« The Weeds

Policy by other means

2019-12-13

Georgetown’s Don Moynihan and Pamela Herd explain administrative burdens and why they matter.

Guest:

Don Moynihan (@donmoyn), Professor at Georgetown, Visiting Professor at Oxford & Aarhus

Pamela Herd (@Pamela_Herd), Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown University

Host:

Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Senior correspondent, Vox

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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hey everybody. This is Jason buckling and let me welcome you back to our podcast in conversation with sharper five plus now season. One was all but the biggest names and business steed Laddie, Danny Reeves ship Wilson waiting here who are talking to now proceeding to Philip friend CEO aspect, wordsmith founder tv, a heart attack our counter have had their hats and chinese sphere, cofounder hostility, outbreaks, Chrysophora, cofounder, lower carbon capital area. Ok, ceo airship, this his in conversation wash up. If I play at my guest
you're done one hand in PAM heard there a husband and wife team of academics, co authors of a great book, I'm sort of really fascinating subject. They call it a ministry of parties. This is like it, so we don't think about a lot in politics, but it makes a huge difference if it has to do with like how the exact sign of programmes in tax people's lives and real way, incredibly weeds. You topic- and I think you know if you like this, showed you were going to let this conversation. I love what computer episode of the weeds and the bucks media pact as networks, I met your places like us today got PAM heard and Moynihan. They are respectively, a professor of public policy at the Mccord school at church and university and they Mccord chair and public policy profess.
The MC article also Georgetown, most importantly, Co. Authors of a book, administrative burden, policymaking by other means this is about a really interesting concept that I think like once you hear about it, you start seeing it everywhere. Lets us, like start with beginning like what what in a state of Britain slow everybody thinks I join so shorthand way of thinking about this is that their frictions? We experience when we encounter a government, and so partly it's the learning cars finding out about a program. What are your eligible for it? What you might get out of it? I partly it's the compliance cost of filling out a bunch of forms, partly it's the psychological cost. If you find a process, stressful or stigmatizing in way, and we think collectively that's what colors Dan your perception of government and how you think about your experience. What government a really great recent example of this?
is in Tennessee were about two hundred and twenty thousand children have lost access to medication. Health insurance coverage, largely because of administrative burdens, are so than the Absolute reduction in number of children on medication is largest in Tennessee, compared to any other state in the country over the two years an effectively. What goes on in Tennessee, as if the or even already enrolled in Medicaid, you actually twice a year, have to kind of Rivera. That you're still eligible for the programme- and this involves things like filling out of fifty page application, but you have to send back, you have to get it and a lot of people move around, so they don't get it because they ve moved around, and then you have to fill out everything accurately and if you don't, they don't call you and tell or notify you by male. They just drop your coverage. So there's all these example, the people showing up a doctor or a showing up for a surgery and realizing that their kids no longer have health insurance cover
edge. In my example, this woman was talking about her two sons and she'd were enrolled. Both cans, one cat got Disan ruled because she had forgotten to provide I'm just the socialists purity card. Again they never told her. She shows up the doktor and realizes they don't have health insurance coverage takes four months months and months, because she has to actually walk through all these administrative processes to challenge the decision, She barely get them back and rolled and realises that the second child is now disan how old, because the state doesn't recognise that the the kids were both were brothers. Basically, in the same family, I'm sorry those sorts of things that really you know you can you can. You can imagine there, though those kind of warning cost the people experience and not just realising all this crap that they have to do on the compliance costs in terms of the amount of time and effort it takes to take care of it and then, when you're talking about programmes like this, the psychological cos like how damaging matters to people,
in terms of stress levels on an actual health outcomes. If you get kicked off really critical health insurance cover- and so this is like you know, it's is journalist, right people who write about policy people who talk about policy. This is the kind of thing we contend, just sort of gloss over right, you're, describing a programme using well, it's a programme for children who live here. And their family has such and such an income. And then the question is like well: ok, how do you establish that are given person is in fact a child does live their quality As for the income, I mean I've been remember its share of chalk me, but it was like when, when my son was getting ready to go to preschool here in the district, we had to in role him and we'd, like carnal at a height, but that lottery and getting but like it was. Finally, there was plenty of space in school, but it was then like actually getting him enrolled. You know it's, it's not automatic right and particular because you're, not you not a pain customer right. If you could
store and you're gonna buy, something is in their interests to make it easy for you to go, give them the money, and the government is not necessarily like Right well and that's what's really interesting yeah, so any social welfare Graham Right has exactly which were saying, which is there's a defined set of people who should be receiving benefits and there's all these crimes area. They have to meet to make sure that your getting people on the programme that you want on the programme with interesting though it is that the degree to which the Odin of kind of establishing that is borne by the state forces by individuals varies a lot by the programme you're talking about so the so security programmes, for example, was the lovely example, is the easy thing do in rural and social security. I'll take about five minutes, but when you think of it right like if it were a structured differently. What you might be required to do is provide forty of your earnings records, your citizens about ants. Are evidence of marital status actually, because a lot of people receive benefits based on merit sit. So not just your evidence of
