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  #41  
Old April 8th, 2010, 10:03 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

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Originally Posted by Chris View Post
Speaking to your core question, it's very hard to answer that, when the exact amount of uncommitted funds isn't known. I actually expect that there's probably enough for one extension, maybe two, but most of the rest of the funds are already committed, and it becomes an issue of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
You're assuming that the $485 billion has been committed, yet there is no evidence that it has been. Recovery.gov certainly doesn't indicate anything to that effect.

Quote:
It's pretty clear on recovery.gov that $485 billion is the figure that hasn't been paid out - that label "funds paid out" is clear - and considering their bar graph includes three categories, I have to expect much of the rest is committed.
Paid out to the federal government doesn't necessarily mean paid out like it does to the rest of the world. Paid out isn't defined, but could mean obligated, because a contract signed with the federal government represents a legal obligation to pay or actually paid (or even committed, depending on the level of commitment). You could take a contract for services signed by a representative of the federal government and use it as collateral for a loan because a singed commitment from the federal government is a virtual guarantee that you'll get paid.

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My best guess is that the "fiscally responsible plan" you're advocating would only work for a month or two and it would rob the stimulus act of any remaining flexibility it has in terms of shifting allocated funds which haven't been committed yet. I'd be happier with tapping recovered TARP money or cutting a defense department program that has outlived its usefulness than I would be with tapping into a well that is really helping a lot of people already, if Congress is going to try to keep the money "even".
Again, we seem to be missing the point. The unemployment expansion is only an expansion of unemployment benefits (and a few other things like flood insurance) for 1 month. Not 3. Not 2. Not 6. One more month of benefits for a total estimated cost of $10 billion.

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That stimulus funding study was flawed, and the author has agreed to relook at the data after Nate Silver's critique. The flaw? She didn't factor in state capital as an independent variable. Since most of the high-earning districts are state capitals, and those districts are overwhelmingly democratic, that is a pretty bad flaw. The top 18 districts in funds were all state capitals
.

If the stimulus is supposed to create jobs then you'd think the money would go to districts with the highest unemployment (because that's where the jobs need to be created). But de Rugy's analysis shows that there appears to be no correlation between unemployment rates and stimulus funds.

de RubyInterestingly, my data also confirms that the stimulus funds are not allocated based on unemployment rates or even variations in unemployment rates. So basically, if the administration believes that government spending can create jobs, the allocation of the funds doesn’t show it.


One rather interesting observation for de Ruby's report - the average cost of stimulus funds for every job created is $286,000. The average unemployment check is $300 a week for up to 53 weeks (varies by state) for a total of about $16,000 a year. About 18 people could receive one year of unemployment compensation for the same amount it costs to "save or create" one job out of the stimulus.

You tell me - which is a better use of scarce funds - spending $286,000 to "create or save" one job (which isn't necessarily a long term job) or providing one full year of assistance to 18 of those people hardest hit by this recession?


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  #42  
Old April 8th, 2010, 11:19 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

Once de Ruby corrects her analysis for the state capital fault, then I'll evaluate the results. Otherwise, I won't pay any attention to them, since she herself has said she needs to look back at it. The reason that the state capitals are skewed is that it's reported as going to that district when it goes to a state agency, but that's not proof that the money ended up in that district, since the state agency disperses it within the state. Out of that district. That's a huge flaw in her analysis, and her secondary conclusions are also invalid, because of the same flaw. Her analysis could end up having some use later, but right now, it's useless.

Regarding the original issue...how much of the $222 billion that I mentioned earlier that isn't tax relief hasn't been committed, no one has given a good figure. I'm not naive about these things; I just am trying to get the point across, that $485 billion just waiting to be spent on something is simply a wrong number. I'm making a guess, but an educated guess, that there's only 1-3 months worth of funds that someone like me isn't already counting on, but it hasn't shown up on that propublica site.

I'd prefer to tap TARP funds or cut an underperforming DoD program. That way we still get the jobs benefit and we help people out. Win-win either way.


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Last edited by Chris; April 8th, 2010 at 11:26 pm.
  #43  
Old April 9th, 2010, 1:27 am
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

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I'd prefer to tap TARP funds or cut an underperforming DoD program. That way we still get the jobs benefit and we help people out. Win-win either way.
But TARP isn't an ATM. It was specific as to its purpose - help for troubled homeowners. With Fannie and Freddie still crumbling and individuals who received those restructured loans still defaulting at high rates, TARP shouldn't be touched for anything other than TARP type projects.

