Friday, July 30, 2004
MORE ON KERRY'S SPEECH
My latest at the Spectator.
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Thursday, July 29, 2004
GUESS WHAT DIDN'T MAKE IT INTO KERRY'S SPEECH?
It seems unlikely that the speech will convince the voters that the Democrats are ready to take national security seriously. The word terrorist appeared only three times in the speech. The word terrorism? Not at all. Ditto for Saddam Hussein, Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, or al Qaeda, Iraq was mentioned only three time, and one of those was to note that there were no WMDs there.
I think W's chances just got a lot better.
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There a lot of people to thank, who have been so encouraging in this blogging endeavor. Here is a partial list: Joe, Jeff, Chad, Don, Jason, and that guy who does State 29 and used to be Cedar Pundit.
There are also a lot of people at my now-former place of work, Public Interest Institute, who I should thank for making my time there so enjoyable: Dr. Racheter, Amy, Madeline, John, Arlan, and Jennifer.
Thank you also to Linda, Brenda and Tom.
You have all made my time here in Iowa well worth it.
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Well, this blog will soon be renamed. Obviously, I can’t keep the name Cornfield Commentary when I’m no longer in Iowa. I’m thinking about a play on my last name, something like “Hog Haven.” If you have other ideas, please let me know.
The sight will be redesigned some as well. I hope to have this finished just before the GOP Convention. Until then, there will be no blogging, save the links to my Spectator or NRO articles.
Last, I have a new email that is in the link at the top right.
So, see you in late August.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2004
It is actually very easy for me to come up with this. My biggest disappointment was not defeating the Grow Iowa Values (GIV) Fund. As far as I’m concerned, the GIV Fund is nothing more than a corporate welfare boondoggle. It is a misguided attempt by the state government to try to “manage” Iowa’s economy. (Is it any wonder the Des Moines Register editorial page loves it?)
I really wish that this thing had gone down in flames in 2003. It’s possible that it might collapse now, but I doubt it. Too many legislators and business leaders love the thing, and so eventually a deal will be cut between the State Legislature and the Governor.
I fear that this will set the tone for Iowa’s economic development for the next decade. The GIV Fund will yield a few successes, and those successes will be used by supporters to push for similar initiatives, like the renewal of Vision Iowa. Other policies, like major tax reform, will suffer for reasons I have written about here.
I think there are only two ways that the GIV Fund will ever be repealed. First, it will be around for years and most of Iowa’s leaders will notice that Iowa’s economic growth since the GIV Fund isn’t any better than it was before the GIV Fund was established. Or, more likely, the GIV Fund will be involved in some type of scandal. A business that shouldn’t receive a grant will because the business is politically connected to one of the parties involved in the GIV Fund.
So, that is my biggest disappointment of my time here in Iowa. Given how often bad policies become law, I’m sure it will not be the last “big disappointment” of my career.
Tomorrow: Some thank yous and what to expect from the website in the future.
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Tuesday, July 27, 2004
DON’T GIVE IN
I agree with Jeff at Tusk and Talon, that the GOP in Des Moines should stick the screws to Governor Vilsack over the Grow Iowa Values Fund. Vilsack has earned it.
The Des Moines Register, of course, thinks Vilsack’s final offer is just great because:
The fund, which is supposed to create well-paying jobs with an emphasis on biotechnology, is too valuable to let it die.
No it isn’t. Here’s more.
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PEE YOUR PANTS
One of the things that annoyed me in fisking the Des Moines Register editorials was the Pee-Your-Pants lines that would occasionally pop up. This was the line intended to scare you, to make you feel that the world was coming to and end, you were on the brink of bankruptcy, your spouse would leave the toilet seat up, etc., unless we immediately took the advice of the Register and instituted some new government program.
For example, in it recent liberal-knee-jerk-ban-cell-phone-use-in-cars editorial, the editorialist wrote:
"Hang Up and Drive" says the bumper sticker, reflecting the feelings of millions of motorists and pedestrians who have frantically dodged drivers yakking into cell phones and staring into space. It's beyond annoying. It's deadly.
You mean people can get killed by being distracted when they drive?! GASP! I just wet myself.
Not long ago, it showed up in an editorial panning health savings accounts:
If you're not using Medicaid, Medicare, a veteran's plan, another government-sponsored health plan, don't buy your own insurance or use one of the thousands, literally thousands, of employer-based insurance plans, now you have another choice: a savings account. Assuming you have the extra dollars to pack away for future health-care costs, that is.
You mean I’ll actually have to come up with some of my own money to put in an HSA?! Ohmigawd! What will I do? Now I’m totally soaked.
Last week, it was an editorial about the economy,
The job market doesn't yet favor workers. There won't be major gains in wages and benefits until it does.
If it does.
You mean I’m a complete fool for believing that the economy will turn around and wages will start rising again?! OH NO!!!! I am drowning in an ocean!
On Thursday I’m going to talk about some of the things I will miss when I leave Iowa. I am sure it will come as no surprise to you that the Des Moines Register will not be one of them.
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In this editorial, the Des Moines Register misdiagnoses the problem as “lost intergrity.” The problem:
You're paying millions per year in state taxes alone to buy quality care. You're also, in some instances, buying neglect, risk and abuse.
You're hiring the troopers who take on the dangerous job of enforcing our laws and then see those laws misused to profit local "charities."
You pay for the highways that overweight trucks shatter while roaring on past the unmanned weigh scales.
You may be paying with your health for breathing air befouled by certain livestock operations, whose owners may live 1,000 miles upwind.
The real problem? These are all government-run operations. Welcome to the world where there is no punishment for failure. But I doubt the editorialists at the Register will ever understand that.
