TrumpCuts: Some Numbers

The TrumpCuts bill has erupted from its secret prison somewhere in the Congressional office buildings and is rushing through the House, presumably in an attempt to reach a legislative endzone before the linebackers of common sense and civic interest are able to execute a tackle.

(This is a football metaphor. Can you tell it’s not my native language?)

Anyway. This unseemly and disreputable haste has caused the bill to outrun the Congressional Budget Office and thus far escape “scoring”, where the bill receives a non-partisan and official estimate of its likely economic impacts. However, precisely to fill this gap, a wide range of wonkshops has churned out estimated impacts.

In particular, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has released this report. I’d like to draw your attention to this graph, of estimated premium subsidy cuts across states. (The figures are all per person per year averages.)

Fig. 1

Fig. 1: Fig. 1 of the CBPP report.

Now, when I see a list of states like that, I think of the Electoral College. (You can read my opinion of that superannuated institution here.) As you may have heard, we recently had something of an electoral dust-up, and I got to wondering: what is the correlation between the magnitude of the cuts and the partisan allegiances of the various states?

(It’s important to note that not all 50 states are listed above; instead, it’s only the 39 states relying on the federal health exchange. Of the 11 states with their own exchanges, 10 went for Clinton, Idaho for Trump.)

So I ran an excel regression against that data set of the recent electoral results I keep around for just this purpose. And, in order to have some flashy statistics for you, I took a few averages.

Without further ado, the highlights:

Fig. 2
Fig. 2: An inhumanly expensive wire cart. No, I have no idea why it costs so much.

  • The average benefit cut in Trump states is projected to be $2567.66, more than twice as much as in the Clinton states. This is the literal price of a house, although admittedly it’s the smallest, cutest house you could conceivably buy (it’s the “Little Cottage Company Value Workshop Shed Precut Playhouse Kit”; I think Edna Krabapple and Principal Seymour Skinner made out in that one.)
    .

Fig. 3

Fig. 3: The cute, tiny house that Donald Trump wants to steal every year from the average American subsidy recipient in states that voted for him.

  • Also, for some reason, the Red State Trump Cut is the same price as a lot of different chandeliers? I don’t pretend to understand this either, but at least it’s a great look for the whole “fuck the poor, go Antoinette” thing Trump + Ryan have going on.

Fig. 4

Fig. 4: Only one of a bizarre number of chandeliers Donald Trump is taking from you, voters in every Republican state but Idaho.

But what about the regressions I promised? Well:

  • The correlation coefficient between Trump’s margin of victory and the size of the cut is 0.350.
  • Unfortunately, there’s no Jungle Search for famous correlation coefficients, but 0.35 is a respectable, solid correlation.
  • The p-value on that correlation is 0.029, a value that strongly suggests the correlation is not the result of chance.

Summary: The TrumpCuts are a kick in the teeth to everyone, but especially red state voters.

However! There was a second variable I examined: the absolute margin of victory, as a measure of how competitive a state was.

  • Competitive states, defined as those where the final margin of victory was less than 5%, face an average cut of $1576.89
  • Non-competitive states face an average cut of $2385.17
  • The gap in averages persists within parties, but is dominated by the partisan alignment.
    • Competitive Clinton states are looking at cuts of $933.33, and among them is the only state looking at a non-negligible increase, Nevada
    • Noncompetitive Clinton states are facing $1212.14 cuts.
    • Competitive Trump states are facing $1898.67 cuts
    • Noncompetitive Trump states are facing $2742.17 cuts
  • However, at that point you’re getting down to some really small populations—only three states 1) voted for Clinton 2) by less than 5% and 3) use the federal exchanges.
  • So let’s talk regressions. The correlation coefficient between absolute margin of victory and cut size was 0.304, weaker than the Trump Margin correlation but still strong.
  • And its p-value was 0.093, which is . . . not as great. (I’m happy to run the election again, you know, just to see if the correlation is preserved.)

So, second summary: The TrumpCuts are less painful for more competitive states.

An overall caveat is in order: averaging cuts between states is something of a fools errand. We’d need to consider how many people were on the exchanges in each state, and how large a fraction they constitute of the state population, in order to perform a more sensible averaging. Pure state-to-state comparisons are pretty silly, and I plan to give up on caring about them the second they no longer have an inexplicable, disproportionate impact on who the President is.

Nevertheless. States exist; the regressions are robust. TrumpCuts screw all (except Nevadans?), but especially his strongest supporters. 

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