The stimulus didn't have any specific purpose other than to stimulate the economy to create jobs lost as a result of the recession (and whether its done that is debatable). It's difficult to argue that extending unemployment so that unemployed folks can find jobs doesn't fall under the stimulus umbrella.

As for programs with little clear benefit being cut to pay for extended unemployment - how about looking at programs like head start, which a recent federal study indicated wasn't providing anywhere near the promised benefits.


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  #44  
Old April 9th, 2010, 1:38 am
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

If Head Start is underperforming, by all means, fix it or axe it. I had a great experience there when I volunteered many moons ago for a summer, but if it isn't working, fix it or ditch it. And, if it is working, then let's get that word out too. My general attitude is that if a government program is working, then it should be given credit where credit is deserved, since people all too often only hear about the bad and never the good and there's a skewed opinion were people think the government can't do anything right. But if a program isn't working, rather than reflexively defending it, the program should be fixed or dropped. Obama has had more success early on than Bush did in getting those sort of cuts through Congress, but that isn't to say that more can't or shouldn't be done.

TARP did serve its purpose, and seemed to have done well in some areas (banks and part of the auto bailout earned a profit), and it has little hope of recovering some money (the rest of the auto, AIG, Fannie and Freddie bailouts lost more than the banks gave them in profit). The latter parts they do need to stop throwing good money after bad, at some point. I hope they come to a final fix on the latter two ASAP since that particular ongoing "saga" is aggravating and they just need to dissolve fannie and freddie and sell the useful assets or something better than what they're doing now.

I agree that extending the unemployment benefits fits under the stimulus umbrella. However, I think we disagree - and have little hope of coming to agreement - on whether the plan to tap the stimulus money for the extended benefits is feasible or practical or whether it would induce unintended harm somewhere else, to someone who has been promised the money via a grant or loan or contract and then has it yanked away before (s)he ever got the money.

With the accountability aspect of the stimulus program, if they found $10 billion in fraud, or if the allocated $$ for the alternative minimum tax fix didn't end up costing that much, or if the tax credits were overestimated and $10 billion less in credits would go out, I'd have no issue with redirecting that $$. No one's been promised that $$, or they got the $$ and were irresponsible. My concern is that much of the unspent $$ has been already promised, and to break that promise would have unintended consequences.


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  #45  
Old April 10th, 2010, 5:15 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

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Once de Ruby corrects her analysis for the state capital fault, then I'll evaluate the results. Otherwise, I won't pay any attention to them, since she herself has said she needs to look back at it.
de Rudy did re-run her analysis to account for amounts allocated to state capitals (you'll have to go to the third paragraph in the article to find the link to the pdf containing the updated study).

The updated analysis showed that Democratic districts received about 30% more stimulus dollars than Republican or independent districts. Furthermore, the analysis showed that unemployment rates had no bearing whatsoever on the allocation of stimulus funds and that, on average, each job "saved or created" as a result of the stimulus cost tax payers $285,814.61.


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  #46  
Old April 10th, 2010, 5:41 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

Here's an interesting article concerning the Democratic party.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/127262/De...ord-Low.aspx#1


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  #47  
Old April 10th, 2010, 5:45 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

I'd still like to see her study go through peer review rather than just a quick two-day turnaround from critique to whole new analysis. Peer review isn't perfect, but there may be other critiques that can be leveled, including whether her assumptions are realistic, etc.

For instance, I've already found an error on page four:

Quote:
Democratic districts also received 2.65 times the amount of stimulus dollars that
Republican districts received $122 billion vs. $46 billion). Republican districts also
received smaller awards on average. The average dollars awarded per Republican district
is $26 million, while the average dollars awarded per Democratic district is about $472
million.
There's a typo in the Republican district figure, which should be 260 million / district.

Correlation does not imply causation, which is an important caveat to remember whenever looking at any statistical analysis.

She's also using the most conservative number for the number of jobs created - if one uses the CBO estimates (21 page pdf), then the figure drops to a range of 81,000 - 170,000 per job created. (see page 17 - they also note on page 17 that the effect on the unemployment rate is from 0.5 to 1.1% lower than it would have been without the recovery act).

My main points are that I'd feel more comfortable with her analysis if it went through peer review, and I'd also note that if one looks at different sources, one will reach different conclusions. I think the trap here is that the choice of whom to believe is largely based on the conclusions we want to make. I don't want to discount the value of de Ruby looking at these things, but as a scientist, I naturally am skeptical of papers / analyses which have not gone through peer review. A form of peer review did lead her to correct one glaring error, but more subtle ones may remain, and her analysis would benefit from the review and revise process, I think.

