Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The politics of vaccine-stretching

When the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were first approved, it was clear that they were highly effective at preventing covid and that they would be in short supply for months.  The clinical trial data also suggested that, at least in the short-run, one dose of the vaccines would provide almost as much protection against covid […]

Summers ignores politics, unfairly blames progressives

Larry Summer is still criticizing the American Recovery Plan.  Summers: In his latest attack on the recent rush of stimulus, Summers told David Westin on Bloomberg Television’s “Wall Street Week” that “what was kindling, is now igniting” given the recovery from Covid will stoke demand pressure at the same time as fiscal policy has been […]

Good decision, big institutional problem on minimum wage work-around

From WAPO: Senior Democrats are abandoning a backup plan to increase the minimum wage through a corporate tax penalty, after encountering numerous practical and political challenges in drafting their proposal over the weekend, according to two people familiar with the internal deliberations. . . . Economists and tax experts have said that the tax outlined […]

Let’s take a big, second bite at the mass testing apple

We made many mistakes in our response to the coronavirus over the past year.  One of the most critical was our failure to massively expand our capacity to produce coronavirus tests and masks and other PPE.  As many economists including Paul Romer noted last spring, mass testing and wide distribution of high quality masks would […]

Score one for the economic insecurity theory of Trump . . .

From the WAPO: Despite her outward signs of success, Ryan had struggled financially for years. She was still paying off a $37,000 lien for unpaid federal taxes when she was arrested. She’d nearly lost her home to foreclosure before that. She filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and faced another IRS tax lien in 2010. Nearly […]

Three cheers for child benefits!

Let’s discuss something worth getting really excited about, the Biden/Romney child tax credit/child allowance proposals.  These proposals would make life much better for poor children and their parents.  A lot better.  Neither proposal goes as far as I would like, but they would be a real improvement and could be made more generous over time. […]

Information or propaganda? More Cowen on minimum wages

Today Tyler Cowen posted this: Remember the proposals for a $15 federal minimum wage? Employment would be reduced by 1.4 million workers, or 0.9 percent, according to CBO’s average estimate… That is from the new CBO report. Here is a bit more context: In an average week in 2025, the year when the minimum wage would […]

Tyler Cowen does political romance on minimum wages and covid relief

James Buchanan, one of the most influential free-market conservatives of the past half century, chastised liberals (progressives) for being romantic about politics.  His work on Public Choice Theory urged us to look at “politics without romance”. Buchanan was right.  Being overly romantic about politics can lead to serious error, but this error is by no […]

The Democrats and the filibuster

Ezra Klein has moved to the New York Times, and he has a very good piece up today.  His argument is familiar to anyone who follows his work, but well-argued and definitely worth reading.  He begins with this: President Biden takes office with a ticking clock. The Democrats’ margin in the House and Senate couldn’t […]