Let’s say you needed a pacemaker and you went to Uniontown hospital in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, the charge might be $20,000. If you went to Phoenixville Hospital near Philadelphia, the charge might have been $211,000.
Hospitals list radically different charges “because they can,” says Gerard Anderson, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management. “Nobody’s been looking at their charges over the last 30 years.”
In the past, hospitals have kept their charges hidden, according to Peter Ubel , professor of Business Administration and Medicine, at Duke University. “If I’m negotiating prices with insurers, I don’t want people to know about it.”
Just because hospitals charge wildly different amounts doesn’t mean people pay those amounts.
“Most of the prices you’re seeing aren’t what anybody is being charged,” says Ubel. “The vast majority of people come in with private insurer, and that insurer has negotiated a very different rate.”
New federal data show Medicare reimbursement rates are typically far below the listing price that hospitals charge.
Click here to see the government's data on hospital charges.
However, for the uninsured, Ubel says the variations in price have a significant impact -- even after negotiating with a hospital; whether you’re billed for $10,000 or $100,000 could depend on what hospital you happened to be closest to when you had your heart attack. “There’s a lot of random, bad luck involved," says Ubel.
Ateev Mehrotra, a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and RAND analyst who has focused on hospital billing, points to a more systemic problem of the disparate charges and their convoluted relationship with actual customer bills.
“The charges make it extremely difficult to shop for care because the numbers being provided to the patient don’t make any sense,” he says. In a 2007 study, Mehrotra had researchers pose as patients trying to get prices from hospitals before signing up for a procedure. The hospitals “wouldn’t tell us how much we’d actually get charged,” but rather gave only the official price for a procedure.
Robin Gelburd, president of FAIRhealth, says shopping around is impractical sometimes because “healthcare consumers don’t always put on the hat as a negotiator, because you’re often catching them at a very sensitive time.”
In an ambulance, for example.
FAIRhealth is a nonprofit that provides healthcare claims information to insurers and consumers. It came into being through a settlement agreement in a 2009 New York class action suit against insurance companies.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is announcing a federal grant of $87 million to the states to create “health-care-data-pricing centers” designed to improve pricing transparency.
Gerard Anderson, with Johns Hopkins, says the Affordable Care Act “does create price transparency, but it won’t change the amount that Medicare pays, how much insurance companies who already have contracts with a hospital will pay.”
Gelburd, with FAIRhealth, says the “the chapter on cost has yet to be written.”
Germany has been attacked by some of its European partners for promoting austerity as the best way to deal with the debt crisis. But Germany seems to be providing a lifeline for the hardest hit euro zone countries: It’s become a magnet for migrant workers.
More than a million foreigners flocked to Germany for work last year, the biggest influx since 1995. Most of the migrants were from Eastern Europe, but many came from recession-hit countries elsewhere in the euro zone. And it’s easy to see why.
In countries in crisis, like Greece and Spain, more than a quarter of the workforce is unemployed. Meanwhile in the more buoyant German economy, the jobless rate has fallen to around 5 percent.
The immigrants are a boon for Germany which has one of the lowest birthrates in the world; the homegrown population is shrinking.
“German unemployment has reached the level where German companies find it difficult to find the skills they require for certain jobs," says Christian Schulz of the German bank Berenberg. “They have to look to immigrants to fill these positions.”
But Germany faces further criticism from some its southern neighbors. They argue that they are losing some of their brightest young workers, and they accuse the German government of triggering the recession by insisting on austerity while German industry now benefits from the brain drain.
This final note is something of a blast from the past.
Anybody remember Jeff Skilling? Gotta go back to the days of Enron and its aftermath. Skilling was the president and Ken Lay was the CEO when it all fell apart.
In 2006, Skilling was sentenced to 24 years in jail. But there's word today he's reached a deal with prosecutors to cut that short. He'll waive further rights to appeal, disgorge $40 million to victims of the fraud and be out as soon as 2017.
