Morning Report – More on GSE reform 3/13/14

Vital Statistics:

Last Change Percent
S&P Futures 1871.8 4.1 0.22%
Eurostoxx Index 3068.2 2.8 0.09%
Oil (WTI) 98.16 0.2 0.17%
LIBOR 0.233 -0.001 -0.32%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 79.38 -0.228 -0.29%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.74% 0.01%
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 105.6 -0.2
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 104.1 -0.1
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 200.7 -0.2
BankRate 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.34
Markets are up this morning after some decent economic news. Bonds and MBS are down.
Retail Sales increased .3% in February, which was better than the .2% estimate. January was revised downward. Blame the weather. Initial Jobless Claims came in at 315k, lower than expected, and import prices rose .9%.
We are still waiting for more clarity on the Johnson-Crapo bill which will eliminate the GSEs. Cantor Fitzgerald made a great point, though – Fan and Fred are huge MBS dealers, and what happens to the TBA market when they go away? The GSEs are the backbone of the TBA market, and if they go away, how will the market function? Liquidity risk is real, and if liquidity dries up in a market that will get priced in. If investors lower their bids for mortgage backed securities to take this into account, it means higher mortgage rates. As it stands, the GSEs are still probably going nowhere as they are shoveling money to Treasury and the “protect the taxpayer / lower the government footprint” crowd will probably fight the affordable housing advocates to a draw.
Speaking of politics, it looks like the individual mandate in obamacare has been pruned again. Now if you lost your insurance and consider the plans under obamacare to be unaffordable, you are excused from having to purchase insurance. Given that the Administration imagined we would greet obamacare with a chorus of hosannas, it is interesting to watch them try and reduce the footprint of the bill ahead of the midterm elections. Immigration reform is also on the back burner as the right cannot reconcile the pro-business / pro-immigration wing with the party base who wants less immigration. The left is pushing this hard because it senses an opportunity to split the Republican party, but Republicans aren’t really playing along because immigration reform simply isn’t a high priority item for them to begin with.
CoreLogic has an interesting piece on whether home prices are undervalued or overvalued relative to incomes. In their view, home prices overshot on the upside, overshot on the downside and are likely to remain undervalued until income growth picks up.

What I find interesting is that when I look at median income to median house price, I see that we have bounced back out of the range again. Historically, the median income to median house price ratio was in the range of 3.2 – 3.5x. Right now, the median house price (according to NAR) is 188,900, and median income is about $51k, which puts the ratio at 3.7x. In all honesty, I take that number with a grain of salt because the existing home sale repeat methodology method overemphasized prices in hot markets. This means that home prices may be soaring in California, and if most of the transactions are in California, the index will reflect that. If there are few transactions in the rest of the country, the index will de-emphasize them. So until the markets really clear, especially in the judicial states, the ratio may be somewhat misleading.

139 Responses

  1. Ha!

    FRIST!!!

    Like

  2. The continual delay of the various mandates seem to be dragging things out but isn’t there a time when they all kick back in? The next big fight will be around the employer mandate and the food service, hospitality, and retail sectors. Darden Foods, WalMart, and others will probably continue to fight those tooth and claw.

    Most people are just now realizing that the individual coverage penalties are peanuts for small earners but grow large quickly. For most self-employed professionals going on the exchanges seems like a no-brainer.

    Like

    • yello:

      The continual delay of the various mandates seem to be dragging things out but isn’t there a time when they all kick back in?

      It appears that that is entirely up to the whim of the person sitting in the White House. What the law actually says is, at this point, obviously irrelevant.

      Like

  3. “The continual delay of the various mandates seem to be dragging things out but isn’t there a time when they all kick back in?”

    Each punt is being done on it’s own time frame because they are all about the politics, not the policy.

    Like

  4. Each punt is being done on it’s own time frame because they are all about the politics, not the policy.

    Absolutely it’s all about optics. The latest exceptions seem to be very narrowly aimed at whiners who go on Fox News to complain they are getting gouged. In most cases, the Obamacare apologists go out and fact check their claims to find that the actual net coverage change is very minor.

    Like

  5. Wow, FOX News drives Obama policy.

    Pretty impressive considering that they’re teaching, what, 2 million a night? How can they control policy for 300 million? It’s not like the Obama Administration doesn’t have anyone there who understands ratings.

    If FOX News didn’t exist would we have single payer? In what way would this country be different?

