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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Usual comment on Wren-Lewis

Simon Wren-Lewis argues that there is no good reason to believe that micro founded models are better for policy analysis.

update: Wren-Lewis kindly linked to this post (which is here not at because I think it isn't worth your time). I couldn't resist writing a longggggggg comment on his blog. Then I came here to add this update and found a shrt cmmnt on this post. Brevity is the soul of wit. The patient reader can scroll past the long boring post to get to the long boring comment on the link to this long boring post.

He concedes that a case can be made because the Lucas critique.

Another response might be that we know for sure that the eclectic model will be wrong, because (for example) it will fail the Lucas critique. More generally, it will not be internally consistent. But we also know that the microfounded model will be wrong, because it will not have the right microfoundations. The eclectic model may be subject to the Lucas critique, but it may also - by taking more account of the data than the microfounded model - avoid some of the specification errors of the microfounded model. There is no way of knowing which errors matter more.
I throw the usual cow in comments.

I think you understate your case. I think that misspecified micro founded models are vulnerabile to the Lucas critique. I guess at first blush my claim seems strange, as the Lucas criitique is taken very seriously, everyone agrees that all existing models are misspecified, and yet many people think they have dealt with the Lucas critique. But I also think it is easy to prove my claim.

Let's consider consumption. It is claimed that we can avoid the Lucas critique by estimating deep parameters say a rate of time preference and an intertemporal elasticity of consumption. Then we can reliably forecast say the effect of a permanent shift in the real interest rate on the rate of growth of consumption. Since the deep parameter is structural, it won't change when the policy changes. So the forecast effect will be OK provided we have estimated the elasticity with enough data on oh say aggregate consumption or maybe consumption of non durables and services. Ooops that would give two quite different estimates which can't both be OK. The estimate made using available fluctuations in real interest rates don't give the right prediction about the effect of a permanent increase unless the model is correctly specified. If we incorrectly assume non durability we will systematically overestimate the effect of the new policy on the growth rate of consumption.

Another very similar (but opposite) example. What if in the real world there is habit formation ? Again fitting the available data with temporary fluctuations in r does not imply accurately forecasting the effect of a permanent shift in r (this time we will underestimate the effect on the growth rate of consumption).

To avoid the Lucas critique, it has to be that the parameters which we model as deep structural parameters of tastes or technology are, in fact, deep structural parameters in real world utility and production functions. We can be confident that our model is not vulnerable to the Lucas critique, if we can be confident that it is the truth. No problem is or can be resolved by the fact that we use mathematical optimization after making false assumptions to get behavioral implications such that we can estimate parameters and fit the data.

update: My commmmmmmmmmmmmennnnnnnnnnnnnnnt on his kind post.

Thanks for the link. Below, I will try to explain what my post clearly failed to explain. It is, at most, a semantic point (so not worth the bother to scroll down).

I have some possibly more relevant thought. The first is yes exactly "time": I recall 31 years ago reading an interesting appealingly modest argument made by Sargent for the then fairly new approach to macroeconomics. He said then in 1982 that the models they were working with were clearly not realistic, but there was hope that there would be models which were both internally consistent and realistic in thirty years.

Times up.

Now I'm pretty sure he had been saying "30 years" for several years before I read the phrase (it was in an interview in some magazine like Business Week or Fortune) so I'm pretty sure that time has been up for a while. I note also that researchers are not normally given 30 years to show results.

I have two disagreements with Yates which I think go beyond yours. First I do not see any basis for the claim that the best way to forecast is with a VAR. VARs are used a lot. Forecasting performance is miserable. It seems to me that Keynesian economists such as, say, P Krugman, S Wren-Lewis and C Romer outperform VARs. The evaluation of the ARRA (US stimulus) is based on deviations from forecasts based on a VAR. The deviations are significant and very similar to those predicted by C Romer. I think the paleo Keynesian approach provides better forecasts than pure time series analysis and better policy guidance than DSGE models in which (for example) liquidity constraints are assumed away.

Finally there is a possible aim in addition to forecasting and policy analysis. There is also the quest for truth for understanding for its own sake. A strawman might argue that ad hoc models are useful for forecasting and policy analysis, but there is also pure science which is a quest for knowledge for its own sake. The mildly interesting thing, is that no actual person makes that argument. The internally consistent micro founded models are very obviously not the truth. The field demands some sort of purity, but does not claim to be pure science, but rather the quest for useful approximations.

OK so to boring semantics and "Lucas critique." I understand that the point of my post (if any) was hard to understand. In any case it is purely semantic, almost certainly a distinction without a difference. I think that "These misspecification errors" Are "errors due to the Lucas critique".

A model avoids the Lucas critique if the estimated parameters of the model correspond to slowly changing deep aspects of tastes and technology. The model does not avoid the Lucas critique if the modeller imagines a fictional world in which those parameters are taste and technology, Parameters which are, incorrectly, interpreted as measurements of some aspect of tastes and technology in fact incorporate agents beliefs about future policy. ( I am thinking of rho, sigma, the elasticity of labour supply, the elastictity of subsitution of capital and labour (always assumed to be one by macroeconomists) and the share of capital)). For different public policy, different parameters would be estimated. Internal consistency does not at all imply that paremeters are policy invariant. I assert that there is no connection between concern about the Lucas critique and a desire for internally consistent micro foundations.

I applaud your politeness. However, I can't amange it. My problem with the micro founders is that they also argue that models are false by definition so it makes no sense to test their assumptions. I think a case can be made to settle for nothing less than a hypothesis with testable implications which has not been rejected. But I thinkt there is a plain logical INconsistency* in arguing that it is vital for models to be internally consistent but no need for the assumptions to be true. To try to be brief, I think that the Lucas critique is the Lucas critique of Friedman's methodology. That in the one paper Lucas said nothing ore and nothing less than that Friedman was wrong (and that Friedman could have written the same after Lucas's "Econometric Policy ... " paper explaining why he found the argument unconvincing. If anyone is interested, I go on at length here

I applaud your politeness, but have trouble being polite to fanatics for logical consistency whose arguments for what they call logical consistency are, as far as I can tell, obviously logically inconsistent.

