Catherine Rampell Profile picture
Syndicated op-ed columnist @washingtonpost, commentator @cnn, special correspondent @newshour. Previously econ/theater NYT. Econ, immigration, tax, politics etc
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5 May
U.S. births fell 4% in 2020, to their lowest level since 1979. This is the sixth consecutive year that the number of births has declined after an increase in 2014…
(provisional) birth rate fell for almost every age group of women. e.g., rate for women aged 40–44 in 2020 was 11.8 births per 1,000 women, down 2% from 2019 (12.0). The rate for this age group had risen almost continuously from 1985 to 2019, by an average of 3% per year
The provisional CDC data on births by month over the past three years suggest that births in 2020 started to really drop off around July/August. If true, would imply that conceptions dropped off even before the pandemic began (or maybe more terminations, or something else?).
Read 7 tweets
27 Apr
Avg monthly healthcare spending for enrollees age 60-64 in large employer plans is 38% higher than that for traditional Medicare beneficiaries age 65-69.
Why? Price. Provider payment rates from private plans tend to be much higher than those from Medicare…
large employer plans pay between 1.6 to 2.5 times more than Medicare for the same type of inpatient admission. Over time, the payment rate differential has also been increasing, per KFF…
This is part of the reason why expanding Medicare (either to just to 50ish+, or everyone) is politically difficult. Advocates say it would reduce overall U.S. healthcare spending -- which it might, but probably only if providers (hospitals, doctors, etc.) take a big haircut.
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23 Apr
If Biden cares about his legacy, he should make his great new child allowance permanent, and slash child poverty forever. But right now his plan is to just extend it a few years, cross his fingers & hope whoever controls govt in 2025 decides to renew it…
relevant context for what a huge risk this is: in 2024, incumbent Senate Dems in Montana, West Virginia, Michigan and other purple/red states are up for re-election.
I'm told Biden wants a temporary extension, rather than permanency, b/c he wants to be fiscally responsible & keep down costs of overall plan. But doing a series of piecemeal extensions of child allowance would likely be MORE expensive in long run than making it permanent upfront
Read 4 tweets
22 Apr
answer depends on distribution of willingness to pay in remaining theater-going population, & how much differentiation there is in quality of seats in a given theater. shows can set vastly diff prices for diff quality seats (and do) rather than leave some unsold; challenge is…
...making sure low-priced seats are still unattractive enough (far back, partially obstructed etc) that they don't entice the higher-paying customers to buy them rather than splurge on good, expensive seats. (this is a challenge airlines, etc. face too of course.)
If not enough differentiation in quality, and huge differences in willingness to pay, then possible that shows would set prices high enough to leave some seats empty in order to maximize revenue.
Read 5 tweets
21 Apr
“They made the calculation that in political terms this would be something that could be used against them...The waffling is probably going to be used against them more than if they'd just stuck with doing the right thing.”
Much of reporting about why Biden delayed implementing, & then reneged on, his promised 62.5k refugee cap suggests it was driven by fear of how Republicans would portray a higher cap—that GOP would conflate refugees w border surge & falsely accuse Dems of promoting "open borders"
My feeling is: There's a useful analogy in an observation made last year by now-Sec. Pete Buttigieg. As he noted during primary, no matter what the Democratic economic agenda, Repubs would accuse Dems of socialism. So might as well just pursue econ policies they think are good
Read 5 tweets
14 Apr
White House correspondents have asked Psaki at least 6 times when Biden is going to raise the refugee ceiling/lift Trump refugee restrictions, as Biden announced he'd do. She has not answered. Response typically some combo of "Biden remains committed to refugees" + "no updates"
Feb 2 (from before Biden's State Dept sent a report to Congress on 2/12 about proposed 62,500 cap & admission categories)…
Read 9 tweets
14 Apr
Another survey about expected elements of Biden's infrastructure/families plans finds every item has support from majority of the public…
Views on different elements vary by party. Here's net support (% "favor" minus % "oppose") by party affiliation of survey respondent.
When presented options for an infrastructure bill defined more narrowly (just roads+bridges) vs more broadly (those things + energy, water, housing, healthcare, manuf, etc), public prefers broader version by about 2:1.
