•Coming Assault on the E.P.A. –

A Coming Assault on the E.P.A. – Republicans in the next Congress are obviously set on limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate a wide range of air pollutants — even if it means denying the agency money to run its programs and chaining its administrator, Lisa Jackson, to the witness stand. Fred Upton, who will become the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says he plans to call Ms. Jackson so often for questioning that he’ll guarantee her a permanent parking space on Capitol Hill. President Obama’s political advisers have shown little enthusiasm for environmental issues. On the other hand, his chief environmental adviser is Carol Browner, herself a former E.P.A. administrator whose aggressive clean-air initiatives in the Clinton years would never have prevailed without Oval Office support.  Which is just what Ms. Jackson will need in the months ahead. On her plate is: a proposed rule reducing pollutants like sulfur dioxide, the acid rain gas, from power plants east of the Mississippi River; a first-of-its-kind rule limiting toxic pollutants like mercury, which the agency has been ducking for years; and, most problematic, proposals imposing new “performance standards” on power plants to limit greenhouse gases.

Mandel Responds on Innovation, Growth and the Regulatory State. – Michael Mandel responds to a previous post I wrote: The economy doesn’t care whether regulations were passed by Republicans or Democrats.  An over-regulated country is not going to be innovative, whether the regulations are red or blue. An important point about Mandel’s paper, Reviving Jobs and Innovation, which argues “Don’t add new regulations on innovative and growing sectors during economic downturns… In fact, the evidence suggests that 2000–2007, under the Bush Administration, was actually a period of rising government influence over the economy.” There’s a slight increase in the regulatory state when you exclude Homeland Security – on the order of 0.002% of the labor force.  But we pointed out in our response that there wasn’t a general increase in regulators across the board during the past 10 years – the increases were in very specific places, and it is important to look at each.  Mandel’s paper assume an across the board increase or implies an increase in something like the ”Department of Barbers”, killing small-scale innovation.   But the places that put on regulators are markets that need regulators.


A Little More on Prisons, Incapacitation and Conservative Thought – A little bit more for the previous post. First check out this post about conservatives and crime by Adam Serwer. It’s important to expand on why, especially in the late 1970s and 1980s, how much the ascendant conservative approach to crime involved a large prison population.  Here’s the big quote from James Q. Wilson in the closing to his 1975 book, Thinking About Crime (my bold):. . . some persons will shun crime even if we do nothing to deter them, while others will seek it out even if we do everything to reform them. Wicked people exist. Nothing avails except to set them apart from innocent people. And many people, neither wicked nor innocent, but watchful, dissembling, and calculating of their opportunities, ponder our reaction to wickedness as a cue to what they might profitably do. Go Team Social Science!  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the statement “wicked people exist” (when they were born?) and there’s nothing to be done about them other than to store them is neither rigorously thought out or proven, but it’s been the de facto approach to crime for the past 30 years.

Late Night: Triangulation by Any Other Name – Via Greg Sargent, the New York Times today offered a look ahead at President Obama’s political preparations for the next two years: Mr. Obama discussed the pitfalls — and opportunities — of divided government with former President Bill Clinton during a long meeting this month. . . . Despite all his time studying the Clinton administration, Mr. Obama told his aides that he had no intention of following the precise path of Mr. Clinton, who after the Democratic midterm election defeats of 1994 ordered a clearing of the decks inside the White House, installed competing teams of advisers and employed a centrist policy of triangulation. In fact, several advisers confirmed, the word “triangulation” has been banned by Mr. Obama because he does not believe it accurately describes his approach. This has the potential to be the most notable linguistic self-deception by a Democratic president since Clinton claimed that oral sex wasn’t really sex

Recent Trends in Government Spending – Paul Krugman – I’ve written a lot lately about the great government job explosion myth; I thought I’d put down a bit about the dollars and cents side of things, in part so that I have the data ready at hand for future reference. So how does one debunk the exploding government spending story? It’s not quite as easy as the employment issue — but it remains true that the idea that we’ve seen a surge in the size of government is basically wrong. Let me walk through the issues. What you often see, for starters, is a chart like this, showing government spending (federal, state, and local) as a percentage of GDP: So, why doesn’t this graph show a surge in government? First of all, look at the fact that the ratio of government spending to GDP always rises during recession. That’s largely not because spending is up, it’s because GDP is down.  We can correct for this by using estimates of potential GDP, the level of GDP that the CBO estimates would be produced if we were at full employment; we can get a nominal estimate by multiplying it by the GDP deflator, which lets us produce government spending as a percentage of potential GDP, a much better indicator of government size:

Revenue sharing at risk for Ann Arbor as state officials look to trim budget, consultant says – Michigan lawmakers have difficult budget decisions to make in the upcoming legislative session, and cities like Ann Arbor are "clearly at risk" of losing state aid.That was the message Kirk Profit, the city’s consultant in Lansing, delivered to the Ann Arbor City Council during a brief report Monday night.

"When I appeared before you a year ago now, I was here kind of with my tail between my legs because I had to report to you how you had just lost — much to our chagrin — $1.1 million in revenue sharing that you had to eat," Profit told council members.Ann Arbor receives about $9.3 million a year from the state in revenue sharing payments — which is down from more than $12 million it used to receive, Profit said.The city was fortunate there weren’t further cuts to revenue sharing this year, Profit said. But he predicts continued challenges ahead under incoming Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the new Republican-controlled Legislature.

Medicaid to Consume 50% of Texas State Budget Within Next 30 Years – Long-term projections in TPPF report show severe threat to Texas‘ fiscal solvency "Even before the U.S. Congress substantially expanded Medicaid as part of ObamaCare, the Medicaid program was financially unsustainable," said Arlene Wohlgemuth, Director of TPPF’s Center for Health Care Policy. "These new projections make clear that Medicaid will bankrupt Texas – and every other state – unless major structural changes are made." Prior to the passage of ObamaCare, Texas‘ Medicaid spending was projected to grow by $44 billion in General Revenue and $112 billion in All Funds between 2014 and 2023. That means Medicaid will absorb every penny of new state revenue during those 10 years if general revenue grows at the 4.3% annual rate that it has over the last decade. Furthermore, the Medicaid expansion required by ObamaCare will increase that obligation by at least $31.2 billion in General Revenue during that decade, and possibly as much as $38.6 billion if the U.S. Congress reduces the enhanced federal cost sharing rate for newly eligible individuals to the current rate.

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