well status, but then you have to turn over your husband's earning records, for example. So, but we didn't for the programme that way we structure in no way that made the state bear the burdens versus programs like medicated and food stamps, which are so or in terms of, and arguably actually you might think, it's even a little bit lower in terms of the kinds of things you need to know about someone, but the burden is just completely different. So you know you have a percent take up. Everyone whose eligible for social security draws on it. Programs like food stamps a case anywhere depending on the state you're talking about fifty two, eighty percent of people who are actually eligible cap- and this is because social security Ministration has your record's, they forgotten but that right yet they design the programme. So it- and you know in the early nineties Thirty's when they were implemented the programme there were debates about actually how
do ed and one version was like you collect stamps and is to have a clash of end. Then? U turn in your sample glad after forty years that was quickly people thought that's viable it'll, be too difficult to navigate fraud, but about but it was extraordinary administrative tasks to figure out. Actually, how do you track? The entire population Loretta things like that was, though, is extraordinarily effort fall and there are ways even current social welfare. It's like the earned income tax. Credit, for example, are inherently less burdensome than other kinds of booms like food stamps, but we take social security for granted that the fact that it is is it an role and because we have social security numbers, but that that was a design right. That was a choice that was made at the time that wasn't obvious. That is still the closest thing. We have to a national idea. I was very controversial if you look back at the history of the nineteen thirty six presidential debates, this this issue came up quite a bit, so it is
only a matter of choices that are made at the design of the programme and going back to the original question, sometimes it's obvious worse, if you're, a knack damage or a journalist about how much these details really matter and in our book we refer to it, as this were fine print of the social contract is something it's easy for us the glass over, but actually is right. We really important fur outcomes like what are you get? Services are not under her hassle, a free those her that those exe in our until I mean what do we know about this? I mean how big of a deal is it in practice and obviously it can be annoying to need to track down seven different kinds of forms, but then you're talking about stories where people are actually like unable to get medical care that you, you know, and that's that's like a sort of a world of difference there. How big a deal is still a huge amount of Arians between programmes. But if you look at
lot of means faster progress in particular, sometimes up to one third, two thirds of people who were eligible don't take up the benefit and that my for a variety of reasons, but at least part of it is to do with these administrative burdens. So I think it is through that. We think about us this is hassle. This is red tape, the headache but actually does have these large effects on take up rates word or high degrees of burdens in the process one really great example. Right now are those do medicate Bork requirements. Writing another word seem to be getting beaten back quite a bad. But when you look at the Medicaid work requirements effectively, it looks like some more between seventy and eighty percent of the people who lost benefits associated with work requirements were simply because they can figure out how to demonstrate the
we're working right, that's a pretty big, an enemy. In that case I mean you, you can't read people's minds exactly, but I mean it seems like that is the intention to an extent of of the equation that right there was not a shock that Arkansas didn't see the employment rate skyrocket, because I mean that could be the thing wait, a minute. You could imagine. Ok if I say you know to to get Medicaid, you have to work, and so the point of this is gonna, be a handful of people might lose benefits, but actually tons of people going to go get jobs and that some, what we saw and also with when we see it that didn't like change the thing right. Isn't that, like the governors I got here and if you look at the design of the programme, there are certain aspects of how Arkansas designed Der Medicaid work requirements, that sort of tips off as what you're trying to do so you could only report online
and we know that about a third of medicate beneficiaries have very low technological literacy, don't have access to a computer, and so they are your physically cutting off a large amount of those people. There was very little out reached that took place to tell people hate There's big change happening. You should be aware about it. There was very little help offered by the state to allow people to reports of they had problems, and they needed helped her to upload your You say that. So when you look at those details, you sort of thing while the fix is in here right. This is designed to push people out the benefits, and then it was a piece that came out. the New England Journal of Medicine this year that far essentially zero positive impact on labour force participation. It did not move people into the workforce because his power said pretty much. Everyone who was effected was all he working. It wasn't the work requirements that got them. It was the rope poured in part of the process,
where's, the op loading, the data on line the causes, loser compliance and you don't feel for people who don't know that the political context of Arkansas. This is a state that obviously had become much more conservative them average going back several years, but had a democratic governor of a modern democratic governor at the time the affordable care act passed and so, like a lot of states in that situation they did. The medicate expansion are, then he you know inevitably was replaced by a Republican. Medicated is very popular, even in conservative state. So just scrapping expansion was, I think, not politically viable. But you know Republicans: they want low levels of public spending, particularly on these kinds of programmes, so it becomes a sort of clever tool ready a political scene
two people. Ok, we're gonna require work that is much more politically viable than saying we're. We're gonna just toss twenty thousand people off their benefits. I mean so a central point at the park is that these burdens are effectively policy. Midday making by other means it's a mechanism to get policy change without going through the policy process or bypassing programmes that are generally popular and then you you do things like that. Arkansas dead and there range of different examples again, you asked like, while so how effective it is, this stuff full effectively we ve substantially reduced access to abortion services by using administrative burdens is another good example: trap laws like the rot laws and states that put onerous requirements on clinics that put onerous requirements on individuals trying to access abortions like waiting times twenty four to forty eight hour waiting times. All of these things really have reduced on those demonstrable evidence of this in places
