Democratic Party Principle

A couple days ago, one of Obamacare’s primary architects, Jonathan Gruber, said this about the need for the tactics used in order to get the thing passed.

This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in—you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed…. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass…. Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.

Heads Up

Politico is reporting

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has canceled its advertising reservations for Sen Mary Landrieu ahead of the December runoff in Louisiana.

The committee canceled all broadcast buys planned from Monday through Dec 6 in the state’s five major media markets, three sources tracking the air war told POLITICO. That’s about $1.6 million worth of time. The DSCC is in the process of canceling an additional $275,000 in cable placements….

This race is not a done deal. That’s a lot of money for running out a ground game, something at which the Democrats are very good, last week’s election results notwithstanding.

Another Assault on Privacy

This time by a major cellular telephone company: Verizon.

…it has emerged that Verizon Wireless has been silently tracking around 100 million mobile customers using a supercookie that can’t be opted out of.

This is an especially nefarious invasion: the “cookie” lets Verizon track your movements on the Web—every page. And they then peddle that information to any advertiser willing to pay up.

Trade

I wrote earlier about our GDP number, including the impact on it of our trade gap—specifically our import numbers. Now the other side of that coin has been exposed.

The US trade gap widened in September as exports fell to a five-month low, a sign of weaker demand for US-made goods that underscores concerns about a global economic slowdown.

The trade deficit rose 7.6%…. Exports decreased 1.5% from August while imports were almost unchanged.

Two reports don’t make a trend, but they are suggestive.

In A Separate Report….

Overall household spending [Note: household spending is different from the consumer spending I referenced in yesterday’s article, and this is a different report from the one I referenced yesterday] fell 0.2% from August, the first decline since January and only the third since the recession ended in mid-2009, the Commerce Department said Friday. The drop reflected a big decline in purchases of big-ticket items such as cars.

Economic Improvement?

Our GDP grew at 3.5% last quarter compared to the prior year’s 3rd quarter, against economists’ expectations of a 3.0% growth rate. That’s good, right?

Why did it grow?

Part of the growth came from trade: imports fell sharply. Net trade is a definitional component of our GDP, and net trade consists of Exports less Imports. A reduction in imports, then, by definition elevates GDP.

This particular reduction, though, reflects a reduction in buying goods and services from overseas, which is entirely consistent with another trend: Americans aren’t buying stuff at any high rate, still.

The New ObamaMart

…has been out for a couple of days.

However.

The Obama administration unveiled a new version of HealthCare.gov on Wednesday….

Officials also said that HealthCare.gov won’t display premiums for 2015 until the second week of November.

Of course not.

Interstate Commerce and Chicken Eggs

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging a California law that requires all eggs sold in the Golden State to come from hens housed in roomier cages.

State Attorneys General from Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Alabama had sued to block implementation of the law on the grounds that it unconstitutionally interfered with interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause.

They said farmers would have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars overhauling farms to ensure they would have access to the California market….

US District Judge Kimberly Mueller of the Eastern District of California disagreed.

Obamacare and Health Care

As Dr Scott Atlas, of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, in a recent The Wall Street Journal op-ed noted,

  • Private company medical innovation R&D spending in the US the last three years averaged 2.1%, down from an average of 6% over the previous fifteen
  • Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, India, and the EU had greater R&D spending growth in the same period
  • The PRC had a growth rate of 22%

Certainly, those other polities, the EU excepted, were starting from a much smaller base, and so their growth rates will tend to be exaggerated. Certainly, too, our own historically weak economy is exacerbating the situation.

In Which another Federal Judge Gets it Right

Recall Halbig v Sebelius, the case wherein plaintiffs objected to subsidies being paid to Obamacare plan purchasers when the those plans were bought through ObamaMart, the Federally run health plan exchange, instead of through State-run health plan exchanges. The text of the Obamacare law allows the latter and bars the former. The DC Circuit agreed with plaintiffs and struck down the subsidies. (The current status of that ruling is that it’s been stayed pending review of Halbig by the DC Circuit sitting en banc.)