Today the electric car company Tesla Motors is expected to announce it has turned a profit for the first time. That’s in part because of the success of its Model S luxury sedan, which costs anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000. But what has also led to those profits is money that Tesla made from selling California Zero Emission Vehicle Credits to other car companies.
To understand the complicated world of California’s credit system I thought I would start by visiting a Tesla store in Santa Monica, just a few blocks from the Pacific.
In the spare, white-tiled showroom at the Third Street Promenade, an upscale outdoor mall, I met Tesla's manager for the Southwest region Jeremy Snyder.
“The Tesla store experience is unique because we own all of our distribution and unlike dealer franchises, we control the entire experience,” Snyder said.
This is the first point in a very long list of ways that Tesla different is from every other car company Snyder explained. Another: Tesla keeps only a single car in its showroom -- the Model S.
Snyder led me to an alley behind the store where he keeps the test drive models.
“Why don’t I drive first. It will be easier to blow your mind,” Snyder said. He then touched a chrome panel below the driver side window and the door handle emerged from the side of the car.
We drove up the Pacific Coast Highway and it was kind of a mind blowing experience. The car accelerates with G-force speed. According to Snyder, Blue Angel fighter pilots have described it as the closest thing to an F-18 fighter jet on four wheels. He pressed down on the accelerator and we descended the on ramp toward the beach.
“That’s what we call the Tesla grin,” he said.
But perhaps its greatest engineering feat is its range of 300 miles on a single electric charge. And now the Model S can turn a profit thanks in part to California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Credits.
“The Zero Emission Vehicle regulation is a requirement that’s placed on the large auto makers to make and sell zero emission vehicles,” said Ana Lisa Bevan, with the California Air Resources Board. The board requires auto makers to turn in a certain number of credits per year.
Companies earn those credits by making and selling zero emission vehicles.
“So if a manufacturer has sales in California of, let’s say, 100,000 vehicles, and the obligation is credits equal to one percent of their sales, they have to come up with 1,000 credits,” Bevan said.
If a company comes up short, it has to pay a penalty of up to $5,000 per credit. Or it can buy credits from a company like Tesla, which happens to earn a lot of credits on every car it makes.Tesla has sold enough credits to post its first profit.
Correction: The original article misstated the title of Jeremy Snyder. He is Tesla Motors’ manager for the Southwest region. The text has been corrected.
The media landscape is rapidly changing. Long-running Print bastions, such as Newsweek, have gone completely digital. Up-starts Twitter, Buzzfeed, and Instagram are new media mainstays. And many of us are now relying our phones to stay informed.
All this week, we've been talking about the near-future of tech -- not clones and robot servants, but what's coming in the next decade. And when it comes to our own industry, media, the future means going mobile in every way.
"How it's distributed, how it's read, how it's consumed, how it's discovered," says Kara Swisher, co-exectuive editor AllThingsD. "Twitter has played a big role in this recently and its a mobile app for the most part."
Aside from Twitter, news aggregators and short-form "listicle-journalism" put out by sites like Buzzfeed are at the forefront of mobile right now. But Swisher says there is also a place for in-depth content in the years ahead.
"Mobile doesn't just entail a smartphone, it's also tablets," Swisher says. "Tablets are perfect vehicles to read long-form journalism, so it's not as if everything has to be short and stupid."
The key for news outlets, Swisher adds, is remembering to market yourself, something she thinks journalists have fallen away from.
"Better headline writing, better entry into stories," she says.
And, lastly, big staffs are and will continue to be out in favor of quick, nimble newsrooms.
To hear more about Facebook, Instagram, and other mobile apps, click on the audio player above to hear more.
News Corp. is made up of newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and New York Post, but also cable TV channels like Fox News and FX -- and don’t forget, a movie studio. Most analysts say the print side has been holding back the entertainment side. So what will happen to the new entertainment company, when it’s spun off?
James Dix, who follows News Corp. for Wedbush Securities, says earnings at the new entertainment company, to be called Twenty-First Century Fox, will be strong.
“If [it] continues growth patterns that [we've] seen for the cable and the television, [we]’re going to see pretty strong double digit growth," Dix explains.
