Clinton Proposes Plan to Pay for College

The New York Times reports Hillary Clinton will unveil a $350 billion student debt reform plan that aims to make college accessible to Americans without loans.

“The Clinton proposals might fare better than those offered by her two main opponents for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, because unlike them, she is not relying mostly on the government to deal with student debt. Colleges would have to hold down costs and show improvements on graduation rates, for instance. Mr. Sanders has proposed spending about $47 billion a year to end public college tuition, with another $23 billion a year coming from states; Mr. O’Malley has proposed his own debt-free plan, though a campaign spokeswoman said there was no cost estimate yet.”

MSNBC: “”By closing undisclosed tax loopholes on the wealthy, Clinton plans to raise $350 million over 10 years to invest in higher education. Of that, more than half would be used for grants to states, public universities, and non-profit colleges that keep costs low for students and meet several other requirements. Another third of the money would go towards debt relief for students. Clinton’s plan would allow every American who owes money to the government to refinance their loans at today’s historically low interest rate. And she’d cut future borrowing costs by preventing the government from making a profit on loans to students.”

Support for Increased Immigration Up to 25%

Trend: U.S. Adults' Preferences on U.S. Immigration Levels

Gallup: “The U.S. public demonstrates no clear preference on what U.S. immigration levels should be. On this contentious issue, 40% say levels should remain where they are, but only slightly fewer (34%) advocate a decrease in the stream of immigrants. One-quarter of the country prefers an increase in immigration levels, the sole response of the three to see a general increase in support over the past 15 years.”

How Much Does the Government Really Cost You?

Bloomberg: “Shrinking the federal government will be top of mind when Republican candidates meet in Cleveland tonight for the first presidential debate of the 2016 primary. Some have already suggested saving money by closing the Supreme Court, the Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency. But how much do these and other government programs really cost you, and would eliminating them make a dent in the $3.8-trillion budget? We divided the cost of federal departments and programs by the number of U.S. residents—currently 321.4 million—to get an admittedly rough-ready idea of the per-person tab.”

Obamacare’s Steady Progression

Washington Post: “Obamacare’s opponents have heralded reports from various parts of the country warning of double-digit percentage increases in insurance premiums proposed over the past couple of months. (These are premiums for individuals buying insurance on ACA marketplaces; employer-sponsored plans, which most Americans have, are not the primary focus of the law.) For example: Even after regulator review, Oregon’s largest ACA marketplace insurance plan will hike its 2016 premiums by 25 percent, and its second largest by 33 percent.”

“Big increases in the price of one insurance product, however, don’t necessarily represent overall trends. The Kaiser Family Foundation has produced a comprehensive study of 2016 premium increases and found that benchmark plans in 10 states and the District are rising an average of only 4.4 percent. Some insurers are decreasing their premiums by double digit percentages next year; others are increasing them by double digit percentages; many others are seeing relatively modest changes. The Department of Health and Human Services found in June that ‘most people will be enrolled in plans with proposed rate increases of less than 10 percent.'”

“True, average numbers won’t be comfortable to those facing double-digit premium increases in an insurance plan they like. Yet these customers aren’t locked into that plan. An HHS study released Thursday found that market competition increased markedly in 2015, and Obama administration officials predict it will again in 2016. People, in other words, have options.”

What a $15 Minimum Wage Would Mean in Every State

Washington Post: “The map above shows the real purchasing power of $15 in every state. In Honolulu, the priciest urban area in the United States, a $15 minimum wage is only worth about $12.24; in rural West Virginia, meanwhile, where prices are lower than anywhere else in the country, $15 is worth closer to $20. The only place where $15 is actually worth $15 is Allentown, Pennsylvania, according to Pew.”

Why Spending More on Health Care Is Actually a Good Thing

Megan McArdle: “In recent years, health care cost growth has slowed down. This is great news for the federal budget, and for those of us who, you know, get health care occasionally. Unfortunately, researchers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services project that the good news may be over. With the population aging, the economy recovering, and Obamacare expanding coverage, they expect health care cost growth to average almost 6 percent over the next decade.”

“That’s not all bad news. The population is aging because people are living longer. And economic recovery will give us more income to pay our higher health care costs. The newly insured are presumably pretty happy about it too. So there’s no reason to go into paroxysms of mourning over this news. However, it does cast light on a debate that has been going on for some time: why growth in health expenditures has gone down.”

Coal Has Already Been In Decline

Washington Post: Notice that coal’s drop doesn’t correlate to growth in wind power or solar. It’s natural gas that’s eating into coal’s market, a function of improvements in hydraulic fracturing (better known as “fracking”). Only a few weeks ago, natural gas passed coal as a source of electricity. When burned, coal produces far, far more carbon dioxide than natural gas. But natural gas itself, which is mostly methane, often leaks from drilling sites — and methane is a far more effective heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide, meaning that it’s worse for global warming on a ton-per-ton basis.”

Government Shutdown Now More Likely Than Not

“The chance of a federal government shutdown increased dramatically and precipitously last week from 40 percent to 60 percent. It’s now more likely than not that a shutdown will result from the craziness going on in Washington,” Stan Collender writes.

“With the House already in recess until after Labor Day and the Senate about to leave town this week, all of the components that had led to my previous 40 percent estimate got worse. There’s now even less time – Congress will be in session only a handful of days before the fiscal year begins on October 1 – for the House and Senate to devote to appropriations.”

“The leadership has already admitted that nothing has been decided about how to deal with this situation. In other words, this will be the kind of last minute, ad hoc decision that in the past has repeatedly failed and led to unwanted consequences…like a shutdown. In budget technical terms, the House and Senate leadership will be flying by the seat of its pants.”

Grading the Governors Who Want to be President

Bloomberg: “While comparing governors directly is problematic because they served in different times amid varying economic conditions, one can examine their median national standings of their states on the 11 indicators. Florida under former Governor Jeb Bush had the highest median ranking at seven, scoring higher in more categories than any other state. Texas under Perry was second, with a median of 11 and Ohio was third at 17. New Jersey under Governor Chris Christie had the lowest median at 41.”

“Scrutinizing the numbers beneath the rhetoric shows how bubbles, booms and outside forces can make the miraculous look distinctly down to earth.”

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States With Gun Control Have Fewer Gun Deaths

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Washington Post: “In 2011, economist Richard Florida dove deep into the correlations between gun deaths and other kinds of social indicators. Some of what he found was, perhaps, unexpected: Higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths.”

Americans Are Finally Eating Less

“After decades of worsening diets and sharp increases in obesity, Americans’ eating habits have begun changing for the better,” the New York Times reports.

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“Calories consumed daily by the typical American adult, which peaked around 2003, are in the midst of their first sustained decline since federal statistics began to track the subject, more than 40 years ago. The number of calories that the average American child takes in daily has fallen even more — by at least 9 percent. The declines cut across most major demographic groups — including higher- and lower-income families, and blacks and whites — though they vary somewhat by group.”

Key finding: “In the most striking shift, the amount of full-calorie soda drunk by the average American has dropped 25 percent since the late 1990s.”