…because I’m an economist and a mom–that’s why!

Three Good (and Not So Hard) Reads on Health Reform

October 31st, 2009 . by economistmom

My boss, Bob Bixby, wrote up his initial thoughts on the House health reform bill in his usual “prime time” last night–around 3 am.  (And I am finally posting on this after a midnight-to-1-am workout with my 18-year-old daughter at “Anytime Fitness.”  Bob and I have always had compatible work schedules.)  We put it up on the Concord Coalition blog this afternoon, after adding a reference to this just-out CBO letter that clarifies (and it really does) different measures of the effects of health care reform proposals on the federal budget.  And Donald Marron put CBO’s points even more plainly (clearly) on his excellent blog today…uh, now yesterday I mean.

My “take-aways” from these three good reads:

  • How the bills change the federal government’s “budgetary commitment” to health care doesn’t necessarily have any relationship to the bills’ effects on the deficit. It’s like how Concord advocates for “fiscal responsibility” and smaller deficits, yet that could be consistent with either high government spending or “big government” (with necessarily higher taxes) or lower government spending or “small government” (and lower taxes).  Donald points out that the House bill expands government’s budgetary commitment by $598 billion over ten years–seven times as much as the Senate bill does (at just $85 billion over ten years).  Yet both bills are deficit neutral–or not hugely far from deficit neutral, depending on how you count the costs of extending the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) “doc fix”–which is not included in either of the bills.
  • The around $600 billion expansion of government commitments to health care (over ten years) might sound like a lot–perhaps like a government “takeover” of health care?  Butwhen you consider that total national health expenditures (public plus private) are about $2 1/2 trillion this year alone and are projected to rise to about $4 1/2 trillion (in one year) by the end of the ten-year budget window, then a $600 billion government expansion over ten years averages just $60 billion/year, which compared with average annual national health expenditures of $3 1/2 trillion is just 1.7 percent.  And even relative to the baseline budgetary commitment of the federal government to health care (about $10 trillion for Medicare and Medicaid over ten years, plus $3.5 trillion for the tax exclusion for employer-provided health care = $13.5 trillion), that $600 billion expansion is just a 4.4 percent increase in the federal government’s commitment.  Not exactly a “government takeover” of our country’s health care system.
  • How are we doing with that “bending the health cost curve” goal?  That depends a lot on which “health cost curve” you’re talking about. If it’s the federal government’s budgetary commitment to health care, then the House bill doesn’t appear too favorable (a big hurdle is the revenue offset that isn’t tied to the growth in health costs), but the Senate bill appears more so.  Both make huge assumptions about our ability to make hard choices in the future that we’re not willing to make today.  If it’s the national health expenditures curve we’re trying to bend, we know even less about how successful that’ll be, because even with the expansion of federal involvement prescribed in the House and Senate bills, the federal government would still hold only a “minority share” in total national health expenditures.

And We’re Growing Again!

October 29th, 2009 . by economistmom

The Bureau of Economic Analysis announced today that our economy might be growing again–for the first time since the second quarter of 2008–and hence that we might be out of this recession.  “Might” because it’s just their first (”advance”) estimate (the next update will come out late November), and “might” because the NBER business cycle dating committee won’t officially declare an end to the recession until well after it’s ended.  Nevertheless, I must give kudos to Mark Zandi of for having predicted back in the spring that the recession would end sometime in October; here’s an interview he gave on NPR’s Marketplace today.

Of course, even if the NBER eventually verifies that, yes, the recession is now over, it’s too early to “celebrate.”  The economy recovering “in aggregate” doesn’t at all imply that the typical American family’s economic picture has brightened–particularly because the labor market is always the slowest to recover.  And I’m still not sure the good news on the auto industry is really good news, because the Cash for Clunkers effect could be mostly temporary–see this by Dean Baker.  (Although as a sister to a Ford engineer, I’m really happy about the really positive news on the reliability of Ford vehicles that came out this week.  Is it coincidence that they were the only company of Detroit’s Big Three that didn’t take a government bailout?  I think not…)

Ezra In the FOOD Section!

