OMB Director Orszag responds on his blog to recent skepticism about the health care cost savings he anticipates. ... I'm still skeptical, at least about whether Orszag's long-run "game changers" will save the government from titanic health-care driven deficits starting ten years from now. See, for example, Dr. Groopman on one heavily advertised "game changer," electronic medical records , which threatens to solve the health care cost crisis the way touch-screen voting solved the ballot-counting crisis. ...
If the "game changers" smell a bit like snake oil, and if they aren't (Orszag insists) necessary to offset the cost of expanded coverage over the next ten years, and if meanwhile they position the government as the bean-counting ogre who will be denying medical treatments people might want --where is the political genius in constantly bringing them up? ...More tk. ... 2:40 P.M.
Ron Brownstein on the problem of reviving Rustbelt manufacturing:
For officials at every level, the great hope is that these fading car towns can move from rust to green, from building autos to manufacturing wind turbines and solar panels or buses and subway cars. These places offer many advantages for such production: factories, supply chains, transportation links, and a skilled workforce "that knows how to do metal," as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio says.
But there are few examples of such conversions succeeding in the auto plants already closed , notes Dan Luria, research director for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, a government-business partnership. And although Obama's policies ensure that the U.S. will buy more alternative energy and transit equipment in the years ahead, Luria says, there's no guarantee that those products will be built in America, much less in these particular communities, unless Washington encourages it through an integrated set of carrots and sticks beyond anything under discussion. Brown, likewise, is urging a national manufacturing policy. [E.A.]
Hmm. Why might manufacturers of "alternative energy and transit equipment" want to avoid locating their factories in the heavily-unionized rustbelt? Do you think the ongoing example of Detroit's Big Three might have a cautionary effect on their decision-making? Let's have a "national manufacturing policy" to make them do it anyway--with an "integrated set of carrots and sticks.". .... 2:38 P.M.
If All You Cared About Was Speed ... : Republican economist Keith Hennessy argues that even a Democratic welfare-like demogrant would have produced a faster stimulus than the infrastructure spending the administration chose--even if only a fraction of the money was actually spent (as opposed to saved). .... 2:37 P.M.