposed reform of Obamacare? There isn’t one, if you believe much of this week’s commentary. The bill will benefit the young and healthy, by bringing their premiums down, but only at the cost of the old and sickly. But most writers are overlooking the help the bill would offer to one group that has clearly suffered unfairly under Obamacare. So long as Paul Ryan’s reform does not send the market into a death spiral—which is not a sure thing (see article)—this group will get some needed financial assistance under the Republican plan.

I'm talking about people who buy health insurance for themselves, rather than through an employer, and who do not get the subsidies which shield those on low incomes from Obamacare’s high premiums. It is easy to overlook this group, because the vast majority of the 10m people who buy insurance through Obamacare’s websites (or "exchanges") receive subsidies. For example, here is Jared Bernstein, Vice-President Joe Biden's former chief economist, in the Washington Post:

Of course, there’s the infamous, headline-generating 2017 premium increases in the non-group market. After growing 2 and 7 percent in 2015 and 2016, insurers in the state-based exchanges raised the cost of the benchmark plan by an average of 25 percent. To Obamacare critics, this was proof of the program’s unsustainability. But because 85 percent of participants in this market (state exchanges) receive premium tax credits to offset the cost of coverage, they do not face the full shock. 

What Mr Bernstein does not mention is that another 8m Americans buy coverage directly from insurers, without going through the exchanges. These buyers get no subsidies. But they must pay the same prices as those who do, because the law forces everybody in the individual marketplace—on or off the exchanges—into the same “risk-pool”. 

In total, there are 9m unsubsidised buyers for whom criticisms of Obamacare resonate strongly. Most of these people are not rich: a family-of-four stops receiving subsidies at an income of just under $100,000. Obamacare forced such buyers onto the same plans as a lot of people with pre-existing medical conditions who could not previously afford insurance. That pushed their premiums and deductibles up—and they have risen further over time. Here’s an example from a piece I wrote last September:

Before the law, Brian Anderson, a 30-something orthodontist from Nashville, paid $80 a month for insurance that came with a $5,000 deductible. In 2014 his insurer cancelled the plan, as it did not now comply with the law. His new plan, from, provides, in his view, essentially the same coverage—the deductible is in fact higher—but costs fully $201 per month. Mr Anderson says he is glad many more people now have insurance. But the estimated 2.6m others whose plans were cancelled that year may not all be as understanding.  

Since I wrote that, Mr Anderson’s insurer has dropped out of his local marketplace, and he has had to switch to a plan costing over $400 a month. You can understand why someone who has seen their premium go up by over 300% would be disillusioned with the law.

Does this matter?  A family-of-four earning $100,000 is clearly not poor. However, they face very high prices for health insurance. In much of Arizona, for instance, they would have to pay over $22,000 per year—almost a quarter of their pre-tax income—for “silver” coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Obamacare calculator.  And that is before you count their out-of-pocket medical costs. When Donald Trump says that Obamacare is a “disaster”, such a family would look at their health insurance options and agree.

The House Republican plan offers this group some help. Individuals earning less than $75,000, and couples earning less than $150,000, will get a big tax credit to help them with their premiums. (Minnesota has already passed “premium relief” for such buyers).

Is that a good thing? Obamacare explicitly tries to spread the costs of health insurance around, in order to increase coverage. Unfortunately, it does so only in the individual market. The 155m Americans who get health insurance through their employers need not foot the bill for unhealthy people on the exchanges. Not only that, but this coddled group also gets a tax break on their coverage. People in the individual market have a right to feel hard done by. The best thing about Mr Ryan’s tax credit is that it begins to redress the imbalance. 

I am not suggesting that helping this group justifies removing means-tested subsidies for the poor. But I am pushing back on the idea that Obamacare's redistribution only hurt the "rich". Here is Matthew Yglesias at Vox (emphasis added):

Policy-minded conservatives have serious criticisms of President Obama’s health care law. They think it taxes rich people too much, and coddles Americans with excessively generous, excessively subsidized health insurance plans. They want a world of lower taxes on millionaires while millions of Americans put “skin in the game” in the form of higher deductibles and copayments. Exactly the opposite, in other words, of what Republican politicians have been promising.

Mr Yglesias portrays Obamacare's redistribution as flowing primarily from rich to poor. But his chart shows something else: that it hurts middle-income groups most. That is consistent with the experience of millions of Americans in the individual market who have seen their premiums soar while they have received no help from the government. They are treated unfairly by the system as it stands, and should not be ignored when thinking about health care reform.

CBO’s Prophecies, Demystified The budget gnomes tend to underestimate market incentives, especially in health care ---

The white smoke rose Monday afternoon from the Congressional Budget Office as the fiscal forecasters published their cost-and-coverage estimates of the GOP health-care reform bill. Awaiting such predictions—and then investing them with supposed clairvoyance—are Beltway rituals. The coverage numbers weren’t great for Republicans, but they shouldn’t allow an outfit that historically underestimates the benefits of market forces to drive policy.