    Like

  6. whiners who go on Fox News to complain they are getting gouged

    Thou Shalt Not Grumble about the side effects of Thy Government’s Attempt to Make Things More Fair.

    Like

  7. But apparantly all the Administrations tinkering with the Abomination is driven by FOX News?

    Like

  8. The interesting part is that every change they make due to politics undermines the policy. Republicans can’t repeal the PPACA on their own, but they are succeeding in getting the administration to help make it worse.

    It will be interesting to see what the price point is of the policies for 2015 that are published in October of this year right before the election. That will be a telling data point on adverse selection issues arising from all the punts.

    Like

    • jnc:

      The interesting part is that every change they make due to politics undermines the policy.

      You assume that the policy goals really were those benign notions that were used to market O-care. I have said it before, but I think the policy goal was to set us on the path to government run single-payer. Creating chaos in the insurance markets will make that policy goal more, not less, likely to happen.

      Like

    • It will be interesting to see what the price point is of the policies for 2015 that are published in October of this year right before the election.

      I expect some severe sticker shock based on first year utilization as all the previously uninsurable people get the new kidneys, hips, and diabetes treatment that they had been deferring for so long, In out years it should settle down to more closely mirror the general population. That is the big benefit of universal coverage. Which is why all these death by a thousand cuts mandate deferrals will hurt long run.

      I suspect there are re-insurance and gummint backstopping already in place to mask the true

      Like

      • yello:

        That is the big benefit of universal coverage.

        Voodoo economics.

        Adding high cost, currently uninsurable people to the general insurance pool can only – repeat, can onlyincrease the cost of insurance to the general population. It is impossible that the cost will be driven down, or even remain the same. Sure, the currently uninsured get the benefit of insurance they otherwise could not afford, but at the cost of everyone else.

        Someone has to pay. There is no free lunch.

        Like

  9. It will be interesting to see what the price point is of the policies for 2015 that are published in October of this year right before the election. That will be a telling data point on adverse selection issues arising from all the punts.

    The first insurance company that announces 2015 pricing before the election will get summoned to Capitol Hill by some Democratic Committee so fast it will make your head spin.

    Like

  10. Well, if all you need to do to opt out of the Abomination is to claim a hardship then I suspect insurance companies will just quit the exchanges and sell policies that people, you know,actually want.

    Yello, please ignore this comment.

    Like

  11. “I have said it before, but I think the policy goal was to set us on the path to government run single-payer.”

    That sounds too much like 11th dimensional chess arguments to me. The people who actually wrote the bill weren’t thinking that far ahead.

    Like

    • jnc:

      That sounds too much like 11th dimensional chess arguments to me. The people who actually wrote the bill weren’t thinking that far ahead.

      I’m not saying it has all been ingeniously planned out. I am just saying that a significant portion of those who pushed ACA (including the president) actually would have preferred full-on government single payer, and the circumstances that have 1) resulted from the law itself and 2) been compounded by Obama’s repeatedly changing the law will produce an environment that makes that preference more, not less, likely to occur.

      Like

  12. Yep:

    “Democrats Have Done Virtually Nothing for the Middle Class in 30 Years

    —By Kevin Drum
    | Mon Mar. 10, 2014 9:30 AM GMT”

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/03/if-democrats-want-appeal-working-class-they-really-need-some-policies-benefit-wor

    Ross Douthat’s take on Drum’s piece:

    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/12/resurrecting-republican-populism/

    Like

  13. I’m fascinated by the Drum and Douhat editorials. What is it that a political party could honestly offer the electorate considering a national debt of 17 trillion and counting? Seriously?

    Btw, the WSJ article on the Malaysian jet is really a gamechanger if true.

    Like

    • McWing:

      What is it that a political party could honestly offer the electorate considering a national debt of 17 trillion and counting? Seriously?

      I was thinking exactly the same thing. They also seem not to consider the appeal that just leaving people the fuck alone and not promising them anything might have.

      Like

  14. ” Virtually Nothing for the Middle Class in 30 Years”

    that’s just because middle class tax payers don’t fit into the Democratic identity politics game plan.

    Like

  15. oh go live in Somalia, bagger

    Like

  16. Risk Corridors.

    Oops.

    Prolly will skip past this.

    Can someone else write it? Except maybe Scott?

