Monday, February 25, 2013

Defending Cato from Paul Krugman's Inaccurate Assertions | Cato @ Liberty

Paul Krugman, at what is now his usual best (worst) as a columnist, managed to make so many false statements in one column that I lost count. And his loyal readers will never appreciate the facts, much less accept the reality that most libertarian-leaning (which is not "right-wing") economists did foresee the housing bubble and other financial failures on the horizon.
Defending Cato from Paul Krugman's Inaccurate Assertions | Cato @ LibertyDANIEL J. MITCHELL
If Krugman had bothered to spend even five minutes perusing the Cato website, he would have found hundreds of items by scholars such as Steve Hanke, Gerald O’Driscoll, Bert Ely, and others about misguided government regulatory and monetary policy. He could have perused the remarks of speakers at Cato’s annual monetary conferences. He could have looked at issues of the Cato Journal. Or our biennial Handbooks on Policy.

The tiniest bit of due diligence would have revealed that Cato was not a fan of Federal Reserve policy and we did not think that financial markets were deregulated. Indeed, Cato scholars last decade were relentlessly critical of monetary policy, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Community Reinvestment Act, and other forms of government intervention.

Heck, I imagine that Krugman would have accused Cato of relentless and foolish pessimism had he reviewed our work in 2006 or 2007.

I suppose Mr. Mitchell can hope for better from Krugman. I certainly do not... not anymore. Krugman simply sees the U.S. economic debates as Keynes/Krugman vs. Right-Wing extremists. That libertarians are not all in the Chicago School, much less loyal to the Republican Party, doesn't matter. It's easier to have an "Us vs. Them" debate without any facts.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Chicago isn't in Austria

One of the challenges I face as an advocate for Austrian / libertarian / classical liberal economic and politic ideals is that many of my students — and even some colleagues in the humanities — mistakenly assume that there are three basic economic models, represented by the icons Marx, Keynes, and Friedman. Sadly, most people don't know the Austrian School of economics, and when they do know a little the assumption is that Austrian adherents represent something of an outer ring around the Chicago School.

Milton Friedman, thanks to his books and a PBS series, is the best known of the "supply-side" economists and the Chicago School. He came to represent the rejection of Keynesian economics to right-leaning politicians in the United States. Of course, the entire left/right and liberal/conservative dichotomy is false, since in many ways left-leaning politicians had become the defenders of the status quo — the welfare state. True innovation seemed to belong to the "right" in the United States and United Kingdom during the 1980s and early 1990s.

I do admire what Friedman and the Chicago Boys did to help bring about change in South America. I know some believe Friedman did something quite horrible by helping shape the economic reforms of Chile under Augusto Pinochet, but I am convinced the reforms prepared Chile for a more democratic future. In effect, Friedman was planting the seeds of Pinochet's collapse by suggesting economic reforms. Then again, I would not have advised any dictator — but it seems to have worked.

This marks one difference between many Chicago adherents and the Austrian School. Overall, the Austrians are non-interventionists. They do not trust government, and many of the Austrians knew totalitarianism firsthand. The best government focuses on maintaining the rule of law within its own borders.

But, Friedman and the Chicago School (so called because Friedman taught at the University of Chicago) are not classical liberals. They are interventionists, simply of a different type than their Keynesian colleagues. We could argue that the "neo-conservatives" represent the Chicago School's most interventionist impulses: using government to spread "free market" economics.

Friedman rejected the Austrian theorists F. A. Hayek and, with some animosity often seems, Ludwig von Mises. Friedman was a "positivist" and considered the logical arguments of the Austrians little better than a religion — and yes, he used the word religion to describe the works of Kant-influenced von Mises.

Of course, von Mises was not engaged in Aristotelean mind games, nor was Hayek or any of the other Austrians. In fact, the Austrian School does value analytical, quantifiable research. Von Mises also considered history important and was an avid student of history. But, because the Austrians admit that not every variable can be known and that every moment in history is different, the Chicago school found Austrian methods suspect.