*update: typo corrected thanks commenter

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rude Comment on Kilgore

I wrote this at Ed Kilgore's blog, but decided to bury it here, because I trust he doesn't read this blog. Kilgore wrote "First of all, this misstates the Cowan-Kessler argument, which is that Democratic defense of maximum entitlement spending makes “investments” like universal pre-K impossible—not that they are utopian in themselves." He is wrong. I commented (then dumped here) Cowan and Kessler denounced Di Blasio who has nothing to do with socialsecurityandmedicare but who advocates universal pre-K. Their concluding paragraph notes the pre-K referendum in Colorado. They use the typically Republican lie of equating increased taxes on the rich (proposed by di Blasio) and increased taxes in general (rejected by Coloradans). In contrast populist Clinton and Obama campaigned promising higher taxes on the rich and lower taxes for everyone else (and Obama actually delivered). You denounced them, before Tanden and Scheiber did. I admire you very much and agree with practically everything you write. But you have a problem with the word "centrist" and insist on grinding old axes. On what issues do you disagree with Warren ? You have a problem when you criticize Cowan and Kessler then, when others do, you deny that they wrote things that they plainly and explicitly wrote. You are too smart and too hard working to let knee-jerk tribalism continue to cause you to write nonsense whenever you get the impression that some people don't like the DLC which, notably, doesn't even exist anymore.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Dreadful Plumbing with Downward Nominal Rigidity

Dreadful plumbing with downward nominal rigidity Actually more or less readable version here. This is the pointless math post which accompaniesthis and especially this post at angrybearblog. Here I am assuming that transition out of the liquidity trap is predictable. This means that dynamics are interestingly forward looking and that makes for a lot of pointless math. The bottom line, such as it is, is that all sorts of things can happen in a very standard neoclassical growth model if there is downward nominal rigidity. The economy can be in a liquidity trap. It can shift from a normal state with a positive interest rate to a liquidity trap and back. No taste or technology shocks are required.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Like Rand Paul

Twitter parody account @JohnCornyn plagiarized @LOLGOP joke. @LOLGOP 3:14 AM @LOLGOP 3:14 Rome time Nov 24 2013 @JohnCorny 4:15 AM Rome time Nov 24 2013 Wait what do you mean when you say that's not a parody account ?!?!?? You say that's Texas's more nearly sane Senator ?!?!!!!?

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Keynesian Good Two Keynesian Better

New Keynesian Good Two Keynesian Better Oddly Paul Krugman seems to have perceived my observation that he is a two Keynesian rather than a new Keynesian as a criticism.

In fact I much prefer simplest new Keynesian models to standard obscure new Keynesian models. Oh hell, my damn comment was waaay too long. here it is

I understand that hoping to read my name two times on your blog in one day is too optimistic. But really, I much prefer two Keynesian models to new Keynesian models. As you mention from time to time some people think the main purpose of models is to clarify thought. I am another one of those people.

More to the point simple models make clear which assumptions are key. As you mentioned in the New Keynesian ... fiscal policy post there are two key things to say about new Keynesian model dynamics

1) it is assumed that the economy gets back to the steady state (you wrote "a steady state" but it in the work horse models there is only one steady state)

2) there is no reason to think this is realistic. In fact leading new Keynesian OJ Blanchard has written about hysteresis not so long after figuring out how to deal wtih anticipated shocks in a model with a saddle path equilibrium.

I was thinking of commenting on those two points. In (almost all of ?) contemporary macro, it is assumed that there is a unique steady state and saddle dynamics around it. This means it is assumed that, excpet for exogenous shocks, the economy is predictable. That seems to me to be a problem right there given how badly contemporary macroeconomists (including the oversigned) forecast. But it provides a key insight to policy makers (in scare quotes)

"In the long run, macro policy doesn't affect real variables. So the very serious statesman who focuses on the long run should target inflation and ignore unemployment and output. "

The problem is that this policy relevant conclusion is an arbitrary assumption. The fearful plumbing is all analysis of the short run. Since it is not assumed a priori it is complicated. Since there isn't a standard (plainly false) assumption there is a lot of controversy. Since it is fearflul plumbing it makes policy makers queesy.

I think the impact of the analysis on actual policy is all due to the assumption and not the fancy math, clever modelling innovation or well anything whcih wasn't shoved aside as something we don't have to worry about.

What's worse, while, the serious statesman ignores the Keynesian parts of new Keynesian economics, the political hack ignores all of it. The short term political effect of policy proposals is based entirely on economically illiterate conventional wisdom. The case that good policy is good politics is an argument that even politicians who care only about winning elections should consider the medium run impact of policy.

The NK case for Keynesian policy is that it will be politically costly in the short run and won't help the economy in the long run but in the in between run it would be good for the economy and the politicians who implemented it. I can't explain the failure of the not the short run, not the long run, but roughly somewhere in the middle run analysis to convince policy makers.

Two many links too Angry Bear

Brad DeLong linked to a post in which I translated his diplomatc comments on Cochrane into rbert rudeness. Now krugman linked there too. Many people who do not find Krugman an DeLong two diplomatic claim that DeLong is part of a Krugman claque which makes me part of a claquer's clague. If it quacks like a duck it's probably a claques. Question to Cochrane: would you rather debate one horse sized Krugman or a hundred duck sized Krugman's. I Tried to comment at Krugman's but ended up complaining that the soun written "tu" in French and Italian is written two too many ways in English. Fortunately I didn't say it has three too many meanings, because it has at least 6 meanings 1) two = 2 = due 2) too = excessively = troppo 3) too = in addition = anche 4) to X makes an infinitive from the verb stem X = Xare, Xere, Xire ore Xurre 5) to is the generic dative proposition so to Y is the dative of the noun Y 6) to is a preposition implying movement towards which is acusative As in I can't go to Rome because I am in Rome right now. Obligatory Monte Python reference

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Usual Rude Comment on Wren-Lewis