What’ll happen to the print division? It’ll keep the News Corp. name. It won’t be splashy.
Brett Harriss, a News Corp. analyst at Gabelli & Company, says keep your eye on the publishing side. Its stock might get pushed down to a bargain basement price.
“It might get ignored," he says. "The price might fall such that it’s an attractive investment.”
Harriss says News Corp.'s publishing side might be small, but it is expected to keep growing.
We’ve been talking lately about the "Internet of Things” -- networks of devices that talk to one another. A fridge that knows when you get home and cracks open a beer for you, or a car that turns into a hotspot so you can get online with your tablet.
The U.S. military has been thinking about the "Internet of Things" as well, but there are some major obstacles. The Defense Department doesn't always operate in countries that have the necessary network infrastructure. And the bigger a network gets, the more congested it becomes.
To solve these problems, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is requesting creative ideas for building what are called "ad hoc networks".
"The ad hoc networks that we use are a like a conference call," says Mark Rich, program manager for DARPA's strategic technology office, who adds the calls can get crowded.
"Think about if you had 50 people on a conference call, it’s a very different experience than if you have three or four."
Rich says this type of network sharing isn't sustainable for the years ahead, when 50 people on a conference call will become 5,000. So rather than working to expand network capacity, DARPA is searching for wholly new kinds of networks.
"We'd like to back up and really look for new thinking and how might we do things differently, as opposed to extending the kinds of network services that we have today," Rich says. "So the start-up culture is something that we very much promote."
To hear more about DARPA's new projects, click on the audio player above.
It's rare these days that legislation flies through the U.S. Senate and gets bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. The Internet sales tax bill could do both. The Marketplace Fairness Act, as it’s officially called, would impose a sales tax on all online purchases. President Obama says he'll sign the legislation if it makes it to his desk.
You might think the big online retailers would have a problem with that. Not so, says Adam Clark Estes, who writes for The Atlantic Wire. Actually, it's the little guys.
"As Amazon has grown bigger and set up distribution centers in more states, they are already having to charge sales tax in a lot of states anyways," Estes says. "The companies that don't like this law are companies like eBay [which] deals with a lot of very small retailers -- people that are selling antiques out of their garage."
Estes says the act could get support from Republicans who want to even the playing field for small businesses and brick and mortor stores. And he thinks Democrats will be swayed by the estimated $12 billion in annual tax revenue. Now that it has passed the Senate, the bill will go to committee before it reaches the House floor.
Brazil's Roberto Azevedo has been chosen to become the next leader of the World Trade Organization, he will be the first Latin American to head the international group.
The BBC's Andrew Walker in London joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss what the new appointment means and how Azevedo could shape global trade policy.
Google Glass isn’t out yet but the backlash is already spreading.
And there’s a new term being coined for the techies wearing them, “Glassholes,” says Geoff Nunberg, a professor at UC Berkeley School of Information.
“Glassholes is a rather rude way of what we can say is the idea that these people are walking around present physically but mentally and spiritually elsewhere,” Nunberg explains.
Trip Chowdhry, an analyst at Global Equities Research, says this attitude is making his fellow-analysts nervous about the commercial viability of Google Glass. But Chowdhry says, we’re all missing the point.
“What Google is doing with Google Glass is that they’re seeding the innovation seeds in a completely new space,” he said.
Chowdhry says Google Glass could very well fail. But the effort is already sparking a market for “wearable computers” and it will probably lead to technological advances that can be monetized later.
Microsoft announced a bit of a walk-back today. They're going to come out with a fix for Windows 8, due out at the end of the year, in response to complaints about the new operating system.
But says Nancy Koehn, historian at Harvard Business School, this isn't the first time corporate America has had a misstep.
She recalls the Ford Explorer's Firestone tire problem a decade ago. And more recently, Apple's "Antennagate," when the smartphone lost reception if held a certain way.
Another long-forgotten corporate mistake? When Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz thought customers might like to hear opera music to remind them of Italy. That didn't go over so well.