Things to look at in the review and revise:
First, is it a valid "thing" to just drop the state capitals altogether from the analysis, as she did, to reach the 30% more / dem district conclusion? (to be honest, I don't know if it is or is not, but anyone qualified to conduct peer review on a study like this would know this as a basic fact of the field)
Second, I'd like to see her see if there's a correlation between the presence of a "tier 1 research university" (rough estimate: 150 - 200 in the United States, and they tend to cluster together) and the amount of money received. If there is, this could reduce the disparity, since the tier 1 research universities disproportionately lie in democratic districts.
Third, I'd like to see her separate out the grants that were "merit-based", like most of the NIH, NSF, etc grants were, and see if there's still a correlation. This overlaps with the second critique I have, since much of the merit-based research funding ended up in the tier 1 research universities).
These are the sorts of things I'd like to see looked at. Her conclusions would be far more robust if she went through and looked at these factors too, and for each factor examined and controlled for, it's one less way in which her analysis could be attacked. If the correlation between Dem district and $$ awarded remains after the further analysis and examining other possible variables, then I'd love to see someone go in and figure out if it's a true causation or not.

Also, unless I am reading it wrong, she's only analyzing the impact of the contracts and grants, and not of the large amounts of tax relief that have led to people getting larger returns from the IRS this year than they have in past years.


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Last edited by Chris; April 10th, 2010 at 6:15 pm.
  #48  
Old April 10th, 2010, 8:31 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

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Originally Posted by darklordspal View Post
Here's an interesting article concerning the Democratic party.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/127262/De...ord-Low.aspx#1
The interesting thing about that is the Republican Party's lowest favorable rating was not during W's tenure in office, but in 1999.


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  #49  
Old April 11th, 2010, 1:24 am
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

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Originally Posted by darklordspal View Post
Here's an interesting article concerning the Democratic party.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/127262/De...ord-Low.aspx#1
You know, I'm honestly not worried about those numbers given the incredible amount of misinformation and outright lies that were bandied about during the health care debate. People are genuinely confused and it's going to take some time to work through that. Once that's done, I think old Frank Luntz will be proved right when he said a year ago that "health care will be popular."

Luntz is the Republican strategist and pollster who wrote the GOP's talking points for the health care debate.


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  #50  
Old April 11th, 2010, 8:17 am
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

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You know, I'm honestly not worried about those numbers given the incredible amount of misinformation and outright lies that were bandied about during the health care debate. People are genuinely confused and it's going to take some time to work through that.
Lies, misrepresentations, distortions, and name calling seem to have been the name of the day in the health care debacle. Personally, I'd prefer that our elected officials speak the truth and have a vague idea of what they actually voted for, rather than telling people that they have to wait for the bill to be passed to find out what's in it.


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  #51  
Old April 11th, 2010, 8:40 am
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

As this is the most debated piece of legislation, I find it impossible to believe that representatives haven't at least an inkling of what's in the bills. Unlike the Patriot Act where they weren't given a chance to read the bill.


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  #52  
Old April 11th, 2010, 2:50 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

I think so. That whole bit about it being too big to read is just pandering.


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  #53  
Old April 11th, 2010, 3:36 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

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As this is the most debated piece of legislation, I find it impossible to believe that representatives haven't at least an inkling of what's in the bills. Unlike the Patriot Act where they weren't given a chance to read the bill.
Like the much touted coverage for pre-existing conditions for children? Oops...

And, if the Patriot Act was soooo evil, why did Congress approve and the President just extend the provisions that were set to expire, without reforms?


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  #54  
Old April 11th, 2010, 8:29 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

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Originally Posted by monster_mom View Post
Like the much touted coverage for pre-existing conditions for children? Oops...
Oops...
From your link:

And Saturday, addressing House Democrats as they approached a make-or-break vote on the bill, Obama said, "This year ... parents who are worried about getting coverage for their children with pre-existing conditions now are assured that insurance companies have to give them coverage — this year."
Late Tuesday, the administration said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would try to resolve the situation by issuing new regulations. The Obama administration interprets the law to mean that kids can't be denied coverage, as the president has said repeatedly.
"To ensure that there is no ambiguity on this point, the secretary of HHS is preparing to issue regulations next month making it clear that the term 'pre-existing exclusion' applies to both a child's access to a plan and his or her benefits once he or she is in the plan for all plans newly sold in this country six months from today," HHS spokesman Nick Papas said.