Prof Wren-Lewis discusses being a New Keynesian and an old Keynesian at the same time. I note that NKs spend a lot of time being purely NK and analysing models which do not at all fit the basic comovements of GDP and consumption and which are clearly not at all useful approximations ( as they know as shown by their policy advice). Also I ask for any evidence that the NK-OK hybrid fits any data better than the OK models. It is a fact that there are many new Keynesian models in the literature which have Ricardian equivalence ( say Smetts-Wouters). I hope no one takes the policy implications of such grossly unrealistic models seriously. It may be rude to call the analysis of such models insincere lip service to applied math dressed up as economics. However I see no other way to describe the phenomenon. Also you and Cochrane know more about this than I do, but I know of no evidence of superiority of the hybrid model over a model of complete myopia and habit formation. It is certainly true that all of the classical (e.g. Noted ny Friedman) evidence for the PIH fits a model of myopia and habit formation just as well. Since NK DSGE models all include habit formation (to fit the otherwise excess smoothness) the question of what of any empirical vlue is added by forward looking expectations is to my limited knowledge open. The fact that no one uses adaptive expectations is an appeal to authority not evidence. It is simply a fact that the variation TIPs breakevens can be explained in part assuming adaptive expectations R squared of 0.5 is the crazy period 2008-9 is excluded. I contrast thre is no hint of any trace of any explanatory power of forward looking expectations for the very boring reason that achieved inflation rates to maturity of the bonds have hppened to be almost constant since the introduction of TIPs (about 2.5%). Your post suggests that the NK glass is half full with useful insights from both NK and OK models. I am honestly not aware of significant evidnce that the NK glass isn't almost exactly empty. Data here

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sometime's I feel like somebody's watching me

OK i can handle the fact that, on my birthday, google appears with letters made of cakes and cupcakes on my computer but not on my daughters (file under kinda cute but creepy) but now I am getting paranoid (almost wondering if the NSA is spying on me). A obvious twitter 'bot followed me with tweets consisting only of advertising for, among other thingsm wasabi flavored ice cream. Now, I think you will agree that wasabi flored ice cream is rather a niche product. Ou may not know that it exists (in Rome to which all roads lead). I hope with some (but rapidly declining) confidence that you don't know that I really like wasabi flavored ice cream HOW does a twitter 'bot know I like wasabi flavored ice cream ??? I feel we have skipped artificial intelligence and gotten straight to artificial ESP.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Rising to the Challenge

What with show props and alligators (h.t. @skennison), the US airline industry is facing challenges today. Fortunately Virgin America is up to the task of making me not bored in advance at the thought of boarding.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Chait Too

In a generally good post countering the Frum post which I denounce below, Jon Chait manages two impressive howlers. One is really for the ages (the middle ages) "You may pose a low actuarial risk today, but you cannot be certain your luck will continue for the rest of your life (or until you qualify for Medicare). Even people living the healthiest lifestyles suffer illnesses and accidents, or marry people who have a uterus." Some of the people living the healthiest lifestyles were born with uteruses. Chait accidentally proposes that being born with a uterus is like smoking or eating too much. Then the lesser howler which is the same as Frum's " That is what Obamacare advocate Jon Gruber is getting at when he concedes that 3 percent of Americans will be worse off under the new law. " Gruber conceded no such thing. In fact Chait explained very clearly why many of the people who will be forced to buy more complete coverage by the ACA will be better off starting in 2014 (even if they don't come anywhere near any risky uteruses) . I now feel bad that I calle Frum a liar. Chait is not lying (I think he is honest and in any case the error works against his argument). He is literate (at a level I can't even dream of).. But he just can't associate words with numbers. He concedes to Frum et al that Gruber wrote 3% but does not note that Gruber didn't concede those roughly 9 million would be financially harmed by the ACA. I link to an explaination plain English to help a second master of the language (who is a much better writer than Frum who is a much much much better writer than I) in the post below.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

David Frum Lies & Sun Rises in East.

Quotes of the day Igor Bobic at Talking Points Memo ""POTENTIAL losers" (will have to buy a higher quality health plan with no annual cap)" I quote another passage "Gruber summarized his stats: ninety-seven per cent of Americans are either left alone or are clear winners, while three per cent are ARGUABLY losers. (caps mine) I quote Frum "Talking Points Memo today offers a chart suggesting that the losers under Obamacare will number about 3 percent of the population. Why, that’s only…9 million people." I comment. The number 9 million makes the false claim a plain simple lie. The number of losers is definitely not equal to the number of people who will be forced to buy a higher quality health plan, because many forced to buy such a plan will pay less themselves since they will get a subsidy. Also the 3% will get better insurance. Your insinuation that Gruber, Lizza, Wolfers and Bobik said that 3% of people will, like you, pay more for insurance which is no better (in your case worse) is plainly false. You go on to assert that the 3% have high income. There is no basis whatsoever for this assertion. Your description of the TPM post is plainly obviously false. You are not functionally illiterate. You are a shameless liar,

Friday, November 01, 2013

Frakt like the Marcellus Shale

I missunderstood a tweet by Austin Frakt I read "impossible to defend" as "indefensible" using its first dictionary definition when he wrote it thinking of the second. More embarrassingly, I persistently remembered it as "indefensible" not as "impossible to defend" until I just checked. The Xchange Austin Frakt ‏@afrakt 30 Oct I maintain, the admin's line on this is impossible to defend. … (note I red this as "is indefensible" and so on down a slippery slope to special pleading. robertwaldmann ‏@robertwaldmann 30 Oct @afrakt @delong In fact defensible. Obama used the present tense re plans which existed then & were grandfathered. robertwaldmann ‏@robertwaldmann 30 Oct @afrakt @delong "indefensible" does not mean that the defence will convince people who ignore rules of grammar Austin Frakt ‏@afrakt 30 Oct @robertwaldmann @delong Seems like a judgement call. I've made mine. Good luck! (I still support the law.) robertwaldmann ‏@robertwaldmann 30 Oct @afrakt @delong I too still support the law. Sorry for my tone.@robertwaldmann @delong Appreciated. Ending well is all it takes! Let's move on. There are better things to discuss. OK I call it a total victory for Frkt who gets extra cool points @robertwaldmann @delong Appreciated. Ending well is all it takes! Let's move on. There are better things to discuss. The questiona are 1) what administration position (it depends when Obama sait it which depends on what statement "if you like your plan you can keep it" is 100% true. Later similar statements were false as things had changed becaues post March 23 2010 plans were not grandfathered. I now know that Obama kept saying things whcih had ceaed to be true so he earmned at least 3 of his 4 pinocchios (the fourth is a soft inherently subjective Inochio made of scoffed pine). Time to admit he said something false and move on except for the part about admitting he said something wrong (re Roy Hattersley's rule about holes -- "When you ar in a hole stop digging". He seems to have, more or less, as well as could be hoped, pulled it off which is why he is President. Frakt meant c"can't be defended" as in "indefensible as the word is used as a term of art in military strategy" as in "time for a strategic withdrawal" as in "Quote Roy Hattersley who never got to numbr 10 Downing street but sure knew what not to do when in holes". I read it can't be deferended" as "indefensible" (reading comprehension problem) as in "not arguably true" or "no one can honestly and in good concience claim it might reasonably be interepreted so that it is true". Let's ask the Google which sends us to Merriam and Webster
in·de·fen·si·ble adjective \-ˈfen(t)-sə-bəl\ : not able to be thought of as good or acceptable : not able to be kept safe from damage or harm Full Definition of INDEFENSIBLE 1 a : incapable of being maintained as right or valid : untenable b : incapable of being justified or excused : inexcusable 2 : incapable of being protected against physical attack
The question is whterh it can't honestly be defended (ef 1) or if attempting to defend it is bad rhetorical strategy because people won't be convinced. He meant the second and I read the first. His "impossible to defend" meant "indefensible in the militray sense" not "unarguably false". Twitter restricts the text to 140 characters and the context to what shows up clicking "view converstation" and searching terms beginning with @ and #. SEcond engagement. I debate with Brad about the meaning of "you" J. Bradford DeLong ‏@delong 30 Oct .@robertwaldmann then Obama should have said: “If U and Ur insurance company wish to keep your current plan, you can” shouldn’t he? @afrakt What do you mean by "U" White man ? I go to join my coparties. robertwaldmann ‏@robertwaldmann 30 Oct @delong @afrakt It depends on what the definition of "you" is. In general when we say a contract is allowed by law = "if both parties agree" Expand robertwaldmann ‏@robertwaldmann 30 Oct @afrakt @delong The statement "no one will take thy plan from thee" would be false. Now THIS is a tortured defence To go on with my "enhanced" tweeting techniques. Is it true that you can marry whichever adult you please in California ? No you can only marry people who are willing to say "I do" (plus neither can be married at the time). It goes without saying that a fixed term contract can't be unilateraly extended by one party against the will of the other. President Obama, will I be able to play the piano after the operation ?