Keynesians and Chicagoans argue via mathematical models. If Friedman's view that math was more truthful than the reason-based approach of von Mises, why do the various model-dominated economic theories differ so much? Quite simply because the critique Friedman applied to Austrians — that logic was relative — also applies to the variables and equations of the positivists — they are chosen on beliefs and assumptions.

It is a shame we have simplified the teaching of economics, often omitting the Austrians from courses. A mention or two might be made of Hayek, but von Mises and others are ignored.

We might place the blame squarely on the Austrian ideals: let the market decide. Unfortunately, von Mises wrote quite accurately that classically liberal economists might lack the rhetorical skills to persuade a public who wants to have faith in large institutions. The Austrians are individualists, believers in personal choices and responsibility. What we have seen is a left that tells people that companies and the rich are to blame; whatever you don't have is because someone else had an unfair advantage. On the right, government is the villain, the problem that has ruined families and social structures. Again, the individual avoids blame.

To the Austrian School, the individual should take responsibility for how he or she reacts to events. Yes, companies and governments are flawed — and always will be — but you, the individual, have to make the best choices you can within this reality.

I do not reject the Chicago School, Keynesian theories, or even Marx without finding bits and pieces of practical thought. Plenty of great nuggets have been offered by wrong-headed people, but you do have to pick through the muck at times. In philosophy, for example, I cannot defend choices made by Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, or countless others. Yet, I can find good ideas in their writings.

Sadly, too few scholars even try to expose students to Austrian ideas. Today's younger economists lack an appreciation for some great thinkers.

I have heard some right-leaning pundits link Adam Smith, Hayek, and von Mises to Ayn Rand. While I do find small bits I like in Ayn Rand (mainly in The Fountainhead), I would never compare Rand to any economist. Nor would I compare Smith or von Mises to Friedman. These thinkers might overlap at the fringes of a Venn diagram, yet they occupy very different spaces overall. Such misguided punditry does harm to the Austrian School and classical liberalism. The surest way to ensure thinkers won't be taken seriously at universities is to associate them with Ayn Rand.

My hope is that students read Hayek, von Mises, Roger W. Garrison, Friedrich von Wieser, Henry Hazlitt, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, and many more. Even within the broad Austrian School umbrella are divergent ideas and methods.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

FCC: 41 percent of Lifeline phone subsidies in 2012 weren't verified

Evidence of "Big Government" efficiency:
FCC: 41 percent of Lifeline phone subsidies in 2012 weren't verified. Among the top five providers receiving money for telecom service to the poor in 2012, 41 percent of their customers either couldn't or didn't prove they were eligible. The lack of answers leaves a real possibility that some of the $2.2 billion spent on Lifeline in 2012 might have gone to those who didn't need it. In response, the FCC is keen to claim that its reforms may have saved $214 million last year….
Let's assume a 41 percent fraud rate, though I assume it is closer to 50 percent in this program. (We can also assume 20 percent to 30 percent waste, fraud, and abuse in most federal programs, sadly. Read the old classic Government Waste A to Z for a depressing analysis.) At $2.2 billion annually, that means the Lifeline program and us, the taxpayers, are being scammed for $902 million annually.

Similar issues have been found in so many programs that the recent claim by Rep. Nancy Pelosi that we don't have a spending problem is laughably absurd. Of course we have a spending problem. From military waste (weapons even the Pentagon doesn't want) to disability fraud, there is a spending problem. 
When money is "given away" to people and companies, there will be fraud. Preventing fraud costs money — enforcement is expensive for governments. 
What a sad example of a government safety net benefiting large companies and individual thieves. I don't know if the law made it hard for the phone companies to verify claims of eligibility, which has sometimes been a problem with aid programs, but the companies should have raised some questions. Instead, they willingly cashed the federal checks. 