October 29th, 2009 . by economistmom


Wednesday’s Washington Post featured an Ezra Klein column in the FOOD section of the paper (right next to a story on bouillon, no less)!  I love it, because it’s still mostly about budget and fiscal policy (as Ezra usually writes/blogs about), but he brings up the issue of the dietary habits of Americans and how if we really want to save on health costs, we really ought to try to change those (poor) habits (so as to reduce obesity).  Like a point I had made awhile ago, Ezra argues that this is about encouraging “lifestyle” changes and that it’s not clear that Americans want government to get so involved, or that government alone could make poor diet and obesity as “uncool” as it needs to be to really bring about change.  But Ezra’s able to name-drop and write a column in the Food section of the Post because Ezra got a personal tour of the White House farmers market from Obama Administration budget adviser (and general VIP) Ezekiel Emanuel (pictured below).  (An August interview between Ezra and Ezekiel–doesn’t that have a nice ring to it–on health care reform is here.)


But from Wednesday’s Food column (emphasis added):

Ezekiel Emanuel — older brother to not only Rahm but also Hollywood superagent Ari — is sometimes called the nicest Emanuel brother. And he certainly seems it as he browses through artisanal jam on a warm Thursday afternoon in October.

Think Rahm eats artisanal jam?

Ezekiel Emanuel doesn’t get a lot of time for shopping, though. He spends his days, and a good chunk of his nights, holed up in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where he serves as health-care policy adviser to Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, applying his long experience as an oncologist and bioethicist to health-care reform. Today, however, he’s showing me around the White House farmers market, which he helped start in the few moments he’s had to stop worrying about health care and start worrying about, well, health…

[W]hen it comes to visible symbols of the government’s engagement with one of the primary inputs into our health — what we eat — all we have is a farmers market that was started with White House involvement.

Perhaps I’m being unfair. There was money for prevention and wellness programs in the economic stimulus program enacted in February. There are myriad programs — some good, some bad — at the Department of Agriculture. Michelle Obama and her staff have been aggressively engaged with food policy. And there is, of course, the much-publicized White House vegetable garden. But the issue here is not so much the level of engagement as it is the points of entry. The government really doesn’t know what its role should be when it comes to how Americans eat. It knows that it can’t afford Medicare and Medicaid if the rise in such diet-related conditions as diabetes, heart disease and cancer doesn’t level off. But what does that imply? Should Peter Orszag publish a cookbook? Should Emanuel have a cooking show? Should fruits and vegetables be heavily subsidized? Soda taxed? The head of Hardee’s executed?


And Ezra brings up the lessons from the successful anti-smoking campaigns of the 1970s-80s (recall the Brooke Shields PSA campaign I pictured in my blog post):

“My own view,” says Emanuel, “is we know there are large parts of health that are primarily best approached as a public-health issue and not as a doctor-patient issue. Nutrition, wellness, exercise and smoking, for instance. But lifestyle change is hard to accomplish. What smoking showed is it’s not a single thing. It changed from being socially acceptable and doctors would recommend it in the ’50s to being scorned and barred indoors.

Dusting Off My “Death Tax” Stuff

October 27th, 2009 . by economistmom


First we heard that estate tax legislation would be considered as early as next week in the House, but tonight Majority Leader Hoyer suggested it could be put off until the very last minute:  up to six weeks from now, just before the estate tax is scheduled under current law to–well, to put it in really technical terms–“go POOF!”

Under current law (as dictated by the 2001 Bush tax cuts) the estate tax is fully repealed starting on January 1, 2010.  It then comes back with a vengeance–back to pre-2001 levels–on January 1, 2011.  Of course, that’s totally crazy, and we’ve known all along that however far we let ourselves get with estate tax relief, we’d probably end up permanently staying there.  That’s how it always seems to work with tax cuts that start out as “temporary” but were never really meant to be temporary except to make them appear less costly.

I’ve never been a fan of estate tax relief because it’s hard to find a tax cut more skewed to the rich and yet as ineffective at improving either short-term economic activity or longer-term economic growth.  Back in the middle of the Bush Administration even as the expiration of estate tax relief was several years away, Congress kept bringing up proposals to permanently repeal the estate tax.  I would have thought that proposal a bad idea even if Congress would have proposed raising other taxes to offset the cost, because it’s hard to imagine finding another tax to raise that would do less economic harm than the estate tax in the first place.  But when the “offsetting tax” is not a current tax, but instead the adding to the debt that creates a “birth tax” on future generations, permanent estate tax relief is an especially bad idea.

In this longer follow-up story in CongressDaily, Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel seems to suggest that deficit-financed estate tax relief could qualify as additional “stimulus” spending (emphasis added):

The House will not vote to extend the estate tax until after the chamber tackles health care and a package of initiatives to create jobs and jump-start the economy, Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel said Tuesday.

