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Derek Thompson

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Analysis: The Shameful Sequester Vote

April 29, 2013 The morality play known as "Sequester" is entering its third act this week, and what a spectacularly awful and pointless piece of theater it has been. In the pre-curtain progloue, the president cuts a deal with the GOP to avoid a debt ceiling crisis in 2011. They schedule a law ...

Get Ready for Smallest U.S. Investment in Budget in History

April 17, 2013 Non-defense discretionary spending. God, what a hideous term. The tip of the tongue takes a trip of ten steps and falls on its face at the -ding. In fact, it's such a revolting sequence of consonants, maybe that explains why politicians think we can cut it to the bone without ...

The Obama Budget Simplified

April 10, 2013 If the Paul Ryan budget, in nine words, was: "Save the rich; Forget the poor; Spare the old" President Obama's budget, in nine words, is: "Tax the rich; Spare the poor; Remember the young" The contours of the president's plan will be familiar to budget nerds, because he's been cooking ...

Why Is American Health Care So Ridiculously Expensive?

March 28, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The U.S. medical system is absurdly expensive. You knew that already. But you probably didn't realize just how absurdly expensive it is compared to other countries. These 21 graphs (one of them you'll see above) from the International Federation of Health Plans, via Ezra Klein, start to paint the picture. ...

Sequester Real Talk: The 3 Dumbest Things About This Truly Dumb Law

March 4, 2013 The sequester is happening, people. At some point today, President Obama will send an order to cut $85 billion in spending in 2013, and then, slowly, those cuts will take place. The extremely specific reason why the sequester is happening is that it's the law and there is no deal ...

Marissa Mayer Is Wrong: Working From Home Can Make You More Productive

February 26, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has officially banned the company's employees from working from home. Here's the critical sentence: "To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present ...

Hire My Friend! The Easy Logic (and Hidden Dangers) of Employee Referrals

January 29, 2013 If you're unemployed, this will come as either great news or terrible news -- depending on how much you envy your friends' jobs. The New York Times reports that referrals from employees make up a growing number of hires at some large companies that face the daunting task of wading ...

Perceptions About Health Care Spending Are Wrong

January 23, 2013 This sentence is a pithy summary of the centrist conventional wisdom about taxes, spending, debt, and health care: "The political impasse facing the U.S. arises from one simple reality: Americans want an increasing government contribution to health care, but don't want to pay for it." That's James Hamilton, an economic ...

Yes, Money Does Buy Happiness

January 14, 2013 Fittingly or ironically, the dismal science has a lot to say about happiness. The classic economic story about money and well-being goes something like this. Money buys happiness, sure, but only up to a point. Once basic needs are taken care of, extra money has diminishing (or non-existent) returns. Perhaps ...

The Sneaky Idea That Could End the Fiscal Cliff Showdown

December 12, 2012 If you're growing weary of the fiscal cliff, I do not blame you. Budget deals can be powerfully wearying stuff. But they are rarely as complicated as they seem from a distance. Take, for example, the new proposal that some Republicans and Democrats think might end this terrible cliff showdown ...