    Like

  17. Democrats Have Done Virtually Nothing for the Middle Class in 30 Years

    Middle class financial issues other than lower taxes:

    Preserving the home mortgage interest deduction (which is really also lower taxes)
    Affordability of higher education
    Elder care (nobody wants to have to move grandma into the attic)
    Marriage tax (my hot button)

    I would love to see Republicans address these issues but they seem fixated on lowering top marginal rates and abolishing capital gains.

    Like

    • yello:

      I would love to see Republicans address these issues…

      Preserving the home mortgage interest deduction (which is really also lower taxes)

      Yes, it is. I’m all for lowering taxes.

      Affordability of higher education

      Stop subsidizing education.

      Elder care (nobody wants to have to move grandma into the attic)

      So you want solutions except for the most obvious ones?

      Marriage tax (my hot button)

      Again, this is lower taxes. I am all for it.

      Like

  18. This oughta do it.

    Wonder if Koch employs any voters in Louisiana?

    Like

  19. that’s just because middle class tax payers don’t fit into the Democratic identity politics game plan.

    Single working mothers do. Just ask whatshername.

    Like

  20. That sounds too much like 11th dimensional chess arguments to me. The people who actually wrote the bill weren’t thinking that far ahead.

    Deliberately sabotaging the system would seem to go against their wonky inclinations and fascination with complex Rube Goldberg problems, er, programs (Freudian slip there).

    Like

  21. Yello, please ignore this comment.

    Not a problem. Glad to oblige.

    Like

  22. Heh.

    Like

  23. “Single working mothers do.”

    but the messaging to them isn’t their status as taxpayers.

    Like

  24. Someone has to pay. There is no free lunch.

    The cheapest health care policy is always Just Let People Die.

    Like

    • yello:

      The cheapest health care policy is always Just Let People Die.

      So we are agreed, then, that “benefit” you mentioned is a fantasy?

      Like

  25. “Ice Floes For Everybody?”

    of course not, only those who can pay for them.

    Like

  26. Yes, it is. I’m all for lowering taxes.

    Instead Republicans advocate:

    Lower top marginal rates (barely helps me, does plenty for Mitt)
    Close loopholes (code for eliminate mortgage interest)
    Eliminate capital gains (see comment about Mitt above)

    None of these lower my taxes.

    Like

  27. of course not, only those who can pay for them.

    Then who cleans the corpses out of the streets? Ice floes are a turnkey disposal system.

    Like

    • yello:

      Then who cleans the corpses out of the streets?

      Of course. The US is a Monty Python movie in desperate need of a federal solution.

      Like

  28. Lower top marginal rates (barely helps me, does plenty for Mitt)

    No, he wanted to cut taxes 20% across the board, so it does help you

    Close loopholes (code for eliminate mortgage interest)

    Above certain income levels.

    Eliminate capital gains (see comment about Mitt above)

    If you save, you benefit

    Like

  29. Then who cleans the corpses out of the streets?

    Stimulus! it’s the broken seniors fallacy.

    Like

  30. So we are agreed, then, that “benefit” you mentioned is a fantasy?

    Just establishing what the baseline is. Everything above that costs somebody something.

    Like

    • yello:

      Everything above that costs somebody something.

      Exactly. So why not be honest about it instead of pretending it is a “benefit”?

      Like

      • That is the big benefit of universal coverage.
        {long section of talking past each other}
        So why not be honest about it instead of pretending it is a “benefit”?

        By “benefit” I meant “advantage”. Pardon my imprecision.

        Like

  31. Stimulus! it’s the broken seniors fallacy.

    I’ve never figured out who picks up the litter in Galt’s Gulch.

    Like

  32. Watch this, Chelsea Handler kicks Piers Morgan in the balls.

    As Scott can attest to, the Brits love to take the piss – or insult you, but it is generally meant to be friendly. Americans generally do not get this…

    Like

    • Brent/nova:

      As Scott can attest to, the Brits love to take the piss – or insult you, but it is generally meant to be friendly.

      Very true, but Morgan has long been the target of some pretty serious insults in the UK. One of the best was a BBC game show in which celebrity guests are given a word and they are suppose to provide a comic definition. (Not a game for yello!) Stephen Fry was given the word “countryside” and he defined it as “To kill Piers Morgan”.

      Like

  33. ” take the piss ”

    that’s fantastic. But I don’t think its applicable in this case.

    Like

  34. No, he wanted to cut taxes 20% across the board, so it does help you

    I got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you too. That was never a feasible revenue neutral concept.

