The Plank

Daily Affirmations 5/26


1. MIT economist Jonathan Gruber tries to quantify how many more Americans would start their own business if they didn't have to worry about losing health insurance to do so:

[T]he most convincing research, by Alison Wellington, mirrors the
findings of other job mobility studies: Americans who have an
alternative source of health insurance, such as a spouse’s coverage,
are much more likely to be self-employed than those who don’t.
Wellington estimates that universal health care would therefore likely
increase the share of workers who are self-employed (currently about 10
percent of the workforce) by another 2 percent or more. A system that
provides universal access to health insurance coverage, then, is far
more likely to promote entrepreneurship than one in which would-be
innovators remain tied to corporate cubicles for fear of losing their
family’s access to affordable health care.

Good point, Jonathan Gruber and Allison Wellington!

2. Ramesh Ponnuru politiely smacks down some cant from the Wall Street Journal editorial page and fellow Corner-ite Veronique de Rugy:

Earlier today,
Veronique de Rugy commented on the tax-policy debate that has broken
out between the Republican candidates for governor of New Jersey. Chris
Christie says that Steve Lonegan's flat tax would raise taxes for 70
percent of New Jersey's "working families." Lonegan says it would raise
them for "only" 40 percent, and not by much.

The Wall Street Journal, as she notes, is taking Lonegan's
side of the argument. "Republicans can't credibly be the candidates of
growth if they echo liberal class-envy rhetoric to attack tax reform."
So now it's "liberal class-envy rhetoric" to note accurately that a tax
plan raises taxes on large numbers of non-rich people? When
conservatives have attacked cigarette-tax increases, we have pointed
out that they disproportionately fall on poor people. I didn't think we
were all being libs back then. I still don't.

I also think that if conservatives want to be in a deeper political
hole than we are now, becoming the party of tax increases for poor
people is a good way to do it. (Here's a quote from a news article featured on Lonegan's site: "When
asked by a reporter whether his plan would mean a tax increase for the
working poor, Lonegan replied that that was the whole point.")

Good point, Ramesh Ponnuru!

--Jonathan Chait



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