How to measure health care cost control

I want to propose a four-part test for measuring any particular bill on health care cost control.

short run

long run

Federal deficit



Government health care spending



Private health care spending



In each case, I will define the test so that “yes” is a good outcome:

Test 1: The bill does not increase the federal deficit in the short run.

Test 2: The […]

By |June 12th, 2009|budget, health, taxes|18 Comments

The belt-and-suspenders of the Kennedy-Dodd health care bill

There is much debate about whether a health care reform bill should include a government-run health insurance plan, a so-called “public option.” Advocates argue that such a plan can compete fairly with private health insurance, and that this competition would “keep insurers honest.” They also argue that more choices are a good thing.

I fall in […]

By |June 11th, 2009|health|70 Comments

Ten more things about the official Kennedy-Dodd health care bill

The Senate HELP Committee staff has filed an official copy of their draft legislation with the Senate clerk. A friend and I were discussing today two possible tactical scenarios:

The weekend leak forced the majority staff to release their official text as damage control. Under this scenario, filing the official copy is a damage mitigation strategy: […]

By |June 10th, 2009|budget, health, taxes|43 Comments

Understanding the House Democrats’ health care bill

Yesterday I posted and described the draft Kennedy-Dodd health care bill. Today I would like to do the same for an outline produced by House Democrats.

Here is a three-page outline of “Key Features of the Tri-Committee Health Reform Draft Proposal in the House of Representatives,” dated yesterday (June 8, 2009).

The three committees are:

The House Ways […]

By |June 9th, 2009|health|218 Comments

Understanding the Kennedy health care bill

Over the weekend a draft of Senator Kennedy’s (D-MA) health care bill leaked. After playing with Adobe Acrobat, here is the text of the draft Kennedy bill as a text file (173 K), and as a single Acrobat file (3.4 MB).¬†Update: I fixed the broken link to the PDF. Unlike the leaked version, both of […]

By |June 8th, 2009|health, taxes|383 Comments

Dr. Goolsbee gets it wrong on the auto loans

This morning on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace moderated a discussion about the auto industry. One of his guests was Dr. Austan Goolsbee, who is a Member of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and chief economist on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

I want to focus on some incorrect and inflammatory statements by […]

By |June 7th, 2009|autos, economy, industry|41 Comments

Working in the West Wing: Doing a TV news interview on the North Lawn

This is the second in a series of occasional posts about the nitty gritty of working in the West Wing of the White House. I am describing things as they were in the Bush Administration. YMMV in the Obama Administration. Again, it seems a bit silly to write about such trivial details, but given the […]

By |June 5th, 2009|west wing|1 Comment

Will the stimulus come too late?

I began this blog at the end of March after the stimulus bill had become law. I had been struck by how much the stimulus debate had focused on whether the bill was efficient. (It clearly was not.) There was much less discussion of whether the stimulus would be effective, and of the timing of […]

By |June 3rd, 2009|budget, economy, taxes|38 Comments

Parsing the President’s health care reform letter

The White House has released a letter from the President to the two Senate Chairmen who are working on (different) versions of health care reform: Senator Kennedy (D-MA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The letter is dated yesterday and […]

By |June 3rd, 2009|budget, health|11 Comments

Understanding the GM bankruptcy

Many of you are new to this blog since I wrote extensively about autos six weeks ago. As background, I coordinated the auto loan process for President Bush last fall as the Director of the White House National Economic Council (the position now held by Dr. Lawrence Summers). I wrote a series of posts on […]

By |June 1st, 2009|autos, economy, energy, industry|51 Comments