Daily Archives: November 26, 2013

Update: Improvements to HealthCare.gov

I just received this email – Update: Improvements to HealthCare.gov

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Health Insurance Marketplace

Update: Improvements to HealthCare.gov

We’ve been working hard to fix the technical problems that some users have encountered on HealthCare.gov, and we’re happy to report that 90 percent of users are now able to create accounts.

Click here to visit HealthCare.gov and fill out an application right now.

If you’re looking for other ways to apply, here are three other options:

– Call our Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 and begin your application over the phone with one of our trained Call Center representatives, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users should dial 1-855-889-4325.

– Visit a trained counselor to apply in person. Find one in your area here.

– Download a paper application form and mail it in.

If you want coverage that will start as early as January 1, 2014, the application deadline was recently extended to December 23, 2013.

Don’t miss your opportunity to get the quality, affordable coverage you need. Use one of the methods above to apply today.

Strangely, the email is better formatted than the web site.

Oh So Reserved

There is a From Alpha 2 Omega  podcast Oh So Reserved that is worth listening to.

This weeks our guest is Dan Kervick. By day Dan works in the book publishing industry. By night, Dan is an independent scholar, specialising in the work of the British Philosopher David Hume, and a regular blogger on progressive and egalitarian economics over on:


We discuss the institutional working of the banking system, how reserves really work, bubble blowing and the logic of quantitative easing, military Keynesianism, and the role of capital flows in the modern economy.

I think Dan has provided a good explanation of how things actually work in the economy and banking system. There are a few places that could stand further clarification, but there is only so much you can say in 45 minutes. One of the places that could use some extended discussion is the relation between the huge excess reserves of the banks and the loans that are not being made. Maybe Dan is right about one not causing the other, but it is more that one is a symptom of the other the other. (Correlation, not causation.  Or causation in the other direction.)

Loathsome Wall Street Deficit Hysterics: ‘Blame the Old and Sick, Not Us’ – Part 1

New Economic Perspectives has the article Loathsome Wall Street Deficit Hysterics: ‘Blame the Old and Sick, Not Us’ – Part 1.

So-called deficit spending, a not very descriptive term which I have called the “net contribution” of government to growth, is not a “Left-Right” issue if both Left and Right are agreeing to, in their own ways, continue to endorse or support a growing capitalist economy (or a monetary economy of some other description that encourages private savings). Contrary to popular and political wisdom of the moment, balancing a national government budget or targeting budget surpluses are not “good” and deficit spending is not “bad”.  In fact, the reverse is true: for most nations under most circumstances, national government budget balancing or budget surpluses are literally toxic for the economy while deficit spending is under many circumstances “good” for the economy. The conventional wisdom that issues from various neoclassically trained pundits of the Right or much of what passes for a “Left” nowadays, has, what is supposed to be sound, fiscal advice for monetarily sovereign governments, entirely inverted.  If capitalist economies are to grow, governments are literally compelled to spend on deficit to provide enough liquidity for the economy as well as provide the public services that benefit a complex economy and civilization; political and economic predators have exploited the link to bond sales and increasing “debt” repayment obligations to muddy the political and financial waters.

The article points to an interesting graph.

Fiscal Drag Chart

The above chart is what Janet Yellen was talking about when she mentioned fiscal drag as noted in my previous post Janet Yellen On Problems of Fiscal Drag.  If you read this properly, it explains why this recovery is not as strong as previous recoveries.  Previous recoveries did not suffer fiscal drag from Government policy 2 and 3 years after the start of recovery.  This recovery is the one suffering from the drag.  All the talk in Washington from both sides of the aisle seems to be about putting a little more drag on the economy, just when the above chart shows that what they are recommending is exactly the cause of the problem.

Maybe some in Washington can do the math, but they don’t seem able to read the graph.

For those who do not have magnifying glasses, the small print under the chart translates to “In the chart, the column for average recovery from postwar recessions excludes data that may contradict this thesis.” Or at least that is the way I translate it.  Well, you can’t always believe everything, or is that can’t ever believe anything.  Maybe we can believe the other two columns to the left of this one.

I am using a cheap shot to overplay the footnote to beat others to the punch.  In fact, if you want to compare the average of other other recessions to this one, then you do need to exclude this one from the average.  That takes care of the first part of the note.  The proviso for data limitations seems to only apply to the exclusion of the 1948-49 recession.  So, out of the goodness of  our heart, we can accept the exclusion of that data.  You also don’t want to include data from before the war, because the depression of the 1930’s is where we learned how not to ever make those mistakes again.  Well, the “not ever” part apparently didn’t last to 2009.

ACA Can Work

The New York Times has the article California, Here We Come? by Paul Krugman. The excerpt below explains the topic of the piece.

It goes without saying that the rollout of Obamacare was an epic disaster. But what kind of disaster was it? Was it a failure of management, messing up the initial implementation of a fundamentally sound policy? Or was it a demonstration that the Affordable Care Act is inherently unworkable?

So how would we  find the answer to the question?

At a time like this, you really want a controlled experiment. What would happen if we unveiled a program that looked like Obamacare, in a place that looked like America, but with competent project management that produced a working website?

Well, your wish is granted. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you California.

I had vaguely heard about John Boner’s demonstration of the failure of the HealthCare.gov web site.  Paul Krugman does refer to it.

…a point inadvertently illustrated a few days ago by John Boehner, the speaker of the House. Mr. Boehner staged a publicity stunt in which he tried to sign up on the D.C. health exchange, then triumphantly posted an entry on his blog declaring that he had been unsuccessful. At the bottom of his post, however, is a postscript admitting that the health exchange had called back “a few hours later,” and that he is now enrolled.

And maybe the transaction would have proceeded faster if Mr. Boehner’s office hadn’t, according to the D.C. exchange, put its agent — who was calling to help finish the enrollment — on hold for 35 minutes, listening to “lots of patriotic hold music.”

I wonder if CBS will decide to cover any of the successes of ACA instead of concentrating on every flaw and glitch exclusively. Damn that liberally biased press. (Sarcasm in that last sentence, if you have trouble detecting it on your own.)