Friday, February 15, 2013

Neither Demand-Side, nor Supply-Side

Some people assume, incorrectly, that I am a "supply-side" believer. I am not. I'm neither demand-side (Keynesian) nor supply-side (Chicago School) in my general beliefs about economics. Ah, and in there we find a problem with economics: beliefs are part of the complexity. The Austrian School of economics is more laissez-faire. While I find the supply-side arguments less troubling than traditional Keynesian models, I would rather embrace the free-market as much as possible. More Adam Smith than Friedman, and certainly more Hayek than Laffer.

Economist Roger Garrison has said there is a word for politicians embracing Austrian Economics: losers.

Keynesian models are demand-based, with the belief that government is the ultimate creator of demand. This is nice and simple to sell to voters, because Keynesian economics offers a solution to downturns: the government will bail us out, somehow. Most voters, not being in the entrepreneurial community or investment class, do resent the capitalists and innovators. (Of course, Adam Smith and the Austrian School both support limits on reckless and dishonest capitalists — a good reason to actually read Smith and Hayek.)

The Chicago School represented by supply-based economics appeals to the investors, the entrepreneurs, and those aspiring to those groups. Again, the political version is simple to sell to some voters and campaign contributors. We'll lower taxes, reduce regulations, and encourage the creation of new products. Investment (supply) is key to the economy in this model. It is slightly better than Keynesian theories — but I still find that many supply-side adherents have as much faith in policy as their colleagues.

In the end, both Keynesians and Chicago adherents believe that governments and central banks should be used for the same final ends: creating and distributing wealth. Trickle-down or redistribution, both assume a great deal.

Hayek and other Austrian economists are not easy to explain. The simple calculations of Keynes' "General Theory" or even the "Laffer Curve" can be taught in Econ 101. Macro economics starting with Keynes makes sense.

Keynes focuses on the simple relationship: demand (private or government) = more production = more labor (lower unemployment). Increase demand, employ more people or pay the workers more.

Chicago theory assumes something as simple: lower overhead (taxes, wages, regulations) = more investment = new products and services (supply)

Hayek is complex. (http://www.auburn.edu/~garriro/aenlse.pdf) Hayek built on Keynes. They were friends and colleagues, especially during World War II. Hayek extended Keynes by adding essential variables and exploring variables that Keynes ignored. By the time you fully examine Hayek, you end up with complex equations that reveal how unpredictable a real economy is.

In an upcoming post, I will demonstrate that although Keynes and the Chicago School might seem "simple" to explain, but they are not simplistic. I don't want people to assume "simple" on the surface for introductory purposes means Keynes' complete "General Theory" and other works are simplistic. They are not. But, gravity is also complex… and easy to explain on the surface.

Economics is messy. It's easy to have faith in simple equations, but I don't trust simple answers.

No wonder I tend to vote for losers.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Taxes versus Cuts

I'll be among those to admit we need more revenues to reduce the ludicrous debt of the federal government. We also need to cut spending dramatically to have any hope of balance in the future. Personally, I'd rather see the cuts first, and then we can slowly raise taxes to reduce the annual deficit followed by paying down the debt to a reasonable maintenance level.

Unrestrained government expansion comes at a price. At least John B. Judis admits as much in a recent essay on the "need" for higher taxes.
Obama's Tax Hikes Won't Be Nearly Big Enough
http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/111486/obamas-tax-hikes-wont-be-nearly-big-enoughThe New Republic
John B. Judis
December 28, 2012 | 1:23 pm

[There] are a set of unpleasant truths lurking behind this debate over the budget and taxes that policy-makers in Washington need to acknowledge. First, that in order to meet public demands for affordable health care, quality public education, and retirement insurance, government at all levels will need to grow and take up a larger percentage of the nation's GDP. Second, any significant cuts to these programs' funding will undermine their effectiveness. And third, the only way to maintain these programs is by raising taxes on income and wealth—and well beyond, the kind of increases that the Obama administration has proposed in negotiations over the fiscal cliff.

