This AI Boom Will Also Bust

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Imagine an innovation in pipes. If this innovation were general, something that made all kinds of pipes cheaper to build and maintain, the total benefits could be large, perhaps even comparable to the total amount we spend on pipes today. (Or even much larger.) And if most of the value of pipe use were in many small uses, then that is where most of these economic gains would be found.

In contrast, consider an innovation that only improved the very largest pipes. This innovation might, for example, cost a lot to use per meter of pipe, and so only make sense for the largest pipes. Such an innovation might make for very dramatic demonstrations, with huge vivid pipes, and so get media coverage. But the total economic gains here will probably be smaller; as most of pipe value is found in small pipes, gains to the few biggest pipes can only do so much.

Now consider my most viral tweet so far:

This got almost universal agreement from those who see such issues play out behind the scenes. And by analogy with the pipe innovation case, this fact tells us something about the potential near-term economic impact of recent innovations in Machine Learning. Let me explain.

Most firms have piles of data they aren’t doing much with, and far more data that they could collect at a modest cost. Sometimes they use some of this data to predict a few things of interest. Sometimes this creates substantial business value. Most of this value is achieved, as usual, in the simplest applications, where simple prediction methods are applied to simple small datasets. And the total value achieved is only a small fraction of the world economy, at least as measured by income received by workers and firms who specialize in predicting from data.

Many obstacles limit such applications. For example, the value of better predictions for related decisions may be low, data may be in a form poorly suited to informing predictions, making good use of predictions might require larger reorganizations, and organizations that hold parts of the data may not want to lose control of that data. Available personnel may lack sufficient skills to apply the most effective approaches for data cleaning, merging, analysis, and application.

No doubt many errors are made in choices of when to analyze what data how much and by whom. Sometimes they will do too much prediction, and sometimes too little. When tech changes, orgs will sometimes wait too long to try new tech, and sometimes will not wait long enough for tech to mature. But in ordinary times, when the relevant technologies improve at steady known rates, we have no strong reason to expect these choices to be greatly wrong on average.

In the last few years, new “deep machine learning” prediction methods are “hot.” In some widely publicized demonstrations, they seem to allow substantially more accurate predictions from data. Since they shine more when data is plentiful, and they need more skilled personnel, these methods are most promising for the largest prediction problems. Because of this new fashion, at many firms those who don’t understand these issues well are pushing subordinates to seek local applications of these new methods. Those subordinates comply, at least in appearance, in part to help they and their organization appear more skilled.

One result of this new fashion is that a few big new applications are being explored, in places with enough data and potential prediction value to make them decent candidates. But another result is the one described in my tweet above: fashion-induced overuse of more expensive new methods on smaller problems to which they are poorly matched. We should expect this second result to produce a net loss on average. The size of this loss could be enough to outweigh all the gains from the few big new applications; after all, most value is usually achieved in many small problems.

But I don’t want to draw a conclusion here about the net gain or loss. I instead want to consider the potential for this new prediction tech to have an overwhelming impact on the world economy. Some see this new fashion as just first swell of a tsunami that will soon swallow the world. For example, in 2013 Frey and Osborne famously estimated:

About 47 percent of total US employment is at risk .. to computerisation .. perhaps over the next decade or two.

If new prediction techs induced a change that big, they would be creating a value that is a substantial fraction of the world economy, and so consume a similar fraction of world income. If so, the prediction industry would in a short time become vastly larger than it is today. If today’s fashion were the start of that vast growth, we should not only see an increase in prediction activity, we should also see an awe-inspiring rate of success within that activity. The application of these new methods should be enabling huge new revenue streams, across a very wide range of possible application areas.

But I instead hear that within the areas where most prediction value lies, most attempts to apply this new tech actually produce less net value than would be achieved with old tech. I hear that prediction analysis tech is usually not the most important part the process, and that recently obsession with showing proficiency in this new analysis tech has led to neglect of the more important and basic issues of thinking carefully about what you might want to predict with what data, and then carefully cleaning and merging your data into a more useful form.

Yes, there must be exceptions, and some of those may be big. So a few big applications may enable big value. And self-driving cars seem a plausible candidate, a case where prediction is ready to give large value, high enough to justify using the most advanced prediction tech, and where lots of the right sort of data is available. But even if self-driving vehicles displace most drivers within a few decades, that rate of job automation wouldn’t be out of the range of our historical record of job automation. So it wouldn’t show that “this time is different.” To be clearly out of that range, we’d need another ten jobs that big also displaced in the same period. And even that isn’t enough to automate half of all jobs in two decades.