    Above certain income levels.

    Which would include me, I guarantee it. I’ve never even gotten to write off the interest on the student loans that let my wife enter the lucrative teaching profession because >>>I<<< make too much money. But that is a first world problem whine.

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  35. I am just saying that Americans often confuse taking the piss with rudeness

    Like

  36. What is the advantage of Universal Coverage?

    Like

  37. NoVA, you’re in fine fettle today. Must be due to the Mrs bringing home the filet mignon.

    Like

  38. I am just saying that Americans often confuse taking the piss with rudeness

    I’m on Chelsea’s side here. Larry King succeeded because he was perhaps the biggest suck-up in history. The British are just more genteel about being rude and insulting because they have those charming accents.

    Like

  39. What is the advantage of Universal Coverage?

    It spreads the risk across the largest possible pool.

    Like

    • yello:

      It spreads the risk across the largest possible pool.

      Nope. If you introduce people with known costs into an insurance pool, you are not spreading risk. You are spreading costs. That is an advantage to the few with the known costs, but a disadvantage to those with just risks.

      Like

  40. Btw, the WSJ article on the Malaysian jet is really a gamechanger if true.

    Yes, it is! Can you imagine searching that area for (in this context) one teeny, tiny jet?

    It would be easier to find them if they’d been assimilated.

    Like

  41. Why is that an advantage?

    Like

  42. jnc:

    Apropos of nothing recently, I just got Crucial Conversations yesterday (probably a little late, as I’ve already negotiated my contract with UMMC and salary with MSU [Morgan State, not my alma mater], but better late than never) and it looks very interesting. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Like

  43. Why is that an advantage?

    Why wouldn’t it be? It’s the basis of all insurance underwriting.

    Like

    • yello:

      It’s the basis of all insurance underwriting.

      No, it isn’t. There is a reason that people with pre-existing conditions can’t get insurance, and it isn’t because insurance companies are big meanies.

      Like

  44. Well, fire insurance replaces a loss. Universal coverage increases use of medical resources.

    Like

  45. There is a reason that people with pre-existing conditions can’t get insurance, and it isn’t because insurance companies are big meanies.

    Then I guess the only logical alternative to JLPD is single payer.

    Like

    • yello:

      Then I guess the only logical alternative to JLPD is single payer.

      Nope. There is no alternative, logical or otherwise, to JLPD. No matter what your policy, you will of necessity have to JLPD. First, because an immortality treatment does not exist, and second, because all other treatments require resources and resources are limited.

      Raising the specter of letting people die is just a cheap, emotional, red herring. It is not a question of letting people die or not. It is a question of how much you want to take from some people in order to give to others before you JLTD. Maybe it is a lot, maybe it is a little. But we should be honest about it and not pretend that the amount you want to take/give away is the “logical” amount to Prevent People From Ever Dying.

      Like

      • It is not a question of letting people die or not. It is a question of how much you want to take from some people in order to give to others before you JLTD

        Of course it is. Like I said, JLPD is the baseline.

        Maybe it is a lot, maybe it is a little.

        Is it more than zero? Is it less than what we currently spend on public health (Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, all-in)?

        Right now we ration health care by (in order) ability to pay, ability to get insurance, ability to collect donations, and proximity to immediate death. Is there a better way? Should there be?

        Like

        • yello:

          Is it more than zero?

          At the federal level? No. At the state level? Yes.

          Is there a better way?

          “Better” by what standard? Cost? Life span? Impositions on individual freedom? Yello’s never-to-be-shared standard of “better”?

          Let states come up with their own solutions and let people go to where the solution looks “best” to them.

          Like

  46. I’d drastically increase the supply of providers and drive down the cost of care, so anyone, a pre-existing condition or not, can get treated for a fraction of the cost.

    Like

    • I’d drastically increase the supple of providers and drive down the cost of care, so anyone, a pre-existing condition or not, can get treated for a fraction of the cost.

      Angioplasties R Us is having a special today, two stints for one. Recommend three friends and we will knock 10% off.

      Seriously, the increased usage of nurse practitioners is a step in the right direction. You do have to admit that that AMA is the most effective labor guild ever. I know a guy getting his osteopathic license courtesy of the US Army. Those are the folk who will flood the market and break the monopoly.

      Like

      • yello:

        Seriously, the increased usage of nurse practitioners is a step in the right direction.