The government has grown dramatically over the last century. The federal government has gone from 2.47 percent of GDP in 1913 to 24.33 percent in 2012. Total federal, state, and local spending has gone from 8.1 percent in 1913 to 39.94 percent today. Military spending shot up during World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Ronald Reagan's military buildup in the 1980s, but it has remained between 4 and 6 percent of GDP over the last two decades. The largest federal, state, and local expenditures – which account for more of the growth over the last century -- are for pensions, health care, and education.

These programs exist, and have grown, because the public overwhelmingly supports them. Opposition to them is largely confined to a noisy faction of Ayn Rand disciples and business groups that view public expenditures, which they describe as "entitlements," as a subtraction from private wealth.
The public "supports" these programs because most citizens are not paying for the government we have come to expect. We want the benefits — and we have no real appreciation for the costs. Right now, the costs are abstractions, debts financed with and hidden by with Treasury notes, state and local bonds, and other fiscal masks. The Federal Reserve has also helped hide the true costs of our government with quantitative easing, which has helped keep equities stable despite a fragile economy.

We need to face the truth: people are not paying into the system, but they want more, more, and more. This is not about the rich or wealthy paying a "fair share" of taxes. It is about a system that dissuades personal responsibility.

People don't appreciate that the Welfare State is out of control. Eventually, communities and individuals start to depend on the magic money from Washington to solve problems. Personal responsibility and community cohesion are lost when everyone assumes a federal entitlement program, a federal safety net, will solve all problems. A simple example is the low savings rate in this country. People assume they can live on Social Security. People would rather own big screen TVs now than save for a retirement decades in the future.

Judis correctly concludes:
The alternative to paying for the rising costs of these services is not to provide the services, or to provide a drastically inferior version of them for the vulnerable--run-down clinics without x-ray machines or doctors, schools staffed by listless teachers who are barely literate, pensions that plunge the aged into poverty. The Republicans and conservatives who talk about shrinking government don't say this would be the outcome […] but it's exactly what would happen if they get their way.
Sorry, but we cannot spend money we don't have, no matter how well-intentioned the program might be.

We could confiscate all the wealth of the richest Americans and it would not balance the budget and settle the debt. The better approach is to encourage work, innovation, and creation. The majority is more than content relying on the minority. It is an unsustainable model.

There will be disappointments in the future. Health care will be rationed. Pension funds will be insolvent. There is going to be a mess in the future because we are overspending. It is simply much easier for Congress to spend money than to deny a "benefit" to voters. The cuts are coming.

See: Eat the Rich! [http://almostclassical.blogspot.com/2011/04/eat-rich.html]

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Fiscal Cliff Sham… I Mean Deal…

Apparently, Congress is populated by comedians with a penchant for satire. As evidence of this, they passed a "Fiscal Cliff" agreement that was supposedly all about protecting the middle class. Instead, it is 250-pages of muck.

How bad is it? The New York Times offers one example:
Fiscal Cliff Includes Big Favor to Big Drug Company 
WASHINGTON — Just two weeks after pleading guilty in a major federal fraud case, Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology firm, scored a largely unnoticed coup on Capitol Hill: Lawmakers inserted a paragraph into the “fiscal cliff” bill that did not mention the company by name but strongly favored one of its drugs.

The language buried in Section 632 of the law delays a set of Medicare price restraints on a class of drugs that includes Sensipar, a lucrative Amgen pill used by kidney dialysis patients. 
Read the full text of H.R. 8… it is depressing.

It begins loftily enough, letting us know the Senate is adhering to the Constitution by not passing a retroactive tax measure. No, you see January 1, 2013, is really part of December 31, 2012. It's a very long day, that December 31. Also, since a fiscal measure must originate in the House, the Senate does the Constitutionally appropriate thing by passing House Resolution 8.
In the Senate of the United States,

January 1 (legislative day, December 30, 2012), 2013.

