Jeb Bush Health Care Plan

October 13, 2015 at 11:43 am

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Jeb Bush released his health care plan (short, long) today (though not a Medicare plan, which will come later). Also today, the New York Times ran this article by a doctor at New York's Bellevue Hospital, suggesting that ObamaCare hasn't yet succeeded in fixing the incentives of physicians:

our reimbursement system favors procedures over discussing and thinking about a case. That is, more money would be paid out if I ordered a magnetic resonance imaging exam for my patient with abdominal pain than if I spent extra time talking with her and sorting out the details.

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Royal Mail Privatization

October 13, 2015 at 10:51 am

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The British government sold off its remaining 13% stake in the Royal Mail, the U.K.'s version of our postal service, overnight, "raising the equivalent of $907 million," the New York Times reports.

It's puzzling to me, in the midst of a presidential campaign and given the size of the national debt, that no one here in America seems to be talking about doing this here, at least in any way that is getting much attention. Between the real estate assets — all those post offices located on choice central sites — and the underlying delivery business that could be worth something to companies such as FedEx, UPS, Amazon, or Walmart, you'd think that there would be some interest.

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Jack Kemp

October 13, 2015 at 10:30 am

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The new book Jack Kemp: The Bleeding Heart Conservative Who Changed America, by Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes, is the topic of my column this week:

the most fascinating part of the story is the role played by another former professional athlete, Bill Bradley, a Democrat and a senator from New Jersey who used to play for the New York Knicks.

Messrs. Kondracke and Barnes report that Mr. Bradley read Milton Friedman and that he disliked the tax code because of "the gyrations he and other athletes went through to avoid taxes." In August of 1982, Mr. Bradley and, of all people, Rep. Richard Gephardt introduced a bill reducing the number of tax brackets to three from 14 and reducing the top rate to 30 percent from 50 percent.

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The Tragedy of Marco Rubio

October 8, 2015 at 9:45 pm

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Wolfeboro, N.H. — Call it the tragedy of Marco Rubio.

The senator from Florida seeking the Republican nomination for president has an inspiring personal story, and has, at age 44, generational appeal. Even Jeb Bush says Mr. Rubio is "probably the most articulate conservative elected official on the scene today."

At his best, Mr. Rubio speaks movingly about his own personal story. His fresh young face and last name offers a contrast that he stresses against Jeb Bush (62), Joseph Biden (72), Hillary Clinton (67), and Bernie Sanders (74). "We keep sending the same people, we keep getting the same result," Mr. Rubio says on the campaign trail. "This election is a generational choice," he says. "My country and my party must turn the page on yesterday."

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Unions Versus Affordable Housing

October 7, 2015 at 5:25 pm

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At WNYC, my former New York Sun colleague Julie Satow has a report about what she describes as a dilemma for Mayor De Blasio:

affordable housing developers say they won't be able to meet the mayor's housing goal if they are forced to hire union laborers.

"It is really a question of the math," said Jolie Milstein, the president and CEO of the New York Association for Affordable Housing. "If you look at the cost of constructing affordable housing, particularly in an environment of increasing land costs, you just get very many fewer units built if you have to use expensive union labor."

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Hillary Versus PhRMA

October 5, 2015 at 10:45 pm

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Hillary Clinton's assault on the pharmaceutical industry is the topic of my column this week. Please check it out at the New York Sun (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here).

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Bharara Denied

October 5, 2015 at 10:37 pm

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The Supreme Court declined the request of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, to hear an appeal of the Second Circuit opinion overturning the convictions of Todd Newman and Anthony Chiasson. Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal have coverage.

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Keith Hernandez on Florida

October 4, 2015 at 9:58 pm

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Mets baseball player turned broadcaster Keith Hernandez grants the New York Times an interview from his house at Sag Harbor, N.Y.:

Mr. Hernandez spends winters in Juno Beach, Fla. It's a little boring, he says. So why does he go there? He waggles his eyebrows. "Taxes, obviously."

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Bush At Bedford

October 1, 2015 at 2:32 pm

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Bedford, N.H. — Jeb Bush had a town-hall-meeting style campaign event here last night. I was there and have some observations:

Don't write him off yet. After Scott Walker dropped out, and following Governor Bush's poor debate performances and declines in the polls, some have suggested that Mr. Bush should be the next Republican presidential candidate to end his campaign. The politician I saw last night didn't look like he was running on fumes, or about to quit. He looked relaxed, confident, and poised. He was solid on substance and strong in his presentation. If he could only be as good in the televised debates as he is in that town hall format, he'd be doing better in the polls. Asked about those polls by someone at the town hall, he replied that a majority of New Hampshire voters make up their minds only in the last week before the primary. "This is a long haul race," he said.