The bottom line here is that while some see this new prediction tech as like a new pipe tech that could improve all pipes, no matter their size, it is actually more like a tech only useful on very large pipes. Just as it would be a waste to force a pipe tech only useful for big pipes onto all pipes, it can be a waste to push advanced prediction tech onto typical prediction tasks. And the fact that this new tech is mainly only useful on rare big problems suggests that its total impact will be limited. It just isn’t the sort of thing that can remake the world economy in two decades. To the extend that the current boom is based on such grand homes, this boom must soon bust.

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ProbablyWrong
6 hours ago
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My job. Every day. When I ask IT for better data scrubbing so I can run ordinary regressions, and they send me a clueless PhD fresh from the turnip truck wielding fancy algorithms and not a lick of common sense.
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Innumeracy drives me nuts

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One thing that frustrates me is that I have to go through life listening to tiresome arguments from the 99.9% of people who are innumerate.  Here are a few recent examples:

1.  “The polls were wrong about the election.”  That’s true of some of the state polls, but the national polls were roughly correct.  They predicted that Hillary would gain about 4.5 million more votes than Trump.  We still don’t know where it will end up (her margin widens daily), but it looks like she’ll end up nearly 3 million ahead.  If you had told most pundits that Hillary would have won 3 million more votes than Trump, most would have assumed that she would win the election.  The mistake was not so much the polls, but rather the assumption that a comfortable margin in the popular vote would be enough.  That’s not an unreasonable mistake; in the past 120 years there was only one other split decision (in 2000), and in that case the popular vote was exceedingly close.  It’s like the housing price collapse of 2006-09; we all knew it was theoretically possible for someone with a multi-million popular vote margin to lose the electoral college, but didn’t expect it because we had not seen it in modern times.

2.  “If elections were determined by popular vote, Trump would have campaigned differently and most likely would have won the popular vote.” Of course that’s theoretically possible, but the odds are overwhelmingly against.  First, because the new strategy for both candidates would have involved more emphasis on getting out the vote in the non-swing states.  But the non-swing states went for Hillary by nearly 4%.  So if increased campaigning had boosted the turnout in places like California, then Hillary would have very likely won by even more.  Thus the big popular vote margin actually understates what that margin would have been in a direct election of the President.  And second, people don’t seem to understand how massive a popular vote margin of nearly 3 million actually is.  It would be extremely hard to generate another 3 million votes for Trump, or more precisely an amount of additional votes that’s 3 million more than the other campaign generated.  Face facts: Hillary didn’t lose because people didn’t like her; she was more popular than Trump on Election Day.  Trump won because the election was rigged by the Founding Fathers.

3.  “Neoliberal economists who promoted free trade are to blame for Trump.”  This is wrong for all sorts of reasons.  First of all, the direct loss of jobs due to imports is largely offset by jobs created in other sectors like exports and construction.  Furthermore, automation costs far more jobs than trade.  And finally, the actual loss of jobs due to neoliberal policies like Nafta and GATT are only a tiny fraction of jobs lost to imports in general. Even if we had not liberalized trade in recent decades, we’d still be importing lots of cheap manufactured goods from East Asia and Mexico, and have a huge CA deficit.  If you take 10% of 10% of 10%, you end up with a really tiny number, and yet a commenter recently sent me an article by Notre Dame economist David Ruccio claiming that neoliberal economists were to blame for Trump:

Are mainstream economists responsible for electing Donald Trump?

I think they deserve at least part of the blame. So, as it turns out, does Dani Rodrick

My argument is that, when mainstream economists in the United States embraced and celebrated neoliberalism—both the conservative and “left” versions—they created the conditions for Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election.

We are 0.001% to blame, at most.  If economists don’t have a sense about what sort of numerical claims are plausible, who will?

4.  I could cite many other examples.  The claim that greater infrastructure spending would significantly boost US economic growth is absurd.  It might boost it, but the US economy is far too large and diverse for a $550 billion infrastructure package to make much difference, especially during a period of 4.6% unemployment and monetary offset.  Tax reform and deregulation are more promising, but even here the claims of 4% to 6% RGDP growth are ridiculous, at least over an extended period of time (I suppose one or two quarters are possible.)  Trend RGDP growth during the 20th century averaged about 3%, under wildly different policy environments.  I’m not saying policy had no impact (I’m a moderate supply-sider), but people tend to overrate the impact.