Resolved, That the bill from the House of Representatives (H.R. 8) entitled "An Act to extend certain tax relief provisions enacted in 2001 and 2003, and to provide for expedited consideration of a bill providing for comprehensive tax reform, and for other purposes.", do pass with the following
Oh, but wait, the Senate didn't like the House bill. What is the solution? Strike everything after the first paragraph (called the the "enacting clause") and replace the entire bill with the Senate version. Personally, I see this as flagrantly disregarding the intent of the Constitution, but that little thing doesn't seem to bother our political leaders or most commentators. It's a common practice, after all, to replace entire bills from the House with nice, shiny, Senate editions. This was also how the Affordable Care Act was handled — the bill was "amended" in its entirety without regard for the fact the House must originate spending measures.

Anyway, here's the striking of the old, replacing with the new:
AMENDMENTS:

Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE, ETC.

(a) SHORT TITLE.—This Act may be cited as the "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012".

(b) AMENDMENT OF 1986 CODE.—Except as otherwise expressly provided, whenever in this Act an amendment or repeal is expressed in terms of an amendment to, or repeal of, a section or other provision, the reference shall be considered to be made to a section or other provision of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
I've long argued that we need to toss out the entire Internal Revenue Code and simplify it. Instead, we've been gluing amendments to the 1986 code, creating a monstrous mess. As of 2004, the federal tax code was 3.4 million words. Think about that. Since 2004, we have amended the code with significant "extensions of temporary provisions" four times.

The complete Internal Revenue Code is more than 24 megabytes in length, and contains more than 3.4 million words; printed 60 lines to the page, it would fill more than 7500 letter-size pages. What should be a 100-page (or less) document, fills more than 100 volumes — which I can't imagine anyone can understand.

Here is the 2012 H.R. 8 table of contents, with some observations:
(c) TABLE OF CONTENTS.—The table of contents for this Act is as follows:
Sec. 1. Short title, etc.
TITLE I—GENERAL EXTENSIONS
Sec. 101. Permanent extension and modification of 2001 tax relief.
Sec. 102. Permanent extension and modification of 2003 tax relief.
Sec. 103. Extension of 2009 tax relief.
Sec. 104. Permanent alternative minimum tax relief.
We kept hearing the "Bush tax cuts" were a bad idea. Now, the Congress and president are making them permanent. I think this is a bad idea. Not because I like higher rates, but because I believe everyone with any income should pay something. I'd get rid of the AMT entirely, not merely offer "relief" for some people.

My idea is simple: Three tax brackets, starting at whatever 150 or 200 percent of poverty is. And none of this taxing married couples differently. Taxes should be individual, period, with no deductions. None. Keep the rates low and the system simple.

Just read and ponder how obvious the pandering is in the individual tax provisions:
TITLE II—INDIVIDUAL TAX EXTENDERS
Sec. 201. Extension of deduction for certain expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers.
Yes, because other professions don't have to spend money on supplies, training, or anything else. I'm sorry, but I've been a teacher. Many of my friends are teachers. We aren't paid as poorly as people might imagine.
Sec. 202. Extension of exclusion from gross income of discharge of qualified principal residence indebtedness.
Sec. 203. Extension of parity for exclusion from income for employer-provided mass transit and parking benefits.
Sec. 204. Extension of mortgage insurance premiums treated as qualified residence interest.
Sec. 205. Extension of deduction of State and local general sales taxes.
Sec. 206. Extension of special rule for contributions of capital gain real property made for conservation purposes.
Sec. 207. Extension of above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses.
Sec. 208. Extension of tax-free distributions from individual retirement plans for charitable purposes.
Sorry, but if I could rewrite the tax code, everyone one of the above provisions would be gone — even the tax-free distribution from an IRA to a charity. Again, keep it simple, keep rates low, and a lot of other expenses will fall. Imagine not needing software, accountants, or lawyers to prepare tax returns.