The Zero Lower Bound and the great Max

The Protestant Ethic and the Crisis of Capitalism: An alternative title for "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" Don't you hate it when you have a title and no post to go with it ?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do your jobs CBS News staff

Dianne Barrette of Winter Haven Florida claims that instead of paying $54 a month for health insurance (no hospital coverage and a $ 50 deductible for office visits) she will have to pay $ 591 for ACA level health insurance. says that a single adult over 50 in Winter Haven which is in Polk County Florida can get Obamacare (catastrophic) for $235.08 a month (before subsidies and she sates an income which would make her eligible). I discovered this after the intense journalistic effort of googling Winter Haven Florida county and a few minutes at (no log in required to check prices). This seems to hav been too much work for Fox (no surprise) or CBS (the irony is killian me).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The West Is Red

Who said it ?  2013 edition
"that which the American people have been waiting for for the last 200 years, politicians listening to the people instead of the ruling class"

That would be far right tea-partier Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)
The mountain West is red.  Red Staters vs the capitalist class.

In the same post Dave Weigel quoted a Texas businessman in the 1930s

 “The capitalist system can be destroyed more effectively by having men of means defend it then by importing a million Reds from Moscow to attack it,”  

It is true that reds from Moscow Russia are not much of a threat to the capitalists system.  But red staters from places like Moscow Idaho practically destroyed it last week. 

And yes, of course I found the Republican against the ruling class contrarianism in Slate. What did you expect ?  The Daily Right To Worker ? 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Yglesias & K

I am going to put two comments on Matt Yglesias's blog here.  I am somewhat concerned.  My previous view on Yglesias is that I agree with him except on monetary policy (and the effect on asset price of Abe/Kuroda and of FOMC hints of possible tapering on asset prices partically convinces me that he was more nearly right about monetary policy than I thought).

Now he seems to have gone on a pessimist contrarian trip.  I note that I began reading him partly based on enthusiastic praise which compared him to a young Michael Kinsley.  I won't go there (yet) but you can guess my fear.

Post 1 "Obamacare sign ups way behind schedule" is a discussion of the results of the following solid quantitative empirical reporting " the Department of Health and Human Services was targeting 500,000 signups by the end of October which seems—shall we say—unlikely at this point."  Now I may be old fashioned but I expect a very definite and emphatic claim in the indicative in a title to be supported by evidence other than "seems".  Also note that not counting any activity, there have been 185,000 applications for Obamacare just in the states with state set up exchanges.  Also it's not Halloween yet.  

I don't think it is ideal to report a hunch as a fact.  

Earlier Yglesias reported on the continuing resolution/debt ceiiling increase bill without, you know, reading the damn bill. 

He asserts that the bill includes the following provision 

  • Income verification under the Affordable Care Act will be beefed up.
This is absolutely 100% false.  The new bill does describe income verification under the Affordable Care Act.  It says that to find out what that means -- read section 1411 of the Affordable Care act (AKA 42 U.S.C. 18081).  The bill could not assert that the law on verificiation is unchanged more be more firmly, spficically or undeniably.  The bill is at a more useful blog here.  It is exlained here at that blog.   I excerpt the relevant bits of the bill  and comment here.

The only changes relate to "certification" that the ACA is being faithfully executed, a Secretary's report on how it is being faithfully executed and an inspector generals report on how it was faithfullyexecuted.  All these provisions add nothing to Congress's oversight authority.  The majority of Issa's comittee could demand all that without any agreement form Democratic Senators or Obama.  

There is nothing there.

Now Yglesias does not consider the totally mythical beefing up of income verification to be a very bad thing except that  the precedent that the Democrats made a concession is very bad.  He falsely claims "And the reality will be that the strategy of sticking with the majority-of-the-majority principle until the eleventh hour and then passing bills with mostly Democratic votes is securing policy concessions from Democrats." 

The reality is and will be no such thing  But Yglesias correctly notes that the perception that Republicans secured a concession is bad for the country.  loppy boggers who claim that a non concession is a concession share the blame for that.  Harry Reid who inclued text which might appear to be a concession until you read it does not share the blame for that.

In politics perception is reality and journalists who don't bother to do their jobs vitiate the triumph of a Senator who worked himself to complete exhaustion and won.

Yglesias is very hard working.  The amount of effort he put into his blog is extreme.  The problem is the ratio of effort to topics he tries to cover.  Now bredth is part of his charm and part of what makes blogs interesting.  But today he went too far.  I have a rude guess as to what is going on.  I can't read his mind and inside baseball is dumb so here goes.  The word is that Yglesias and Klein are both interested in who is the number one alpha extremely young brilliant serious honest blogger.  I dismiss that on the grounds of who knows and who cares, except that it seems to me that Yglesias is trying to cointribute as much as the whole wonkblog team all by himself. 

