James Medlock Profile picture
Social democrat in the streets, market socialist in the sheets. Welfare, labor, and healthcare policy. VATman. Support the California #BOFA package 🧦 🍞🧈
Ramsus88 Profile picture Puneet Kollipara Profile picture Potato of Reason Profile picture 🌐BigboiSean🧦 Profile picture 4 added to My Authors
12 Oct
I largely agree with the popularist descriptive analysis w/r/t the problems of educational polarization, skewed institutions, disconnection of dem elites, and the idea that it's generally good to run on popular things — interesting debate is how to operationalize these insights
I think there's a risk in getting too hyperliteral with polls. Dynamic effects matter - not doing the auto bailouts would have been in line with working class views at the time, but would have been electoral suicide given economic impacts
Doing the popular thing at the time would have undermined the basis of the most popularist speeches ever
Read 5 tweets
30 Sep
Found a typo in a 50 year old NYTimes article
How many of y'all like welfart programs
I was looking for the article, “Woman in Mink with $60,000 Lived on Relief in a Hotel” from 1947 but haven't found that one
Read 4 tweets
28 Sep
A few issues with this
1). Lowering the threshold does increase the administrative burden by increasing program churn/overpayments
2). The precise phase-out is not a salient issue and will move few votes, but pulling payments from people already getting them is salient
On 1, the design of the tax credit is sloppy, with monthly payments based on an annual income that isn’t known until the end of the year. But the high phase out makes sure this doesn’t cause problems for most people. Bringing it down means more get improperly included/excluded
On 2, seems unlikely the median voter knows where the CTC phases out now. The idea that they would vote on it seems even more unlikely. It’s not like college debt forgiveness, where Republicans could weaponize resentment easily. Children are on the other side of the culture war
Read 6 tweets
27 Sep
I'm going to have an aneurysm if we have to replay the entire healthcare debate but with a totally fake argument about people loving their private paid leave insurance plans. There is real status quo bias in healthcare - this simply does not exist for "paid leave insurance"
With healthcare you can make arguments that private insurers can be useful—I think these arguments are generally bad () and that it tends to undermine egalitarian distribution of health resources—but at least the arguments have a coherent logic
But with paid leave, it's extremely straightforward. You give birth, you get a check for the time you're off. There are very few margins of adjustment here that an insurer could reasonably impact. And the cost is significantly smaller risk pools, spreading the burden unevenly
Read 5 tweets
21 Sep
Poverty is absolutely a policy choice, but the specific comparison doesn't seem quite right. A better way to look at it: for roughly the amount of resources we dedicate to the policing and public health costs of homelessness, we could end homelessness
Aircraft carriers cost, what $12 billion? To do section 8 as an entitlement it'd be like $60 billion a year, ongoing. And just vouchers will not cut it, we need aggressive Housing First policies that provide permanent supportive housing
That all will have large upfront costs. But focusing on those costs is also misleading, because homelessness itself has high costs. The thing that pays for Housing First is doing Housing First!
Read 4 tweets
19 Sep
It's pretty simple: people will not *have* to work, but will generally choose to work anyways
Feel like the "dignity of work" arguments against UBI have it backwards. If there is some dignity to work, more the reason you don't need to use public policy to force it
In my view, some work is dignified, some work is not dignified (though dignity at work is a policy variable that can be changed). And some activity outside of the formal labor market is dignified while some is not
Read 4 tweets
17 Sep
While I agree with Strain’s point that dems should design better programs with less redundancy, I think the particular point is misguided. Child allowance and paid leave serve two distinct, useful purposes
Paid leave solves the problem of who cares for the baby in the early months, addresses the sharp income shock that happens at birth, and protects labor market connections equitablegrowth.org/factsheet-what…
A child allowance on the other hand addresses the horizontal inequality between families with different numbers of children, distributing resources to those who have greater needs
Read 6 tweets
14 Sep
This is true on paper, but it tells you very little. Tax progressivity metrics will vary wildly—without necessarily reflecting any real underlying difference—depending on the existing level of inequality and structure of the welfare state
For example, if you took the US's tax code, and applied it to, say, Finland, it would come out looking a lot less progressive, not because of any tax changes, but because of the compressed wage structure. More inequality mechanically increases measured tax progressivity
You could also eliminate all taxes except for a $100 tax on Jeff Bezos, and tax progressivity measures would find that the US has the most progressive tax code. The richest guy paying all of the taxes. But *levels* matter a lot in practice, not just share of the total burden
Read 6 tweets
12 Sep
It's incredible that it's considered "effective targeting" when a program excludes 44% of intended beneficiaries
developmentpathways.co.uk/publications/h… Image
I'm a fan of Lula, but Bolsa Familia is overrated. The real hero of the Brazilian welfare state is the pensions tied to the minimum wage developmentpathways.co.uk/wp-content/upl…
Brazil could do a revenue neutral consolidation of Bolsa Familia, Salario Familia, and the child income tax deduction into a flat child allowance that would reduce child poverty! Or they could spend less than 1% of GDP and crush child poverty even more ipc-undp.org/pub/IPCPolicyR… Image
Read 4 tweets
3 Sep
Individual unions sometimes do counterproductive things, like in this case opposing pharma price regulation, and I think a more centralized union movement with confederations that represent unions across sectors would really help reduce rent seeking and align broader interests
Centralization is generally associated with more union support for redistribution and active labor market policies - broader union confederations have incentive to take into account their impact on the entire economy rather than just a narrow section of it researchgate.net/publication/34…
High drug prices are a terrible tax on union health plans. In one notable example, the Boilermaker union health plan had to pay .35 cents *for every hour worked* just because one of their members got a rare disease.