The last of the individual tax-payer provisions must have an interesting story behind it. However, I don't care.
Sec. 209. Improve and make permanent the provision authorizing the Internal Revenue Service to disclose certain return and return information to certain prison officials.
The business tax extensions range from well-intentioned to the absurd — but we don't need this much clutter in the tax code. Trust me, I understand wanting to encourage some behaviors, but I adamantly oppose using tax code to influence people or companies.

You want to know who gets favors from Congress? I'm putting some of the more absurd items in bold text.
TITLE III—BUSINESS TAX EXTENDERS
Sec. 301. Extension and modification of research credit.
Sec. 302. Extension of temporary minimum low-income tax credit rate for nonfederally subsidized new buildings.
Sec. 303. Extension of housing allowance exclusion for determining area median gross income for qualified residential rental project exempt facility bonds.
Sec. 304. Extension of Indian employment tax credit.
Sec. 305. Extension of new markets tax credit.
Sec. 306. Extension of railroad track maintenance credit.Sec. 307. Extension of mine rescue team training credit.Sec. 308. Extension of employer wage credit for employees who are active duty members of the uniformed services.
Sec. 309. Extension of work opportunity tax credit.
Sec. 310. Extension of qualified zone academy bonds.
Sec. 311. Extension of 15-year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements, qualified restaurant buildings and improvements, and qualified retail improvements.Sec. 312. Extension of 7-year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complexes.Sec. 313. Extension of accelerated depreciation for business property on an Indian reservation.
Sec. 314. Extension of enhanced charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory.
Sec. 315. Extension of increased expensing limitations and treatment of certain real property as section 179 property.
Sec. 316. Extension of election to expense mine safety equipment.
Sec. 317. Extension of special expensing rules for certain film and television productions.Sec. 318. Extension of deduction allowable with respect to income attributable to domestic production activities in Puerto Rico.
Sec. 319. Extension of modification of tax treatment of certain payments to controlling exempt organizations.
Sec. 320. Extension of treatment of certain dividends of regulated investment companies.Sec. 321. Extension of RIC qualified investment entity treatment under FIRPTA.
Sec. 322. Extension of subpart F exception for active financing income.
Sec. 323. Extension of look-thru treatment of payments between related controlled foreign corporations under foreign personal holding company rules.
Sec. 324. Extension of temporary exclusion of 100 percent of gain on certain small business stock.Sec. 325. Extension of basis adjustment to stock of S corporations making charitable contributions of property.
Sec. 326. Extension of reduction in S-corporation recognition period for built-in gains tax.
Sec. 327. Extension of empowerment zone tax incentives.
Sec. 328. Extension of tax-exempt financing for New York Liberty Zone.Sec. 329. Extension of temporary increase in limit on cover over of rum excise taxes to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Sec. 330. Modification and extension of American Samoa economic development credit.Sec. 331. Extension and modification of bonus depreciation.
If you read the details of many of the Title III extensions, it is easy to see that some companies are "more equal than others" in the eyes of Congress. Why does the film industry need a special tax break? Why are "motorsports" mentioned by name? It is painfully obvious the tax code isn't fair when you see a list like the above. And President Obama, constantly complaining about the unfairness of our tax system, supported this horrible legislative Frankenstein.

You really want unfair, consider the nonsense behind "green energy" tax breaks. Section 403 below was included for a company in Oregon. The company makes electric motorcycles and wanted a break after donating to a Democrat's reelection campaign.