Complaints about Windows 8 hasn't hurt sales for the company, though.
Koehn wonders if getting out in front of angry customers could hurt the company in the long run. She asks: Will this will cause purchasing folks in corporations to say, oh wait a minute? We'll have to wait and see.
For the rest of corporate America -- this could be a cautionary tale if not a sign of things to come: Consumers expect more from the companies they buy from.
Microsoft has been the company you love to hate for years and that means "Microsoft simply has less reign to run in" compared to fan favorites like Apple, Koehn says.
These days, it seems like airlines are trying to squeeze a dollar out of consumers any way they can. Pack a bag, pay an extra $25. Pick a seat, throw down another $30. Care for a pack of peanuts? That could cost you, too.
Now, it looks like the federal government may trying to cash in on your travel plans as well. As part of his new budget proposal, President Barack Obama plans to increase federal taxes and fees on airlines tickets.
But before you brace for change, here's a look at some other tax-heavy items you already pay more for.
1. Cell Phones
Almost everyone's been slapped in the face by an unexpectedly high phone bill. But did you know that you're also paying 5.8 percent sales tax on your cell phone? That might be enough to make you want to slap your phone right back.2. Gas
Even small fluctuations in gas prices can sometimes send consumers chasing around town for the cheapest rates. But did you know that for every gallon, you're also being hit with 18.4 cents of sales tax? It's practically highway robbery!3. Beer
Beer's usually made to do down pretty smooth, but there is one hiccup with consuming frosty brews in this country -- 58 cents per gallon sales tax.4. Liquor
Drinking liquor can get anyone tipsy, but with a sales tax of $13.50 per gallon, who can blame the average consumer for getting tripped up?
Ever since 1965, and the start of anti-smoking campaigns, cigarette prices have been on the rise. Today, legislators tack on an extra $1.00 of sales tax per pack, hoping high prices will help convince smokers to drop the habit.
When author Damian Thompson talks about addiction, he's speaking in part from experience. He's an alcoholic who got sober a number of years ago.
He argues in his new book, "The Fix," that it's not just addicts who are like him. It could very well be all of us, whether it's Facebook, Twitter, your iPhone, cupcakes or the really hard stuff. And that sliding scale can add up to big profits when we get hooked.
Thompson said he defines addiction as "the point at which a particular habit starts to cause you harm."
So can addiction really be applied to things like iPhones? You can't die from an iPhone addiction, after all. "I agree," he said. "What I am saying, however, is technology does have the potential to draw us into darker addictions. A small proportion of people who are addicted to spending time online will become addicted to apparently innocent activities such as computer games, such as World of Warcraft, or whatever, that take up so much of their time that they just don't have a life."
Compared with 20 years ago, we can find delectable options at every turn.
"Our bodies were not built for the fabulous, enticing and artery-clogging choices that greet us everywhere we go," said Thompson.
It's not a coincidence, he argues, that the things we get hooked on often have high profit margins, be they illegal drugs or iPads.
"It's actually something to do with the chemistry in our brains. We have got used to the idea that we reward ourselves every time you eat a cupcake or every time you drink alcohol or try particular drugs, all sorts of online sensations -- you get a dopamine squirt, you get some sort of reward from your brain chemistry."
Manufacturers are increasingly attuned to the demand for their product, as customers engage voraciously, he says. Then they futher refine the pitch to appeal to an even more instantaneous craving.
As for his own fix, Thompson admits to being addicted to the Showtime TV show, "Dexter." "Yeah, I watch it every night until the point where I get into bed, and because of the iPad, I watch it until I'm too tired for work the next morning."
So far, BP has spent more than $14 billion on Gulf Coast cleanup following the Deepwater Horizon spill. Recently the company announced another round of spending -- this time, $594 million going to the five states bordering the Gulf.
To this point, early restoration money from Florida to Texas has gone toward dune and marsh restoration, and bringing back bird and sea turtle habitats. The company has cleaned up thousands of miles of shoreline.