To give a sense of how hard it is to dramatically impact the macro economy, consider that the Trump people (wrongly) claim their Carrier victory will directly save 1000 jobs.  Obama “created” about 6000 or 7000 jobs every single day over the past 7 years.  A thousand jobs is not a drop in a bucket, it’s a particle of water vapor in a bucket.  If Trump had that sort of “victory” every single day of his 8-year presidency, he’d still probably create far fewer jobs than Obama.  James Pethokoukis had this to say about the banana republic-like Carrier deal:

American Enterprise Institute scholar Jimmy Pethokoukis told CNBC on Thursday that President-elect Donald Trump’s speech about his deal to keep Carrier jobs in the United States was “absolutely the worst speech by an American politician since 1984 when Walter Mondale promised to reverse Reaganomics.”

“The idea that American corporations are going to have to make business decisions, not based on the fact that we’ve created an ideal environment for economic growth in the United States, but out of fear of punitive actions based on who knows what criteria exactly from a presidential administration. I think that’s absolutely chilling,” he said.

He continued: “[Companies should not make decisions] based on fear that there are going to be tariffs, that they are going to have contracts taken away from them, or the president will attack an American corporation for trying to create a valuable product.”

He also suggested that if the Democrats had done something similar, the GOP would have freaked out.  I can imagine Republicans complaining about this being a left-wing anti-business abuse of power, if Obama had done it.

Commenters often wrongly claim that I equated Trump and Hitler.  Now “analysts” are indirectly comparing Trump and Hitler:

A source who has advised Trump’s transition team on security policy told Reuters last week the president-elect would start a “clean slate” with Duterte, and analysts see some similarities in their blunt style. . . .

Sometimes called the “Trump of the East” because of his mercurial ways, Duterte has threatened repeatedly to sever U.S. defense ties, saying he “hates” having foreign soldiers in his country.

Here’s an example of Duterte’s blunt style:

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday compared his campaign to kill criminals to the Holocaust, saying he would like to “slaughter” millions of addicts just like Adolf Hitler “massacred” millions of Jewish people.

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are 3 million drug addicts. … I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he told reporters early Friday, according to GMA News.

“You know my victims, I would like to be, all criminals, to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition,” he said.

No wonder Trump is anxious for Duterte to be one of the first heads of state to visit the White House:

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump invited Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte to the White House next year during a “very engaging, animated” phone conversation, a Duterte aide said on Friday, amid rocky relations between their two countries.

They have so much in common.  Trump likes reading books of Hitler’s speeches and says:

You know I’m proud to have that German blood, there’s no question about it. Great stuff.

And Duterte sees mass murder as the “final solution” to the drug problem.

PS.  But I’m not equating Trump and Hitler-loving dictators; I leave that to the “analysts”.

PPS.  Last time I mentioned the Duterte quotation, a commenter defended him by pointing to his high approval rating in polls.  And he didn’t seem to be kidding.

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ProbablyWrong
7 hours ago
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Lessons From Trump’s ‘Fantastic’ Phone Call to Pakistan

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This week, the U.S. president-elect spoke with the Pakistani prime minister and, according to the Pakistani government’s account of the conversation, delivered the following message: Everything is awesome. It was, arguably, the most surprising presidential phone call since George H.W. Bush got pranked by that pretend Iranian president.

Pakistan, Donald Trump reportedly told Nawaz Sharif, is a “fantastic” country full of “fantastic” people that he “would love” to visit as president. Sharif was described as “terrific.” Pakistanis “are one of the most intelligent people,” Trump allegedly added. “I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems.”

It’s unclear how accurate the Pakistani government’s record of the discussion is, though the language does have a Trumpian ring to it (Trump’s transition team released a much more subdued summary of the call). But what’s surprising about the account is how disconnected it is from the current state of affairs. Everything is not awesome in U.S.-Pakistan relations. The two countries are the bitterest of friends. They have long clashed over the haven that terrorist groups have found in Pakistan and over U.S. efforts, including drone strikes and the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, to kill those terrorists. Pakistan, a nation with a growing arsenal of nuclear weapons, is the archenemy of India, another nuclear-armed state and a critical U.S. ally. U.S. officials see Pakistan—with its weak political institutions and suspected government support for militant groups in Afghanistan and the contested territory of Kashmir—as an alarming source of regional instability. The suspicion is mutual: Just a fifth of Pakistanis have a favorable view of the United States. Trump himself has argued that Pakistan “is probably the most dangerous” country in the world, and that India needs to serve as “the check” to it.

