Archive for forecast

Cut Medicare and Social Security? What's the rush?

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Once again, Michael Hiltzik clarifies the very things that need clarification, this time regarding the panic over the earned benefits programs Medicare and Social Security. Notice I didn't refer to them as "entitlements," which as Hiltzik correctly explains, is "a noxious way of referring to [them], excellent programs that most workers have paid for during their careers and that have kept millions of Americans healthy and out of poverty."

He notes that all the scary forecasts and assumptions about which we've been hearing pundit after pundit yammer are questionable at best. Predictions are simply not accurate, so to base a premise or long term policy on them doesn't make much sense.

Hiltzik:

[Social Securities'] trustees... also project that under certain conditions of economic and employment growth — all of them perfectly plausible — it might never run dry. You don't hear much about that projection because it doesn't fit into the narrative that Social Security is "going broke."

Healthcare costs, with Medicare and Mediaid as big components, have been projected to rise to as much as 40% of gross domestic product by 2082 if not restrained. That's a fearsome prospect, but it's based on a long-outdated forecast by the Congressional Budget Office, which doesn't use the same methodology anymore. It was highly implausible, if not impossible, in the first place.

For people like me whose eyes glaze over upon witnessing the usual sparring and doomsday scenarios, there's this revelatory perspective on, well, perspective:

To put it another way, just because your son is 4 feet tall at age 6 doesn't mean he'll be 12 feet tall at age 18. And just because the average American born today will live to the age of 78 doesn't mean that a baby born in 2032 will live to 100. [...]

The reason smart people and companies don't make bets on the distant future is precisely because it's unknowable. Try the following thought experiment: Instead of looking ahead 20 years, look back 20 years, and try to list all the events that have had immense, material effects on today's economy, but were unimaginable in 1992.

Here's my list: 9/11. The Afghan war. The Iraq war. The housing bubble. The crash of 2000. The crash of 2008. The crash of Lehman Bros. The iPod. The iPhone. The iPad. The founding of Google. Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy. Obamacare. 

So all these projections from all these commentators who have all these agendas are probably useless. And all these panicky "fixes" would be worthless, not to mention harmful, remedies based on faulty estimates.

The life span of a congressional budget is two years, max, because no Congress can bind its successors. But changes in Social Security and Medicare are forever. So when you hear that we have to do it now, stat! or we're doomed, take it for the snake oil that it is.

Hopefully, most Americans aren't buying what they're selling.

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"If this were truly a dead even race, Romney should be ahead in these polls almost as often as he is behind."

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Dan Balz is reporting that Willard M. Romney's advisers believe that if their candidate can get to the GOP convention with the race close to even, he could end up leading during the final two months of the campaign. That means they also believe that he can compensate for any damage he's done to himself in the swing states, which so far favor President Obama.

And by compensate they mean convince voters that he's not a total dufus loser outsourcing tax- returnless gaffe machine.

They have a lot of work to do.

Dan Balz continues, via WaPo:

But in looking at the numbers nationally and in the battleground states, the consistency of Obama’s lead is striking. More than two dozen national polls have been conducted since the beginning of June. Obama has led in the overwhelming number of them.

Polls in the most contested states show a similar pattern. In three of the most important — Ohio, Florida and Virginia — there have been roughly three dozen polls total since April, about the time that Romney’s GOP rivals were exiting the nomination race. In Ohio and Virginia, Obama has led in all but a few. In Florida, Romney has done better, but overall, Obama has led about twice as often.

Those polls are not definitive predictors of the November outcome, by any means. A movement in the national numbers, which could easily occur in the final weeks, will change the look of many of those states. But at this point, the available evidence suggests that the advantage, however small, is with Obama. If this were truly a dead even race, Romney should be ahead in these polls almost as often as he is behind.

Fingers crossed.

Get out the vote.

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The (Possible) Coming Obama Landslide

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has another great article at the Daily Beast. If you recall, his last one was a major smack down of Willard Romney's wimp factor. Read about it, you'll be glad you did: VIDEO- Robert Gibbs: Romney is “embarrassing.” Daily Beast: He’s “lame, annoying, a true wimp, a weenie, nervous, terrified, nasty, whiny.”

In keeping with Tomasky's article, yesterday I posted some encouraging news from Nate Silver: “Mr. Obama’s probability of winning the Electoral College increased…” Tomasky adds fuel and support to that assertion by writing in his new piece, "...The fact is that the more you look at it, the more you come to conclude that Mitt Romney has to draw an inside straight like you’ve never ever seen in a movie to win this thing."

He goes on to say that Pennsylvania has been trending back toward Obama lately. In fact, it has.

Tomasky:

Obama can lose the big Eastern four—Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida: all of ’em!—and still be reelected.

And barring some huge cataclysm, he’s not losing all four of those states. If he wins even one—say Virginia, the smallest of the four—then Romney has to win Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire; all possible, certainly, but all states where he has been behind, narrowly but consistently, for weeks or months. [...]

Sure, something big could happen to alter the dynamic completely. ... All the supposedly game-changing events of the last few weeks haven’t changed much of anything. This is a paradoxical situation that has little or no modern precedent, which makes it hard for people to accept. Liberals are too nervous to think it, reporters too intent on a “down to the wire” narrative, and conservatives too furious and disbelieving, but it’s shaping up to be true: An extremely close election that on election night itself stands a surprisingly good chance of being not that close at all.

He has more details so please link over, and I still have a few concerns: Voter suppression (hopefully, the courts will continue to derail the GOP effort to stop people from voting); super PAC money (hopefully, saturation of the air waves by negative ads will desensitize and/or anger enough unconvinced swing voters that they'll stop listening); hatred of the president (hopefully, those people are the same 20-30% we keep seeing in the polls who comprise the most extreme members of the Republican base who would never vote for Obama in the first place).

The key is Democratic turnout. Please consider doing everything you can to assist people in accessing places of registration right now, and then getting them to the polls in November.

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"Mr. Obama’s probability of winning the Electoral College increased..."

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Nate the Great at 538 has good news for President Obama-- including those 300 electoral votes in the top graph-- and it goes a little something like this:

Mr. Obama’s probability of winning the Electoral College increased slightly on the economic news, to 71.1 percent from 70.2 percent. [...]

Meanwhile, the comparatively encouraging economic reports of the past week make it less likely that there is another shoe to drop on Mr. Obama in the form of a further economic downturn.

He goes on to say (among other things, so please follow the link) that voters have a history of judging incumbents on their progress, despite the current state of the economy. Since the president has certainly made progress, as you can see plainly right here, then that bodes well for his chances in November.

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