I haven’t been reading the papers in a few months, so am short on material.
I still Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog, however, which is always chalk full of interesting policy and causal questions. In the wake of the 2012 election, and the president’s apparently off-handed comment about long lines at the polling places, there is apparently some very tiny rumblings about nationalizing election administration in the U.S. For example, Hasen himself argued in the NYT’s “Room for Debate” forum that elections should be nationalized. In response, Doug Chapin gave some reasons why not, citing both the (apparently normative) virtues of federalism and the perceived gridlock and incompetence of the feds right now.
Slightly more interesting is why or why not reforming election administration is “a thing” or not, in Chapin’s language. That is, why is it so remote from the policy agenda? It’s easy to say that it’s a non-starter and that state and local governments really don’t want to centralize, but that seems like begging the question. Indeed it’s even more mysterious when (to crib another item from Hasen’s blog) a poll finds 88% of Americans supporting a uniform system!
Perhaps it’s not hard to dig up other items where the public seems to speak with such a loud voice, and in contrast to what policy is or what elites think it should be. But the fact is that usually we laud correlations between mass opinion and public policy as a good thing, and decry low or negative correlations as a bad thing, for democracy. So it would seem inconsistent to just write this off as an anomaly.
“U.S. Plans Stealth Survey on Access to Doctors,” reports the New York Times on June 26, 2011. That’s odd, I think–haven’t they read this other study?
Anyway, apparently they were interested in seeing if people on government funded health plans are less likely to get appointment than those with private insurance. What I thought was really odd was how much details they spilled to the press about the protocol. There didn’t seem to be any way that doctors offices couldn’t prepare themselves for these “mystery shoppers.”
But then today: “Primary care access survey canceled,” reports the Times (via the Boston Globe).
Any sign that the study was canceled because of the reservations I mention above? Sadly no. The Times reports:
Administration officials concluded that the survey could be more of a political liability than it was worth. Doctors and many Republican lawmakers criticized the project
Sixty-six percent of those who mentioned Medicaid-CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) were denied appointments, compared with 11 percent who said they had private insurance, according to an article being published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
From an article in today’s New York Times. For once I have no objections.
That might be the conclusion you draw from this Associated Press piece, reporting on the results of a survey of economists (no details about the survey beyond that are given):
WASHINGTON — The best cure for the economy now is time.
That’s the overwhelming opinion of leading economists in a new Associated Press survey. They say the Federal Reserve shouldn’t bother trying to stimulate the economy — and could actually do damage if it did.
Only one economist is quoted in the article, John Silva of Wells Fargo:
What the economy needs most, says John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo, is time. Consumers must further shrink debts amassed in the mid-2000s, and the depressed housing market needs time to recover.
“There are no magic bullets,’’ Silvia says. “A lot of this stuff just really needs to be dealt with. It’s not a question of stimulus.’’
Ok, so not a causal question, but still a question of inference…
See also David Leonhardt’s column in the New York TImes today:
When Joe Biden convened debt ceiling negotiations with Congressional leaders on May 5, the experts were saying that the economy was on an upswing. They’re not saying that anymore.
Consumer spending has weakened. Hiring has slowed. Stocks have slid. As tends to be the case in the long aftermath of a financial crisis, the economy once again needs help.