Friday, June 24, 2011

Mankiw on health insurance and fiscal balance

I missed it when it came out last Sunday, but Greg Mankiw provides a concise look at the basic economics of some key fiscal issues the nation is confronting. A one sentence summary might be, "Taxes and subsidies are similar in their effects on incentives, and we should think about whom we incentivize and how on the road toward fiscal sustainability."

I liked his point about high implicit taxes on seniors as probably being especially bad for their labor supply, but I wonder how many such seniors there are. To be sure, Mankiw is talking about wealthy seniors who would get their benefits "means tested," and in theory their behavior should respond. But I think he'd agree one would want to some estimates of labor supply elasticity before making a judgment. This kind of thing is reminiscent of the back-and-forth blogging of Paul Krugman and Greg Mankiw and Paul Krugman about tax revenue during different business cycles or administrations.

I'm sure Krugman meant "stupid" only in the Black-Eyes Peas sense.