But some say the latest projects funded by a share of BP money have nothing at all to do with the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Take Alabama, for example, where most of the $100 million the state is getting from BP is going toward enhancements, including a new lodge and conference center at Gulf State Park.
"Gulf State Park is an integral part of the coastal experience here in Alabama," says Herb Malone, president and CEO of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism in Alabama. He says the old lodge had aged over decades, and suffered damage from Hurricane Ivan.
But Malone says there is a connection to the spill. "If the oil spill took away the right of human use for the citizens of Alabama for such an extended period of time, then this facility will enhance the human use capabilities and therefore that's where the mitigation factor comes from," Malone says.
But Aaron Viles, deputy director of the environmental group Gulf Restoration Network, says it's an example of misplaced priorities. "That I think just goes in the face of what these restoration dollars are supposed to be accomplishing," Viles says.
Viles says there's still lots of environmental work to be done.
"I think they're choosing economic activity because that's a bigger payoff for them politically," he says. Along with BP, the group that decides how the money may be spent includes state and federal officials.
Speaking of economic activity, Herb Malone says Alabama is seeing a record year for tourism along the coast.
You don't need me to tell you that health care spending knows only one direction: Up.
But here's some good news: It's not going up as fast as it used to. Between 2009 and 2011, spending grew at its slowest rate in 50 years.
And some new research suggests this could be the start of a beautiful new trend that could shave nearly a $1 trillion off the national debt in less than a decade.
“Cautiously optimistic,” that’s how some of the top people in healthcare put it when they analyze the spending data. Before the recession, total health care spending grew every year between 6 and 9 percent.
The last four years it’s been 3 to 4 percent.
“Now, we don’t really know with great precision what’s responsible for that,” says Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Altman says health policy folks all agree the recession is part of the answer -- lose your job and you’re less likely to see the doctor.
But several reports in the last few weeks say there’s more to it.
“There are physicians and administrators around the country, asking themselves, how are we spending our money and how can we spend less of it and still provide high quality care,” says Chernew.
New health insurance contracts and federal incentives are encouraging doctors and hospitals to think twice before ordering that second MRI or extra night in the hospital.
Chernew believes payment reforms are doing what they’re supposed to, squeezing out the additional costs.
“A typical individual with a policy from a small employer has a deductible of over $1,000. And for a family it’s probably $2,000 - $3,000. To put this in perspective that more money than most people have in the bank,” he says.
One of the reasons Cutler thinks the trend of slowing health care spending may be sustainable is because you and me have more skin in the game. The higher the deductible, the more the co-pay, the less we spend.
And Cutler says that’s a mixed bag. Maybe there are fewer wasteful tests, but it can also mean less preventive care.
“Over time, if you don’t treat people’s risk factors they will go on to develop heart disease, cancer and so on. We need to be careful between thinking that spending less on healthcare is good, which it is. But then therefore saying that anyway you spend less is obviously good, which is not true,” says Cutler.
Cutler says the data suggests there’s reason to believe the nation is making some headway on slowing the growth of health care costs.
But he quickly adds much more work is needed.
Your travel plans for next year might be getting a little more expensive. As part of his 2014 budget request, President Barack Obama has proposed an increase in the federal taxes and fees on airline tickets. They already amount to around 20 percent of the ticket price.
But plane tickets aren’t the only tax-heavy customer purchases.
"Spirits, beer, cigarettes, gasoline, meals in restaurants and cell phones often have a much higher than usual tax rate on them," says Richard Morrison at the Tax Foundation.
Uncle Sam slaps a 5.8 percent tax on cell phone bills, and if you live in Nebraska, add 25 percent state tax to your bill. The federal government adds $1 to every pack of cigarettes and $13.50 to every gallon of liquor.
Still, airlines are in a category by themselves, says Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst with Hudson Crossing.
"Airlines as an industry are taxed more than tobacco and alcohol," he says.
Harteveldt says that does impact the industry. Hudson Crossing's research shows that half of travelers allow their budgets to dictate where they go, and he adds that leisure destinations like Florida and Las Vegas could be hit especially hard.
