Category: Politics

#3 Tax Bads (or at least don’t subsidize them!)

Time to Change the Tax Discussion #3 This is the third in a five part series about taxes. Introductory economics tells us that when the government taxes something, unless it is perfectly inelastically supplied or demanded, the tax will cause a distortion in a market and reduce the taxed activity. For most things (labor, profits, […]

Letter calls for gun injury research

Colleague Austin Frakt forwarded to me the link to an open letter to VP Joseph Biden and members of the Gun Violence Commission. The letter is signed by over 100 well-known health professionals, policymakers and economists. The letter addresses the fact that both teh CDC and the NIH agencies are currently prohibited from funding […]

Commonwealth Fund Report on Health Care Cost Control

The Commonwealth Fund has just come out with a new report outlining a strategy for containing health care costs in the US. It seems rather optimistic to me. Here is the opening two paragraphs and link. Confronting Costs: Stabilizing U.S. Health Spending While Moving Toward a High Performance Health Care System, Authored by The Commonwealth […]

Be Ready for the Trillion Dollar Coin!

In case you have not been paying attention, there is growing sentiment in favor of the Platinum Coin Seigniorage (PCS) and the Trillion Dollar Coin. Here are two solid posts on it, one by economist Paul Krugman, the other by Philip Diehl, former director of the US mint . The crux of the issue is […]

1994 assault weapons ban may have saved 6000 lives per year

Although not a statistical statement, there is a noticeable association between when the 1994-2004 assault weapon ban was in place and the observed decline in gun-related deaths. That ban also contained other provisions that will have affected availability of guns. A decline of more than 6000 gun-related deaths per year appears to be  associated  with […]

#2 Include Social Security and Medicare taxes when discussing tax burdens

Time to Change the Tax Discussion #2 This is the second in a five part series on Taxes. Far too much of the discussion of tax burdens has focused on the federal income tax rates while the federal payroll taxes – Social Security and the Medicare tax – get minor attention. This was epitomized by […]

All Taxes and Budgets Should be Expressed as Dollars per Person

Time to change the discussion #1 This is the first of five posts on my blog on how discussion of taxes and budgets in the US needs to change to improve decision-making. Recent political debate and the media throws around costs of millions, billions and trillions of dollars even though there is no easy way […]

HCC risk adjustment formulas for ACA Exchanges

HHS announced the new risk adjustment formulas proposed for the ACA Health Insurance Exchanges on December 7, 2012. Here is the citation and direct link. Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2014, and Medical Loss Ratio. 2012 [Dec 7 2012]. Available from: Focus only on the first 33 […]

US Affordable Care Act and Risk Adjustment

Although there is no accompanying paper, I thought it might be useful to post the PowerPoint slides that I have used in several recent talks about the US since there is an enormous interest in a relatively concise summary of the features of the ACA. Since my area of particular interest is risk adjustment, there […]

What are current marginal income tax rates?

A great deal of political discussion has focused on what taxes the wealthy and poor  pay, and often the focus is ONLY on the Federal Income tax. It is important to recognize that that there are many other taxes, and none are as progressive as the Federal income tax, and hence fall on low to […]

What I Wish Obama Had Said

Alternative Debate Speech Text that President Obama Could Have Used at the First Presidential Debate on October 3, 2012[i] Randall P. Ellis Boston University, Department of Economics October 6, 2012 On Taxes We have heard a lot of talk from the Republicans about the importance of lowering taxes on people earning more than $250,000 which […]

Top 25 Economics Web sites

Top 25 Economics Web sites This list is interesting to browse, or to select a few to include on your own web site. Interesting that the BU Blog the Incidental Economist made it to #6. Here is the direct link. 6. The Incidental Economist is a blog focused on economics, U.S. health policy, politics, […]

Presidential positions on health reform

Two articles about the health reform states the positions of the two presidential candidates from the NEJM    

Stirring but informative Clinton nomination speech for Barack Obama

I highly recommend to you the YouTube link to Bill Clinton’s 49 minute Nominating Speech for Barack Obama. Of particular use to health economists are his comments on the implications of the Romney-Ryan discussion of Medicare and Medicaid, I recommend that you watch the segment from 28:10 to 36:10. Watch 28:10 to 36:10 to […]

NEJM article on the Supreme Court Decision

I was leaving for vacation the day of the supreme court decision on the ACA, and did not make a posting. The following 2.5 page article from NEJM provides a nice summary of the decisions, which are slightly more complex than has been presented in the media.  The author is a law professor at Suffolk […]

Americans Elect is on Ballot in 25 states

Looking ahead 20 years, it is inconceivable to me that the US will sustain its current archaic primary system for selecting presidents. The new party Americans Elect is one possible new approach. It is getting little publicity relative to the Republican Primary, even though AE is now on the ballot in 25 states. Along with […]

Major cuts to SEC budget preceded the 2008 recession.

I emailed a chart similar to the one below (through 2009) to the BUHealth email list in July 2009. Note how the SEC budget was cut from 2005-2008. It was not a surprise that terrible things (Madoff, AIG, Lehman, etc.) became much more of a problem. My view is that George W. Bush and the […]

MBTA considering halting weekend service

I urge people from MA to sign the following petition. Halting weekend commuter rail service would be a detriment to the city, state and the environment. Visit the site to see the wording of the petition. Subject: Save Jobs, Environment & Accessibility Hi, In an effort to reduce the deficit of Massachusetts’ public transit system […]

Which US Presidents Grew the Public Debt Fastest?

This figure, based on US treasury numbers, is in nominal dollars. Each president is credited with the debt created in the year after leaving office since budgets are largely set the year before. Democratic presidents were in office for $4.6 trillion in debt since 1960, Republican presidents for $9.9 trillion. The rate of increase in […]

Austin Frakt:

My colleague Austin Frakt, who also uses WordPress, has a terrific blog with a significant focus on health economics. Visit it at: _____________________________ Austin Frakt, PhD Boston University School of Public Health Health Economist Blog: Twitter: @afrakt