Some are interpreting the phone call as a disaster. “With one phone call, Donald Trump might have upturned America’s relationship with both Pakistan and India,” Jeet Heer wrote at the New Republic. But you don’t need to reach for the most dramatic potential consequences to appreciate the significance of the exchange between Trump and Sharif.

Reports of the call haven’t yet remade U.S. alliances in South Asia, but they did generate headlines like this on the front pages of Pakistani newspapers:

The News International

The reports also provoked a caustic response from the Indian government, which opposes U.S. mediation in its border dispute with Pakistan. “We look forward to the president-elect helping Pakistan address the most outstanding of its outstanding issues: terrorism,” a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs said. And, ultimately, they forced Pakistani officials to backpedal after initially publicizing the conversation. “Our relationship with the United States is not about personalities—it is about institutions,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarified. In other words, a brief, breezy conversation had real reverberations on the subcontinent.

One lesson of the phone call is that words matter, especially in international relations where information is patchy, things get lost in translation, rhetoric is often interpreted as policy, and a government’s credibility is only as good as its word. (Think of all the people in the United States puzzling over what policies Trump will pursue as president; now imagine trying to do that from Islamabad or New Delhi.) Barack Obama’s remark at a press conference about a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons in Syria very nearly compelled him, a year later, to launch air strikes against the Assad regime for violating that red line. George W. Bush’s decision to include Iran in an “axis of evil” in his State of the Union address torpedoed U.S.-Iranian cooperation on fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Words needn’t be spoken in public to have an impact on world affairs. In 1961, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev met with John F. Kennedy in Vienna and verbally beat the new U.S. president to a pulp. A couple months later, Khrushchev approved the construction of the Berlin Wall—a move some scholars attribute in part to Khrushchev’s perception of Kennedy as weak and inexperienced.

For these reasons, as Daniel Drezner notes at the Washington Post, political scientists such as John Mearsheimer and Anne Sartori have found that governments don’t bluff or lie to one another as often as one might think (Mearsheimer contends that governments are more likely to deceive their own people). “States often are tempted to bluff, or dissemble, but a state that is caught bluffing acquires a reputation for doing so, and opponents are less likely to believe its future communications,” Sartori writes. “The prospect of acquiring a reputation for lying—and lessening the credibility of the state’s future diplomacy—keeps statesmen and diplomats honest except when fibs are the most tempting.”

Given all this, Trump’s communications style—his loose talk and impulsiveness; his theatrics and bravado; his tendency to exaggerate and be untruthful; the vague, mixed signals he sends—would seem to indicate that international crises and chaos lie ahead. They might. But another lesson of Trump’s phone call with Sharif is that it’s too early to say whether Trump’s way with words will prove an asset or liability (or both) on the world stage.

Already, foreign leaders are adjusting, however haltingly, to the Trump Era. “We don’t have to take each word that Mr. Trump said publicly literally,” an adviser to Japan’s prime minister observed recently. In a world in which Trump is taken seriously but not literally, his call with Sharif might not signal that he’s going to broker peace in Kashmir or become the first U.S. president to visit Pakistan in a decade. Instead, it could be a sign that he is going to approach relations with Pakistan and India more as a transactional businessman than a traditional American president, looking to strike deals rather than adhere to past precedent. As the Russia expert Fiona Hill recently told me, “I tend to look at Trump as a real-estate mogul. You look at a building and say, ‘I’m just going to tear that down and build up something new.’ He’s not exactly Mr. Preservationist.”

Similarly, Trump’s public demands that NATO members spend more on defense, or risk losing U.S. military protection in the event of Russian aggression, have been criticized as undermining the deterrence mechanism that has helped maintain peace in Europe for seven decades—the understanding that an attack on one member of the alliance will be considered an attack on all members. But since the U.S. election, NATO’s secretary-general has joined Trump in calling for increased European defense spending and EU leaders have announced plans to do just that. In making his demands, in wondering aloud, Trump is poised to achieve what his tight-lipped predecessors in the White House never could: a NATO that is less dependent on U.S. military power. Uncertainty and challenges to convention won’t necessarily make the world more dangerous. But they may not make it safer either. One of the key questions of Trump’s presidency will be whether the benefits of unpredictability outweigh its costs.

