How Presidential Appointees (or Lack Thereof) Matter

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Source: americanprogress.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By William Resh (@billresh), University of Southern California

As Gary Hollibaugh, Jr. and colleagues plainly stated on the LSE blog, “Presidential appointees matter.” Of course, this is of little question when these positions are filled. Incompetent appointees cause deleterious consequences for both citizens and presidents. But, what about those positions reserved for Senate-confirmed presidential appointees (PAS) that remain empty?

A report last year by Pro Publica grouses that the Obama administration has been subject to more vacancies than previous administrations—in both independent and executive branch agencies (see Figure 1). Yet, occupancy is often legislatively required in independent commissions and agencies before agency action can be triggered. Therefore, outcomes (or a lack thereof) are easier to identify during periods of vacancy in those positions (at least anecdotally), whereas the effects vacancies have on agency performance in executive branch agencies generally may be less evident. The substantive importance of filling these positions in executive branch agencies is not empirically established. In terms of functional performance, “the evidence linking appointee continuity and agency performance remains largely anecdotal” (Dull & Roberts 2009, 445).

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Do the Poor Benefit From More Generous Medicaid Physician Payments?

By Alice Chen, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

There is a growing concern that too few physicians are willing to accept Medicaid patients. One way to encourage Medicaid supply is to pay doctors more for performing Medicaid-covered procedures. However, we lack a holistic understanding of how changes to Medicaid payments affect access to care among the broader population.

Understanding how Medicaid policies affect the breadth of physician behavior, and not just the Medicaid market, is particularly important, because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will change the entire distribution of insurance enrollments. In addition to 11 million new Medicaid enrollees, 24 million people will enroll in private health insurance exchanges, and 30 million people will remain uninsured (Congressional Budget Office 2012).  If physicians are unwilling to treat patients with a particular type of insurance, then obtaining coverage may not improve access to care. This concern has already manifested itself among Medicaid patients. As illustrated in Figure 1 below, the percentage of practices offering any care to Medicaid patients has fallen from 87% in 1996 to 81% in 2008.  Continue reading

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The EU‘s Foreign Policy: What Kind of Power and Diplomatic Action?

Book Review By Eleni Xiarchogiannopoulou, Institute for European Studies

The global role of the EU in the post-Lisbon Treaty era and in a multi-polar world has been the focus of numerous academic and policymaking debates. This is exactly the topic of the timely volume The EU‘s Foreign Policy: What Kind of Power and Diplomatic Action? The themes of power and coherence are central to the volume chapters. In terms of coherence, the emphasis is placed on the horizontal and internal levels. Horizontal coherence refers to the absence of contradictions and presence of positive synergies between the policy objectives of different EU policy areas, as well as the compatibility of the supranational and intergovernmental decision-making and implementation processes. Internal coherence refers to the presence or absence of positive synergies between the policy instruments/initiatives used in the same policy area as well as the presence of an integrated bureaucratic and decision-making system in a given policy area. Continue reading

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Amid the Noise About the ACA, Public Options Are Breaking Silos

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Source: bedsider.org

By Howard Kahn (@LACareHealth), L.A. Care Health Plan

Six months ago, open enrollment began under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplaces. It is arguably the single biggest moment in U.S. health policy since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

Has it been perfect? No, of course not, and even the President admitted to early missteps in implementation. As expected with any new program, particularly one as sweeping as the ACA, there were and will be challenges. What is more important is that a majority of the early issues were successfully overcome, and more than 7.5 million Americans have obtained health insurance through the ACA. Americans can now obtain affordable coverage with guaranteed issuance and are no longer job-locked or cast to the winds of the individual market to buy health coverage. Continue reading

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The Changing Ideology of the American Voter

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Source: imgarcade.com

By Josh Zingher, Binghamton University

Cross-post from The Quantitative Peace and LSE
Originally Published March 27, 2014

Demographic changes mean that traditional Republican constituencies are shrinking as the Democrats grow. 

It is difficult to discuss electoral politics in the United States without talking in terms of social groups. Journalistic accounts of party competition often stress the important role that specific constituencies play (such as the “evangelical” or “Latino” vote) in determining the outcome of presidential elections. A great deal of political science research has shown that these social cleavages structure party competition. However, the political importance of these social cleavages can change, which can lead to a reshuffling of the social bases of the party coalitions. In addition, demographic changes have the potential to dramatically reshape the political landscape, as new groups enter the electorate and the ratio of existing groups changes. I am interested in how changes in the cleavage structure and in the ratio of groups work in conjunction to transform electoral coalitions. In new research, I investigated two related questions: what group memberships influence individual level voting behavior and how has the number of votes each political relevant group contributes to the party coalitions changed over time?

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JPP Issue 34.2: Letter from the Editors

By Anthony Bertelli (@tonybertelli), University of Southern California and Peter John (@peterjohn10), University College London

We are now about halfway through our five-year term of office as editors of JPP. It is good moment to reflect on our achievements so far and to consider what is to come next. We hope you think it is fair to say that we have firmly put our stamp on the journal, not least by its new, striking design and changes to its editorial style. The journal has expanded, too. Though we still publish three issues per year, we have increased the number of articles in each issue to between six and eight. There is more throughput overall, which reflects the greater number of submissions, particularly from younger scholars. Further, we are able to quickly disseminate author manuscripts online well before print production using FirstView. We are quite pleased about the high quality of the papers we are getting and seeing them improve during the editorial process until they are released to our readers.

