Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Paul Krugman - New York Times Blog

April 12, 2011, 9:27 am

Why Not A Public Option for Medicare?

So, people are always asking what I would do about health care costs. One answer is that I would do all the things that are in the Affordable Care Act, and more.

But if you want a really radical proposal — but one that, unlike privatization, actually has strong evidence on its side — why not add a true public option to Medicare?

What do I mean by that? I mean creating a network of hospitals and clinics actually run by the government — a civilian VA, as Phillip Longman puts it — and giving Medicare recipients the option of using that system.
The public option would be required to spend significantly less per risk-adjusted recipient than traditional Medicare. And if it couldn’t provide care that seniors wanted given that restricted budget, it would have no takers and would close.

But the actual experience of the VA suggests, of course, that such a system would have major cost advantages — and that it could be used to achieve major cost savings.

Look, I know this isn’t politically feasible, at least not now. But neither is Ryan’s system of inadequate vouchers. And this one has the virtue of being something that experience suggests would actually work if we could overcome the political hurdles.

I’m sure the trolls will be screaming as soon as this is posted. But notice that neither I nor Longman are suggesting that anyone be forced into such a system. It would have to win patients in a fair competition with both traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

And what would terrify the right, of course, is the likelihood that genuine socialized medicine would actually win that competition.

The NYTimes is good but I'm not payng to read it! How about you?

NYT Site Traffic Drops with Paywall

HP Main - Kurtz NYT Digital
The New York Times paywall finally went live on March 28—but how much did that stop its most avid consumers? A comparison of total visits to NYTimes.com for a 12-day period before the launch of the paywall and a 12-day period after the launch found that there was a decrease of between 5 percent and 15 percent in overall visits.

 There was one bright spot: On April 9, there was an increase of 7 percent, as people searched for news about the government shutdown and budget discussions. However, the decrease in total page views was even more pronounced, with a decline of between 11 percent and 30 percent for the 12 days following the launch.

 The paywall limits online readers to 20 articles per month, unless they have a subscription. Those with smartphone applications continue to get the top news section for free, but all other sections require a subscription.

Mark Zuckerberg Sued Again

CS - Facebook
Not a good day to be a boy wonder: Paul Ceglia, the man who sued Mark Zuckerberg last July claiming the Facebook founder had agreed to give him 50 percent ownership in 2003, has just produced a series of emails in which he and Zuckerberg allegedly discuss the project together.

The original suit was dismissed as a fabrication because Ceglia took seven years to file it and he was a convicted felon. The new emails said to be between Zuckerberg and Ceglia discuss their two original projects—Ceglia's "StreetFax" and Zuckerberg's "the face book"—and provide proof of payment in which Ceglia funded the Facebook project and the collaborative launch of the site. Zuckerberg then writes to Ceglia that the new Facebook site is floundering, that he's thinking of shutting it down, and offers to send Ceglia his $2,000 of funding back.

 These emails were suspiciously sent right before Zuckerberg moved to California and the site immediately took off. In response to Ceglia's new suit, Facebook has maintained that the emails—like the original suit—are fake and that Ceglia is a "con artist" and "convicted felon."

Will America vote for a guy who wears makeup 24 hours a day?

Donald Trump tied for first in poll of GOP race

(Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Reality television host and developer Donald Trump has risen to a tie for first among potential GOP presidential contenders, according to a new national poll.

Nineteen percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said in the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey that they are most likely to back Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. That put him in a tie at the top of the list with former Arkansas governor and 2008 candidate Mike Huckabee, who also received 19 percent support.

Rounding out the top five were former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with 12 percent support, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 11 percent support and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, also with 11 percent support. They were followed by Rep. Ron Paul of Texas with 7 percent support and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota with 5 percent support.

Trump has risen ten points from a similar poll taken by the same organization last month.

Still, it would be premature to conclude that Trump has become a viable contender for the GOP presidential nomination. Forty-three percent of those surveyed said they didn't want to see him run; his relatively strong showing in the poll would seem to reflect both the media-savvy Trump's high level of name-recognition and the fact that the GOP electorate has not yet coalesced around a candidate.

Trump has been making the media rounds talking up a candidacy and pushing discredited theories and false information about President Obama's birthplace. The "birther" rhetoric has meant a backlash among prominent African-Americans, as Politico's Ben Smith reports.

"There's a lot of people that I've talked to [who] instinctively think that he's using the issue as a proxy for race," Urban League President Marc Morial told Politico. "I don't know if it has resonance in the Republican Party but I certainly think it has resonance in certain far right elements of the American public."

Trump said Monday that if he loses the GOP nomination he will "probably" run for the presidency as an independent. Skeptics question, however, whether he is seriously considering a run or is simply engaged in a disingenuous effort to drum up publicity for his reality show, which ends in June.

It's a charge Trump denies.

"I don't need to do this for ratings on 'The Apprentice,'" Trump told the Wall Street Journal. "This is too important, our country is in trouble, our country is not being properly led."