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1) The Institute of Medicine weighs in on health-care reform.

2) Robert Reich explains "specifically" what we should do for jobs. I support suggestion #2.

3) A primer on the cost of climate legislation.

4) Gerrymandering apparently does not make House districts uncompetitive.

By Ezra Klein  |  October 6, 2009; 6:30 PM ET
 
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Comments

Hi Ezra,

I'm looking forward to completing health reform, and moving on to energy reform/climate change action. I'm curious if you're aware of the Argonne project abandoned in the mid '90s.

IFR was an answer to many NE issues, including proliferation and waste. I find very little referenced in the media. May I direct you to a couple of resources:

http://bravenewclimate.com/integral-fast-reactor-ifr-nuclear-power/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_Fast_Reactor

Posted by: gobears | October 6, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Gerrymandering definitely makes the House more polarized. It definitely helps Republicans more than Democrats. It definitely lowers the average IQ of elected officials.

Whether it makes extremely uncompetitive Congressional races even more uncompetitive is hard to prove. But in California, where the business of gerrymandering consumes a lot of mathematician and supercomputer time, legislative districts never--literally never--change political parties. And look where that's got us...

Posted by: bmull | October 6, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

You would never be able to end a payroll tax 'holiday.' It would turn into a permanent exemption of the first $20,000 in income from the payroll tax.

Posted by: exgovgirl | October 7, 2009 2:05 AM | Report abuse

Two things stand out about the gerrymandering paper. One, it claims to be able to explain "more than 100%" of the incumbent reelection effect by other means. What????

And two, and most damning, the effect they are actually testing is a prediction that the primary impact of redistricting should be seen as a "jump in the probability of reelection immediately following the decadal redistricting" whereas other variables vary smoothly over time.

This prediction is questionable, to say the least. Redistricting, in the past, has been used at least as often to get rid of an incumbent from the wrong party as it has been to protect an incumbent of the right one. Consequently, I would predict a more or less steady probability of reelection.

A more accurate prediction would be to control for the party in control of redistricting and test for both increased probability of same party reelection and decreased probability of opposite party reelection. They didn't do that. Consequently, they didn\'t do anything useful to the debate.

Finally, I point to a counterexample -- mid-decadal redistricting in Texas due to Tom DeLay. Are we seriously going to contend that had no effect on the partisan makeup of the state congressional delegation?

The paper answers an irrelevant question.

Posted by: pj_camp | October 7, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

i agree with exgovgirl. once you give something away its nearly impossible to take it back. I like #3 better and its more realistic. It would be important as to how the credit is structured but it could help spur small businesses that are anxious about hiring to do so. OTherwise many economists believe that employers won't hire, they'll simply make their existing employees work more hours and take some that are part-time and move them to full time to fill needs of the employer.

Posted by: visionbrkr | October 7, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I agree with exgov/vision on #2 but for different reasons. That sort of tax cut is progressive to be sure, but tax cuts perceived as temporary tend not to be effective. Even if those tax cuts somehow did translate to significant spending gains, you'd see an immediate slump following the end of the payroll tax holiday (which would risk the holiday becoming permanent as already noted). Finally, cutting off so much revenue to Social Security/Medicare is likely to exacerbate the financing issues of those programs.

I think a better course of action would be to permanantly scale up the U.S. unemployment insurance system so that a) more people are covered and b) a far higher proportion of a worker's wages are replaced.

When an unexpected shock to income occurs - the loss of a job or even the fear thereof - consumption spending falls. The current unemployment insurance system helps, but it is too stingy. We should model our system on Denmark's - they are able to combine high benefits with minimal work disincentives.

Significantly higher spending on unemployment insurance would create a smoother consumption growth path, act as a strong automatic stabilizer, and - most importantly - provide a sense of security for Americans out of work through no fault of their own as well as for those who are worried that they soon may be laid off.

Posted by: justin84 | October 7, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

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