The good news is that CBO estimates that the American Health Care Act would cut the budget deficit by $337 billion over 10 years as the bill replaces ObamaCare’s subsidies with tax credits, rationalizes its Medicaid expansion and repeals its tax increases. The bill would cut taxes by nearly $900 billion while cutting spending by $1.2 trillion.

The bad news is that CBO thinks 14 million people on net would be uninsured in 2018 relative to the ObamaCare status quo. How many people may “lose coverage” is the debate progressives want to have, as if that’s the only relevant question in U.S. health care.

The CBO attributes “most” of this initial coverage plunge to “repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate.” If people aren’t subject to government coercion to buy insurance or else pay a fine, some “would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums.”

What this finding says about the value Americans attach to ObamaCare-compliant health insurance is damning. If CBO is right, some 14 million people would rather spend their money on something else, despite the subsidies.

But CBO also has too much faith in the mandate as an effective policy tool. In ObamaCare practice, the mandate isn’t pulling “free riders” into the insurance markets. The IRS reports that in 2015 some 12.7 million taxpayers claimed one or more exemptions from the mandate, such as “hardship,” while merely 6.5 million paid the fine.

The GOP wager is that the stability of the individual insurance market would improve with better incentives and if people want to participate. Deregulation would free up insurers to offer more options at many price points that meet different needs. Instead of brute force, Republicans think more people would join the market because if it offers alternatives worth the cost.

CBO’s budget gnomes don’t share these assumptions and they don’t get built into their models. CBO models are not a writ carved in stone by a finger of light, but merely an educated economic guess about how consumers and businesses will behave differently in response to new health-care policies.

Thus this cost estimate should be part of the larger debate, not taken as gospel. Last year the more market-friendly Center for Health and Economy scored the House GOP’s “Better Way” health plan, which this bill closely resembles. The center model was designed by the University of Minnesota’s Stephen Parente, the leading expert in modeling premium support-style health reforms.

The center estimated that the individual market would grow by about a million on net compared to current law in 2018 and by 13 million in 2026. Tax credits and deregulation may well be more powerful than mandates in practice.

The center did find that per-capita Medicaid block grants would cause about four million fewer insured individuals in total by 2026, which is more modest than CBO. Over time, according to CBO, coverage losses would rise to 21 million in 2020 and then to 24 million in 2026 as states rolled back ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion.

But there are more than a few reasons to doubt CBO’s fortune-telling, especially in health care. Precisely because its models give too much weight to government coercion and too little to free markets, its projections have often missed the mark.

In February 2013, CBO predicted that ObamaCare enrollment in the individual market would be 13 million in 2015, 24 million in 2016 and 26 million in 2017. The actual enrollment for those years were, respectively, 11 million, 12 million and 10 million. As recently as March 2016, CBO was projecting an enrollment boom of 15 million for this year.

CBO also failed to predict how many people would game ObamaCare’s insurance rules and mandates, signing up for coverage just before they need expensive procedures like knee replacements then dropping coverage. On paper they shouldn’t behave that way, but the real world works differently than CBO’s models.

CBO was also badly wrong about the 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit, which unlike ObamaCare used incentives, markets and private competition to control public costs. The drug benefit cost about 40% less over its first decade than CBO projected.

Democrats in 2009-2010 wasted months gaming the CBO scoring process to hide the enormous true costs of ObamaCare with budget gimmicks, which is a spectacle the GOP ought to avoid. Opponents in Congress weren’t any more convinced than the public, and the delays crowded out other priorities. If Republicans try to juke the coverage estimates, they’ll be making the same mistake.

Continued in article


Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging ---

Bob Jensen's Tidbits Archives --- 

Bob Jensen's Pictures and Stories

Summary of Major Accounting Scandals ---

Bob Jensen's threads on such scandals:

Bob Jensen's threads on audit firm litigation and negligence ---

Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates ---

Enron ---

Rotten to the Core ---

American History of Fraud ---

Bob Jensen's fraud conclusions ---

Bob Jensen's threads on auditor professionalism and independence are at

Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at 


Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---

·     With a Rejoinder from the 2010 Senior Editor of The Accounting Review (TAR), Steven J. Kachelmeier

·     With Replies in Appendix 4 to Professor Kachemeier by Professors Jagdish Gangolly and Paul Williams

·     With Added Conjectures in Appendix 1 as to Why the Profession of Accountancy Ignores TAR

·     With Suggestions in Appendix 2 for Incorporating Accounting Research into Undergraduate Accounting Courses

Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave  ---
By Bob Jensen

What went wrong in accounting/accountics research?  ---

The Sad State of Accountancy Doctoral Programs That Do Not Appeal to Most Accountants ---


Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory ---

Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox) that probably will never be solved ---

Bob Jensen's economic crisis messaging

Bob Jensen's threads ---

Bob Jensen's Home Page ---