Monday, January 27, 2014

General Economics

Politico | The war on inequality … may take awhile
Coming up next: President Barack Obama solves inequality? Don’t hold your breath. He’s building his new agenda around an issue that has been in the making for decades: economic inequality. It’s expected to be the major theme of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, and when Capitol Hill doesn’t act on his ideas, he says he’ll use a “pen and phone” strategy to do what he can without Congress.
FOX News | NABE survey: Businesses expect stronger performance this year vs 2013, but hiring still anemic
Businesses expect their companies to perform better this year but that optimism still isn't translating into a push to hire more workers, according to a new survey from the National Association for Business Economics.
CNN Money | Buckle up! 2014 will be a bumpy ride
Get ready for a volatile year. Last week's stock market gyrations and currency swings are a sign of things to come as central banks wean investors off cheap money.
FOX Business | Government Regulations Drowning New England Fisheries?
One well-seasoned commercial fisherman says Federal regulations are drowning New England fisheries.
Market Watch | How much gas in economy’s tank? Let’s see
If the U.S. economic engine is ready to rev faster in 2014, this is the week we should learn how much fuel is in the gas tank.
CNBC | Making the rich poorer isn't the American Dream: Summers
Making an impassioned social commentary that seemed to cut against fellow Democrats, Larry Summers said that making people poorer, "even the very rich," in the name of balancing the scales of income inequality in America is a destructive course of action.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Politico | The new faces of food stamps
In a first, working-age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps - a switch from a few years ago, when children and the elderly were the main recipients.
WSJ | The Other Kind of Inequality
The problem with the Democrats' new war on inequality ("the defining challenge of our time," says President Obama ) is that there are two kinds of growing inequality—and the Democrats are attacking the wrong one.
Real Clear Markets | To Increase College Grads, Obama Should Eliminate Pell Grants
Pell Grants are federal funds provided to college students from low-income families. Since its start in 1973 the program has grown both in the number of students receiving grants and the amount of each grant. Today over nine million students receive Pell Grants worth up to almost $6,000 a year. Yet if the federal government really wants to boost American human capital and improve college outcomes one of the best things it could do is eliminate the Pell Grant program completely.
Washington Times | Restoring the American dream
We can expect President Obama’s big speech Tuesday night to be full of his usual class-warfare bloviation about the “lack of upward mobility” being the “defining problem of our time.” He wants more and bigger government, so he defines problems in a way that demands another federal solution.

Heritage Foundation | U.S. Could Learn From Hong Kong About Economic Freedom
My previous column focused on why the United States is no longer among the top 10 nations listed in the annual “Index of Economic Freedom.” It’s important to put this in a larger context and explain why it matters.
Library of Economics | Poverty and Income Inequality are Separate Issues
What matters is not whether inequality increases but whether people of all income levels are doing better.
Heritage Foundation | You Can’t Have Income Equality Without Economic Freedom
For all of the ideas President Barack Obama will likely mention in the course of this election year on ways to reduce income inequality, don’t expect for him to mention the one that has actually been proven empirically to work: jobs.

Health Care

National Journal | Obamacare Enrollment Hits 3 Million
Obamacare enrollment is only slightly behind expectations, following a surge in enrollment that has brought the total number of sign-ups to 3 million. As of this week, 3 million people have signed up for private coverage through the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges, the Health and Human Services Department said today. The figure includes state-run marketplaces as well as the 36 states using federal exchanges through

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Weekly Standard | The Obamacare Bailout
Obamacare is like an onion: The more layers you peel back, the worse it smells. The latest revelation about this horrible law is the presence of a “risk corridor,” a euphemism for an insurance industry bailout that will occur sometime in the next year. 
CATO | Obamacare: What We Know Now
For all intents and purposes, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, has been fully implemented. And while much of the media coverage has been dominated by the technical failures of the program’s initial rollout, we are also learning much about the impact of health care reform on employers, providers, patients, taxpayers, and individual consumers.
Heritage Foundation | Replacing the Medicare SGR: Getting the Policy and the Financing Right
This year, Medicare physicians face a 24 percent pay cut. The reason: Congress updates Medicare doctors’ payments by a formula called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR).

CATO | Food Stamp Growth Continues, Despite Economic Recovery
As food stamp utilization escalated over the last several years, the program’s advocates assured us that there was nothing to worry about. Yes, more people than ever before were on food stamps, but that was just because of the recession. Once the recovery began and the unemployment rate declined, fewer people would need food stamps.


Market Watch | Nothing will deter Fed from tapering this week
Neither snow, freezing temperatures, market volatility nor a lousy jobs report will stay the Federal Reserve from taking another small step towards the exit this week.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Washington Post | Bernanke’s triumph — and defeat
As Ben Bernanke, the outgoing chairman of the Federal Reserve, must recognize, he is the victim of the law of diminishing returns. In the initial days of the 2008-09 financial crisis, he mobilized the Fed as the lender of last resort. This helped quell an intensifying financial panic and, arguably, averted a second Great Depression. Bernanke’s role has been much praised and deserves the nation’s gratitude. It is doubtful that anyone else would have done better.


National Journal | How Is Bitcoin Taxed? The IRS Doesn't Know
How do you tax bitcoins? Apparently, not even the IRS knows. Internet forums like Reddit and are exploding with questions about how users of the increasingly popular virtual currency should fill out their tax forms this year.

CATO | Tax Reform: The First Step Is Simple
New leadership is coming to the congressional tax-writing committees. Ron Wyden will be taking the helm of Senate Finance and Paul Ryan will be likely taking the helm of Ways and Means. This is good news, as both gentlemen are serious legislators and very interested in major tax reform.


Bloomberg | Extra Jobless Aid Not a Winner in Republican Districts
As the U.S. Senate battles over expanded unemployment insurance, House Republicans aren’t even talking about it.


Politico | Pfeiffer, McConnell forecast battle over debt ceiling
In back-to-back interviews Sunday, White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell took opposite positions on what Congress should do as the nation approaches the upcoming debt ceiling.
Bloomberg | Treasuries Fall Before Fed Meeting, $111 Billion Debt Auctions
Treasuries fell, pushing the 10-year yield up from almost a two-month low, before the Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting tomorrow and the U.S. sells $111 billion of notes and floating-rate debt this week.
WSJ | States Weigh New Plans for Revenue Windfalls
Governors across the U.S. are proposing tax cuts, increases in school spending and college-tuition freezes as growing revenue and mounting surpluses have states putting the recession behind them.

Econ Comments & Analysis                                                                                            
Real Clear Markets | Chronic Spending That Can't Be Ignored Forever
When Congress passed its omnibus spending bill, many in Washington breathed a collective sigh of relief. With the government funded, chances for a government shutdown or budget showdown have been minimized.
Mercatus | America’s Crushing Fiscal Gap
The U.S. government has racked up $12 trillion in public debt, a figure equivalent to nearly three-quarters of gross domestic product. Yet that massive sum pales in comparison to the costs of the federal government's unpaid promises, mostly in the form of health care and retirement benefits for seniors.