He can't. He's not that smart.   The smartest person in the world isn't that smart.  But I repeat myself.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Ways to avoid US debt default.

Obiousely the main chance is that Beohner is bluffing and that he will bring a clean debt ceiling inrease bill to the floor of the House and it will pass mostly with the votes of Democrats.  He would then probably lose the gavel to some new Speaker which will make us cry thinking of Boehner.  The problem with hoping for this, other than hope not being a plan, is that Boehner won't cave till the last minute (he has made that clear) and may not correctly judge exactly when the last minute arrives.  I will assume that the Republicans won't just pass a clean debt limit increase -- that they will demand at least a fig leaf.

Now if it is something which amounts to nothing like the last time when it was that the Sente doesn't get paid till it passes a budget resolution, this might do the trick.  Obama might sign it.

I will assume that the rules are that Boehner muust have a case that Obama caved and Obama must have a case that he signed a clean debt limit increase.

If so, I think it would be a very bad idea to pass a clean continuing resolution.  This would make it very hard for any Republicans to vote for a clean debt limit increase and survive.  I think the third best hoe is bill which combines  continuing resolution, a debt limit increase an da fig leaf. Let's say the fig leaf is elimination of theACA tax on medical devices (no huge deal).

The Democrats in the Senate can declare victory -- the Senate buget resolution already calls for elimination of the divice tax.  Obama can say that he would have signed the bill if it consisted only of a continuing resolution (CR) and the tax repeal, since he doens't care all that much about the tax (and since he hasn't been as explicit about no bargaining on the continuing resolution).  Boehner will say that Obama signed an unclean debt limit after all so he won. No one will believe him, but the Republicans won't eel so disrespected that they have to inflict the gavel on someone else.

Maybe this is not acceptable to Obama (Kevin Drum thinks it isn't and shouldn't be) .  So I add the rule that the debt ceiling bill must be a stand alone clean debt ceiling bill with no other provisions at all.  Then the approach would be as follows.  The House passes a CR with a figleaf.  The House starts work on a clean debt limit increase.  The Senate passes the CR with a figleaf. It goes to Obama's deks and sits there -- he doens't have to sign or veto it immediately.  Boehner says they have to pass the debt limit incresae ot get Obama to sign the device tax repeal which is the best thing evarrr.  Obama refuses to say why he is still thinking about whether to veto and especially whether it has anything to do with the debt limit.
The debt limit passes the House.  Obama signs the CR with the dirty figleaf (and beleive me I have recently seen filthy fig leaves).  Then the Senate passes the clean debt limit increase and Obama as he promised signs a clean debt limit increase.

Maybe this is not acceptable tot he Republicans so let's go Rube Goldberg.  The figleaf is attached both the the CR and the debt limit increase.   The CR gets to Obma's desk first. When the debt limit increase get's to Obam's desk he notes that it just raises the debt limit and eliminates a tax which he eliminated the day before yesterday.  So one provision amounts to nothing at all an he consisders it a clean debt limit increase.

OK the device tax figleaf is unacceptble to someone with a veto.  New figleaf is a super committee.  The report of the committee can't be mended of filibustered.  This is what the Republicans got in 2011 in addition to legislated cuts and sequestration.  They declare complete victory and reporters manage not to laugh.  TheSenate passes and Obama signs the bill.  The super committee fails to issue a report (of course) and no harm is done.

OK maybe this outcome is not acceptable to Obama as the principal that caucuses get nothing nothing at all for threatening the full faith and credit of the US Treasury.  So the next day he gives a speach in which he notes that the report of teh committee can't be filibusterer or amended but it will be vetoed if it contains any provision he doesn't support on its own merits. Any provision at all. In particular if a dime is cut form Medicaid, Social Security or Medicare or if a dime is added to the taxes of any couple whcih makes under $250,000/yr or any individual who makes over $2000,000/yr he will veto the bill.  To the committee he says "my way or the highway.  And rather than waste your time why don't you take the highway and disolve.  Then I will be willing to negotiate just as if the whole sorry debt limit impasse never occurred.  I have nothing against super committees and I would even be willing to negotiate possibly setting up a new one untainted by debt limit extortion, but I will not compromise at all with a committee set up using debt limit extortion."

So the Republicans end up with exactly nothing.   Obama wins.  Boehner doesn't read this bog so he didn't see it coming.

Friday, October 04, 2013

There is no Hastert Rule

Dennis Hastert just said that there is not and never has been a Hastert rule.  He insists that he never had a rule that only bills supported by a majority of House Republicans would be brought to a vote.  Hastert is very hard on Boehner.  He also noted that he never brought a bill to the floor then had to withdraw it to prevent it from being voted down and that he never passed a continuing resolution, because he passed appropriation bills.

A rational Democrat who hoped to help the party would leave it at that.  If that's what you want, you are at the wrong blog. I assume almost no one reads this so I can look a gift horse in the mouth.  Hastert adds some Ballance here " “I didn’t have to deal with Barack Obama. I dealt with Bill Clinton, and he came to the table and negotiated.”  

He told a little anecdote

Clinton asked, “What can I do for you?” “A haircut across the board,” Hastert replied. “I would suggest a 1 percent cut.” Can’t take that, Clinton said, offering all the reasons why that wouldn’t work. “What do you suggest?” Hastert asked him. A quarter of 1 percent, Clinton replied. “We dickered back and forth and settled on .86 percent, not because it was a magic number,” said Hastert. “But the moral of the story is Clinton would come to the table. . I’m not going to go into the science of negotiating, but you can put one thing on the table and end up with something entirely different, but you’ve got to talk.”

He neglected to mention that Obama negotiated at length with Boehner in 2011 then Boehner suspended the discussion, because his caucus wouldn't support anything like the possible grand compromise under discussion. Nor does he mention that Boehner has promised not to negotiate privately with Obama.  Finally, he doesn't note that Reid negotiated with Boehner and they reached an agreement.  That agreement is the Senate continuing resolution on which Boehner won't allow a vote.  Democrats are refusing to offer further concessions after a deal was negotated and then the House Republicans decided to treat it as the Democrats opening offer.  I trust Reid on this, because the clean continuing resolution was proposed by Boehner to his conference and he argued for it at length.  Also it is the only explanation of why the Senate passed a sequestration level continuing resolution (that is they kept their word even though Boehner broke his).