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ProbablyWrong
12 hours ago
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People decided not to vote for GJ because Aleppo, so we get this nut instead?
mokelly
14 hours ago
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More on the Deduction Fairy

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By James Kwak

I wrote two days ago about the fairy tale that you can lower tax rates for the very rich yet avoid raising their actual taxes by eliminating those mythical beasts, loopholes and deductions. The basic problem with this story is that, at the very high end of the distribution, deductions and exclusions (with the possible exception of the deduction for charitable contributions) just don’t amount to very much as a percentage of income. Therefore, eliminating those deductions may increase rich people’s taxes by tens of thousands of dollars, but that is only a tiny proportion of their overall tax burden, and not enough to offset any significant rate decrease.

Unlike me, Daniel Hemel and Kyle Rozema are actual tax scholars (Hemel has a blog on Medium), and their detailed research largely tells the same story. They have a forthcoming paper that analyzes the mortgage interest deduction (MID) and shows that, while it is worth more dollars to rich people than poor people (for all the well-known reasons—bigger houses, higher marginal rates, itemizing), the MID causes people in the top 1% to pay a larger share of the overall tax burden. Therefore, eliminating the MID and using the increased tax revenue to reduce tax rates for everyone (what Mnuchin proposed in concept) would be a large windfall for the top 0.1% and a small windfall for the rest of the 1%.

The numbers are in the last column of this table:

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-2-35-43-pm

The Proportionate column shows the distributional effects of repealing the MID and using the money to reduce everyone’s taxes in equal proportion, which are even worse. (The only good outcome is the Per Household column, which uses the revenue from eliminating the MID to give every household a flat $558 tax rebate, but no one is talking about that.)

Hemel and Rozema do a similar analysis of the deduction for state and local taxes, which I didn’t mention in my post (and which many rich families can’t take because of the AMT). The basic story is the same: repealing the deduction to lower rates is, again, a windfall for very rich families.

Screen Shot 2016-12-02 at 2.39.33 PM.png

Only the deduction for charitable contributions turns out to increase inequality under this approach, because there is no practical limit to the possible size of such donations. Eliminating this deduction could cause the rich to pay more in taxes, but they could easily maintain the same level of disposable income simply by donating less to charity. In other words, tax revenues would go up, but the money would effectively be coming from charities, not from rich people.

So, there is no deduction fairy. You can’t cut tax rates in anything like the way the Trump administration proposes without vastly increasing inequality. Once again, it’s a conceptually plausible idea that is providing air cover for a massive raid on government services to benefit the very rich.

 







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ProbablyWrong
15 hours ago
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Why GOPs Will Beg Dems To Help Kill Obamacare and Medicare

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We are only a few weeks into the booyah! boasting phase of the Trump GOP Era. But we are already seeing a central theme emerging, especially on health care policy. Both on repealing Obamacare and phasing out Medicare, Republicans are now realizing they have to ask Democrats for help, despite the fact that they control every branch of the federal government. (Don't believe me. See what The Wall Street Journal says.) This is obviously the case in the Senate if Mitch McConnell maintains the filibuster and thus the need for 60 votes. What's not clear I think is that it remains the case even if McConnell finds a way to push through changes with only 50 votes.

It's important to understand why this is happening.

One key reason is that on both Obamacare and Medicare, the GOP - especially the House GOP - is the dog who caught the car. What do they do now? Paul Ryan, whose genial demeanor and packaging conceals a political radical on fiscal policy, social insurance and almost everything else tied to money, risk and financial security, got House Republicans to vote for Medicare Phaseout for five years straight.

But it was an easy vote since nothing would ever come of it.

Republican Senators are now telling pretty much everyone who will listen that they don't want to get dragged into phasing out Medicare this year. Some of that is the complexity of the legislative calendar. You can only push through so much at a time. But don't believe the hype. They know that killing Medicare is toxic politically. Unlike their GOP brethren in the House, they have to run in districts (i.e., states) that were drawn in the 17th, 18th or 19th centuries (with a handful of exceptions). Not big data driven maps gerrymandered in 2010. To paraphrase Augustine, they want Movement Conservative purity, but just not yet.