It will be after health care and after jobs,” Rangel said after a meeting of his panel’s Democrats. “I don’t know how fast a legislative agenda we’re going to be on … it’s just we’re going to do health care first, and jobs, and then we’re going to do estate tax.”

Rangel and other panel members said there have been no decisions on how to jump-start the economy, and he and others plan to meet with National Economic Council Chairman Lawrence Summers. Rangel said members have many — and expensive — ideas.

“It’s hard really to do what the members want and find the pay-fors to do it; you know, you raise the taxes at the same time you’re trying to create jobs, so there’s a whole lot of thinking that’s going on,” Rangel told reporters. “Some of us will be meeting with Summers to see what the White House is thinking about in terms of a big jobs bill and whether or not there’s any feeling about this being enough of an emergency” that a package may not require offsets.

(What is the world coming to when we are willing to deficit-finance a tax cut that is so heavily tilted to the very richest Americans and has so little economic benefit–and yet declare it an “emergency” measure?)

So I’m dusting off my old “death tax”/”birth tax” writings–like this piece I wrote in May 2006 while at Brookings, published by the San Francisco Chronicle (which also created, especially for my op-ed, the cool graphic above of the “dead person” snatching money from a baby’s hand)–because it’s the same old issue now, just from a starting point of a much higher “birth tax” already in place.  My “old” point that is new again:

The problem is that there is no such thing as a free tax cut, unless — ironically in this case — you die before the bill comes due. It is those born into our current fiscal quagmire who can’t avoid the burden…By adding to the debt, estate-tax repeal would eventually raise this per-person burden — the “birth tax” — by thousands of dollars over their lifetime (including more than $3,000 from just the first 10 years after it would take effect).

This “birth tax” is a true cost imposed on all American babies. It cannot be repealed, no matter how upset Americans eventually get about it. Through the harmful effects of deficits on national saving, these future adults will be less likely to have the means to pay off these debts and are in danger of facing a lower standard of living than adult Americans today.

So repealing the estate tax would swap a “death tax,” which affects hardly anyone and has been found to have little effect on economic decisions, for a higher “birth tax,” which would be universal and seriously detrimental to future economic growth.

Of course, the new “twists” to this year’s estate tax debate are that: (i) we have to fit it in between the big debates on health care reform, and (ii) we’re debating it under the Obama Administration now.  In my opinion these twists make the idea of deficit-financed estate tax relief all the more repulsive now.  On the first twist, it’s hard enough for policymakers to prove they can be fiscally responsible with health care reform without the blatant display of irresponsibility in not wanting to pay for estate tax relief (on top of the displays over the deficit-financed “doc fix” or the deficit-financed make-up-for-no-COLA checks to seniors). On the second twist:  again(!), why is the Obama Administration willing to handicap its own policies by requiring offsets while continuing to bless the deficit financing of the Bush tax cuts by exempting the tax cuts from their PAYGO standard?

More to write on this issue over the next few weeks, particularly as we get closer and closer to the “backed into the corner” date of year’s end when Congress is forced to do something or else see the estate tax completely disappear (die!) and likely never get it back.

***UPDATE (11:15 am 10/28): CQ’s Richard Rubin pointed out to me this morning that Chairman Rangel didn’t mean to call deficit-financed estate tax relief a “stimulus” measure; Rangel was referring to any elements of any new “jobs bill” that might need to be deficit-financed in order to have a stimulative effect.  I do know what Rangel meant, but as I replied to Richard, there is at least the suggestion that there’s no other economic/policy justification for not paying for estate tax relief it other than stimulus (or not wanting anti-stimulus).  And I’m sure we’ll be hearing the ol’ economic justifications for estate tax relief from Republicans (hence my “dusting off” of the ol’ counterarguments and “myths” pieces) and that this time around those Republican arguments will sound strangely compelling to the Democrats, too.

Finding the Path to Reduced Deficits

October 26th, 2009 . by economistmom

Today the Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, delivered these remarks at the Center for American Progress.  (Full text of speech is here.)  Based on the selected excerpts, it’s clear that the purpose of the speech was to make the case that health care reform is what the Administration regards as the most important, most essential step to getting back on a sustainable fiscal path.  Dr. Romer’s final point (as excerpted on the White House website), emphasis added:

“In health care reform we have an opportunity to navigate the difficult path between long-run fiscal responsibility and sensible short-run macroeconomic policy.  Done correctly, health care reform can genuinely slow the growth rate of health care costs and thus put us on a path to greatly reduced budget deficits in the long run.”