Read 4 tweets
27 Jul
I think about this with regards to the ACA’s advance premium tax credit. It had a big welfare cliff at 400% of the poverty line, and if polling had been done on this it’s plausible it would have been more popular to exclude the richest despite it being sloppy policy
But I highly doubt that the exact phase out rate was an issue salient enough to move a singe vote. Most people were probably entirely unaware of the exact subsidy structure
On the other hand, it seems plausible to me that the implementation of this bad policy, where earning a tiny bit too much could result in having to pay back thousands at the end of the year, was enough to sour some people on the ACA. Very salient hassle for a concentrated group
Read 4 tweets
26 Jul
M4A is a good and just fight to have, but given the state of our democracy and the entrenchment of the current system, it'd be useful to sketch out a somewhat plausible long term plan of how to get from A to B beyond just yelling at a few politicians to hold doomed floor votes
Short term prospects for systematic health reform are looking extremely bad. Only marginal (though still impactful) changes seem likely to pass under the Biden admin. Obviously electing more left wing candidates, both at the top and down ticket, is key.
In the meantime M4A advocates should push policies that will make the eventual fight easier
• Build more publicly owned hospitals - private hospitals are a powerful and underrated lobbying forces against M4A, & expanding supply will also help address concerns around wait times
Read 8 tweets
25 Jul
We’re reaching levels of online previously thought impossible
There’s a certain genre of nominally ‘leftist’ activist that has no constructive politics or vision for a better world, just all motivated by spite against whatever the establishment is at that moment, could have just as well been Ron Paul types if they saw a different YT video
I’m very much for a big tent left, but I do not think the jimmy dore types are actually interested in winning, in fact that would be counterproductive to their project
Read 4 tweets
16 Jul
What these takes always miss is that at what point people are financially stable enough to have kids is itself a policy variable that can be modified with things like the CTC
Rather than force the human lifecycle to conform to the way the market economy distributes income, we should conform the way we distribute income to the human lifecycle
Read 4 tweets
15 Jul
Pretty sure this is inaccurate, but I do wonder if the messaging should just be to talk about it as if it's permanent
The whole thing is so silly, because we don't actually save any money by pretending to only extend it through 2024, because we will just extend it later. "Too costly" doesn't make any sense, but I guess that's politics
Can you imagine if the original Medicare was a 4 year program that was just expected to be kept going via renewals every few years
Read 4 tweets
13 Jul
The idea here is that your labor market earnings are like a slab of butter slapped right at the center of your lifecycle (represented by the bread), but there are also times of your life you are a non-worker, like childhood, old age, and shocks like sickness, caregiving etc. 1/?
During those times, you earn no labor income, and so they’re represented by the dry parts of the bread. What the welfare state does is tax you with things like payroll taxes, which you pay most during peak earning years, and gives you that money back at times when you’re unable /
Read 9 tweets
12 Jul
If $3.5 trillion really is where they land, that is a big win, enough to not cut anything from the Families plan. A few weeks ago Manchin was talking about only doing $1-2 trillion
I have trouble seeing how they'll get above 2.5 trillion in pay-fors, so my guess is they'd go with a 15 year window or some sort of gimmick like that (which would be great)
Still think that Dems would be better off picking a few elements of the Families plan and doing them really well. The problem with the families plan was that most elements were underfunded to begin with
Read 4 tweets
21 Jun
Happy Child Tax Credit Awareness day folks (poster by @tobinjstone, based on the classic Social Security poster) Image
About 88% of families will get the expanded CTC without taking action (via direct deposit or check) starting July 15th. But those who don’t usually file taxes need to take action, so if you know anyone in that boat, please spread the word
Non-filers can sign up at the official non-filer portal here (freefilefillableforms.com/#/fd/childtaxc…), but using GetYourRefund.org may be an easier route to take
Read 5 tweets
12 Jun
Mfw I hang out with people other than my wife and parents for the first time in over a year Image
It's really weird that a significant part of my life is now that I'm a semi-popular pseudonymous policy tweeter but I can't tell anyone about it
Just have to hope conversation naturally flows towards unemployment insurance so I can casually wow them with my facts and figures
Read 4 tweets
26 May
Alcohol taxes are good. They’re progressive (rich people drink more, and more expensively), and they work (they reducing drinking, and the associated externalities) slowboring.com/p/booze-tax
I’m not a fan of “sin taxes” - we shouldn’t tax things because of value judgements about those things. But I’m a fan of pigouvian taxes - we should tax things we want less of to reduce broader harm to society
This distinction turned out to be controversial. It's true there's no escaping value judgements, and the line is thin, my point is that we should make value judgements based on demonstrable harm to society rather than an intrinsic sense of morality. For a concrete example:
Read 4 tweets
17 May
I've always been fascinated by marginal tax rate charts, and so to celebrate tax day, I'm starting a running thread of them (as well as other tax related charts). They're often interesting on purely aesthetic grounds, though in many cases reflect terrible policy
This is the effective marginal tax rate for a middle aged couple with three children in Australia. Their welfare state relies on means-testing more than any other, and @DPlunky creates some incredible charts
This one looks like a house with a chimney!
Read 14 tweets