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You've got questions, and there's a surprisingly good chance that Dylan Matthews has answers.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 21, 2010; 11:20 AM ET
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Is it true that Canada and Norway require pre-drilling of relief wells for offshore wells? I've read many times that they do, but have never seen it sourced, and I can't find anything like that in the Canadian regulations available online.

Posted by: jiji1 | June 21, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

We're always told that if we raise taxes (or end subsidies) to oil companies, they will pass the cost on to the consumer? Does that actually happen? If it does, is there any net benefit to consumers without having some sort of tax rebate?

Posted by: byelin | June 21, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Can you break out where the money goes for a gallon of gas? How much of the total cost is tax, profit, refining, drilling, speculation, other middle men, etc? Also, how would a gallon of gas really cost if all hidden costs were paid for at the pump instead of, say, taxes for military costs for protecting sea lanes, etc?

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 21, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

What percentage of the US economy is taken up with financial services? My sense is that it has gone from single digits in the early 80s, to somewhere between 20% and 25% presently...but I can't for the life of me remember where I got that from. I'm writing a book on the history of home ownership in Modern America, and if I can nail down that little data nugget, it would be really helpful.

Posted by: msantow | June 21, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

is the law clearcut, on when an entire group may be denied their right and freedom to meet and assemble, in a public place?

Posted by: jkaren | June 21, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

How much of the cost growth in medical care (if any) is driven by increases in costs for the same services, and how much is the costs associated with new treatments and services that didn't used to exist? To put it another way, is there an increase in doctor productivity, such that the same output becomes cheaper over time?

Posted by: dt4211 | June 21, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

What exactly is an Accountable Care Organization as desciribed in PPACA? Is it like an HMO or an MCO? What are the differences and where can I find an example of an ACO?

Posted by: mkabak | June 21, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

That's a mighty good (and deep) constitutional question from jkaren above...

I'd extend by asking do I as a citizen have the right not to assemble and to refrain from doing business with (that is, to boycott) certain entities? For example, am I as free to abstain from purchasing gasoline from BP as I am to abstain from purchasing health insurance from a business supporting abortion?

Posted by: rmgregory | June 21, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

This question may be a bit too complex for a research desk exercise, but I'll toss it out anyway.

With respect to the valuation of Chinese currency, I am wondering just how how far it would need to rise before Chinese exports like electronic components would lose their competive edge (over goods manufactured elsewhere in Asia), and how far the value would need to rise before it would equal the "true" value (if allowed to float).

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 21, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

As a followup to the home ownership graph today, how about a graph tracking household formation with population growth, subdivided by immigration and native births?

Posted by: bharshaw | June 21, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

dylan - i've got a couple questions about ben nelson's justifications for voting against the jobs bill.
1) are there nebraska-specific numbers out there that measure the level of concern about debt?
2) how has the public's concern about the national debt changed over the past, say, fifty years? does it vary with unemployment, trade deficit, gdp growth, etc? is there any indication that americans understand the distinction between a budget deficit and long-range debt?

Posted by: strobes | June 21, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Conservatives and Tea Partiers believe that a flat tax (or fair tax) is the equitable solution for federal taxation. Setting aside the issue of fairness, my question is about the economics of this.

If everyone paid a (low) flat tax rate instead of a progressive one, wouldn't wealthier consumers only temporarily feel richer? Wouldn't the increased purchasing power be inflationary, causing prices for a limited supply of goods and services to rise to meet the increased demand?

Seems to me that, aside from eliminating complexity of the tax code, people want the government to take less of their money, thereby increasing (retaining) more of their personal wealth. But if taxes were reduced like an ebbing tide, the relative distribution of purchasing power would remain in place, and a boost to real wealth would be only fleeting.

Posted by: Edoc | June 21, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I am wondering about China's recent decision to untether their currency. What do they get out of it.

If that question is too open ended, perhaps you can can show what the effect on their economy will be.

