Original Reporting

Original Reporting | By Mike Alberti | Budget deficit, Markets
In the wake of a recent warning by Standard and Poor’s that the failure to rein in the federal deficit puts U.S. creditworthiness at risk, several economists and social scientists are wondering whether the issue of “how well are we reassuring markets” has completely trumped the issue of “how well are we serving the interests of our citizens.” If so, they ask, can political decision making in the U.S. fairly be characterized as “democratic” at all? More
Original Reporting | By Craig Gurian | Health care
Oxford Health Plans, a UnitedHealthcare company, is rolling out renewal plans this spring for small businesses of two to 50 employees whereby the company is increasing the total employee financial responsibility for an out-of-network doctor visit or procedure by more than 50 percent. According the chair of the Health Committee of the New York State Assembly: “While Oxford [members] will technically have the choice of going out of network, for many of them that will not be a realistic option, so it is, in effect, a dramatic restriction of their health care options.” More
Original Reporting | By James Lardner | Energy
For nearly a decade, American leaders have been touting a “nuclear renaissance” as a crucial part of our response to global warming and the other high costs of a carbon-based economy. Yet even before the Fukushima catastrophe raised fresh questions about safety and the costs of proper construction, the renaissance was stubbornly refusing to proceed on schedule. Why? More
Original Reporting | By Eric Kroh | Energy, Taxes
Following large first-quarter earnings announcements from major oil companies, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus announced plans to introduce legislation to end tax incentives for the largest oil and gas companies, and President Obama renewed his call to eliminate those benefits for the entire industry. More
Original Reporting | By James Lardner | Health care
The health care cost-control theory says that, with more of our personal dollars at stake, we will learn to make smarter health care choices at lower net cost. While the theory is gaining more adherents in both parties, that growing support is coming in the face of research documenting deep flaws in the hypothesis. More
Original Reporting | By Greg Marx | Markets, Regulation
In the fallout from the financial crisis, the Securities and Exchange Commission has frequently been criticized for its failure to take on some of the country’s largest commercial entities. Now, some investor advocates are raising another concern: that, even as much of the work of reforming financial regulation remains incomplete, the commission may be laying the groundwork for efforts to lift regulations and weaken investor protections that apply to smaller and more closely-held companies. More
Original Reporting | By James Lardner | Environment, Role of government, Transportation
For all the talk among “pro-business” politicians about spending and tax cuts as the formula for economic recovery, many leaders of coal, oil, agribusiness, and barge and shipping companies want Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers to get serious about maintaining and upgrading the nation’s inland and coastal waterways. They believe that their ability to compete and grow requires an active and well-funded government. More
Original Reporting | By James Lardner | Regulation
Is America’s economic recovery being stymied by the “uncertainty” associated with new or changing federal regulation? Judging by the results of more than a dozen interviews and a similar number of phone and email inquiries, it appears that few of those asserting a link between regulatory uncertainty and diminished business investment or hiring are prepared to provide any specific evidence of such a connection. Even in conversations with business managers and owners who have publicly made this claim, it soon emerged that what truly concerns them, in most cases, is stronger regulation rather than uncertain regulation. More