Earlier in her speech, Dr. Romer referenced the fiscal outlook paper by Alan Auerbach and Bill Gale–a paper that points out that much of the fiscal “problem” was caused by Bush Administration policies.  Dr. Romer suggests that thus much or most of the “problem” is not the Obama Administration’s fault, and the longer-term imbalance would be largely solved if we just (”correctly”) reform health care (emphasis added):

“(Economists) Auerbach and Gale calculate that roughly half of the long-run deficit is due to the policy actions of the past 8 years. According to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, just 3 percent of the long-run fiscal problem is due to the ARRA.  The rest of this yawning gap is due to projected rises in spending on entitlement programs, primarily Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  Some of this is the result of the aging of the population.  But the far greater source is the fact that health care costs, both public and private, are rising much faster than GDP.”

But right from those economists’ (Auerbach and Gale’s) mouths:

The long-term fiscal problem is to some extent a medical care spending growth problem,in that the projected growth in Medicare and Medicaid is perhaps the single most important cause of the growing imbalance between projected revenues and expenditures. Under the projections that employ Administration policy, cutting the annual growth rate of health spending by 1.5 percentage points for 10 years would reduce the long-term fiscal gap by 1.5 percent of GDP; the same reduction for 30 years would reduce the gap by almost 4 percent of GDP, but would still leave a fiscal gap of almost 5 percent of GDP. To eliminate the long-term gap through reductions in health spending growth alone, the growth rate of spending on Medicare and Medicaid would have to fall by more than 3 percentage points annually over the next 75 years. That is, expenditures currently projected to grow at a rate nearly 2.5 percent faster than GDP during the next ten years would instead have to begin falling immediately as a share of GDP.

Even if rising health care costs are an important component of the long-term problem, they are not necessarily “the” cause of the fiscal gap. The estimated gap is increased by more than 5 percentage points of GDP just by continuation of the policies that were enacted during the Bush Administration.

In other words, even if policymakers could miraculously figure out how to keep health costs rising at only the growth rate of the economy–eliminating all of the excess growth of health costs–that would still not close the fiscal gap.  And if they’re just wildly successful and cut the excess growth of health costs by more than half, a gap of 5 percent of GDP would remain, which coincidentally is the gap created by the continuation of Bush Administration policies.  In other words, we’d have to be wildly successful at cutting excess health costs, only to be left with a gap that represents the cost of President Obama’s choosing to continue the fiscally irresponsible policies the Bush Administration started.

Oh, and the buzz about Christina Romer’s speech today was that the Administration seems to be coming around to the idea of taxing employer-provided health care–or at least the version that imposes an excise tax on high-end health insurance plans and thus doesn’t seem as much a “tax on real people.”  That’s good news because the excise tax is both a better strategy for raising revenue (from a broader-than-above-$250K tax base) as well as a more “correct” strategy to help contain health costs as part of health care reform.

SNL on Obsessive Cost Cutting (Russian Bride Edition)

October 25th, 2009 . by economistmom

I didn’t realize that this weekend’s Saturday Night Live was a repeat (of a fairly recent show) until I went looking for the video of this sketch on Russian brides.  Somehow it reminded me of the topic of fiscal responsibility and how some misinterpret the label of “fiscal hawk” as someone preoccupied with cutting costs and basically being a “cheapskate.”  Maybe there are some who call themselves “fiscal hawks” who really do obsess about shedding costs without regard for the benefits that are lost along with the costs, but those are really “small government” (or even anti-government) types.  True “fiscal responsibility” or “fiscal prudence” means weighing the costs against the benefits–i.e., giving proper consideration to both sides of the equation.  Taking the cheapest option often does not make economic sense; we might be more willing to pay for a more expensive option that is truly worth its cost.  Perhaps we need to keep that in mind as we work out a plan for health care reform where we’ll likely be tempted to (or even desperate to?) cut the cost of the bill in brute force, not-necessarily-smart ways.

