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Dylan Matthews reduces uncertainty.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 11, 2010; 12:20 PM ET
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on the topic of higher education how much funding for colleges and universities comes from general funds of states and how has that been affected by the recession.

Also how have their (universities) costs gone up during the same time frames.

Posted by: visionbrkr | August 11, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

More tax stuff, I find it fascinating.

I was wondering what the impact would be on the budget (as far as possible revenue) if we treated capital gains income as normal taxable income and applied the current tax rates? Downsides as far as I could see would be loss in investments... is this really a huge concern?

Posted by: Zotnix | August 11, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Suppose we really, really wanted the unemployment rate to be at or under 6% by September 1, 2011. Suppose we were also willing to pass another stimulus bill. We’ll borrow, and spend, whatever it takes to get unemployment down to 6% in a year.

How much would that cost? What’s the estimated dollar figure that would get us to 6% unemployment in a year?

Posted by: bswainbank | August 11, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

We hear a lot about how the federal government is the only institution capable of producing the mass borrowing necessary for major stimulus. But certainly many state governments control economies comparable to European states that do engage in significant stimulus and deficit spending. Is the limitation of states to borrow based on state Constitutions, based on some aspect of the Federal Constitution, or based on some economic principle that I don't understand? What are the options for a state that does want to invest in a major stimulus / infrastructure program?


Posted by: satya232 | August 11, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

In 2034, what EXACTLY happens with Social Security. It pays out "on average" X percent. But how exactly are determinations made who gets what percent of their benefits?

Posted by: Mike3211 | August 11, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

What are the costs associated with "federalizing" the Medicare costs that states currently pay? It's been proposed as a mini-state-stimulus because Medicare is counter-cyclical.

Posted by: ctown_woody | August 11, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

If the problem is that companies are sitting on their money, is there anyway to feasibly tax cash reserves? Say, any amount of cash reserves above a certain threshold, which would be based on companies' market cap, would be subject to a discouraging tax penalty? Perhaps you couldn't tax the reserves directly, but you could make other tax deductions contingent upon lowering one's level of cash reserves.

Posted by: brooklynpsu | August 11, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Satya232: Almost every state has in its state constitution a requirement for a balanced budget. Some fancy footwork is possible, but borrowing like the federal government is just generally impossible. Also, many states probably have requirements like CA that bond issues be approved by the voters (here by a 60% margin).

I second the question about cost inflation at public and private universities and the shifting proportion of the cost paid by the state vs the student, as discussed the the comment thread below.

Posted by: Mimikatz | August 11, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I read this blog post and some realted articles and I was wondering how much it was true that the average goverment salary is over $80k and the average benefits is over $40k.


Posted by: cassidymullen | August 11, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

How many Senate seats could change hands immediately after the elections and before the Nov 15 lame-duck session because the current person fills an unexpired term?

Which has the highest correlation with right track/wrong track polls -- approval of the president or approval of Congress?

Posted by: cstevenson1 | August 11, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

It is often said that the federal government is not limited in its ability to borrow money as long as there is a demand for government debt. Is it possible for all world governments to simultaneously run budget deficits? Could all governments get by borrowing only from the private sector or do we need some governments in the world to run a surplus?

Posted by: JVLO | August 11, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Immigration and the Deficit

It is always said that the reason Medicare and Social Security are facing such a crisis is that there are will be so fewer young people paying into the system than older people receiving benefits over the next decade.

I am wondering if immigration reform would have an impact. How would Social Security and Medicare projections differ if the current batch of undocumented immigrants (who are generally young workers) were suddenly paying into the system via payroll taxes?

Posted by: ManuelMorales | August 11, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Karl Smith wrote about how the wealth gap doesn't necessarily have huge distorting effects on the economy and people shouldn't worry so much about wealth but instead should worry about luxury because the wealthy sometimes donate huge portions of their income to charity.

I commented that while Smith is making these statements, he's ignoring the problem of distorting effects on the political economy. The supposedly best performing governments include many, if not all, of the Nordic/Dutch social democracies while the American government tends to pander to the wealthy while patting the general public in the head. "[T]hey simply listen to the wealthy who will get them elected and re-elected (political donations) and the news media will, instead of informing the public in order to make the best decisions as voters, feed them what they want to hear."

My question, then, is this: how much correlation is there between the wealth gap and the relative measure of good governments based on measurements made by Heritage and other organizations that rate governments on freedom, economics, and social mores?

Posted by: edmigper | August 11, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

How big would a wealth tax (tax on financial assets, and appraised items in excess of say $20,000 in value not including real estate that is already taxed) have to be to bring in say 100 billion a year in revenues? This would exclude retirement account values under $4 million indexed for inflation)
I ask because the only asset class currently taxed is real estate, which no coincidentally, is the single largest asset for those not in the top 5% of income earners.

Posted by: srw3 | August 11, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

How does social mobility of military members compare with social mobility in the society as a whole? It's hard to compare exactly, given that young people who enlist may have fewer competing options than those who don't, even within the same socioeconomic background, but it seems interesting to me, to what extent our vast military outlays produces upward (or downward) mobility as a consequence.

Posted by: jacobh | August 11, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse


Can you determine the cost of hiring a worker (including benefits, Social Security, etc.) before and after Bush tax cuts, Obama tax cuts and health care reform?

It might not be an interesting graph if there is no differences but pundits constantly warble about the uncertainty of rising taxes (including payroll) and how it contributes to unemployement.

Posted by: chrisgaun | August 11, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Hi Dylan,

There's been talk recently from the Tea Party of repealing the 17th Amendment, which provided for the direct election of US senators. I favor going back to the old system, in which senators were elected by their state legislators. This would eliminate the need for senators to spend half of every working day raising funds for their next campaign. Could you determine, based on the Dem-GOP balance in each legislature, whether repeal would shift the party balance in the US Senate? My hunch is that is would be about the same. Thanks!


Posted by: davidleetodd | August 11, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I would like to know more about the EPA path to regulating carbon!

- What sources of pollution would be covered?
- What % of total emissions would those sources include?
- How effective would it be, specifically compared to the weak legislative bills we are now looking at?

Finally, what is the optimal course of action, assuming:
1) I place the value protecting Senators' feelings at zero, and
2) I do value reducing pollution.

Posted by: rat-raceparent | August 11, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I think you should start opening research desk with Chuck Norris-like facts. Such as--
Fact: Dylan Matthews does not sleep. He researches the inside of his eyelids.

Fact: Dylan Matthews can freehand a perfectly round, perfectly proportioned pie chart, but never does so because pie charts are a terrible way to depict data.

Fact: Dylan Matthews once got into a wonk contest, or wonktest, with Peter Orsag. Before that, Peter Orsag didn't need glasses.

Posted by: heresiarch | August 11, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I second heresiarch.
Keep making us proud, Dylan!

Posted by: tiffanywen | August 11, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

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