        I totally agree with this. But what prevents it from happening? Government regulation, I’ll bet.

        You do have to admit that that AMA is the most effective labor guild ever.

        Wouldn’t be that effective without people who vote for politicians who love to regulate.

        Like

  47. “the increased usage of nurse practitioners is a step in the right direction”

    i’m gearing up for that fight.

    “Angioplasties R Us is having a special today, two stints for one. Recommend three friends and we will knock 10% off.”

    why not? it’s either that or central command decides what to pay based on political influence.

    Like

  48. scope of practice is largely at the state level

    Like

  49. Government regulation, I’ll bet.

    If Utah is typical, regulation at the state level.

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. . . maybe a federal law could do something about that. . . hmmmmmmmm.

    EDIT: corked!

    Like

  50. the nurses groups are working on it.

    Like

  51. “I just got Crucial Conversations yesterday”

    Glad you like it. I think NewAgent said on PL that he found it helpful as well.

    Like

  52. i’m sorry … JLPD?

    Like

  53. “currently spend on public health (Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, all-in)?”

    FWIW, this is illustrative of the divide. I don’t see those as public health. CDC is public health.

    Like

    • nova:

      I don’t see those as public health. CDC is public health.

      You’re not suppose to define your terms, otherwise conversations get killed. Better to talk at cross purposes forever.

      Like

    • I don’t see those as public health. CDC is public health.

      So public health is anything that doesn’t actually treat people? Where do the NIH and their clinical research fit in?

      Scott was specifically referring to health care related transfer payments. I’m open to whatever euphemism you have that is less a mouthful than that.

      Like

  54. Let states come up with their own solutions and let people go to where the solution looks “best” to them.

    Care to take a guess at how much that costs (spoiler alert: I just did my taxes, so I know exactly how much it costs to move one person with a small household)?

    Easy to say, not so easy to afford.

    We’re all Americans–to some things there should be an American solution rather than a state-by-state mishmash.

    Like

    • Mich:

      Care to take a guess at how much that costs

      I’ve moved from New York to New Jersey to Hong Kong to England to Connecticut. I know about moving costs. But those costs need to be weighed against the benefit expected to be gained. This idea that the federal government exists to make life easier for people is really a destructive notion.

      We’re all Americans–to some things there should be an American solution rather than a state-by-state mishmash.

      Agreed. Very few things, but some. The big, obvious one is, of course, national defense.

      I’m curious how you determine what you think those things are.

      Like

  55. Is there any evidence that Universal coverage lowers costs?

    Increases longevity?

    Eases suffering?

    Like

  56. Wasn’t there some sort of official document that outlines the Federal government’s role? I believe it is between 100 to 400 years old.

    Like

  57. I’m curious how you determine what you think those things are.

    I think that deserves a thoughtful answer, not a mere comment. . . so can I get back to you with a post on it?

    I believe it is between 100 to 400 years old.

    I know you will find this shocking, McWing, but I think that a few things have changed in the last 100 to 400 years.

    Like

    • Mich:

      so can I get back to you with a post on it?

      Sure.

      …but I think that a few things have changed in the last 100 to 400 years.

      So does that mean you think the document is no longer governing authority?

      Like

  58. That document was lost in the Great Tea Party Tire Fire.

    “but I think that a few things have changed in the last 100 to 400 years.”
    details, sure, but the core issues have not.

    Like

  59. Greg Sargent gets a scoop. The Senate hit a deal to extend Unemployment Insurance again paid for by revenue increases.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2014/03/13/unemployment-insurance-is-back-from-the-dead/

    Like

  60. So does that mean you think the document is no longer governing authority?

    Of course not. But things have changed.

    I’m not even remotely hopeful that you’ll see things from my point of view. . . but that’s why we’re on opposite sides of the political spectrum!

    but the core issues have not.

    Some have. For instance, we now agree that women should be allowed to vote and blacks are, actually, whole people rather than 60% people and also should be allowed to vote.

    Plus, our resources as a nation are different than they were even just 50 years ago.

    Enough! I want time to think about this and give you a good answer.

    Like

    • Mich:

      I’m not even remotely hopeful that you’ll see things from my point of view.

      Perhaps not, but I’d still like to understand that POV, even if I don’t agree with it. And I don’t understand it. I can’t make any sense of the notion that changing times has anything to do with our governing document if, indeed, you don’t think that changing times makes it inoperative.