And speaking of beautiful women (and health care reform financing), Bruce Bartlett made a fun and related analogy last Friday in his Forbes column:

[W]henever I suggest the idea of a VAT for the U.S., I am attacked by supply-siders and assorted right-wingers. The other day my friend Larry Kudlow criticized me for wanting to “Europeanize the American economy.” Their concern is that the VAT is a money machine that will lead to higher taxes and bigger government precisely because it is such a “good” tax.

I myself held this same view for many years. But eventually I decided that it was stupid to oppose something because of its virtues. Opposing a VAT because it’s too good is like breaking up with your girlfriend because she is too beautiful.

Denver Download

October 23rd, 2009 . by economistmom

I’m back in DC after a great trip to Denver with many of my Concord Coalition colleagues.  It’s work trips like that that make me feel so fortunate to have a job that I love so much that it doesn’t at all feel like “work”–and where dedicated colleagues become dedicated friends.  And yesterday’s Concord-sponsored student summit at the University of Denver involved an unusually large group of “friends of Concord” policy experts and filmmakers (Patrick Creadon and crew), so it was unusually special.

I moderated the second panel on the economic consequences of budget deficits (the entire session in the YouTube video above), where my friends Bill Gale and Donald Marron offered their wisdom through their very clear and engaging way of explaining things.  I really liked Bill’s analogy between the short- and longer-term effects of deficit spending and the short- and longer-term effects on athletic performance of consuming sugar and caffeine–but I couldn’t resist pointing out where the analogy wasn’t “perfect.”  My main point:  the short- and longer-term goals for athletic performance are easier to define–you know when the next race is coming up, you know exactly when to take the sugar and caffeine right before the race, and after the race you how to get back to the longer-term healthy diet to train and prepare for the next race (and you know when that next race will be).   And when the short-term performance is over, you can easily avoid any possible lingering adverse effects of the sugar and caffeine “injections” by simply not consuming that sugar and caffeine after the race is over.  There’s where the analogy with deficit spending isn’t perfect–because I think the effects of short-term deficit spending as stimulus often “linger” as longer-term policy in a harmful way.  Basically, sugar and caffeine are more effective short-term “stimulus” to the body than deficit spending is for the economy, because it’s easier to make sure that the sugar and caffeine are used in a “timely, targeted, and temporary” (the “three Ts”) manner.  I likened this to a runner not just consuming “GU” (pronounced “goo”) gel right before or during a race, but continuing to consume it (not being able to stop consuming it) after the race was over as their primary form of nutrition…not a good idea.  After defending the perfection of his analogy(!), Bill did respond (and Donald agreed) that yes, there’s a lot of deficit spending that’s been done in the name of short-term stimulus that would make very ill-advised longer-term fiscal policy, especially if deficit financed–and that we certainly see how difficult it is to keep temporary policies truly temporary in the real policymaking (and political) world.

In the last 20 minutes or so we took some really great questions from the mostly-student audience, with very thoughtful replies from Bill and Donald, so please check out the video.  It’s not so “gloom and doom”–and I especially like the last question and responses.  I think the bottom line about what my generation passes along to my daughter’s regarding fiscal responsibility is the lesson (by unfortunate demonstration) that we cannot go on living beyond our means–but at the same time a lot of promise that the potential “means” facing my daughter are (still) very great.

The full set of videos from yesterday’s summit can be found here on YouTube.

And here’s a video of last night’s Fiscal Wake-Up Tour–which got a little interesting when the topic of health care reform came up, reminding us a little bit of the August town hall meetings on health reform.

Donald came home (back to DC as well) earlier today and mused on his carry-on luggage experience on his blog–a lot more fun than talking about what we talked about at the summit. Bill is still enjoying CO with his U of CO son but doesn’t blog anyway.  ;)

Why the $1.4 Trillion Deficit Is Still a Worry

October 23rd, 2009 . by economistmom

I’ll write my report on Denver later tonight (am still here in Denver until this afternoon), but I’ve at least got time to mention that at yesterday’s all-day/evening events here, my boss Bob Bixby mentioned at least a couple times that the fiscal year 2009 federal budget deficit came in lower than previously forecast–”just” $1.4 trillion instead of $1.6 trillion (CBO’s prior estimate) or $1.8 trillion (OMB’s prior estimate). We fiscal hawks at the Concord Coalition don’t “celebrate” this–nor even apologize for it as I think Stan Collender essentially does when he calls the deficit a “triumph of fiscal policy” which “deserves to be applauded.”

I basically agree with the sentiment of this Washington Post editorial from a couple days ago.  But I’ll explain more in the context of the “Denver Download” later.

