How the “B-Minus” Economy Is Impacting the Race

New York Times: “As the political scientist Lynn Vavreck… has pointed out, people are generally not angry about the economy, at least by historical standards. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders will certainly keep highlighting what they see as big weaknesses in the economy, and Hillary Clinton will keep talking about how she would improve it. But if most voters are doing sort of O.K., this approach may have a limited impact.”

The evolving condition of the American economy may transform the race for each of the presumptive nominees.

For Trump:  “Indeed, the lack of stark economic problems may have allowed Mr. Trump to push unconventional policies. If the economy were repeating the plunge of 2008, fewer voters might be prepared to support a candidate whose policies would disrupt world trade and whose tax cuts would almost certainly lead to a far bigger budget deficit.”

“But think about it: If there is one force that can derail him, or restrain him, it’s the threat that the economy won’t tolerate his more unconventional policies.”

For Clinton: “George H.W. Bush won in 1988 against Michael Dukakis by promising to take the country on much the same course as President Reagan did. But while the economy has achieved steady gains under President Obama, Mrs. Clinton might not gain a big advantage by portraying herself as his economic standard-bearer. The economy just hasn’t been growing fast enough. Economists expect the economy to grow at around 2 percent this year. In the second half of 1988, it grew at nearly double that rate.”

What If No One Sells In an Obamacare Marketplace?

Sarah Kliff: “There are at least three states that currently have just one health insurer planning to sell on their Obamacare marketplace in 2017: Alaska, Alabama, and Wyoming.”

“The health care law doesn’t have a backup plan if any of those states have their sole carriers drop out… A federal official told the Wall Street Journal he was “pretty confident” there would be no areas with zero carriers — but he also couldn’t rule out the possibility.”

“An Obamacare market with no sellers would leave thousands of enrollees unable to use tax subsidies to buy insurance coverage. And the government doesn’t have any particular legal power to cajole carriers into setting up shop in the markets they find undesirable. The most they can do, it turns out, is ask really nicely.”

Germans Were Actually Paid to Consume Electricity

Quartz: “On Sunday, May 8, Germany hit a new high in renewable energy generation. Thanks to a sunny and windy day, at one point around 1pm the country’s solar, wind, hydro and biomass plants were supplying about 55 GW of the 63 GW being consumed, or 87%. Power prices actually went negative for several hours, meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity.”

https://www.agora-energiewende.de/en/topics/-agothem-/Produkt/produkt/76/Agorameter/

Trump Asks Conservatives to Revamp Tax Plan

“Donald Trump’s campaign has enlisted influential conservative economists to revise his tax package and make it more politically palatable by slashing the $10 trillion sticker price. Their main targets: Lifting the top tax rate from Trump’s original plan and expanding the number of people who would have to pay taxes under it,” Politico reports.

“Trump’s initial proposal, rolled out with fanfare at Trump Tower in Manhattan last September, has been in the spotlight since he became the presumptive Republican nominee last week and promptly declared that it was only a starting point for any negotiations with congressional Democrats, should he become president.”

“But it turns out Trump’s team is open to revamping it far sooner than that; the campaign last month contacted at least two prominent conservative economists — Larry Kudlow, the CNBC television host, and Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation and a longtime Wall Street Journal writer — to spearhead an effort to update the package.”

Economic Myths from the Presidential Campaign

New York Times: “If you want to learn about the economy, there are good and bad places to go. Probably the worst source of reliable information is the current crop of presidential candidates. Dissembling and exaggeration are no strangers to politics, but this year’s campaigns have been particularly egregious.”

“Here are six economic myths that underlie much of the recent rhetoric.”

Who Benefited Most from Obamacare?

New York Times: “The health care law was one of the most bitterly contested pieces of legislation in the country’s history. It remains controversial because of its costs to both taxpayers and insurance customers. The high premiums and high deductibles of many plans still make coverage a crushing financial burden for some families.”

“And the law is not close to achieving the goal of universal coverage, in part because 19 states have declined to expand their Medicaid programs for the poor, an option the Supreme Court granted them in a landmark 2012 case. Nevertheless, the Times’s analysis shows that by the end of that first full year, 2014, so many low-income people gained coverage that it halted the decades-long expansion of the gap between the haves and the have-nots in the American health insurance system, a striking change at a time when disparities between rich and poor are growing in many areas.”

How the Wealthy Hide Their Money from the Government

Washington Post: “The documents known as the ‘Panama Papers’ have created a global scandal around the ways the world’s rich conceal their wealth from the authorities. The prime minister of Iceland offered his resignation after the papers reportedly revealed that he and his wife had a fortune on paper hidden away in the British Virgin Islands. British Prime Minister David Cameron is taking criticism as well, and he acknowledged that he profited from a secret family trust.”

“In the United States, the Treasury would collect about $124 billion a year in additional taxes — $36 billion from individual taxpayers and $88 billion from multinational corporations — if it weren’t for such schemes, according to estimates by Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley.”

How the Media Distorts College Admissions

FiveThirtyEight: “Here’s how the national media usually depicts the admissions process: High school seniors spend months visiting colleges; writing essays; wrangling letters of recommendation; and practicing, taking and retaking an alphabet soup of ACTs, SATs and AP exams. Then the really hard part: months of nervously waiting to find out if they are among the lucky few (fewer every year, we’re told!) with the right blend of academic achievement, extracurricular involvement and an odds-defying personal story to gain admission to their favored university.”

“Here’s the reality: Most students never have to write a college entrance essay, pad a résumé or sweet-talk a potential letter-writer. Nor are most, as The Atlantic put it Monday, ‘obsessively checking their mailboxes’ awaiting acceptance decisions. (Never mind that for most schools, those decisions now arrive online.) According to data from the Department of Education,1 more than three-quarters of U.S. undergraduates2 attend colleges that accept at least half their applicants; just 4 percent attend schools that accept 25 percent or less, and hardly any — well under 1 percent — attend schools like Harvard and Yale that accept less than 10 percent.”

Reversing Trade Deficit Could Make America Less Great

New York Times: “Donald Trump believes that a half-trillion-dollar trade deficit with the rest of the world makes the United States a loser and countries with trade surpluses like China and Mexico winners.”

“The reality is different. Trade deficits are not inherently good or bad; they can be either, depending on circumstances. The trade deficit is not a scorecard.”

“What’s more, eliminating the trade deficit would not, on its own, make America great again, as Mr. Trump promises. And in isolation, the fact that the United States has a trade deficit does not prove that trade agreements are bad for Americans, a staple of Bernie Sanders’s campaign in the Democratic presidential primary. In fact, trying to eliminate the trade deficit could mean giving up some of the key levers of power that allow the United States to get its way in international politics.”

“Getting rid of the trade deficit could very well make America less great. The reasons have to do with the global reserve currency, economic diplomacy and something called the Triffin dilemma.”

Car Dealers Get Pushed Out by Political Ads

“When political campaigns begin to flood local TV markets with commercials, car dealers get squeezed for airtime more than any other advertisers,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Local automotive dealers predominantly buy ads during the local news—the same programming where political campaigns and outside groups concentrate much of their spending, according to research from analytics firm Kantar Media. In fact, Kantar Media’s analysis of eight markets in 2014 showed that car dealers ran slightly more than half of all their ads during local news shows, while more than 60% of political ads appeared on those same programs.”