      Some have. For instance, we now agree that women should be allowed to vote and blacks are, actually, whole people rather than 60% people and also should be allowed to vote.

      And we agreed to those things by officially changing the document. Which is to say, it is not changing times that have altered the constitution, but, well, actual alterations.

      Like

  61. michi — i just got a note from the mrs…. “how about steaks tonight?”

    /winning.

    Like

  62. BTW, I don’t know how wide-ranging this phenomenon is, but the wind has been howling here for almost 24 hours now. I think it’s noticeable because it’s in a different direction than usual (almost dead-on north-south), but it has been driving both Daisy and Quark crazy with the noise in the eaves and woke me up a couple of times last night. Glad I’m in a row house–practically impossible to lose power from what I can tell.

    Like

  63. /winning.

    Oh, yeah!

    Like

  64. Wasn’t there some sort of official document that outlines the Federal government’s role?

    Is that the one that mentions the “general welfare”?

    Like

    • yello:

      Is that the one that mentions the “general welfare”?

      Too predictable. I actually started to write a snarky reply to McWing explaining how he didn’t get that the phrase “general welfare” actually means “do whatever the fuck you want”, but decided against it.

      BTW, the phrase as it appears in the preamble explains why the constitution was being created. Pursuing the general welfare is not a power in itself.

      Like

      • I actually started to write a snarky reply to McWing explaining how he didn’t get that the phrase “general welfare” actually means “do whatever the fuck you want”, but decided against it.

        Your restraint is admirable.

        Like

  65. Bill Gates interview in Rolling Stone is probably worth a read.

    http://m.rollingstone.com/culture/news/bill-gates-the-rolling-stone-interview-20140313?print=true

    Like

  66. yeah, as “why we’re outlining these rules.”

    Like

  67. “yellojkt, on March 13, 2014 at 3:57 pm said:

    Wasn’t there some sort of official document that outlines the Federal government’s role?

    Is that the one that mentions the “general welfare”?”

    It also has a list of enumerated powers and a process for adding new ones called “amendments”.

    Like

  68. ” NIH and their clinical research fit in?”

    depends on what they are researching

    Like

  69. “For instance, we now agree that women should be allowed to vote and blacks are, actually, whole people rather than 60% people and also should be allowed to vote.”

    Both of which were dealt with via the process that the document set down for amending itself.

    Like

    • At the federal level? No.

      Both of which were dealt with via the process that the document set down for amending itself.

      Again, if the premise is that federal involvement in transfer payments at any scale is invalid, there is no sense in quibbling over details. Discussing the validity and constitutionality of the New Deal and the Great Society over and over again is what fascinates dormroom libertarians but is astoundingly irrelevant to the current policy debate over what is a done deal, New Deal, so to speak.

      Like

      • yello:

        Discussing the validity and constitutionality of the New Deal and the Great Society over and over again is what fascinates dormroom libertarians but is astoundingly irrelevant to the current policy debate over what is a done deal, New Deal, so to speak.

        Well, one might have said a similar thing about separate but equal policies at one point.

        This type of rhetorical dodge is big amongst people on the left….law that they agree with is always settled and beyond debate, while law they disagree with is always contestable. Abortion? But it’s a legal procedure! Gay marriage? Times have changed and so should the law!

        As for “astoundingly irrelevant to the policy debate”, I hate to break it to you but policy makers are paying no more attention to your pontifications here at ATiM than they are paying to dorm room libertarians, regardless of how much more sophisticated and clever than them you think you are. Everything we all say here is astoundingly irrelevant to the policy debate. We talk about things here because they interest us, not because we think they have any impact on the policy debate of the moment. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.

        Finally, for some reason you have taken two totally unrelated statements from two totally unrelated comments about two totally unrelated subjects and tried to relate them together. My response to Mich was aimed at pointing out that there is a method by which the constitution is legitimately altered, and simply declaring that times have changed isn’t it. My response to you was aimed at, well, answering your direct question to me about what I think the government should do about a particular issue. And contrary to the implications of your attempt to link the two, thinking that the government shouldn’t do something is not tantamount to declaring that it can’t do it under the constitution. (Although it must be said that your defensiveness over the constitutionality of what you would have the Feds to do is certainly understandable.)

        EDIT: Although I made the exact same point, I just realized that the second comment you cited was actually jnc’s, not mine. Which really bums me out because I missed the chance to use yet another reference to “two totally unrelated” things, namely people. Damn.