Well, that’s as good an editorial as any to end my fisking of the Register. Frankly, I’m glad that this is it. Over time, fisking the Register has become the intellectual equivalent of kicking kittens. There is no challenge in taking down editorials that usually lack logic, are poorly researched, and seldom, if ever, weigh costs against benefits.
I’m glad I won’t be doing this anymore for two other reasons. First, I think over the last year I’ve gotten a little lazy. On days when I’m a bit tired, I just avoid blogging on anything challenging and head straight for the Register editorial page where I know it will be easy pickings. The second reason is that “familiarity breeds contempt.” I think my contempt for the Register editorial page has seeped into my other writing in the last year. Contempt can be a powerful writing tool, but only if it is used sparingly. I think I’m using it way too much. By no longer paying attention to the Register, I’m hoping that I’ll be less tempted to use it as a rhetorical tool. Anyway, I need to work on it, and I hope that now it will be easier to do so.
TOMORROW: My biggest disappointment here in Iowa.
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THE DEMS FIRST NIGHT
Some thoughts at NRO.
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GAY MARRIAGE ON THE BRAIN
Whenever the GOP takes up measures to stop gay marriage, Andrew Sullivan becomes increasingly unreadable.
Look at the Daily Dish today. Can you tell the difference between his site and what Democrats are saying about the convention last night?
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Monday, July 26, 2004
MORE ON KRUGMAN AND HEALTH CARE
I received a less-than-enthusiastic email from Brian regarding my column on Paul Krugman’s defense of John Kerry’s health-care plan.
Your recent rebuttal is of Krugman's columns was a joke.
Well, I hope he at least got a laugh out of it.
You make a bunch of claims, but don't provide any links to back up those claims. And all of your evidence is from partisan sources.
I didn’t realize that I was obligated to provide links to the evidence that I cited. I’ll gladly list them here. Here’s material from Aetna, and Defitiny Health. Here is a summary of data by Assurant and Aetna from the NCPA.
On thing though: Has Brian ever emailed the same complaint to Krugman? After all, the web version of his columns never provides any links to the evidence he cites.
It also appears that Brian has fallen for Krugman’s rhetorical trick of calling groups and individuals he agrees with “non-partisan” and “independent,” such as “an independent assessment of the Kerry plan by Kenneth Thorpe of Emory University”. I’ll bet that Brian will be surprised to learn that Ken Thorpe worked for the Clinton Administration; “independent” indeed. At least I was honest enough to describe my sources in ways that let’s the read know their biases.
You also don't "debunk" some of his claims. Take, for instance, his claim that 5% of the people would be covered under Bush's HSA plans. Early evidence that you cite - again, without a link - says that 43% of the people were previously uninsured. How well does that population match up with the overall pool of uninsured?
Sorry, but Krugman didn’t say that “5% of the people would be covered under Bush's HSA plans.” He wrote “President Bush offers a tax credit that would extend coverage to fewer than 5 percent of the uninsured.” I took on the argument about HSAs, not the tax credits.
In fact, I am not even sure that you fully understand his plan. According to this policy paper, http://www.johnkerry.com/pdf/kerry_health_plan.pdf, the health plans of employees would be reimbursed. That means that the private market will set the price, but the government will pick up the tab.
I know that. That’s why I wrote:
One way they might go higher is that insurance companies will have less incentive to price risk since they will be able to pass much of the resulting costs along to the federal government. They can then fatten their bottom lines by selling cheaper policies to individuals with high amounts of health risk. In fact, that is exactly what they will have to do under the Kerry plan, since the so-called savings must be used to reduce workers' premiums. With cheaper insurance policies, more people are likely to engage in activities with high amounts of health risk, thereby increasing overall health costs.
Also, it is may not entirely be true that it will only be private companies setting prices (and it is inaccurate to say that private companies set prices—the “market” sets prices). According to the Kerry plan,
By removing catastrophic costs, John Kerry's proposal will make it easier for employers to offer affordable coverage. To be eligible, however, savings from this relief must be directly passed to workers. The premium pool is estimated to save workers as much as 10 percent – or $1000 off a Family Plan.
I wonder, how will Kerry’s health-care plan guarantee the savings are “directly passed to workers” unless the government has at least some say in how much private companies charge for insurance?
But you've got the goods, right? You claims liberals are arrogant and that people like Krugman underestimate the intelligence of the American public. Once a claim like that is made, a lot of credibility is to be lost, and for good reason.
No, the only credibility to be lost is that of the likes of Krugman who are so conceited as to think that the only explanation for why the policies he prefers don’t prevail is the American people were duped.
Or perhaps the first bad sign was that Don Luskin was cheering you on. He's probably the last person that you'd want on your side.
Say what you will about Luskin. I could care less. He’s a friend. But since when does a certain person cheering you on discredit what you are saying? If, say, Fidel Castro praised one of Paul Krugman’s columns, would that, in Brian’s eyes, discredit Krugman?
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ONE OTHER THING
Krugman also claims that the Kerry health-care plan would cost “$653 billion over the next decade.”
That’s accurate if you only look at the re-insurance part of the plan. But here’s the Medicaid part of the plan
John Kerry’s plan would strike a new compact with the states: the Federal government will pick up the full cost of more than 20 million children enrolled in Medicaid if states agree to: (1) expand children’s coverage to 300 percent of poverty and enroll these kids; (2) expand coverage to families up to 200 of poverty; and (3) assure childless adults below poverty have health care coverage.
Given that Medicaid is the fastest growing part of states’ budgets and will probably exceed education as states’ biggest expenditure sometime in the next decade, I wonder exactly how much expanding Medicaid will boost costs to the federal government?
$653 billion? Ha!
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