We trust scholars in the public policy community now know more about who we are and the nature of the journal and can observe our presence at conferences and other academic gatherings. We also use Twitter and have a blog to augment our digital presence and real-time engagement with our readers and experts in the field regarding current issues of JPP, policy topic matter in academia and current events relevant to public policy. We are now defining our strategic plan so that the next steps we take will support our success in future years. A strong part of this involves drawing upon the members of our expanded editorial board, who have a great deal of expertise from which we have regularly drawn to guide our work. Continue reading

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Ties That Count: Explaining Interest Group Access to Policymakers

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By Jan Beyers (@JanBeyers2), University of Antwerp & Caelesta Braun, Vu University Amsterdam

*The authors received the BVPA Publication Award for their article in 2014.

Why coalition positions matter for access to policymakers

Getting a foot in the government’s door is one of the core challenges for interest groups to successfully influence public policy. While outside lobbying and media strategies are certainly important, direct access to policymakers seems to count most in the exercise of influence. The access interest groups enjoy is often conceptualized as a mutually beneficial exchange between public officials and interest groups in which the transmission of policy relevant information has a central place. Interest groups exchange technical expertise and political information about their constituencies’ support in return for access to the policy process, be it control over policy outcomes or the ability to monitor information on the policy process. Policy officials are open to the information interest groups supply, because they face limited capabilities in terms of time, resources and agenda space. Yet, because of their limited capabilities and the transaction costs associated with interactions with interest groups, policymakers cannot exchange resources with every individual interest group. A large number of interest groups will rarely, if ever, gain direct access to policymakers. This creates a strong incentive for interest groups to strategize their attempts to access policymakers as efficiently and effectively as possible. More to the point, when transaction costs are high, joining forces and collectively aiming to impact policy may have strong added value. It is, indeed, well-established in the literature that forging coalitions is fundamentally geared to achieve lobby success. In the end, joining forces should yield substantial benefits compared to individual lobbying, including most notably gaining direct access to policymakers and the realizing favorable policy outcomes. Continue reading

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With Nearly 1 Million Unemployed Youths in the UK, New Policy Proposals Aimed at Tackling the Issue Are Necessary

what next

Source: Scriptonite Daily

By Nye Cominetti, Socio-Economic Centre

Cross-post from LSE, Originally Published March 12, 2014

The government’s policies aimed at tackling youth unemployment in the UK have so far been disappointing: wage incentive payments have had little impact, and there has been less uptake of the government’s apprenticeship scheme than targeted. Thankfully, Nick Clegg has recently come out with new proposals that will contribute to tackling some of the structural issues behind stubbornly high youth unemployment. But, bolder action could be taken, and it is a problem worth spending money on, writes Nye Cominetti.

Tackling the UK’s youth unemployment crisis is one of the most pressing issues facing the coalition government. Given their first response had little impact, it’s worth considering whether the latest announcements will fare any better.

With youth unemployment at over a million in April 2012, ‘The Youth Contract’ was the centre-piece of the government’s response. This included wage subsidies for employers taking on young people, as well as increased funding for apprenticeships, work experience placements and internships. Collectively, the schemes included under The Youth Contract banner were worth £1 billion over three years. Continue reading

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Designing Social Policy with the Ballot

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By Craig Burnett, University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Direct democracy offers voters a unique opportunity to effect policy change. Through initiatives, citizens are able to modify their state’s statutes and constitution without relying on — or, in some cases, without interference from — a legislative body. For referendums, voters have the chance to weigh in on policies that the legislature has proposed; sometimes the law requires voter consent while, at other times, the legislature voluntarily seeks voters’ approval.

As is the case with all democratic institutions, direct democracy is imperfect. Ballot measures are typically low-information events, which raises important questions about the viability of the institution itself. There are, of course, exceptions to this portrayal. California’s Proposition 8, for example, saw over $83 million spent by proponents and opponents — a number that approached eight times the average spending in a U.S. Senate contest. In European states, the infrequent use of referendums to decide constitutional matters (e.g., the United Kingdom’s alternative vote referendum of 2011) can elevate a ballot measure’s status in political discourse. Continue reading

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Health Care Reform: A Bipartisan Issue

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Image Credit: Walt Handelsman

By Rebecca Pizzitola, University of Southern California

In the United States, we’ve been talking a lot about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare”. We have heard President Obama and health policy experts claim that it will be a safety net not only for the poor but also for the middle class by expanding coverage to those who have previously been unable to get health insurance for a variety of reasons. Some did not qualify for coverage through their employers and found the individual insurance market too costly without their employer subsidizing the premium and too confusing to understand without assistance. Others may have been unable to afford coverage from any source because they were low income but were earning just above the income limits for public options like Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). For example, before the ACA, a low income male would only qualify for Medicaid if 1) he had income under a specific level and 2) he met a “categorical” requirement, such as having children or being elderly or disabled. Continue reading

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