They're getting a similar message on Obamacare. A couple weeks ago, Paul Ryan was boasting that he might take down Obamacare and Medicare in the days just after the inauguration, in one combined action. Just a few days ago, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that Repeal and Replace could be set aside in favor of Repeal and We'll Look Into It. But Senate Republicans are saying Obamacare repeal could be a years' long process.

Indeed, Senate Republicans seem so gun-shy of confronting Obamacare that you have top Republican Senators making the case for Obamacare to reporters - even if not all of the reporters realize it.

Here's Lindsey Graham from Lauren Fox and Tierney Sneed's piece from yesterday.

"Once you say that everybody should be covered, can't be denied coverage because they are sick – which most Americans would agree with that – you put yourself in a box. Insurance is about young people who are healthy buying insurance like you all to pay for me and him," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, pointing to the oldest reporter in the scrum. "If you don't have to buy insurance until you get sick, most people won't. That's where the mandate becomes important."

Graham added: "Somebody's got to work through this problem. If we're going to accept the proposition that you can never be denied coverage because you've been sick, then somebody's got to create a system where people participate.

What he's explaining there is Obamacare.

He even seems to be arguing for the mandate which ended liberty in 2012. Republicans have loosely committed and President-Elect Trump has specifically committed that no one will lose their care in the new system and that key protections (pre-existing conditions) will stay. As Graham seems to realize, there's really no way to accomplish that without something like Obamacare. You could just go single payer of course. But given the choice, they'll certainly take Obamacare.

Opposing Obamacare is one thing. Actually taking health care coverage from tens of millions of people is another. There's also the insurance industry which has significantly restructured itself around the Affordable Care Act. They will at a minimum need lots of care and feeding through any transition.

Here's another critical point.

Over the past month, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation poll, the percentage of Republicans who support full repeal has dropped from 69% to 52%. What could explain that? I think it's pretty simple. A huge amount of opposition to Obamacare has been driven by partisan identity. Take Obama out of question and things start to look quite different.

The key political reality is that Senate Republicans are spooked by going after both Obamacare and Medicare, though to much different extents. One big reason they're hesitant is that they believe they'll have to do it on more or less straight party line votes, with no Democratic cover. A number of Senate Republicans have also made clear they do not foresee flat repeal in any case - rather something between reforming and repealing and then replacing with something that is significantly similar to Obamacare.

On the other side of the equation, there will certainly be Republicans in the House and the Senate who will resist any move to compromise on Obamacare and Medicare, particularly Obamacare. Where do you figure Ted Cruz will be if a mushy Obamacare semi-repeal comes through the Senate? There's no question that his mix of extremism and opportunism will make him jump for the chance at being the leader of the Obamacare-Pure Republicans. With possible defections on the right, that's another reason why Republicans will need some Democratic votes. But the biggest reason they will want Democratic votes is that people who face real elections won't want to face the electorate with that much health care carnage without bipartisan cover.

Add into the mix of course that the Trump transition is being run by the Ryan-Pence-Priebus Koch wing of the party. That's how you got Rep. Tom Price - an arch foe of Obamacare and Medicare - getting appointed to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, which largely overseas both. But is Trump for Medicare Phaseout? I doubt he's really given it any thought, despite his Transition Website now saying he supports it. Maybe he said it sounded like a good idea when Pence described it to him. Will he fight for it if it's not popular? Take a wild guess.

I don't mean to be Pollyannaish. I could easily see Obamacare and Medicare gone by the end of the year. But Republicans have a Ryan House wing focused on taking down both, a GOP Senate wing made up of men and women who would probably like to do it but lack the stomach for it and a President-elect whose transition is taking steps to ally with the Ryan House wing even though the president-elect himself likely hasn't considered the politics or policy of either.

Get ready for GOP begging for Democratic help to get louder and louder.

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ProbablyWrong
17 hours ago
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gradualepiphany
16 hours ago
Many good points, and I got a good solid giggle out of" appointed to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, which largely overseas both." I immediately got a mental image of Medicare & Obamacare being loaded onto a cargo ship and sent to Indonesia.
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New iPhone app MathFeed for math news

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Francis Su has created an iPhone app MathFeed that gives a stream of new math content: blog posts, book reviews, popular journal articles, and tweets. You can also get the same content via Twitter. Check it out!

MathFeed icon

MathFeed screenshot

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ProbablyWrong
18 hours ago
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Niche RSS reader?
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