Health reform will survive its legal fight

Posted by , 14th December 2010

HospitalEric Holder and Kathleen Sibelius
12/14/2010

Various suits are challenging the constitutionality of health care reform and particularly the provision that those who are able to afford coverage must purchase an insurance policy. Uninsured citizens currently add approximately $1000 per year to insured individuals’ rates through their burden on the health care system. Without mandating basic coverage, the other provisions, including those for persons with pre-existing conditions, will not be feasible.

Holder is the attorney general of the United States. Sebelius is secretary of health and human services.

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What’s Wrong With Spain?

Posted by , 13th December 2010

José María AznarJosé Maria Aznar
12/13/2010

Spain faces its worst political crisis and a critical economic situation, writes Aznar. Now at the center of Europe’s financial turmoil, just six years ago Spain was creating six out of 10 new euro-zone jobs, its government accounts were in surplus, and public debt was decreasing swiftly. Yet today investors are assigning the highest default risks to the Spanish government’s debt since it entered the euro zone. In the social sphere, the situation is distressing. Aznar explains that Spain’s crisis is rooted in decisions to encourage regional divisions and to abandon successful market-based policies. He concludes that with a new national political project and the implementation of the appropriate policies, Spain can recover confidence in itself.

Aznar is the former prime minister of Spain (1996-2004).

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Block Those Metaphors

Posted by , 13th December 2010

Congress USAPaul Krugman
12/13/2010

The Obama-McConnell tax-cut deal will probably pass Congress, with both good and bad elements. Krugman says the deal will boost the economy in the short-term but isn’t addressing the heart of the problem. Highly indebted Americans are paying down their debts and not spending in while others who can spend are not spending more. To solve our nation’s economic problems, the government should be spending more while the private sector is spending less to support employment while debts are being paid down. This is a form of stimulus, which will be expensive but is worth it if it is done well and rights the economy. The tax deal will likely not give the nation much “bang for the buck,” he says, and the country will be having this conversation again in 2012.

Krugman is a New York Times columnist.

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Contagion’ and Other Euro Myths

Posted by , 3rd December 2010

EurosJohn H. Cochrane
12/2/2010

Cochrane considers the lessons to be learned from Europe’s recent bailouts. He argues that restructuring short-term debt as long-term debt would hardly be the end of the world. Our governments have also guaranteed trillions of dollars of debt–everything from mortgages to student loans, to say nothing of implicit guarantees to banks and state and local governments. These guarantees don’t show up anywhere on the books, but investors could start adding them up very quickly. Remember that Ireland got into trouble by guaranteeing bank debt. US government debt is also remarkably tilted to short maturities, with the majority being rolled over every year. The Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing will tilt us further to shorter debt.

Cochrane is a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

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The Good Life With David Cameron

Posted by , 30th November 2010

David CameronJamie Whyte
11/30/2010

Whyte criticizes British PM David Cameron’s request that the Office of National Statistics construct a survey-based measure of the country’s general well-being. They will publish their first findings in the summer of 2012. If “happy” means only that you have satisfied your desires, then it is trivially true that people seek only happiness, notes Whyte. Cameron claims to reject governmental interference in favor of individual liberty. His taste for industrial policy, nationalized health care, compulsory charity, and population control make some doubt him. Whyte concludes that no one with a shred of liberal principle could think it the state’s proper job to specify the nature of “the good life” and then design policies that get people to live it.

Whyte is a management consultant and author of “Crimes Against Logic” (McGraw Hill, 2004).

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In Haiti, Waiting for the Grand Bayakou

Posted by , 29th November 2010

HaitiAmy Wilentz
11/26/2010

In Haiti a bayakou is a mysterious workman that is never seen but is hired through a middleman to come and clean latrines. Wilentz likens the new president of Haiti, who stands to be elected this Sunday, to a bayakou, with the myriad problems facing the nation. She says tragedy keeps outside aid coming, and Haitian leaders have been traditionally only good at enriching themselves. Combined with an environment where ordinary citizens are concerned with survival rather than government reform and increasingly distrustful of the outside world, the diaspora may have a greater role in the election. More likely, she says the outcome of the election will be no outcome, with a low voter turnout, a runoff election, and business as usual in Haiti.

Wilentz is the author of “The Rainy Season: Haiti, Then and Now.”

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In Ireland’s debt crisis, an ominous reckoning for Europe

Posted by , 29th November 2010

Flag IrelandRobert Samuelson
11/29/2010

Ireland’s bailout highlights serious dangers in the coming years for Europe as a whole. The Euro currency and centralized monetary policy prevented Ireland from taking a more proactive stance toward its economic health, and the same will hold true for Spain, Portugal, and other struggling economies. Social program spending in Ireland and in Europe as a whole has moved beyond being merely an economic challenge to being a political menace. The change that must occur to stabilize the economic outlook will not come without considerable turmoil.

Samuelson is a weekly columnist for The Post, writing on political, economic and social issues.

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If you’re grateful, pay more taxes

Posted by , 26th November 2010

ThanksgivingMatt Miller
11/25/2010

The anti-tax rhetoric has reached a fever pitch, and the Thanksgiving holiday allows us a moment to pause and consider a different mode of response. Given the considerable sacrifice made by our armed services and the invaluable benefits of a distinctly American culture and history, citizens should consider a reasonable tax burden as a worthy investment back into the nation’s ongoing maturity. Restoring the marginal tax rate on top earners will not be sufficient to deflect the growing debts from foreign wars and social services, but it is a necessary first step to stabilizing the national debt.

Miller is a weekly columnist for The Post’s online edition.

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How Germany got it right on the economy

Posted by , 24th November 2010

German flagHarold Meyerson
11/24/2010

Germany may be small (with a population of only 82 million), but its trade balance is second to China’s. Its unemployment rate is at 7.5 percent, the lowest since Germany’s reunification (and lower than America’s). Wages are rising and the economy is growing. Germany’s “mittelstand,” or family-owned manufacturing businesses, are a key factor in their economic success. In the past, Germany was accused by the US and Britain of being too “locally focused”, but it is precisely this investment in its own manufacturing businesses that has kept Germany thriving. Germany has “stakeholder capitalism, not shareholder capitalism,” says Klaas Hubner, former German parliament member and owner of a successful mittelstand company. Germany’s economy, says Meyerson, is “running rings around America’s.”

Meyerson is a weekly columnist for The Post, writing mainly about politics.

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