October 29, 2013

* Jonathan Cohn continues his invaluable reporting on the Obamacare rollout with a piece taking a hard look at just who is losing their health insurance and why, and what will happen to them. Briefly, new regulations are limiting the lower end of the quality spectrum, and so insurers are withdrawing their cheapest, lowest-coverage plans.

However, this small fraction of the population who lose this crummy insurance will be eligible for subsidies and get better coverage. I used to have lousy individual market coverage — I called it Bankruptcy Brand™ health insurance, because the deductible was many multiples of my life savings — and I often wished the exchanges were up and running back in those days.

* Ezra Klein adds a nice explainer about Obamacare and the triple-horned dilemma of health insurance: “The right way to understand this is to think of premiums as a ‘trilemma’ between comprehensiveness, accessibility, and affordability.” Read on to see how Obamacare changes the balance of the system.

* Speaking of which, Allie Brosh’s new book is out! I’ve been desperately trying not to read my copy at work, and failing. It’s great. You should buy it.

* Excellent piece by Jim Tankersley talking to folks who live in the most extreme Republican districts. They’re suffering: “On average, the economy in the districts those Republicans represent is significantly worse than it is in the nation at large,” for which they blame the president. It’s some grim irony, but the head of government tends to get blamed for whatever happens, even when it’s GOP austerity and endless hostage crises that have seriously damaged the economy.

* Great profile of Duncan Black (aka Atrios) and his surprisingly successful quest to build a coalition to boost Social Security benefits instead of cutting them. He certainly convinced me. It’s a good reminder that a well-timed idea can actually change things on the margin.

* Brad Plumer looks at what we’re doing to the ocean’s fisheries, and the results aren’t great. Some fisheries have improved a bit in the past decade, but not many — and a lot more have totally collapsed. The good news is that it’s possible to rebuild fisheries with good policy, and the US government has had some notable successes preserving fish stocks.

* Ed Kilgore makes a great point: 2016 will be a grim year for Republicans in the Senate. Not only will they have 24 seats to defend compared to the Democrats 10, it’ll be a presidential election year when Democrats are typically strongest. 2014 will likely be their last chance for a majority for some time.

* Benjy Sarlin dryly notes that the Heritage Foundation’s ludicrous report finding that immigration reform will increase the deficit by $6.3 trillion is making a comeback. Republicans are well on their way to permanently cementing Latinos in the Democratic orbit.

* Francis Wilkinson takes a look at a surprising poll result: twice as many nonwhites as whites report feeling that “people like you” are well-represented in Congress. In fact, white people are still dramatically overrepresented in Congress, but as far as the feeling, I can only say that turnabout is fair play.

* Felix Salmon defends Apple against greedy shareholders who want to get their mitts on the company’s huge stockpile of cash. He argues that it should stick to what it’s best at — making excellent devices. I do think he rather underrates the sheer size of Apple’s cash hoard, however, and the relative merit of spending it on quixotic projects like trying to force telecoms to not suck.

* On an extremely wonky note, JW Mason has some interesting ideas about “Functional Finance and Sound Finance.” It’s too complex for me to judge just yet, but for fans of unorthodox economics, Mason is always someone to watch.

* And Matt Bruenig and Elizabeth Stoker run the numbers and find it would be quite feasible to introduce “Social Security for All” and thereby cut poverty in half at a stroke. Dare to dream!

What else?

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