Links worth noting

by Linda Beale

Links worth noting

Lynn Parrymore (Alternet, Naked Capitalism) on the difficulties in putting a stop to congressional insider trading: Can Rep. Bacchus and his money-crazed congressional colleagues be stopped from insider trading?

OMB Watch BudgetBlog, Small Biz Owners: Big Businesses, Millionaires Not Paying Fair Share (showing that small businesses are more aware of problems of corporate loopholes and more supportive of having big businesses and wealthy pay higher taxes)

Brad DeLong, Grasping Reality, Heartening News about what Economists Think (Feb. 16, 2012) (noting that a recent Chicago forum found most economists admitting that the 2009 stimulus bill had kept unemployment lower than it otherwise would have been)

Trudy Lieberman, The case of the missing premium, Columbia Journalism Review (Feb. 16, 2012) (hattip Naked Capitalism) discusses new disclosure rules purportedly designed to help contain health care costs by permitting purchasers of insurance to do more comparison shopping. The article notes a fatal flaw in the disclosure requirements–no one has to reveal the actual insurance premium.

But insurers and employers do not have to tell consumers how much a policy costs—in other words, no premium information has to be given. Yep, that’s right—the key piece of information needed to make a good decision is missing. When insurers design a policy, they consider the interplay of coinsurance, copays, deductibles, coverage, and, of course, the premium, which lets them know what price point will make a consumer say “yes.” Price is the bottom line for consumers, but it’s poison for sellers, who fear a shopper might choose a policy with a lower price, other things being equal. So much for that price competition that was to solve all the ills of U.S. health care.
Jost told me “premium disclosure is not required by statute.” Chalk that up to clever bill drafting. The administration was trying to add it to the proposed regulations circulated months ago, but Jost said “plans and employers pushed back. It was one place to give.” HHS official Steve Larsen did his media walk-back. “People have premium information. They will have that. The goal of this provision was to focus on coverage, benefits and how they interact,” he said.

Citizens for Tax Justice, Tax Justice Digest, Quick Hits in State News: Tax Victory in Iowa, and More (Feb. 17, 2012), provides more evidence that cutting taxes isn’t the way to achieve broad-based tax growth:

Gardner [of Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy] writes that Georgia lawmakers “wanting to join the non-income tax club are simply idolizing the wrong states. Most states without income taxes are doing worse than average … and the states with the highest top tax rates are actually outperforming them.”

Citizens for Tax Justice, Tax Justice Digest, New Fact Sheet: Obama Promoting Tax Cuts at Boeing, a Company that Paid Nothing in Net Federal Taxes Over Past Decade (Feb. 16, 2012). The key fact you need in addition to the information in the title–that Boeing has $32 billion in pre-tax U.S. profits in those years.

Mark Thoma, Economist’s View, NBER Research Summary: Offshoring, International Trade, and American Workers (Feb. 19, 2012) (excellent exercpting from academic work on offshoring and the impact on American workers).

Tax Policy Center, Roberton Williams, Tax Rates on Capital Gains (history of tax rate fluctuation over the last century).

crossposted with ataxingmatter