So here is my updated modernized version of the story

Clinton asked, “What can I do for you?” “A haircut across the board,” Hastert replied. “I would suggest a 1 percent cut.” Can’t take that, Clinton said, offering all the reasons why that wouldn’t work. “What do you suggest?” Hastert asked him. A quarter of 1 percent, Clinton replied. “We dickered back and forth and settled on 1 percent.  Then I presented the agreement to my conference and they practically lynched me and passed a bill (with the votes of 2 Democrats) which cut spending across the board by 1% except for SCHIP which it cut by 100%.  Then I spent weeks saying that Clinton was totally unreasonable, wouldn't negotiate and demanded 100% of what he wanted, because he didn't agree to cut SCHIP by 50%

The claim that the Democrats won't negotiate is simply false. They negotiated, they basically caved, they made a deal and then then stuck with it.

I don't know much about the science of negotiation, but coming to the table with people whose promises are worthless is stupid.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Normalizing the Filibuster

Well it's happened.  The Senate Republican caucus has convinced journalists that filibusters are normal

In the New York times Jeremy W. Peters and Jonathan FBD Weisman write.

"All Mr. Reid needs are 51 Democrats to vote with him — not the usual 60-vote threshold required for most Senate business "

Evidently, filibusters are usual, part of normal order.  The strange fact that 51 senators count for more than 49 senatorls is not usual. It wasn't always this way.  I'm old enough to remember when filibusters were rare and the norm that Senators only filibustered bills related to  issues on which they cared passionately. The new normal is that anything but naming post offices requires 60 votes. 

The secret (aside from Jonathan FBD Weisman being hired by the New York Times) is that the House Republican Caucus is so extreme they make the Senate Republican caucus look like statesmen.

Also note that bloggers need to learn about civility from respectable journalists like Weisman.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cruz is Vain

Cruz is a selfish publicity hound.  Also water is wet.  Cruz's 21 hour speech wasn't a serious effort to obstruct, because it did not delay final passage of the bill.  Yes we have reached the point of distinguishing serious policy relevant obstruction and showboating pseudo obstruction.

 Meredith Shiner and Niels Lesniewski at Roll Call explain that Cruz proposed faster approval of the bill, because he cares more about ratings than legislature.

Though it is unclear whether leaders will accept Cruz’s offers, the fact that Cruz moved at all from his original position that the Senate should take up full debate time to Sunday could mark progress toward avoiding a shutdown. Many, including most Senate Republicans, view government shutdown as an unavoidable outcome unless the GOP cedes debate time. On Wednesday morning, Cruz offered to open debate on the House-approved continuing resolution by unanimous consent as long as the majority agreed to hold the vote to cut off debate on Friday, so more people might pay attention to it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I told You so.

I told you so (if and only if you are Mark Kleiman which I really hope you are because I would be honored if he read this blog).

The latest news on Taegan Goddard's Political Wire
via Doug Milhous

"A ...* academic paper digging into presidential betting in the final 
weeks of the 2012 election finds that a single trader lost between $4 million and $7 million placing a flurry of Intrade bets on Mitt Romney -- perhaps to make the Republican nominee's chance of victory appear brighter," the Wall Street Journal reports. 

"The anonymous trader placed 1.2 million pro-Romney contracts, some of which were actually in the form of bets against a Barack Obama victory. The most plausible reason for the betting, the authors conclude, is that 'this trader could have been attempting to manipulate beliefs about the odds of victory in an attempt to boost fundraising, campaign morale, and turnout.'"
aha just as I suspected.  

Mark Kleiman asked "Wha' Happened"

and I commented 

  1. Robert Waldmann says:
    putting my tinfoil hat on, I have an Intrade odds guess. way back when the Intrade Obama odds were 60% the implied probability of an Obama victory was significantly higher at Betfair and Ladbrooks. There was an arbitrage opportunity (says Richard Thaler who should know). I had a guess that someone was manipulating the Intrade odds. It wouldn’t take much money (and the expected cost of manipulating odds is second order ). Intrade gets much more attention than other markets. All operatives agree that polls which would be good for a candidate if true helps** the candidate. Why wouldn’t some of Romney’s super rich maxed out supporters bet on Romney at Intrade (but not on sites which aren’t reported all over) ?
    The spike might be some market manipulator giving up.
    Paranoid ? Sure. But just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean that some market manipulator has decided to cut his losses.

* mandatory "fair" use ellipses.

**I tries to conjugate and not add incorrect s's, but sometimes I just can't helps myself.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

gadgets Yglesias and Baker

Matt Yglesias says the median household is probably richer than the median household in 1989.  Oh that we have come to this.  Take the mike Matt

 Despite rising health care and education prices, we don't have fewer people going to college or seeing the doctor and we do have bigger houses, more and better cars, better food, and much better gadgets and entertainment.

Your case is very strong. The point is that neither the BLS nor the Bureau of the Census consider the increase in living standards due to new cool gadgets at all.  See DeLong on Baker arguing this is no big deal for the median consumer

When a new good is introduced, it is as if the price declines from infinity (you just can't buy it because it doesn't exist is just the same as you can buy it for infinity dollars because it doesn't exist). But the price indices assume that the introduction of a brand new good makes no difference.  Effectively they assume that there is an old good which is a perfect substitute for the new good so people are indifferent between buying the old good or the new good for it's new price.

Now it is possible to semi deal with this bias.  The price of really fundamentally new goods which have just been introduced is so high that very few people buy them (what milage does your Tesla Roadster get ?) .  Yes some people are better off, but they are few and very rich and who cares. Then the price declines rapidly.  However, the weird new rarely bought goods are not included in the baskets used to construct the indices.  This means that by waiting until the super cool but super expensive phase is over, the BLS and the Census accept a bias.  The new good has caused a non negligible change in living standards before the BLS notices it.

Baker shot himself in the foot.  He considered the case of cell phones (I'm as old as Baker and remember when they were silly status symbols for rich conspicuous consumers -- I even remember the fake cell phones with nothing inside bought by the pathetic wannabe rich as conspicuous fake consumption).

"I once debated an economist... asked him how much this oversight led to an overstatement in the cost of living for the half of the population that still didn't own a cell phone.... [R]emembering economic theory, he gave the correct answer "zero.""