"My concern is that this could cause people to either stay home or they’ll not fly," he says.
But Clifford Winston, an economist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, doubts the proposed taxes will change travel habits.
"There would be modest increases there, but I don't see a huge change in price," he says. "I don't think it will be enough to affect travel plans."
But if you do decide to drive instead of fly, keep this in mind: The federal tax on gas is 18 cents a gallon and, if you fill up in New York, you'll pay another 50 cents a gallon in taxes. That brings the tax rate to pretty much the same you'd pay to fly.
Among the worst kept secrets in the global economy is the fact that we're all spying on each other. Sometimes it's good old corporate espionage. But sometimes it's a bit more ominous.
Exhibit A: The Pentagon's latest report to Congress on the threat posed by the Chinese military.
For the first time, Barack Obama's administration says the Chinese are out to get us, cyber-wise, on both national security and corporate networks.
"There is a timing that's important to note here. Congress is trying to push through cybersecurity legislation, and lobbyists are trying to push it through as well," said Kim Zetter, a senior writer at Wired magazine.
But even though the timing of the announcement may be politically expedient, the attacks are common. That has driven more defense contractors into the anti-hacking business.
"There's a lot of money to be made in government contracts for cybersecurity," Zetter said. "Rather than trying to build up the capability from scratch, [defense contractors] are purchasing whole hog cybersecurity firms to get those contracts."
Like the Pentagon, contractors draw interest from hackers, only with fewer safeguards.
"Their networks are often the weaker chokepoint for foreign adversaries. If the federal government has classified information, it's often kept on machines not connected to the internet," Zetter said.
That's because the easiest computer for a Chinese hacker to access is a computer that's online. "Whereas when you have a defense contractor, you have a little more ... fudging in the networks."
While it's blasting Chinese hacking attempts, the Pentagon is also teaming up with a Chinese manufacturer for an unusual project. As Wired reported last week, the U.S. has leased a Chinese communications satellite for military operations in Africa.
"You've got a double problem here. One is, you're complaining that they're coming after our data. On the other hand, you're handing them the data," Zetter said. "It's hard to complain afterwards that they steal it."
That said, there could be another layer of espionage at play, Zetter said.
In a plan befitting James Bond, the government might be sending false data to the satellite, in hopes the Chinese will decrypt it.
What’s essentially the last undeveloped piece of Honolulu’s waterfront sits on seven acres, is worth $75 million and is a developer’s dream. Breathtaking views unfold all around, from the vast Pacific to Diamond Head’s iconic peak. Brilliantly colored birds linger in the trees. The area’s name has the vowel-richness one expects from Hawaii: Kakaako (pronounced KAH-cuh-AH-coh).
It’s easy to imagine pricey condos or luxurious hotels rising here. But if a group of influential local business and community leaders has its way, this prime real estate will be the foundation of President Obama’s legacy.
The president still has three years in office, but eventually his thoughts will turn to what comes afterward. He’ll need a plan for the must-have for all former White House occupants, the presidential center: a library to house his papers, a museum to burnish his image and, probably, a foundation and educational program to quench any enduring thirst for public service.
Chicago is a natural choice as the birthplace of his political career. But his actual birthplace wants in on the action, eager for the jobs and economic impact it could create. Though an underdog because of its isolated geography, Hawaii is pushing ahead with an unusual public campaign for piece of President Obama’s post-presidency.
Hawaii can’t compete with Chicago’s middle-American location. But the land set aside for President Obama has views one won’t find on the banks of Lake Michigan.
“It is the most incredible piece of land,” says Connie Lau, CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries. “In Hawaii, land is so precious, that to have a site like this, something very, very special should be done with it.”
Lau is among the prominent local business leaders behind the campaign for an Obama presidential center. She gets a visual reminder of the potential every day. The banking and energy executive can see the proposed waterfront site, along with just about everything else in town, from the commanding heights of her 30th floor office.
