Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Some political reading

Recommended reading: "We All Need Moderate Republicans." Note the "we all [emphasis added]," which I think is explained by the following paragraph:
In a recent conversation, a rich benefactor of the Democratic Party stopped his usual attack on Republicans to express worry about the survival of their party. Moderates of all political stripes want a choice. Without responsible Republicans, the Democrats can get sloppy, and America's challenges go unmet.
That's a point I think too few Democrats recognize; one party getting dumber or crazier will tend to bring the other one down too. I can think of quite a few progressive types (some of them ex-conservatives) whose political arguments begin and end with pointing out some inane thing stated by someone on the right, chortling at its stupidity or extremism and then ... nothing. Policy analysis isn't much fun anyway.

As an exercise for anyone, left or right, who wants to sharpen his or her policy analysis skills, I suggest reading this Economist piece: "Will Obamacare Destroy Jobs?" Opening:
BEFORE the recession, Richard Clark’s cleaning company in Florida had 200 employees, about half of them working full time. These days it has about 150, with 80% part-time. The downturn explains some of this. But Mr Clark also blames Barack Obama’s health reform. When it comes into effect in January 2015, Obamacare will require firms with 50 or more full-time employees to offer them affordable health insurance or pay a fine of $2,000-3,000 per worker. That is a daunting prospect for firms that do not already offer coverage. But for many, there is a way round the law. 
Mr Clark says he is “very careful with the threshold”. To keep his full-time workforce below the magic number of 50, he is relying more on part-timers. He is not alone. More than one in ten firms surveyed by Mercer, a consultancy—and one in five retail and hospitality companies—say they will cut workers’ hours because of Obamacare. A hundred part-timers can flip as many burgers as 50 full-timers, and the former will soon be much cheaper.
Question: Was this sort of thing not a predictable consequence of the health care law as it was being set up, and why was there not a robust debate within the Democratic Party about how to avoid or limit such effects?

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