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
Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue (Creative Commons BY)
By Georg Wenzelburger, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Cross-post from LSE, Originally Published February 12, 2014
The argument that cutting social spending is an essential part of necessary fiscal adjustments is pervasive. That slashing welfare does not harm economic growth while tax hikes do is treated as received wisdom by many academics and policymakers. Georg Wenzelburger deconstructs the argument in favour of welfare cuts, writing that we need a much more nuanced understanding of the underlying mechanisms which distinguish successful from unsuccessful adjustments.
“Any fiscal adjustment hoping to be successful cannot avoid dealing with cuts in the welfare state and in government wages and employment”. This statement by economists Alberto Alesina and Roberto Perotti (see p.227 here) is just one example of the advice commonly given to policy-makers that budget consolidations are only successful (i.e. lead to economic growth) if welfare benefits are slashed. Continue reading
By Anthony Bertelli (@tonybertelli), University of Southern California and Peter John (@peterjohn10), University College London
Issue 34.1 of the Journal of Public Policy goes to print this coming April. But, given that all the articles published in this issue are already available online via FirstView, we thought it wise to share our letter from the editors here with you in advance of the printed issue.
With a host of interesting articles, this issue welcomes a large new group of exceptional scholars to our editorial board. We are delighted to be able to draw on their wealth of experience in public policy processes, policy analysis, bureaucratic politics and public management, American and comparative political institutions, political economy, democratic theory, regulation, taxation, governance, social networks and research methods, as well as substantive domains such as education, social welfare, urban, and health policy. The new board members are as follows: Continue reading
By Haram Lee, University of Southern California
Image Credit: Wikipedia
In Britain, quangos (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations) have been an integral part of the British government. The history of these special-purpose agencies working at an arm’s length distance from the ministers goes as far as the 17th century. Before the current Coalition Government came into power, Britain was in a state of ‘quango explosion’, as the previous Conservative governments (1979-1997) and especially the Labour governments (1997-2010) were keen on delegating specific policy authorities and tasks to the quangos.
Before the Public Bodies Reform, it could be argued that there were over 800 quangos in government, using a broader definition of what quangos are. These quangos are ubiquitous in all areas of public policy, to name a few, the Defence Nuclear Safety Committee in defence, the BritishMuseum in culture, and the Medical Education England in health. Continue reading
By Martin Livermore (@scialliance), The Scientific Alliance
Photo credit: Wally Santana/AP
Typhoon Haiyan has been a personal tragedy for many Filipinos. The pictures of destruction, the heartrending stories of loss and the inability to get aid delivered quickly because of damage to infrastructure highlighted once again the terrible forces that Nature can unleash. This coincided with the latest round of climate change negotiations in Warsaw, at which the head of the Philippines delegation made an impassioned and tearful plea for mitigation action to reduce the chance of future catastrophes. While it may seem uncaring to criticise someone in his position, he was wrong.
The first reason he was wrong is that there is nothing in the record to suggest that tropical storms are getting either more frequent (a claim which used to be made but which has now been quietly dropped) or more intense (the current focus of attention). Continue reading
By Giacomo Benedetto (@ggbenedetto), University of London
Resort to reversion points is what happens in politics and policy where a failure to reach a decision has a consequence other than continuing the status quo. If there is no agreement and a reversion point takes effect, the political actor that can influence the reversion point has significant power. In determining what happens if there is no agreement, that actor has a strong negotiating hand before any failure in agreement happens. One of the most common examples of where reversion points take effect is in the politics of budgets, which require annual approval or re-approval. They could also apply to other areas of policy and could provide useful focus in policy analysis. Continue reading
By Peter John (@peterjohn10), University College London
In the UK, we are at the start of the university term, and the new cohort of students has just arrived. Last week was their induction; this week the students receive their first lectures. I am teaching an introduction to public policy course for our master’s students, a module called Theories and Actors in the Policy Process, this year along with my colleague, Albert Weale. We introduce the main theories and approaches in public policy and illustrate them with cases and examples. I imagine it is not that different to many other courses across the world. It is important to get this course right, partly for pedagogic reasons in that it is a gateway to other courses we offer, and also because many of our students have backgrounds other than public policy, even if they did politics as their first degree. Also, many did arts or science subjects beforehand, and of course some have spent time out of university in the outside work of actual policy-making. Continue reading