While Democrats are certainly wary of having "Hillarycare" hung around their necks again, it seems that the debate over the form of a universal-style healthcare system has moved from inter-party to intra-party.
Republican Governors Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger have unveiled new programs that propose to provide health care for every citizen of their state through a mix of mandates and subsidies. They are not the single-payer systems that conservatives are loath to see created, but they may represent its early stirrings.
Not surprisingly the two Governors–both from states with a distinctly moderate-to-left leanings–have come under fire from conservatives who see it as an attack on the "free market" system that insures us all; minus the roughly 47 million who go without.Continue reading "Universal Coverage: not-so socialized medicine?"
The St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve released a study examining how neighborhood characteristics affect business location decisions between 1998 and 2002. They looked at how factors such as education, crime, taxation and population in 15,000 zip codes in 361 metro areas across the U.S.
For the most part their findings support common sense; zip codes with low crime, low density rates and populated by young, educated people earning a good living showed the fastest growth. Areas which focused spending on infrastructure and education did better than those that spend a lot on housing and community development.
Different industries responded differently. Service and information-oriented businesses were not averse to density but warehousing and whole trade stayed out. Retail and construction were highly averse to crime, but warehousing and utilities were, unsurprisingly, undeterred. Warehousing, wholesale and manufacturing sought out areas with lower education, while tech and information companies sought out areas with high education rate.
The study examined the four major metro areas served by the St. Louis Fed; Memphis, Louisville, Little Rock, and our own St. Louis.
In St. Louis the study found that, while there was a decrease in the center of the metro area, the greatest decrease in businesses occurred in a semi-circle following interstate 270 as it wraps around the area from interstate 55 in the south to highway 367 in the north. The greatest increase occurred in a band further out; from O'Fallon in the north to Eureka in the south.
The shift in growth from the suburbs to the exurbs isn't new, but its interesting to see the numbers.
I came across a study published by the Missouri Budget Project in June examining the impact of illegal immigrants on the Missouri economy. Given the scarcity of exact figures, the numbers must be estimated.
The study concludes that illegal immigrants generate $29 to $57 million in taxes. In terms of services, many of the major social services, food stamps and medicaid are unavailable to illegal immigrants (though their children may be eligible). The study did estimate the cost of schooling, approximately $17.5 to $36.2 million.
One aspect they didn't examine was the effect undocumented workers have on wages, economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman examined the issue in March and found that illegal immigration does depress wages. Enough to offset tax revenue?
Update: Reader Clark points to an article in the New York Times summarizing studies that say the impact of illegal immigration on wages is less than expected. Other economic forces have muted the impact of illegal immigration on the labor market. Some businesses have expanded and others have stayed in the U.S. rather than leave in search of cheaper labor.
Even the authors of the study that Krugman cites have said that their article does not take into account a number of economic forces. When included, they said, their own estimates are reduced by half, if not more.
St. Louis Gas Prices is reporting that drivers are paying an average of $2.984 at the pump today.
While doing a bit of research, I came across a June 20th, 2000 story in the Post-Dispatch on the debate between ethanol and oil companies.
"Oil and ethanol industry executives blamed each other Monday for rising gas prices as a congressional hearing sought to examine why drivers were paying more than $ 2 a gallon in cities such as Chicago and Milwaukee"A little further down in the piece.
"The national average retail price for unleaded gasoline soared 5 cents from last week to $ 1.68 a gallon...The pump price is up 56 cents a gallon from last year and is the highest since the government began tracking weekly fuel prices a decade ago."The ethanol bill signed by Governor Blunt can't come soon enough for some.
Missouri farmers expect to meet the 10% requirements laid out in the bill. They also believe that, nationally, farmers will be able to generate enough ethanol to handle 10% of U.S. gasoline demand by 2012.
Yet to reach the 2012 goal, it may be necessary to push even higher.
Testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on March 7th Frank Verrastro, director of the Center For Strategic and International Studies energy program, had this to say (The whole piece is worth reading, if you don't mind wonkish policy minutia).
"The mandated [2005 energy bill] target of producing 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol (fuel) by 2012 translates into roughly 490,000 b/d, representing approximately 3 percent of projected domestic transportation fuel needs in 2012 and less than 5 percent of total gasoline demand."Local and regional output may vary and the integration of ethanol into the national gasoline markets is still in its infancy so the projections may be conservative.
Either way, increased ethanol has the potential to offset substantial amounts of oil use in domestic transportation.
There are still critics of ethanol from both the energy-conservation and inefficiency angles, but ethanol encompasses political, economic and environmental areas. Any gain in one is likely to pull from one or both the others. The debate will likely continue, but ethanol's place at the pump is, for now, assured.
PPRC's Handlin on MO child care subsidies ranks 50th.
Rick Perlstein, former Village Voice national correspondent, recently gave an interesting speech (note: the title of the speech may be offensive to some) to a group of national Democrats on how to break Republican's seeming lock on government.
In his speech, Perlstein focused on the role of economic and health care issues. He summed it up thusly:
It's simple. Barack Obama put it exquisitely in his victory speech: "Government can help provide us with the basic tools we need to live out the American dream."Is Perlstein correct? As many have pointed out here and in other forums, health care and economic opportunity could be the lynchpin of a Democratic resurgence.
Here's a dirty little secret. The Republicans know this. Nothing scares them more than us returning to our simple answers.
Here's Bill Kristol, in a famous 1993 memo I'm sure you're all familiar with: "Health care is not, in fact, just another Democratic initiative . . . the plan should not be amended; it should be erased. . . . It will revive the reputation of the . . . Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests."
Has he hit on a point Democrats are forgetting? Or has the ground really shifted under the Democrats and people do not view the government as a way to help "provide us with the American Dream"? Or is it a dollar and cents issue: people like an active government and the programs it provides but they are worried about the cost?
Missouri Republicans may believe they might have a rock-solid campaign idea thanks to a proposal from House Speaker Pro Tem Carl Bearden, R-St. Charles. Bearden's proposal would cap state spending and any future increase in spending would be linked to population growth and inflation. The plan is based on a Colorado referendum titled, Tax Payers Bill of Rights (TABOR).
However, Republicans may want to look to see how other states have faired with such fixed fiscal policies.
The current Governor of Colorado, Bill Owens, was one of the original supporters of the plan and rode it to success becoming the first Republican Governor in 24 years. Owens has now submitted a ballot proposal that would loosen the law's limits in order to deal with necessary expenses in a stumbling economy.
In Virginia, Republicans in the legislature also scrapped their anti-tax crusade and, backed by business interests, passed Virginia's largest tax increase since 1966.
These are not the only cases where fiscal reality has trumped ideology, but two of the most prominent. National Review named Owens "America's Best Governor" in 2002. Not the pedigree of someone gone of the reservation.
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