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Justice Breyer on Airline Deregulation

September 30, 2015 at 11:47 pm

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The Edward Kennedy Institute has just released a batch of oral history interviews about Senator Kennedy. I'm working my way through them slowly, but one that caught my eye was with Stephen Breyer, who was later nominated to the Supreme Court (where he still sits) by President Clinton. Justice Breyer tells about a dinner that he had with Kennedy in 1975 where the two discussed airline deregulation:

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Why No Signs in Costco

September 30, 2015 at 10:59 pm

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NPR's "Planet Money" show has an interview with a founder of the Price Club, which merged into Costco, Robert Price. He explains why at Costco, there are no signs telling customers what is in each aisle. From the transcript:

SMITH: So yeah, making you pay to shop is this one big thing that Costco does that's the opposite of how normal stores work. But once they've locked you into this system, they can do all of these weird, secret things that wouldn't fly in any other store, but in Costco can get you to buy more.

GOLDSTEIN: I need Ziploc bags. In a normal store you would look at the sign at the end of the aisle that says Ziploc bags.


GOLDSTEIN: There are no signs in Costco.

SMITH: There are no signs, but why wouldn't you put a sign? Like, it makes no sense, right?

GOLDSTEIN: I asked Robert Price.

PRICE: I was adamant that we would not have signs telling people where things were because that would make it likely that they would wander through all the aisles and find other things to buy.

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Trump's Tax Plan

September 28, 2015 at 11:18 pm

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The Tax Foundation has a useful interactive page that compares the tax reform proposals of the 2016 presidential contenders. Donald Trump's release of his plan this week — on his web site and with a Wall Street Journal op-ed — allows the following comparison to be made:

Top Proposed Individual Ordinary Income Tax Rates
Marco Rubio35%
Jeb Bush28%
Donald Trump25%
Rand Paul14.5%

And this one:

Top Proposed Corporate Income Tax Rates
Marco Rubio25%
Jeb Bush20%
Donald Trump15%

And this one:

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The Politics of Crowds

September 28, 2015 at 10:26 pm

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The big crowds being drawn by Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Pope Francis are the topic of my column this week, which begins by remarking that I miss the voice of Fouad Ajami. Please check the column out at the New York Sun (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here).

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Rubio's Family Leave Tax Credit

September 25, 2015 at 1:52 pm

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Senator Marco Rubio today rolled out a plan to provide "a 25% non-refundable tax credit for businesses that voluntarily offer at least four weeks of paid family leave, limited to twelve weeks of leave and $4,000 per employee each year."

From Mr. Rubio's prepared remarks:

I believe we can fix this problem by creatively applying our free enterprise principles in a way that encourages businesses to choose to offer more paid family leave.

To do this, I will provide a limited 25% non-refundable tax credit to any business that offers between four and twelve weeks of paid leave. For instance, if you are offered $1,600 in paid leave for four weeks while you take care of your newborn, which would be the equivalent of about $10 an hour, your employer could claim a tax credit for $400.

This won't solve every scheduling conflict between work and family life. No policy can. But it will help ensure that our people don't have to sit behind a desk while the most profound moments of their lives pass them by. And it will help our businesses expand and create new jobs by allowing them to keep more of their money rather than send it to Washington.

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The Geriatrician Shortage

September 22, 2015 at 10:56 am

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A New York Times op-ed warns about a shortage of geriatricians and blames the problem on low reimbursement rates by Medicare and Medicaid:

Currently there are fewer than 8,000 geriatricians in practice nationwide — and that number is shrinking. "We are an endangered species," said Dr. Rosanne Leipzig, a geriatrician at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York.

At the same time, the nation's fastest-growing age group is over 65. Government projections hold that in 2050 there will be 90 million Americans 65 and older, and 19 million people over age 85. The American Geriatrics Society argues that, ideally, the United States should have one geriatrician for every 300 aging people. But with the looming shortage of geriatricians, the society projects that by 2030 there will be only one geriatrician for every 3,798 older adults.

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