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There are questions, and then there is Dylan Matthews.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 13, 2010; 11:06 AM ET
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To what level does the new border bill increase border agents, and how does that level compare to the National Guard aided level the the border achieved by Bush?

Posted by: danwhalen2 | August 13, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

What is a really good book to buy on parlimentary tactics of the Senate (not including Robert's Rules)?


Posted by: david_anderson48 | August 13, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Given the methodology for calculating jobs saved by the stimulus, can we estimate how big a difference a larger stimulus would have made - say 1.4 trillion (which I believe was a suggestion made by some economists)?

Posted by: jduptonma | August 13, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

How much money has the Federal Government invested in the nation's Broadband and Wireless networks via direct subsidies and tax breaks since 1992?

Posted by: slugrunner | August 13, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Is it beneficial for the the government to boost the economy then balance the budget or to balance the budget and let the economy languish.

In quantitative terms...

How much more will we have to raise taxes to balance the budget with a 1-2% growth rate vs. a 4-5% growth rate? Shouldn't the amount of revenue increase with higher growth.

Posted by: PaulArkay | August 13, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Assuming lawmakers become serious about reducing the national debt in 2011, how long can we reasonably expect it to take before we have eliminated the debt? What level of spending cuts and tax increases would be necessary over that period?

Posted by: AlphaWonk | August 13, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Lori Montgomery had a story Thursday where she said that under the Dem plan 97% of small businesses won't have a tax increase and that 50% of all the taxable income earned by small businesses is earned by the other 3%. I did some math:

If the 97% of business owners have a median income of $100,000 each, then the other 3% have a median income of $3,233,000 each.

If the 97% of business owners have a median income of $50,000 each, then the other 3% have a median income of $1,616,000 each.

In fact, since the 3% group must include businesses with incomes way below the median -- $250,001 gets you into the 3% group -- then there must be some people with incomes much higher than the median -- much higher than 1.6 million.

When we hear "small business owner" I don't think that conveys an image of someone who earns literally millions of dollars a year.

Can you dig into these numbers?

Posted by: racheljl | August 13, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

When you or others advocate a payroll tax holiday are you talking about the employer side contribution, or the employee side, or both? What are the anticipated stimulative effects of both? Individually and in combination?

Posted by: brooklynpsu | August 13, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Dylan, how is unemployment affecting projections for Social Security and the federal deficit? Specifically, if 5-10 million of the unemployed actually had jobs, what would that do to newest projections for SS and the deficit? I think you might have the data for this exercise in which you'd adjust projections for SS income, other tax income, spending on unemployment, etcetera?

Posted by: pjro | August 13, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

How many school lunches could be purchased for the same amount spent on Obama "family" "vacations"? How many American children will die this year from malnutrition?

Posted by: rmgregory | August 13, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Polls of ideological self-identification often show a larger percentage of Americans calling themselves "conservative" than "liberal." People tell me that part of the reason is that the word "conservative" has better connotations than "liberal," and that when people are polled about specific policies (and not merely labels or abstract principles), liberal policies beat out conservative policies. Is there evidence to back up this claim?

Posted by: matt297 | August 13, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

An article in The New Republic reports:

"One of the most sobering observations made by Wax comes in the form of a disarmingly simple calculus presented first by Isabel Sawhill and Christopher Jencks. If you finish high school and keep a job without having children before marriage, you will almost certainly not be poor. Period. I have repeatedly felt the air go out of the room upon putting this to black audiences. No one of any political stripe can deny it. It is human truth on view. In 2004, the poverty rate among blacks who followed that formula was less than 6 percent, as opposed to the overall rate of 24.7 percent."

Things I'm wondering:

1) Is this accurate?

2) How does that 6 percent rate, if true, compare to the rates for white children who follow that formula?

3) How much is does "graduate from high school and don't have children before marriage" correlate with "don't be born poor"? Put another way, among black children born into poor families (as opposed to black children in general), how much of a guarantee is "the formula"?

Posted by: BarryDeutsch | August 13, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Whoops, forgot the URL for the New Republic article. It's

Posted by: BarryDeutsch | August 13, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Dylan, this is more of a legal research question but: is there any reason why Congress could not pass a 2011 budget resolution during the lame duck session? If they did, how many reconciliation bills could Congress subsequently enact in calendar year 2011 pursuant to instructions in such a resolution? Could Congress adopt a budget resolution containing nothing but reconciliation instructions?

Posted by: rwclayton7 | August 13, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Since nobody seems to make the calculation, what will the effect on Social Security be when in 35 years the baby boomers are a vastly diminished population and the post boomer population sag dominates the retirement numbers?

Put simply, what will the payer to payee ratio be for each fifteen year period between now and a period of time when you can still actually count the members of the retirement cohort and the working cohort. That would mean only , at largest, the next 30 to 45 years, as trying to predict SS payments to receipts out 75 years makes assumptions based on populations thet won' be born for another decade at least.

Posted by: ceflynline | August 13, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Now or the fun question:

There is a civil war breaking out in the Conservative ranks of the Republican Party, and there are several factions waging that war for control of the party.

Is this blog prepared to track the factions and observe where each would take the fiscal policy of the party? (for instance the military hard liners are going to have to run deficits or raise taxes. How do they resolve the conundrum?

Posted by: ceflynline | August 13, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Is there any website which rates businesses according to corporate contributions to political causes/candidates, corporate policies, corporate taxes paid/evaded/avoided, hiring practices, environmental record, etc. I'd love to see buiness ratings that help me understand which businesses are good actors and to choose who I want to do business with.

Posted by: xxyyzzyyxx | August 14, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I've wondered for years -- no one ever talks about it -- what accounts for rising health care costs? Increasing technology? Hospital fees? Hospital profits? Doctors' salaries? Doctors' salaries relative to debt from medical school? Insurance profits? Pharmaceutical profits? Research and development? Increased preventive testing? Other? When I hear discussions of rising costs, I never hear what costs are rising. Seems like those costs would be the logical costs to recognize and, if possible, try to contain. Cutting costs willy nilly, like Paul Ryan's medicare voucher plan, seems unnecessarily risky.

Posted by: JusticeGoal | August 14, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I have a good one here:

Saw a great chart about how many months to recover jobs lost in recession, plotted against number created each month. Very helpful. (Looks like a bad decade ahead.)

But, I think it'd be useful to also factor in the increased retirements from the boomers, as this may be a big lifeline. The SS report may have info here, too.

It'd be interesting if the boomers' retirement wave could actually allow the younger generation openings, and on what schedule would we anticipate that happening? It should also tighten up the labor market, and allow for wage hikes. But, I hear nothing about this aspect.

All the best,

Posted by: rat-raceparent | August 16, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

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