Ah but is that exactly half ? If 51% don't own a cell phone *and* cell phone ownership is perfectly perfectly correlated with income, then the oversight had zero  effect on the cost of living for median income consumers (and therefore on median real income).  if 49% don't own a cell phone, then the oversight must cause an underestimate of median real income.  Since no correlation is perfect, Baker's argument that the oversight has no effect on estimates of median real income is undoubtably incorrect.

Now cell phone ownership has changed.  There are many 3rd world people who own cell phones who don't have electric current (so there are cell phone charging stations).  Figuring out a way to, say, bank with a cell phone is figuring out a way to extend services to the poor There are many people excluded from what we consider the modern economy who have cell phones.  The price of cell phones is relevant to world median income not just US median income. Baker chose a very poor example.

Wiki as lightening.

The Wikipedia sure is fast as it's name implies.  I was surprised to find this article on the front page of "U.S. narrowly escaped nuclear blast in 1961 H-bomb accident, document says"

I thought that was a well known fact.  In particular, I thought it was well know that the blast was prevented by one safety switch which didn't flip to active as five others did.  My impression is that Flora Lewis (long time NYTimes columnist) wrote a book basically about European reactions to the incident.

To find proof that this was well known, I went to the relevant wiki.  Indeed, the wiki reported that it is agreed that the blast was very narrowly averted (it reported that 3 of 4 arming mechanisms activated not 5 of 6 as I had believed since around 1982)

 it was found that both bombs were fully functional and that the pilot's safe/arm switch was indeed all that prevented detonation.[9][10]
OK so what is this footnote 10
  1. Jump up to:a b Pilkington, Ed (20 September 2013). "US nearly detonated atomic bomb over North Carolina – secret document"The Guardian. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
Jesus H-bomb Christ.  it is 21 September 2013 and the wiki has been updated to include a reference to an article published on 20 September 2013.   Also consulting the Wikipedia is a good way to find out what is generally agreed (and a bunch of claims flagged as contested) but it is a terrible way to find out how long things have been generally believed.

Update: I am totally wrong.  To find out how long things have generally believed you just have to click on [view history]. See below as Michael Froomkin explains to me how it is done.

This is very interesting as you can get the same news from the September 21 2013 front page of with content provided by the Associated Press or with from the August 29 2013 wiki edited by ohconfucius.  

The web surpasses the MSM more than you imagine possible even taking into consideration the fact that the web surpasses the MSM more thn you imagine possible.
end update

This also reminds me of the liberalbubble.  There are a bunch of claims that many liberals consider to be solidly demonstrated and well known, but which are not considered to be known facts by, say the AP or The Washington Post.  This is vaguely similar to the bunch of claims that conservatives consider well known which are not accepted as facts by the MSM (convincing conservatives that the MSM has a liberal bias).

In fact the claim was not generally agreed to be true and was contested.  It was made by Daniel Ellsberg  but contested by the Defence Department.

I have a very strong impression that there is a difference between the conservabubble and the liberalbubble: the claims that liberals and only liberals think we know tend to be true.  The emergence from the bubble is, in this case, the MSM saying we were right all along.  The emergence of beliefs from the conservabubble includes the MSM involuntarily laughing at a conservative for saying something absurd (or more often a liberal blogger discovering and reporting the latest amazing conservafantasy).

The Wikipedia is wiki.  Reality has a clear liberal bias. 2+2=4.

update: pulled back from comments. Michael Froomking explains to me how it is done.  Bottom line is that by August 29 2013 the Wikipedia had the shocking claim and it was supported by a link to an official document dated 1961.  I will try to find how long ago the Wikipedia first reported today's front page news.

hmm OK there with documentation on Valentines day 2013 (footnote 9 with the proof was footnote 8 back then) it is in full
OOAMA Airmunitions Letter. No. 136.11 56G, HQ. April 18, 1961.

It was footnote 6 on 14 March 2012

OK on  29/7/10 the Wikipedia reported the issue as he said they said Ellsberg v the DOD with no link to the document proving Ellsberg was right on

on 4/12/2011 the Wikipedia still didn't have the goods.
same on 2/11/11
getting there 1/24/2012
"Later, however, it was found that both bombs were fully functional. Of the Air Force statement that a) there were two bombs, b) they were unarmed, c) they were both recovered, and d) there was no danger: only the part about being two bombs was true."

OK footnote 6 there 2/23/2012

It appeared in the Wikipedia February 8 2012
It's not here at 1:37
It was added by keep19 at 1:55 February 8 2012 
(and on September 20th 2013 the Guardian caught up with the wikipedia).

The guardian may have new information related to the 3 of 4 (or 5 of 6) switches, but there was published proof that the DOD was lying when it denied Ellsberg's claims cited by keep19 on the Wikipedia  1:55 2/8/12 and ingored by the MSM until yesterday.

I pull Michael Froomkin schooling me back from comments.

Anonymous Michael Froomkin said...
But if you want last week's conventional wisdom, go to last week's version, which is always available. So wikipedia might be a good way to demonstrate (in the sense of sufficient but not necessary) when something is generally believed, it just requires you to roll back versions until the fact appears....
8:39 PM

Blogger Robert said...
You are a major webonaut so You can just go to last week's version. I don't know how to.

You are telling me that I can find last week's Wiki somehow to check if footnote 10 was just adding further confirmation (the claim is supported by notes 9 and 10 and 9 is a 1961 document -- I *guess* the one which was just declassified, but maybe the old wiki had footnote 9 so the alleged news isn't news.

How ?
9:11 PM

Blogger Robert said...
Hmmm let's see. How about I click the "view history" buton 'cause history tends to be about the past.

Wow lot's of links to click. Many of them about edits on 20 September and 21 September 2013. Let's go back to the wiki as edited by Ohconfucious on August 29 2013. Omigod footnote 9 is there.

I stand corrected. The Wikipedia is a good way to find out what is agreed (and contested claims) *and* when the agreement occured (and contested claims were made).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Comment on a Cowan excerpt

Kevin Drum quotes Tyler Cowan and I wrote a huge comment (without clicking the link) just about the quoted passage.

"Tyler Cowen posits today that on economic issues, the right wing was both more dynamic and more correct than the left during the 70s and 80s, with "peak right" coming in 1989. After that, the left became more dynamic and more interesting. Obviously this is an arguable hypothesis, but let's put it aside for a moment to consider this:
The relative rise of the Left peaks in 2009, with the passage of Obamacare and the stimulus. From that point on, the left wing, for better or worse, is a fundamentally conservative force in the intellectual arena. It becomes reactive and loses some of its previous creativity.
Over those years, right wing thought, on the whole, became worse and more predictable and also less interesting. But excess predictability now has infected the left wing also. Attacking stupid ideas put forward by Republicans, whether or not you think that is desirable or necessary, has become their lazy man’s way forward and it is sapping their faculties."