Posted by: chrynoble | June 21, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Some people think that we need to ensure that nobody in the U.S. makes more than $500,000/year. How high would tax rates have to be to do this?

Posted by: stavner17 | June 21, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

When the government enacts tax breaks to encourage homeownership (e.g. mortgage interest deduction) how much of that helps homebuyers (in the form of increased buying power) and how much of it simply enriches incumbent homeowners (expanded demand leading to higher prices)?

I could easily imagine that it would be mostly the latter, $300k houses get bid up to $350k, etc. as buyers are able to afford to spend more.

Anyway are is there any research to support or refute my hunch?

Posted by: df37 | June 21, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

JKaren: The Supreme Court has said that there are a very small number of cases of speech that can be banned such as child pornography and speech that directly incites people to violence where there is a "clear and present danger" of the speech leading to actual violence. They used to allow more regulation of commercial speech, but pro-business groups have gotten rid of almost everything but fraud and false advertising.

Thus one can advocate for revolution in the abstract a la Thomas Jefferson but standing up in front of a tea party group and advocating an armed march on the White House to start the rebellion probably crosses the line. Putting the faces of abortion doctors on a website with crosshairs and advocating their murder is pretty close to the line if not over it, but none has been prosecuted. Compared to what was done against Leftists in the '50s, this is pretty lenient.

On assembly, the mantra is that the gov't may impose reasonable regulations on the "time, place and manner" of demonstrations and assemblies. They can require permits, limit the hours and limit locations and sometimes numbers so long as the enforcement is content-neutral, that is, all groups are treated the same. Needless to say, enforcement varies according to local conditions. The ACLU is an excellent resource on these issues and your local chapter or state affiliate probably has booklets available that explain in more detail.

Posted by: Mimikatz | June 21, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The CBO was supposed to score some kind of version of a Single-Payer Bill. What happened with that?

Posted by: MattMilholland | June 21, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Don't know if this question is in the right territory for your column, but...

Why (and how) is the Republican site "America Speaking Out" funded by taxpayers? I don't understand why a political party is using tax funds (to pay for a website? data collection?) to shape it's agenda - though reportedly, the GOP's not really paying much attention to the large proportion of suggestions which don't line up with the typical GOP agenda, but that's a different question...

In any case: what is the link between the site and our taxes going to fund it?

Posted by: SisterArtemis | June 21, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Which states had "rainy day" funds at the start of the recession, how large were they, and what condition are they in now?

Posted by: jnc4p | June 21, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

How many summer interns does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Posted by: cummije5 | June 21, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Would the currently proposed EPA regulations on carbon, plus some clean energy subsidies in the energy bill, plus state level regulations on carbon in California and New England be enough to prevent catastrophic climate change? How much carbon would be prevented by those steps? (Assuming none are latter repealed by future GOP Congresses/Administrations?

Posted by: mike777 | June 21, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Could you please post a brief history on Medicare Advantage, noting its stated goals when formed and how it has since performed. Thanks.

Posted by: rssdbs | June 21, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

David Axelrod's public relations firm in Chicago, AKPD, got millions of dollars in contracts from PHRMa, apparently as part of the deal big Pharma struck with the White House over its support of the government's healthcare plan. Though a PHRMa spokesman said he had no idea that firm was Axelrod's former employer, and his son's present employer. Question: do you believe that the rich ad contracts given to the firm were coincidental? And question two: Is this the same as, better than, or worse than the sweetheart contracts Haliburton got under the Bush administration?

Posted by: truck1 | June 21, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Are there some valid measures of corruption in government, especially Congress, over the entire history of the U.S.? If you could plot a "corruption index" over time, what would it look like?

Posted by: terryh1 | June 21, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

What would a Medicare buy-in (at age 55/45/for anyone) do to the long-term fiscal outlook of the program?

Posted by: ryancwatkins | June 21, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

What percent of the federal budget is taken up by federal employees? What if you exclude the postal service and DOD?

Posted by: keir1 | June 22, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

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