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  #55  
Old April 12th, 2010, 7:32 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

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Originally Posted by Midnightsfire View Post
Oops...
From your link:

And Saturday, addressing House Democrats as they approached a make-or-break vote on the bill, Obama said, "This year ... parents who are worried about getting coverage for their children with pre-existing conditions now are assured that insurance companies have to give them coverage — this year."
Late Tuesday, the administration said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would try to resolve the situation by issuing new regulations. The Obama administration interprets the law to mean that kids can't be denied coverage, as the president has said repeatedly.
"To ensure that there is no ambiguity on this point, the secretary of HHS is preparing to issue regulations next month making it clear that the term 'pre-existing exclusion' applies to both a child's access to a plan and his or her benefits once he or she is in the plan for all plans newly sold in this country six months from today," HHS spokesman Nick Papas said.
Thanks for proving my point. The Democrats and the President promised that children would have coverage for pre-existing conditions when the HCR was passed. The bill was passed and lo and behold one of the most promised (and probably most agreed upon) protections was forgotten. That forced the Secretary of HHS to issue regulations to provide the protections. Major Oops.


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  #56  
Old April 12th, 2010, 7:37 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

It wasn't "forgotten." The insurers thought they'd found a loophole in the way it was written. The Administration was all over that one. They were on the phone with the insurance companies immediately and followed up those phone calls with regulations that spell it out explicitly. The insurance companies backed off.

It was NOT left out of the bill - or forgotten, as you put it. There was a difference of opinion in how to interpret the statute. That has since been cleared up.

If that's the worst problem we get, I"ll be pretty happy.


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  #57  
Old April 13th, 2010, 2:18 am
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

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And, if the Patriot Act was soooo evil, why did Congress approve and the President just extend the provisions that were set to expire, without reforms?
The issue about the Patriot Act which is germane to this conversation is that it was rammed through in a manner that not only prevented members from reading and digesting the bill but that all but denied any debate.

In contrast all elements of health care reform bills have been batted back and forth in public for months.


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  #58  
Old April 13th, 2010, 3:55 am
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

On their first day back after the Easter recess, Senate Democrats broke the GOP filibuster on jobless benefits 60-34, which will allow the bill to proceed to floor debate. This doesn't mean the more difficult vote on waiving the budget rules, but it's one vote closer to the end goal.


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  #59  
Old April 13th, 2010, 2:28 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

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It wasn't "forgotten." The insurers thought they'd found a loophole in the way it was written.
If the bill was so wonderful, why was the language written in such a manner as to preclude requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions for children in the first place? Rather interesting that the AP reported on the legislative gap after the bill was passed.........

Quote:
The Administration was all over that one.
And why did the Administration have to scramble? Because they screwed up when they wrote the 2000+ page bill and one of the protections they promised was, oops, missing.

****
Following the rule of unintended consequences, it seems the HCR bill may have accidentally rendered our Members of Congress among the uninsured. The bill calls for Members of Congress to be covered by their state exchanges, which are supposed to be up an running in 2014. The bill also cancels Members of Congress' eligibility to participate in the federal employee plan (which is where they currently get their medical benefits), except the bill doesn't say when they should be tossed. Provisions in legislation generally become effective the day the bill is signed into law unless another date is specific. That means that Members of Congress are technically no longer eligible to participate in the federal employee plan and are required to enroll in their state exchange plans, which won't be available until 2014.

I'm sure that was planned and is all the fault of the evil insurance companies as well.......


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Last edited by monster_mom; April 13th, 2010 at 2:39 pm.
  #60  
Old April 13th, 2010, 2:42 pm
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Re: 111th US Congress: Version 4

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If the bill was so wonderful, why was the language written in such a manner as to preclude requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions for children in the first place? Rather interesting that the AP reported on the legislative gap after the bill was passed.........
Only if you're looking to nail the Administration on something.



Quote:
And why did the Administration have to scramble? Because they screwed up when they wrote the 2000+ page bill and one of the protections they promised was, oops, missing.
Talking points, talking points...

The "2,000-page" bill, if produced in straight narrative format, turned out to be a few pages smaller than Sarah Palin's book. Not exactly a tome. You're familiar with how legalese is written. There's so much white space you could write another book in the margins.


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