        Like

  70. and “voting” was already established. it was amended

    Like

  71. right. corked

    Like

  72. heading out. bye all.

    Like

  73. If only there were someway to change that document, so that if a large enough portion of the electorate wanted to amend it, then it could be done.

    Like

  74. Both of which were dealt with via the process that the document set down for amending itself.

    Yes. And I think we should make a couple (at least) more amendments. . . but for reasons which Scott (IIRC) has outlined I don’t think those amendments will happen. So we work within the matrix which we have.

    Like

  75. That’s why we still have Federal prohibition. Cause it’s a done deal, aNew Deal so to speak.

    Like

  76. I’ve moved from New York to New Jersey to Hong Kong to England to Connecticut. I know about moving costs.

    How many of them did you pay for yourself? And how many of them were paid for by your employer?

    I’ve moved from Michigan to Alabama to North Carolina to Washington to Utah–all paid for by my employer.

    But Utah to Maryland was on me, and while I wasn’t surprised at the cost it did make me think about your frequent comments about “so, move!” and how out of the realm of possibility it is for someone who didn’t have the assets I did.

    Like

    • Mich:

      How many of them did you pay for yourself? And how many of them were paid for by your employer?

      Well, they all included significant out of pocket expenses. But the overseas moves included shipments of stuff paid for by the company. (Ask me sometime about the nightmare experience in Hong Kong…unbelievable story.)

      how out of the realm of possibility it is for someone who didn’t have the assets I did.

      Out of the realm of possibility? Nah. Poor people move all the time. Hell, look at the immigrants who come here from foreign countries with nothing. If someone can up and move from Guatemala to Connecticut in order to work illegally cleaning houses or cutting grass, someone from Detroit can make their way to The People’s Republic of Massachusetts.

      Like

  77. Doh!

    Like

    • George, I am posting this link for you and wonder what you think of it.

      http://www.texastribune.org/2014/03/13/does-tea-party-really-want-limit-government/

      Although I do not ID with TEA, I am one who favors more state action and less federal action in terms of domestic agendas. And I was interested in the finding that TX TEApers poll in that direction, generally, rather than in the direction of less fed and less state action.

      Addendum: I know my core ideas for state action may be different from TEA’s: e.g.; I think states which make available community college systems that are strong like Austin’s and Houston’s will do way better than states that don’t and I don’t see the fed place in that except for ROTC.

      Like

  78. Doh!

    Look, racist Bagger, it’s all the Repiglicans’ fault. Obama is only doing the best he can given their do nothin’ obstructionism.

    America just hasn’t been worthy of him.

    Like

  79. lol goob

    Like

  80. Each day brings fresh blasts of insanity at us from DC. Now Democrats are mad that Republicans in Congress are trying to interfere with Obama’s executive authority to defy and ignore the laws they passed. What’s especially insulting is their interference with his ignoring his own signature legislation. If he can’t ignore and change that law, why what laws can he ignore? Haven’t these Rs ever heard of the Constitution we enacted 400 years ago (thanks Rep. Jackson Lee).

    http://blogs.rollcall.com/218/immigration-gop-push-enforce-law-white-house-democrats-gop/

    Like

  81. lol goob

    Just goofing off for a few minutes until I have to read my next draft. Why am I, the old guy, still working after 11, again. Must be nuts. Oh wait, no, I am hogging all the income, that’s right. I am greedy.

    Like

  82. Any Democrat with an ounce of integrity should be appalled at Harry Reid’s unamerican vendetta against the Kochs. He’s the Senate mouthpiece for Media Matters’ paranoid smears. He needs to be expelled from the Senate and put out where he can be sued for his slanders.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/373294/reid-rails-against-koch-brothers-again-im-not-afraid-andrew-johnson

    Like

  83. iokiyad

    Like

    • yello:

      Yesterday you raised the issue of the increasing cost of higher education. You may be (should be) interested in this book review, unfortunately behind the firewall but I will excerpt liberally:

      Some of her points are valid. The author is right to contend that offering student aid in the form of tax credits has mainly benefited those who can already afford tuition. And though she is far too harsh on for-profit colleges—only one in 10 college students attends a for-profit institution—the fact that public funds account for about 86% of for-profit colleges’ total income does make the colleges’ claim that they are a “free-market alternative” preposterous. Still, despite Ms. Mettler’s evident expertise in higher-education policy, she fails to grasp the single most important principle in the whole debate: When government pays the bills, prices always go up.