TITLE IV—ENERGY TAX EXTENDERS
Sec. 401. Extension of credit for energy-efficient existing homes.
Sec. 402. Extension of credit for alternative fuel vehicle refueling property.
Sec. 403. Extension of credit for 2- or 3-wheeled plug-in electric vehicles.
Sec. 404. Extension and modification of cellulosic biofuel producer credit.
Sec. 405. Extension of incentives for biodiesel and renewable diesel.
Sec. 406. Extension of production credit for Indian coal facilities placed in service before 2009.
Sec. 407. Extension and modification of credits with respect to facilities producing energy from certain renewable resources.
Sec. 408. Extension of credit for energy-efficient new homes.
Sec. 409. Extension of credit for energy-efficient appliances.
Sec. 410. Extension and modification of special allowance for cellulosic biofuel plant property.
Sec. 411. Extension of special rule for sales or dispositions to implement FERC or State electric restructuring policy for qualified electric utilities.
Sec. 412. Extension of alternative fuels excise tax credits.
Sorry, but no industry should get special treatment, no matter how well-intentioned. Then again, biodiesel and biofuels are not "clean" energy. Burning anything is a bad idea. Ethanol, for example, produces more pollution than standard gasoline and it is less efficient — so you need to burn more of it! In the case of green energy tax breaks, it isn't about promoting good ideas. No, it is about winning votes.

Unemployment has been extended repeatedly. H.R. 8 includes another extension.
TITLE V—UNEMPLOYMENT
Sec. 501. Extension of emergency unemployment compensation program.
Sec. 502. Temporary extension of extended benefit provisions.
Sec. 503. Extension of funding for reemployment services and reemployment and eligibility assessment activities.
Sec. 504. Additional extended unemployment benefits under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.
The healthcare provisions of H.R. 8 reveal that Congress is and will micro-manage the health care system. Medicare and Social Security (along with debt service) are leading us towards a true fiscal cliff. Nothing Congress does is going to simultaneously improve care and reduce costs. The fact healthcare dominates the fiscal cliff agreement should worry us. Controlling healthcare means controlling almost every aspect of life.
TITLE VI—MEDICARE AND OTHER HEALTH EXTENSIONS

Subtitle A—Medicare Extensions
Sec. 601. Medicare physician payment update.
Sec. 602. Work geographic adjustment.
Sec. 603. Payment for outpatient therapy services.
Sec. 604. Ambulance add-on payments.
Sec. 605. Extension of Medicare inpatient hospital payment adjustment for lowvolume hospitals.
Sec. 606. Extension of the Medicare-dependent hospital (MDH) program.
Sec. 607. Extension for specialized Medicare Advantage plans for special needs individuals.
Sec. 608. Extension of Medicare reasonable cost contracts.
Sec. 609. Performance improvement.
Sec. 610. Extension of funding outreach and assistance for low-income programs.

Subtitle B—Other Health Extensions
Sec. 621. Extension of the qualifying individual (QI) program.
Sec. 622. Extension of Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA).
Sec. 623. Extension of Medicaid and CHIP Express Lane option.
Sec. 624. Extension of family-to-family health information centers.
Sec. 625. Extension of Special Diabetes Program for Type I diabetes and for Indians.

Subtitle C—Other Health Provisions
Sec. 631. IPPS documentation and coding adjustment for implementation of MSDRGs.
Sec. 632. Revisions to the Medicare ESRD bundled payment system to reflect findings in the GAO report.
Sec. 633. Treatment of multiple service payment policies for therapy services.
Sec. 634. Payment for certain radiology services furnished under the Medicare hospital outpatient department prospective payment system.
Sec. 635. Adjustment of equipment utilization rate for advanced imaging services.
Sec. 636. Medicare payment of competitive prices for diabetic supplies and elimination of overpayment for diabetic supplies.
Sec. 637. Medicare payment adjustment for non-emergency ambulance transports for ESRD beneficiaries.
Sec. 638. Removing obstacles to collection of overpayments.
Sec. 639. Medicare advantage coding intensity adjustment.
Sec. 640. Elimination of all funding for the Medicare Improvement Fund.
Sec. 641. Rebasing of State DSH allotments.
Sec. 642. Repeal of CLASS program.
Sec. 643. Commission on Long-Term Care.
Sec. 644. Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan program contingency fund.
I do like this great little nugget at the end of H.R. 8.
TITLE VIII—MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
Sec. 802. No cost of living adjustment in pay of members of congress.
How about no pay at all for Congress unless both houses pass a budget and constrain government spending to less than 20 percent of GDP? I can dream.