She and other organizers speak openly about the campaign to convince the president and his advisors to choose Hawaii. The effort has a website making its case. The highly public wooing is quite atypical. Mostly, presidential centers come about away from the spotlight.
University of Hawaii professor Robert Perkinson is leading the effort to land a presidential center. On a tour of the site, he repeatedly pointed out that it’s one of Hawaii’s best spots for bodysurfing, a pastime of the president. The campaign hopes that the strong feelings the president has for Hawaii, created in his childhood and renewed with yearly Christmas visits here, will sway him to build a presidential center here.
Hawaii’s beaches and waves are a tourist magnet that’s the envy of other states. But apart from Pearl Harbor, its cultural and historical offerings are relatively thin. Landing a presidential center would change that and could inspire a cultural district to spring up around it.
“Eight million people a year come to Hawaii,” Perkinson explains. “When it rains, they’re often looking for something educational and enlightening to do.”
The bigger hope that a center could spark new development the way the Clinton library did for Little Rock. City officials there credit it with more than $2.25 billion in economic impact, bringing jobs and more than 300,000 visitors a year. The construction alone would be a major boost for Hawaii. The recently opened George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum cost a quarter of a billion dollars.
The president has overwhelming support in Hawaii, and it’s hard to find an islander against the idea of an Obama center. But some are wary about the economic dividend. Local economist Paul Brewbaker expressed his concerns at Island Snow, which serves shaved ice to the Obamas when they’re in town. Wearing a colorful aloha shirt -- acceptable business wear in Hawaii -- he says he would love to see an Obama center here, but cautioned that big projects don't always deliver a big economic lift.
“I think it’s important here in Hawaii for people to keep pushing to achieve the dream, but maybe to temper their expectations,” Brewbaker says.
Hawaii’s location makes it a tougher sell than Chicago, which is a day’s drive for tens of millions of Americans. That’s a reality that Honolulu organizers don’t deny.
“I think the thought was that the formal presidential library would be in Chicago,” says Jim Scott, president of the elite Punahou School, where the president -- then known as Barry -- graduated in 1979.
A presidential library has to be easily accessible to scholars and visitors, so Chicago has a clear advantage. That’s why Honolulu’s leaders named their public campaign carefully: The Hawaii Presidential Center Initiative, not a presidential library.
“If you called it a library, there might be only one library,” Connie Lau explains. “Whereas with a center, that concept is a little bit broader.”
If, as many inside and outside Hawaii expect, Chicago lands the presidential library, an Obama foundation or other elements could still be in Hawaii. This would give President Obama a nice base of operations in an area he loves.
“He could spend his winters in Hawaii; Chicago in spring and the summer,” Scott suggests.
The Honolulu-Chicago competition is a departure from the history of presidential libraries, which began with Franklin Roosevelt. While various sites within a president’s home state vie to host, an interstate rivalry is something different.
“President Obama is an unusual case because he really does have roots in Hawaii and in Illinois and that is rare,” says University of Louisville professor Ben Hufbauer, author of a book on presidential libraries.
While Ronald Reagan may have been born in Illinois, Hufbauer says a Reagan presidential library outside California would have been unthinkable. (He adds that he would be happy to visit an Obama center in Hawaii. For research, of course.)
But like a lot of Americans today, President Obama can credibly call more than one state home. He hasn’t said where he'll put his library or any part of a presidential center. Hawaii is working hard to get him to spread the wealth.
African-American men in Chicago say some temp firms discriminate against them and prefer to hire Latino immigrants.
New numbers on job openings in the U.S. are out. And there's a bit of a mystery: Why are there so many job openings and so few hires?
Stocks were up around the globe this morning. It started with Australia cutting interest rates. Then investors in Japan came back from vacation and pushed the Nikkei up 3.6 percent overnight. Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott, explains what's got markets running strong.
Stocks were up around the globe this morning. It started with Australia cutting interest rates. Then investors in Japan came back from vacation and pushed the Nikkei up 3.6 percent overnight.
Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to explain what's got markets running strong.