FRANKO & BURNETT: Enron values at EPA

Our nation's capital has always been a place of paradoxical twists. From canings on the Senate floor in the 1800s to President Reagan and Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill sharing drinks at the end of the day, it takes a lot for Washington to be surprised. Even so, we find ourselves surprised at events on Capitol Hill likely to take place over the coming weeks.

Congress Declares War on HSAs

While Congress has been debating health reform, employers have been creating new consumer-driven health care (CDHC) plans.  In fact, CDHC plans are the only type of health insurance that has been shown to reliably change patient and doctor behavior in ways that lower costs and improve the quality of care.

Health Exchange Subsidies Would Impose High Marginal Taxes

Both the House and Senate health reform bills would establish exchanges offering people health insurance policies. Low-income individuals and families who did not have employer-provided health insurance and obtained coverage through an exchange would be eligible for subsidies. In both bills, the subsidies phase out with income, although the specific numbers differ.

Health Insurance Exchange Subsidies Create Inequities

Both the House and Senate versions of the health care bill, as well as the Obama administration's "compromise" proposal, offer large subsidies to encourage low- and middle-income individuals and households to purchase health insurance from private insurers through a government-supervised health insurance exchange.

Economic Freedom, Democracy and the Quality of Life

Capitalism and democracy are both known to improve the quality of life. But which is more effective in promoting social welfare? Three typical measures of social welfare are health, education and disease prevention. Poor countries generally rank lower than developed countries on these social metrics, but better public policies can improve them.