Total Surrender on the Debt Ceiling

Stan Collender on the humiliating defeat of House Republicans, a month early:

How much of a surrender is the House GOP plan? Consider the following:

1. The plan doesn’t just allow the government to borrow more, it requires the existing ceiling to be ignored. The party that supposedly was the darlings of the Tea Party is proposing that the same federal debt ceiling that up-to-now it has likened to a tool of Satan be treated as if it’s not there and doesn’t matter.

2. The ignoring is allowed to continue until May 15. At that point, the debt ceiling will increase automatically to accommodate the additional borrowing the government has done between now and then. In this GOP-proposed version of the “look ma, no hands” theory of budgeting, House Republicans are voting to raise the amount the government borrows without anyone having to go on record to do it. They don’t even get a campaign issue to use against Democrats in 2014.

3. The bill includes a provision that requires that the salaries of representatives and senators be withheld if their respective house of Congress doesn’t adopt a budget resolution this year. But the provision doesn’t require that the two houses agree on a budget, just that each pass something of their own. No agreement on the budget resolution means that reconciliation– the procedure used in the Senate to avoid a filibuster on spending cuts and revenue increases and, therefore, makes them more likely to happen — can’t be used because that can only happen pursuant to instructions in a…you guessed it…budget resolution agreement. Therefore, the House GOP forcing the Senate to pass a budget resolution means nothing.

Prepare to Be Ruled By Nuts

Bernie O’Hare digs up some of Scott Ott’s greatest hits ahead of his County Executive bid. I would say you should look out for some of these on a Democratic political mailer, but Rick Daugherty’s Lehigh County Democratic Party looks set to let this nutcase run unopposed:

2. Ott questions why blacks were loyal to Democrats given the party’s promotion of “genocide” for black babies saying abortion does not, “just decimate the black population, for that means killing only 1-in-10. The Democrat party actively, passionately pushes policies that target the race for genocide, with white “physicians” slaughtering a full 50 percent of black infants before they ever draw breath”. May 4, 2008

Our Self-Imposed Doctor Shortage

There are some good reasons to think the much-hyped doctor shortage won’t come to pass, but insofar as this is something people are worried about, it would be very easy to fix it through free trade. Politicians and economists always tout free trade as a remedy to high prices in sectors of the US economy that employ  low-wage, low-status people, and they’re basically right about that. It totally works to lower prices. But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and  there’s no reason to think free trade wouldn’t also work for the medical and legal professions.

Here’s a hot new paper by Brendan Peterson, Sonal Pandya, and David Leblang exploring the idea that we could fix our doctor shortage by importing more doctors:

Skills are often occupation-specific, a fact missing from existing research on the political economy of immigration. Although analyses of survey data suggest broad support for skilled migration occupational licensing regulations persist as formidable barriers to skilled migrants’ labor market entry. Regulations ostensibly serve the public interest by certifying competence but are simultaneously rent-preserving entry barriers. We analyze both the sources of US states’ licensure requirements for international medical graduates (IMGs), and the effect of these regulations on migrant physicians’ choice of US state in which to work over the period 1973-2010. Analysis of original data shows that states with self-financing state medical licensing boards, which can more easily be captured by incumbent physicians, have more stringent IMG licensure requirements. Additionally, we find that states that require IMGs to complete longer periods of supervised training receive fewer migrants. Our empirical results are robust to controls for states’ physician labor market. This research identifies an overlooked dimension of international economic integration: implicit barriers to the cross-national mobility of human capital, and the public policy implications of such barriers.

What Obama Spending Surge?

Matt Yglesias:


And taken as a whole, consolidated government spending—federal, state, and local—simply hasn’t surged. You can take the beginning of the recession or the beginning of the Obama administration or whatever you like as your starting point and it still hasn’t happened. Spending continued on essentially the previous trend throughout the official NBER business cycle dates, and then flattened out in a nearly unprecedented way once the economy began.

If you believe that restraining government spending should supercharge private sector economic activity, then you ought to know that since 2010 we’ve been living through a nearly unprecedented level of public sector spending restraint.