      This isn’t the stuff of abstruse economic theory; it’s plain enough. The sellers of a product, whether widgets or education, will price that product as high as the market will bear. As government subsidizes more buyers of education—as government aid is made available to “an ever wider and more diverse group of citizens,” to use Ms. Mettler’s words—sellers have every reason to move prices incrementally upward.

      Missing this point leads Ms. Mettler to search for reasons why tuition has grown by more than 350% since 1980. Like many university administrators, she blames state legislatures that, in order to keep up with the expanding costs of Medicaid and prisons, have supposedly shortchanged higher education. This argument fails to explain the concomitant rise of tuition at private nonprofit universities; it’s also false on its own terms. Statistical evidence purporting to show state budget “cuts” often tracks state spending on higher education as a proportion of state budgets or of university budgets but almost never shows the trajectory in inflation-adjusted dollars. Tellingly, Ms. Mettler doesn’t speak of states “cutting” higher education but of states “reducing their commitment to” and “pulling back on” higher education. The difference is crucial.

      What’s changed isn’t state budgets but university budgets. Universities have expanded at a dizzying rate over the past 30 years: Departments and schools have multiplied, lavishly expensive student facilities and high-tech research centers have gone up even during recessions, well-paid administrators have multiplied like locusts, and federal grant money has poured in at ever-increasing rates. Again and again Ms. Mettler says that public universities, facing “scarce resources,” have had “little choice but to raise tuition” and “no option except to increase tuition for everyone.” No option? The idea of scaling back these vast multibillion-dollar empires must be unthinkable.

      Ms. Mettler’s failure to appreciate the causal relationship between government subsidy and rising prices leads her, moreover, to take a shallow and naïve view of congressional “polarization.” Her contention that federal higher-education policies haven’t been “maintained” in a common-sense, bipartisan fashion assumes that there can be no fundamental objection to the essential soundness of these policies. There is no acknowledgment that some members of Congress may actually think that constantly increasing federal scholarship money drives up prices and adds to the nation’s multitrillion-dollar debt.

      The author is right that American higher education is no longer the force for equality of opportunity that predominantly liberal policy makers intended it to be. What she misses is that those policy makers are to blame.

      Like

  84. The left’s continued puzzlement and astonishment at education costs is itself amazing. “We keep subsidizing it, but the prices just keep going up!”

    Like

  85. “Who could possibly have predicted”

    Hayek?

    Like

  86. NoVA, hate to tell you but I’m heading to Vegas tomorrow. 🙂

    Like

  87. Mark,

    That article was hilarious! I was particularly impressed with their finding that Tea Baggers are just Republicans and nothing more, considering that they only looked at Republicans.

    And their perception of Libertarians was typical of the hard left.

    Like

    • George, I get the criticism of looking only at R voters for the sample. But the article did not talk about “libertarians”, as such. So was that in the polling [that I have not read]?

      Wait – I see the straw man: “If the Tea Party were made up of libertarian leaning, anti-government zealots,…”

      This is what you mean. Fair enough.

      Like

  88. “hate to tell you but I’m heading to Vegas tomorrow. ”

    that’s okay. I just booked a flight last night. headed in June.

    Like

  89. In my experience, us Baggers want less Fed. Some want more State, some less.

    The left’s understanding of Tea Baggers is just bizarre to me.

    Like

    • Some want more State, some less.

      Thanks!

      Like

      • George, you know if you have been following my comments over time that Patterson is my fave R in TX [not counting some judges]. I was so disappointed in his nowhere finish in the LG race. I consider him a conservative, honorable, and proponent of TX providing considerable innovation and efficiency through state gummint. I disagree with him a lot. But I support him b/c I think the “honorable” part is very important.

        What do you think of him and what do you think of the two remaining LG Rs in the runoff? I don’t like either of them, for the record. I know we both think Dewhurst is untrustworthy. I think the other guy is pure snake oil.

        Like

  90. Mark, honorable is nice but of little value. I agree re: Patrick but voting for him (I did) was more about sending a message state wide and nationally. Yes, miming TP concerns is important but action is more important. First you start electing people verbally miming your desires. Then, once you’ve established that miming TP desires can get people elected, you start finding people who will actually do what you want.

    Milton Friedman laid it out for us: “I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.

    Like

  91. See Friedman above. That’s the ball game right there.

    Like

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