Third Way Perspectives
Archive for June, 2012
June 28th, 2012
The Supreme Court ruling on health care re-affirms the President’s goal of stable and secure coverage for the middle class and the nation. It is time for the Republicans to drop their fight against the law and join forces with Democrats against a common enemy: rising health care costs. Both parties should take full advantage of the key role that states play in health care, an important topic the Supreme Court also ruled on today.
Today’s ruling affects the expansion of health care coverage to the poor under Medicaid. As a quick refresher: the Affordable Care Act required states to expand coverage to all the poor under Medicaid. Today, one-third of the poor have no coverage under Medicaid, through a job, or any other source.
The Supreme Court affirmed the federal funding for that coverage, but said states should be free to choose whether to accept it for expanding Medicaid. From the start of the expansion in 2014 through 2016, federal funding covers 100 percent of the costs of expanding Medicaid, but after that, the states will start splitting the cost with the feds. The state’s costs are capped at 10% of the total, far less than their typical share, which averages 32% across the states.
What does this mean?
June 28th, 2012
I have a two-year old son, and the Affordable Care Act is way too hard for him to pronounce. We’re still celebrating “cookie” and “Elmo”. But today’s Supreme Court decision will have a massive impact on him—and millions of other toddlers who will one day carry forward the American Dream. Read the rest of this entry »
June 26th, 2012
Like the change of the seasons, recent headlines have again declared the death of venture capital investments in clean tech. This is nothing new. We warned of a decline in early stage venture investment in November 2011. The reality that clean tech is not the Internet has firmly settled over Silicon Valley, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and other centers of venture capital. Despite this revelation from some outside the sector, as clean tech investor Rob Day recently noted, much is going right in clean energy right now. We’re seeing an era of booming U.S. solar. Installation of wind turbines in the U.S. was up 52% from 2012. Tesla launched sales of its Model S sedan. We may be getting closer to a game changer in battery technology.
Progress in clean energy, however, reinforces that clean energy is fundamentally different than the Internet business. Solar has to compete with coal; Google had to compete with your local library. Entering a big, established market can be great – there’s obviously demand. It also means, however, that a new company has to offer a better or much less expensive product than what already exists. In energy, that often doesn’t mean the best technology, but instead comes down to best economics. As with anything new, costs are certainly falling in solar, wind, and other clean energy technologies as we gain experience, but it can be an expensive, long wait. In the VC world, 10 years is too long to realize a return and $500 million is too much to risk on one company. Especially in a market with Instagram and Zynga, it’s just not reasonable to expect VCs to take the long, large risks.
So, what then?
While there is certainly some private capital still in cleantech, it can’t be relied on to shoulder all the risk of our clean energy future; alternative paths of technology development and commercialization are vital. Whether it’s incentivizing investment with new tax treatments, government loan programs, public-private partnerships, or completely novel approaches, some of the best minds are hard at work on finding solutions. With entrepreneurs figuring out the hard technology problems to make clean energy a reality, the capital will find a way to follow.
June 25th, 2012
By Ryan Fitzpatrick and Joshua Freed
This piece was originally posted on National Journal.
America’s tax code is holding the country back from a more productive and prosperous economic future. Third Way has long advocated for an updated comprehensive tax policy to promote innovation and job creation, help domestic industries compete in the global market, and draw business and investment from international competitors. This vision for general tax policy reform easily applies to energy, as well. To leverage our energy tax policy to the nation’s greatest advantage, we need to look at both the short and long term strategies simultaneously. The short term is pretty easy, so let’s take care of the long-term first. As Mom would say, you finish the brussels sprouts before you get dessert. Read the rest of this entry »
June 13th, 2012
Whether it’s desire for more talk time or longer electric vehicle trips, a paper in Nature this week has a potential solution: lithium-air batteries. While the concept of lithium air batteries isn’t new, past research showed big limitations with both lifetime, often lasting only a few cycles, and ability to charge quickly. With new materials, Korean researchers may have found a solution to both of those problems, opening up this technology for the track to commercialization. Read the rest of this entry »