I'm pretty sure I shouldn't comment on this one. I will mention in passing that I think Cowan is totally 10% completely wrong that right wing economists in the 70s and 80s were more more correct than the left. They were certainly more dynamic. I. will. not. go. there then.

But about now, I don't really have a clue who Cowan is talking about (always click the link --Kevin Drum). Basically, I don't know if he is talking about academic research or public intellectuals. Well to be honest, I am fairly confident he is talking about Krugman. In any case it's what Krugman wrote about Krugman.

I should click the link, but I will consider both possibilities.

1. Academic economists: Here there is great ferment. There are two fields which aren't going much of anywhere (macroeconomics and theory) [on both points those are my views but I am paraphrasing Andrei Shleifer].

There is a huge amount of new interesting work on applied microeconometrics -- oh hell analyzing experiments and natural experiments. The most energetic participants in this effort are leftists. There is little sitting on laurels in ivy covered halls.

In contrast, as far as I know, academic macroeconomics hasn't changed that much. The colossal failure of standard models (which are New Keynesian not the models developed by conservatives in the 80s) has had a small effect on the literature (as far as know and as I don't click the links you may suspect I don't keep up). The idea that it is best to assume that bubbles can't happen remains dominant. I stress that this is assumed in almost all New Keynesian models. Something like,say, a housing bubble or a dot com bubble is barely allowed in academic macro modelling (AFAIK).

Despair is much more common than complacency. 

2. Public intellectuals and activists and such are very far from complacent. I can think of only one place I read something vaguely arguably along the lines of "our work is mostly done". It was here.

In general there is vigorous discussion of what is to be done competing with the repeated discussion that none of it can be done while the Republicans have the house, enough senators to filibuster and insanity.

A new very active topic on which economic research informs the policy  debate is early childhood education (DeBlasio's big issue and also one stressed by Obama).  Here public intellectuals and even policy makers seem to have been influenced by academic research -- by J Heckman at the U Chicago economics department.  The evidence is very solid.  The obvioius application is a pipe dream. The fact that the Chicago economics department is providing strong evidence in favor of a policy proposal which is so ultraleft that it is off the agenda gives us a hint as to the vitality of left and right policy analysis.

Another is lead about which I learned all I know here.  This is an incredibly important topic and there has been a dramtic advance in knowledge.  More generally, over at there is a lot of vigorous exploration of possible improvements on the lock em up strategy.  I don't see complacency.  Since the USA has the highest incarceration rate in the world and recently had the highest in our recorded history, it doesn't seem that lefist small c conservatism is much of a menace.

There is active research on the effect of immigration and possible effects of immigration reform.  Here there is a policy relevant debate in which most academics, most of the public and most policy makers agree on what should be done.  And it won't happen.

Also global warming.

Oh and deep poverty and re-reforming reformed welfare (again I learned about the issue here).

I see no complacency, no lack of new ideas or unanswered questions.  

The reason so many left of center commentators spend so much time arguing against stupid ideas is that a majority of Representatives believe stupid ideas and are willing to endanger the full faith and credit of the USA to advance them.

I will end (hey don't chear) with 4 questions.

What would Cowan write if you couldn't think of any recent useful contribution to any discussion make by a conservative or libertarian ? Would he write about how it wasn't always that way and probably won't be that way in the future? Is that what he just wrote ?  Why else would he write what he just wrote ?

Monday, September 16, 2013

11 dimensional Teresa

11 dimensional Teresa

"More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones"

 - St Teresa of Avila 

"It’s absolutely one of the possible outcomes of a debt limit negotiation, and likely given the President’s proclivity for delaying sections of this law. Whether it’s a mandate delay, or delaying the law entirely, it depends on a great deal of other factors."

- GOP aid e-mailing to Greg Sargent

Hmm the original 11 dimensional chess fantasy was that Obama had scared the health Insurance lobby (AHIP) into supporting health care reform so long as there is a mandate by arguing that a mandate was not needed.  Obviously that was 1 dimensional pandering as no one is going to get elected President by proposing a mandate.

But Republicans evidently enjoyed AHIP publicly opposing them so much that they want to experience it all over again starting now (and yearly as once they get one delay they will demand a years delay each year).  

The mandate is needed to prevent free riders from bankrupting health insurance companies.  It is very unpopular.  The argument that a year's delay of the individual mandate is like a year's delay of the employer mandate will be very appealing.  

I think an argument to AHIP that they will get a mandate only if they get a Democratic majority in the House would go very nicely with an argument to the not currently medicaid eligible poor that they will get medicaid only if they get Democratic majorities in state legislatures.

My daily comment on Ed Kilgore

Today Kilgore is optimistic that Obamacare derangement syndrome with be very costly for Conservatives.  I agree almost 100% but I think it is past time for him to realize just how long ordinary people can remain uninformed

My comment

This is an excellent post. I'm pretty sure that most Republicans in Congress understand the issue and that this is why they are so desperate to stop Obamacare before it is implemented and becomes popular. 

You only briefly (with one word "Many") consider what I think is the key open question.
Many of them will soon realize they are now eligible for Medicaid, or that they would have been eligible if Republican .
seniors eligible for Medicare who have been misinformed about ACA’s impact on their own benefits. When they realize that’s not true,

But will they "realize" it ?  The "Many" implies that many people denied Medicaid by insane Republicans won't realize what happened.  Many people with income less than four thirds of the poverty line don't know about the Medicaid expansion.  Many in states which opt out won't learn about it for years (or maybe ever).  

You don't even include a "Many" when discussing Medicaid recipients.  I am sure that many will believe that theif own benefits have been cut by Obamacare.  In some poll (no link) about 30% of US adults said that George Bush Jr had increased their taxes.  People can believe the strangest things about what has happened to their personal bank account (underpants gnomes have hacked mine which is why they are still in business).

I'm confident that, in the end, Obamacare will be popular.  But I fear that won't happen by Tuesday November 4th 2014.  I also fear that when it is popular Tea partiers will be carrying "keep your government hands of my state-exchange care" signs.

Conservatism survive because conservatives are reality resistant.  Ignorance is strength.

ps Dan if you pick this one up, I will post an even more pointless comment on Kilgore tomorrow.