Some Duplicity in Obamacare

Recall that a while ago, in 2014, the GAO ran some tests of Obamacare: they set up 12 fake persons with invalid Social Security numbers, fake citizenship, and/or false income claims. Eleven of these got coverage, several of them got subsidies, many of them got renewed for this year, and some of the renewals got increased subsidies.

…officials running Obamacare told the GAO they possess “limited ability to respond to attempts at fraud….”

Worse, these guys added in wide-eyed innocence

that measures to ensure program integrity would undermine “consumers’ ability to ‘effectively and efficiently’ select Marketplace [Obamacare] coverage.”

Changing the Subject

Planned Parenthood and President Barack Obama are partners in this misbehavior.

Recall the hoo-raw over the videos published by Center for Medical Progress showing Planned Parenthood doctors discussing the best way to harvest valuable (monetarily) body parts from freshly aborted babies. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards spent her time decrying the videos as “edited” and insisting that Planned Parenthood behavior was both legal and ethical.

Obama’s only comment on the matter came through his Press Secretary Josh Earnest, and it was centered on the editing and a repeat of Richards’ claim of “ethical behavior.”

The PRC’s Markets

Beijing thought they could “rescue” the PRC’s stock market. Recall that those markets had tanked collapsed last month, with no bottom in sight. Then the government stepped in:

There is the buying program financed by the central bank. A state pension fund has gone into equities for the first time. Beijing mandated that anyone holding 5% of a company can’t sell for six months. And brokerage firms, directed by regulators, are sitting on a boatload of shares as inventory, notes Erwin Sanft of Macquarie.

Democrats and Regulation

Uber is successful in competing with the established taxi industry, and New York City Mayer Bill de Blasio (D) is all upset about it. He wants to freeze Uber’s (and other ad hoc rides-for-hire companies’) growth until he can figure out how to regulate them:

[W]e support a short pause in the rapid increase of for-hire vehicles to make sure that the future growth of this industry lives up to the policies and principles we set out as a city.

“Short pause.” Sure. He supported his argument in that piece by citing other jurisdictions where Uber had resisted…being over-regulated.

Artificial Demand

Nearly two weeks ago, with Chinese stocks tumbling, Beijing let loose its strongest effort yet to boost the market, including extracting a pledge from 21 brokers to buy shares as long as the Shanghai Composite Index was below 4500.

With its push, the government halted the plunge and engineered a modest rebound.

What happens when that artificial demand goes away? Or its effects peter out?


Another Misunderstanding

Paul De Grauwe, John Paulson Professor in European Political Economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, was quoted in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal as saying

They in fact triggered the banking crisis. They’ve failed in their duty to ensure financial stability.

De Grauwe was asserting that the ECB’s decision to not increase the amount the central bank already had loaned to Greek banks for liquidity purposes was a mistake.

Regulatory Control and the Left

The Treasury Secretary’s Lawyer (who else?), Antonio Weiss, has a piece on The Wall Street Journal defending the Regulatory State’s control over our financial markets.

He opened it with a strawman.

Some say regulation has killed it, and the answer is to roll back financial reform.

A carefully unnamed “some” in his strawman. He’ll have to play with his dolly without this writer. There is, too, his false assumption in that claim: rolling back financial reform assumes there’s been reform to roll back. There certainly has been a potful of added regulation to our financial markets, all spurred by the Democrats’ Dodd-Frank bill. The bill that created a wholly unaccountable—not even through Congress’ control of purse strings—panel, the CFPB, that decides how financial institutions must behave, even to the point of deciding what business counts as a financial institution that must accept the panel’s decrees.

A Misunderstanding

Or a non sequitur. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial was headlined thusly: Should There Be a Tax on Soda and Other Sugary Drinks? The subhead had this: Supporters say it is an effective way to cut obesity. Critics say the health benefits are far less than claimed.

The piece then proceeded to a debate between Kelly Brownell, Dean and Robert L Flowers Professor of Public Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and William Shughart II, J Fish Smith Professor in Public Choice at Utah State University’s Jon M Huntsman School of Business, among other titles.

Some Economics Numbers

…from the Tax Foundation, via AEIdeas. First this graph (right-click on it to get a bigger, more readable version):TaxMap_100-Map

The figures are regional price parities of $100 for each of the 50 states, where the national average price is taken as 100. In other words, whereas on average across the whole country, $100 would buy $100 worth of goods, in California those $100 would buy only $89 and change, in Arkansas those $100 would buy a bit over $114 worth of the same goods. The bulk of the differences across the US was driven by relative housing costs: California’s housing, for instance, costs one-third more than the national average while Arkansas’ housing is one-third cheaper.

Disparate Impact

Disparate impact is the racist theory that if practices result in an imbalance (as defined by disparate impact aficionados) in racial representation in this or that arena (see housing, for instance), than the practices must stop until—based solely on race—sufficient races are brought into the arena to achieve an acceptable balance of races. Notice that none of disparate impact has anything to do with the wishes of members of this or that race, already present or absent from the arena. By design, it has nothing to do, also, with the intent of the managers of the arena.