The broader version is Biden's approach; narrower is GOP's
Read 5 tweets
13 Apr
Lots of people have written to me arguing for cutting Biden slack, he's cleaning up Trump's immigration messes, the record-low refugee admissions we're on track for must somehow be Trump's fault, etc. Some thoughts on this line of argument... 🧵…
I wholeheartedly agree that Trump did a lot to hobble the U.S. immigration system, including the refugee system. I wrote about this in depth last year:…
It will take a lot of work and resources to rebuild that immigration infrastructure & the refugee pipeline in particular. Not just scaling up circuit rides & other parts of the screening process, but reopening local resettlement agency affiliates that have closed, etc.
Read 11 tweets
12 Apr
Biden is on track to accept fewest refugees of any modern president, including Trump.…
Biden has offered more pro-immigrant rhetoric, but he maintains Trump's discriminatory policies that effectively bar most refugees from African/Muslim countries. Biden announced he'd reverse these policies in early Feb, and then never signed the paperwork.…
If anything, monthly refugee admissions have *slowed* since Biden took office
Trump signed his FY2021 refugee ceiling ("presidential determination") late, on 10/27/20 (FY began 10/1). In Trump's last full month in office, Dec, 598 refugees were admitted
In March, under Biden: 271
Read 5 tweets
8 Apr
Still no explanation for why Biden hasn't signed the paperwork, which he said he'd do back in Feb.
And to be clear: issue isn't only raising "cap"; it's also removing discriminatory restrictions Trump put in place, which effectively barred refugees from Muslim & African countries
It will be difficult to fill even the ultra-low 15k "cap" currently in place, if these restrictive criteria remain. In fact Biden is now on track to admit fewest refugees in a fiscal year of any POTUS since the modern refugee program began (this record currently belongs to Trump)
As of March 31, only 2,050 refugees have been admitted in FY 2021. Fiscal year is half over. So if same pace continues, we would expect ~4,100 refugees resettled here by end of FY.
In FY 2020, under Trump, 11,814 refugees were admitted -- and that was a record low.
Read 6 tweets
7 Apr
This from State is nonsense
Scaling up refugee cap to 125k next FY, as Biden says he wants to do, takes planning. But lifting Trump discriminatory restrictions for THIS year? Easy. Refugees already screened & ready to go. Biden just needs to sign paperwork…
Only 2,050 refugees have been admitted thus far this year. Year is halfway over. If pace continues & Trump’s discriminatory refugee restrictions remain in place, Biden is on track to admit lowest number of refugees in a FY of any POTUS since the modern refugee program began.
Right now, record for fewest refugees admitted belongs to Trump, with 11,841 resettled in FY 2020. But hard to imagine how Biden could possibly avoid claiming that distinction this fiscal year, since he's left in place the even-more-draconian policies Trump implemented on way out
Read 4 tweets
5 Apr
There's been a lot of commentary about how Biden is ushering in a new era of robust, active government, hearkening back to New Deal/Great Society/pre-Reagan days. Worth noting that Americans' appetite for bigger govt seems to predate his election win. 🧵
E.g., since 1992, Gallup has been asking whether government should do more to solve the country's problems. Last Aug/Sep, for the first time ever, more than half of respondents (54%) agreed. The previous peak was shortly after 9/11, when it hit 50%. Image
Of course Biden was running for president at the time, and pitching many of the policies he's rolling out now. But...we were also in a pandemic. If there are no atheists in a foxhole, there are also presumably (fewer) libertarians in a pandemic.
Read 4 tweets
26 Mar
So...why hasn't the president raised the refugee admissions ceiling and lifted Trump's discriminatory criteria, as Biden announced he would do 6 weeks ago? Trump's policies remain in place.…
Fewer than 2000 refugees have been admitted thus far this year. If this pace continues & Trump administration’s discriminatory refugee restrictions remain in place, Biden is on track to admit the lowest number of refugees of any US president since the modern refugee program began
Literally all Biden needs to do is sign some paperwork. The refugees themselves, who have been waiting for years, have already been screened & vetted by UN & US officials. Hundreds were booked and then unbooked for travel, b/c State Dept thought paperwork would be signed by now
Read 5 tweets
25 Mar
Huge decline (6.8%) in high school graduates attending college immediately after high school this past fall. Biggest declines among students from high-poverty, low-income and high-minority schools.…
Enrollment declines by type of postsecondary institution, for students from low-income vs. high-income high schools.
