Jacob Hacker

Last week I decreed that given how much income inequality was bound to figure as a campaign issue, I was justified in wading into the debate over Charles Murray’s new book, Coming Apart, here on The Stump. The precedent thus set, I will today offer a thought on Ross Douthat's column on the Murray book  in yesterday’s Times. Douthat, who has made the plight of the white working class a specialty of his since co-authoring Grand New Party, a prescription for how the Republican Party can hold onto this part of the electorate, had a generally good take on Murray.

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You may not be familiar with Mollie Orshansky. But you’re probably familiar with her work. Orshansky was a researcher and statistician who joined the Social Security Administration in the late 1950s. One of her jobs was to measure income adequacy and, in the early 1960s, she devised a formula based roughly on three times the price of a basic, nutritionally sufficient diet. It was a crude formula, based on previous research showing that people spent roughly a third of after-tax income on food. But it was good enough.

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How They Did It

When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it. Unemployment was on the march, and all this talk about preexisting conditions and insurance exchanges barely registered above the Fox News pundits screaming, “Death panel!” Suddenly, health care reform was under attack everywhere—even in the West Wing. All week, the group had debated whether to scale back the reform effort.

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This is the first of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform. Be sure to come back tomorrow for the second part, which reveals how Ted Kennedy wooed Max Baucus and what Rahm Emanuel promised the drug industry. When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it.

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This week's On the Media laments the low quality of press coverage in health care reform. It's certainly easy to find examples of shoddy journalism and public ignorance to bolster this charge.

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After watching yesterday’s bipartisan summit, Timothy Jost and I asked health policy experts in a variety of fields what they believe should happen. Within 12 hours, we received responses from 80 nationally prominent experts. Many signatories are familiar to readers of these pages: Jacob Hacker, Paul Starr, Theda Skocpol,  Ted Marmor, Len Nichols, Jon Gruber, David Cutler, Henry Aaron, and many other luminaries from the social sciences, medicine, and public health.

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Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. At a low moment of the Second World War, a breathless young aide barged in on Winston Churchill to report some bad news.

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Hacker: Pass the Bill

Add one more voice to the chorus calling upon Democrats to pass health care reform, even if it means having the House quickly pass the Senate bill and then amending it later. It's the voice of Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker, champion of the public plan and frequent contributor to The Treatment. Writing alongside Georgetown Professor (and TNR alum) Daniel Hopkins in the Washington Post, he argues Forget the question of whether a Republican Senate victory in Massachusetts spells the end of health reform. It doesn't--unless Democrats let it.

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Fixing the Senate Bill

Over at Politico, public option advocate (and sometimes Treatment contributor) Jacob Hacker has some suggestions for how to improve the Senate bill, assuming it passes. And most of those suggestions involve making it look more like its House counterpart: The gaping hole left by the removal of the public option must be filled, at least partially before the final bill is passed and more fully every year thereafter. Several critical provisions in the House bill would help to fill this hole.

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Here’s How We Rid Ourselves of the Filibuster. Finally. by Nicholas Stephanopoulos The Ungreening of America: Three Reasons Why Americans Are Caring Less and Less About the Environment by Ed Kilgore Did Joe Lieberman Double-Cross Harry Reid by Jonathan Cohn What Will It Take for Europe to Get Over Its Obama Malaise? by E.J. Dionne Jr. It’s a Nice Thought, but Can a Society Really Distribute Wealth Fairly?

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