Oh, and yesterday my oldest daughter turned 18 (Happy Birthday, Allie!)–and that is not at all unrelated to why I still worry about the budget deficit.

The “Doc Fix” and Its Budget Gimmickry Is Not a Clever New Democratic Idea

October 21st, 2009 . by economistmom

An editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal suggests that the Obama Administration and the Democrats in Congress have come up with a new and clever way to deceive the American public about the costs of government (emphasis added):

Later this week, or maybe next, Senate Democrats plan to vote on a stand-alone bill that strips a formula that automatically cuts Medicare physician payments out of “comprehensive” health reform. Rather than include the pricey $247 billion plan known on Capitol Hill as the “doc fix” as part of ObamaCare, they’ll instead make this a separate contribution to the deficit, without compensating tax increases or spending cuts…

This doctor maneuver is such a cleverly dishonest solution to their many contradictory promises that we’re surprised Democrats didn’t think of it sooner.

You might be saying, well, yeah–that’s the Wall Street Journal editorial page, so of course they wouldn’t miss a chance to accuse the Democrats of behaving badly.  More surprising is that the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank also talks about it like it’s a new creation of the Democrats:

Senate Democrats wanted to protect doctors from scheduled cuts in Medicare payments over the next 10 years, but there was a problem: Doing so would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to the federal deficit, making mincemeat of Obama’s promise. So Democrats hatched a novel scheme: They would pass the legislation separately, so the $250 billion cost wouldn’t be part of the main reform “plan,” thereby allowing the president to claim that that bill wouldn’t increase the deficit.

Republicans, who had been losing traction in their effort to fight a health-care overhaul, could hardly believe the gift the majority had given them.

But Ezra Klein sees the fallacy in this view that the “doc fix” is some kind of new gimmickry that Democrats just came up with; he very appropriately labels it a “proud bipartisan tradition.”  In fact, Monday’s Washington Post editorial reminded us of all the ways in which the costs of federal policy have been understated to the American public over the past decade, by passing major pieces of legislation that on paper are scheduled to end yet in practice never do.  The Bush tax cuts are the largest ongoing example of such “gimmickry”–passed with a sunset at the end of 2010 and officially scored under the assumption that the alternative minimum tax (AMT) would grow dramatically over time to help offset the costs of the Bush tax cuts.  But after the Bush tax cuts were passed, the AMT was never allowed to grow–just like (also during the Bush Administration and Republican control of Congress) the “doc fix” was never allowed to reduce physician reimbursement rates and hence Medicare costs–despite what current law said should happen.  So the clever idea to hide the permanent costs of spending or tax cuts by making them temporary, and then later extending them while refusing to pay for the costs of extending them (because policymakers can pretend that deficit financing is “free”), is something government policymakers have been practicing in a bipartisan manner for awhile, but which in my opinion they really “mastered” during the Bush Administration and under Republican control of Congress.

The Obama Administration and the Democratically-controlled Congress could have chosen to do things differently now that they’re in charge, but only some Democrats are showing some of that courage to change.  (Steny Hoyer and Kent Conrad are currently at the top of my “courageous Democrats” list; more on that soon.)  This particular episode of the “doc fix” and refusing to pay for it as part of health care reform is indeed a largely Democratic performance, but it’s only of one particular scene off an old and familiar (and mostly Republican-contrived) script of an entire very long and costly play.

Heading Out to Denver

October 20th, 2009 . by economistmom


I’m on the road for the next few days, traveling to Denver to participate in a Concord-sponsored student summit on fiscal responsibility, “Paying for America,” on Thursday at the University of Denver.  I plan to blog and tweet and maybe even vlog from there–while IOUSA movie director Patrick Creadon and his crew are available to give me some basic pointers, and while I have lots of my expert fiscal policy friends around.  The latest installment of the IOUSA-featured “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour” will be held on Thursday evening and is open to the general public.

***UPDATE (4 pm, Denver):  Note that the whole day’s events will be webcast LIVE on Concord’s website, and the recorded video will be available on our website as soon as possible afterward.***

I’ll try to keep up with the inside-the-Beltway happenings while out of town, too.  Stay tuned.

Oh, an update on my comments situation:  I am still getting hit by tons of spam comments.  Right now, if you have had a comment published on before, any new comments of yours will publish immediately.  For anyone else, your comments are held for moderation until I can “approve” it.

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