Community college enrollment of students from low-income high schools down 18%
Data on FAFSA completions through early March (via @NCANetwork) suggest college applications for next fall may also be way down among students from high schools with high shares of low-income and minority kids.
Read 6 tweets
23 Mar
Roughly twice a year, I get emails from students assigned to read a newspaper columnist's work for an English class. It is very flattering to end up in someone's curriculum! I had an assignment like this back in the day, and it's weird to be on the other end of it. /1
Part of the standard assignment today seems to be emailing the writer and getting them to respond to a question of some kind. Often the student does this by sending vague or abstract questions that take some time for me to figure out how to respond to. (See screen grab.) /2
Given other things on my plate, these requests often get pushed to the bottom of my inbox, and I end up responding late or never, which I feel lousy about. And probably the students are annoyed too. /3
Read 7 tweets
22 Mar
Much has been written about K-shaped recovery, mostly focused on jobs. High-earners doing OK; low-earners still jobless
A similar divergence is happening in housing: rents for high-end, luxury digs have plummeted; rents for poor held steady or even *rose*…
Here's a look at Chicagoland neighborhoods. Ritzier neighborhoods (e.g., River North, Old Town, Streeterville) have gotten much cheaper in the past year. In lower-income (and often majority-Black) areas like Englewood, Chatham, Washgton Park, rents are up.…
So, what's going on? Why are lower-earners getting squeezed from both directions -- drop in earnings, AND increase in rents? Why are higher-wage households getting a break on their rents that they don't really need?…
Read 9 tweets
19 Mar
number of IRS revenue agents is down by 43% since 2010, per @TRACReports. As you might expect, audits of millionaires and large corps also are way down, and money is being left on the table.…
Audits of millionaires charted below. Per TRAC: "In FY 2012, audits of millionaires turned up $4.8 billion in unreported taxes. Now with less than a third the number of audits, the government uncovered only $1.2 billion in unreported taxes in FY 2020."
Audits in FY2012 of corporations with ≥$20 billion in assets turned up $10 billion in unreported taxes; by FY2020, was down to $4.1B.
Among broader set of corps reporting >$250M in assets, audits turned up $24.4B in unreported taxes in FY2012; fell to just $5.4B in FY 2020.
Read 4 tweets
13 Mar
Reader responds to my column praising child allowances: babies and children "have NOT worked a day in their lives," therefore are undeserving of government investment
#readermail Image
for too long lazy babies have been suckling the government teat. time to pull themselves up by their adorably tiny baby bootstraps
Read 5 tweets
8 Mar
was this published purely for the hate-clicks…
when you're definitely a good judge of bagel quality
To those bringing Canada into this: Look, I like the baked goods that people in Montreal call bagels, but they're so different from NY bagels they might as well be an entirely different food. It's like saying "My favorite kind of cheesecake is a burger"
Read 4 tweets
5 Mar
Generally a strong report. Headline job growth came in above expectations (+379k), and unemployment fell for "right" reasons (more joining LF). Leisure/hospitality increased by 355,000.
But some warning signs...
*# long-term unemployed changed little over the month and is up by 3 million over the year.
*big state/local govt job losses, esp in education
*U-6 (broader measure of underemployment) still stuck at 11.1%
The jobs deficit today is finally a wee bit smaller than it was at the worst of the Great Recession, so that's an improvement! But it's not THAT much smaller...and the Great Recession was pretty awful.
Read 7 tweets
3 Mar
Even if they're allowed to sell every seat in the house, at prices most people already can't afford ($60/ticket for the top row of the balcony), most B'way shows lose money. How on earth could they make the economics of this work?
Take a long-running show that already recouped its investment, Book of Mormon. The last week it was open, it grossed $929,168, with nearly every seat sold (98%). That's $116,146 per performance.
Average ticket price was $112.67; top ticket was $477.50.
I don't know what it costs to operate the show. Has a large cast. This Crain's article says that the first year the show opened (2011), expenses averaged $634,052 weekly. Presumably higher today. Let's conservatively say $700,000, or $87,500/performance…
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