Everything’s coming up roses

This is the first really solid evidence I’ve seen that Dems are going to do well on election day. It’s also a sign that Democrats should double down on #MeToo.

Polls and 538 predictions are one thing but betting against Megan McArdle is a sure thing.

People wanted more chances to give money to Senate races. You can give here to Jacky Rosen (NV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ).

Goal Thermometer

Send some postcards here.








Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Message Discipline



Give a little bit

Almost at our goal for More More More — split 47 ways among candidates recommended by you the readers. You can give to just one or two to avoid being on too many mailing lists.

Goal Thermometer

After this, I may go back to some Senate races. Or maybe go down into even lower tier House races. What do you think?








Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Assassinating Journalist Not Perceived As Hoped by Saudi Arabia… or Donald Trump



Guess that’s why they broke and you’re so paid

This is a good sign:

A deluge of Democratic spending in the final days of the battle for the House has triggered recriminations among Republicans and forced the party to lean on its biggest patron to salvage their majority.

Since the end of July, Republican candidates in the 70 most contested races have reserved $60 million in TV ads, compared to $109 million for Democratic hopefuls, according to figures compiled by media trackers and reviewed by POLITICO.

We are doing our part. We have raised a little over 300K this cycle. Let’s hit our goal for the More More More fund, 47K split among 47 House candidates suggested by readers. You can give to just one or two to avoid mailing lists if you like.

Goal Thermometer








Donald Trump, Tax Fraud, and His Fellow GOP Thieves/Enablers

Bess Levin, at Vanity Fair, “Republicans: If Dems Release Trump’s Tax Returns, No One Will Be Safe”:

Unsurprisingly, in the wake of the Times investigation, Democrats renewed their calls for transparency, with Representative Richard Neal telling The Wall Street Journal his party would use the authority of the Ways and Means Committee to commandeer a taxpayer’s records for confidential review—something that can be done without full approval from the House and Senate. And Republicans are having none of such talk. “This is dangerous,” an incensed Representative Kevin Brady tweeted… “Once Democrats abuse this law to make public @realDonaldTrump tax returns, what stops them from prying/making public YOUR tax returns for political reasons?” For good, fear monger-y measure, he concluded by hashtag-ing “#AbuseofPower” and “#EnemiesList.”

And, sure, Democrats could go after your tax returns for political reasons, but that would probably require you to be a sitting president who’s refused to release them on your own, and who’s been accused of “outright” tax fraud based on an investigation by The New York Times. If that describes you, you might have reason to worry! On the other hand, Congress has had this power for nearly 100 years and has not seen fit to “abuse” ordinary Americans with it it for political gain. One time it was used? In 1974, when Congress investigated Richard Nixon’s returns and determined that he was, in fact, a crook. But we’re sure that’s totally not what Brady & Co. are worried about here…

Professor Krugman, “Trump and the Aristocracy of Fraud”:

Until recently, my guess is that most economists, even tax experts, would have agreed that tax avoidance by corporations and the wealthy — which is legal — was a big issue, but tax evasion — hiding money from the tax man — was a lesser one. It was obvious that some rich people were exploiting legal if morally dubious loopholes in the tax code, but the prevailing view was that simply defrauding the tax authorities and hence the public wasn’t that widespread in advanced countries.

But this view always rested on shaky foundations. After all, tax evasion, almost by definition, doesn’t show up in official statistics, and the super-wealthy aren’t in the habit of mouthing off about what great tax cheats they are. To get a real picture of how much fraud is going on, you either have to do what The Times did — exhaustively investigate the finances of a particular family — or rely on lucky breaks that reveal what was previously hidden.

Two years ago, a huge lucky break came in the form of the Panama Papers, a trove of data leaked from a Panamanian law firm that specialized in helping people hide their wealth in offshore havens, and a smaller leak from HSBC. While the unsavory details revealed by these leaks made headlines right away, their true significance has only become clear with work done by Berkeley’s Gabriel Zucman and associates in cooperation with Scandinavian tax authorities.

Matching information from the Panama Papers and other leaks with national tax data, these researchers found that outright tax evasion actually is a big deal at the top. The truly wealthy end up paying a much lower effective tax rate than the merely rich, not because of loopholes in tax law, but because they break the law. The wealthiest taxpayers, the researchers found, pay on average 25 percent less than they owe — and, of course, many individuals pay even less.

This is a big number. If America’s wealthy evade taxes on the same scale (which they almost surely do), they’re probably costing the government around as much as the food stamp program does. And they’re also using tax evasion to entrench their privilege and pass it on to their heirs, which is the real Trump story.
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Levels and wiggles

Average premiums for the ACA are likely to barely increase. There are locally massive rate decreases. CMS is taking a victory lap.

I think CMS is right on the proliferation of Section 1332 reinsurance waivers has contributed to lower premiums in seven states. The rest I think is far more questionable. I think that when we look at 2018 Medical Loss Ratios, we see that insurers massively overpriced. Insurers did not know what the rules would be in 2018 so they either ran like hell or raised rates.

We get two different pricing scenarios. Scenario 1 is the counterfactual scenario where 2018 was “correctly” priced so that most insurers would end up normally profitable with an MLR in the mid-80s. Scenario 2 is roughly what we are seeing in reality where insurers will be Scrooge McDucking it on the individual market in 2018 with MLRs in the 60s and 70s.

In Year 1 and 3 under both scenarios, the pricing is the same.

The difference is in Year 2. Under the counterfactual case (Scenario 1) there is a large price spike as CSR is built into premiums and medical trend matters. In the reality case (Scenario 2) we see a huge spike. Insurers built CSR into the premiums, medical trend matters, insurer drop out matters, fear of spiking morbidity due to messaging and potential mandate repeal and intense political leverage for state regulators to approve any rate level. Fear, rule set uncertainty, and empty markets created by fear and rule set uncertainty drives massive rate increases.

Moving to year 3, Scenario 1 has a premium increase from a realistically priced 2018. Medical trend hits again plus mandate repeal minus health insurance tax repeal minus reinsurance creates the current price point. Under Scenario 2, the insurers are trying to price the 2019 market so that they don’t have incredibly outsized profits leading to mega-MLR rebates. Under both scenarios the Year 3 price point is the same but the change from prior years is different.