taxes have demonstrably reduced access to abortions without actually overturning review. Radio show hey. What do you want abortion? The sort of key the issue is: you can regulate under at least the current legal precedents. You can regulate the terms under which a clinic can operate right right, and you know why you would expect to see some regulation in that sphere. It set in a surgical procedure, but by
firing that you have hospital admitting privileges and various other things? You can make it more more expensive to sort of operate the facility without directly shutting down, and it also applies to the women too, though, trying to access abortion services, suffer example, waiting periods, and you make people do a twenty four hour waiting period and see to a physician prior physician after if you have one clinic and state, if your poor, your basically making it impossible for someone to access an abortion, most women who are unable to access abortions are are basically unable to do it because they can afford it? Seeger adding this additional financial costs that effectively rules lotta people out exactly three hours. A three hour drive is hard right, but three hour drive and then another one and then another one and a hotel, room and
You know- and so you are looking at people write and campaign- afford to pay five hundred dollars for an abortion to begin with. Are we really struggle to meet five hundred dollars, an extra three hundred dollars and travel costs, and you ve made it impossible so part of what's fascinating about this as a tool of policy making is that one it's opaque and second, you can use. These are values that people generally by into as justification, and so with abortion, the devalue the people are articulate when winder putting these rules and places that are protecting the health of the mom, and this is deeply disingenuous. aspect to that. But that is the legal argument that states put in front of courts in the area of welfare. It's often justified in terms of reducing fraud or increasing labour force participation, and so these administrative burdens are flexible enough that you can attach some
unobjectionable policy goal to them. Even if your actual policy goal is to minimize abortion or to reduce the size of the welfare rules or make it harder for people to get access to it, the health insurance line and fraud I mean is. It is obviously at a critical question here, because you know in the Nobody is going to stand up and defend fraud in politics, obviously, but also, if you think, about any kind of complicated system right, you have to unity of Taiwan errors and and type two errors, and it's it's
that's really well. It's very challenging to design a real world set of practices in which everybody you want to help gets help, but nobody who you wouldn't want to get help might get it right, and so, if you focus obsessively on trying to make sure you have an ironclad system in which nobody who doesn't fit some intuitive criteria could possibly slipped through, like ten tonnes of people might have getting getting left out in part, because documenting everything in your life is is just hard right. I mean if any one has ever been through like a rigorous inquiry. It's like how do you prove this like? How do you, if you have sporadic employment, particularly guys, we're talking about a lot of means, tested welfare programmes? This tends to be people.
Who do work sometimes, but probably dont have full time job year after year after year and its it's hard to do. But then it's hard to stand up and say, like I don't care about fraud. Yeah, I mean that's one of the interesting contradictions we point to is that a special and I'm certain kinds of social welfare programmes targeted at poor people programmes disproportionately ease by black Americans. There is this heavy emphasis on preventing fraud and abuse at certainly something that the Trump Administration has aggressively focused on and one of the points that we make as if you're thinking about the overall policy goals for social welfare programmes, though shore we want to make sure that only the people who are supposed to be These programmes are on these programmes, but it's just as big of a problem. When you have large fractions of people who are supposed to be on the programmes are not able to beyond them.
So when you are looking at fraud and abuse rates of one to two percent, and it's not even what we think of as fraud in Abuja strike can frequently be things like you know. You didn't filed right form mum compared to twenty to fifty percent of people. Not receiving benefits who are supposed to argument is that the the balances out a whack right? Bear me: that's that's the question of values. Writer says: that's a real tragedy. Is you have a poor kid going hungry again of ten of them to prevent, like one guy who maybe didn't need the help getting some had snapped from some of these are empirical questions right. We we should be able to verify how much people will lose out if you put one set of rules in and how much fraud you're gonna prevented, so policymakers condemned. the decision ok were willing to tolerate this much loss of coverage for people or reduce benefit access in exchange for better security, but part of our
teachers are currently that doesn't happened as such Amano focus on the issues of things like fraud, that we don't pay attention to the cost of the burdens generate. A great example is the ideas, so dear. You see see every so often talks talks about penny, more documentation and place, and when you look at a number of audits that the Irish does a bit over. A third of them are directed towards the IPCC recipients and their average income is about twenty now, you're not gonna get a whole other money out of those individuals and when you look at non compliance and taxes about six per and of the loss of revenue from non compliance and tax payments comes from the IPCC and over half comes for a business owner and so the logical framework would say. Maybe we should be spending more of our audit resources towards the word. Bigger bang for a buck would be
towards were more than non. Compliance would be as opposed to relentlessly target targeting people who were really not gonna provide much revenue to when in the taxis is basically right. I mean the pre tax evasion, the CASA government, a lot of money comes from rich people because they have a lot of money, is a progressive tax structure. So so wealthy people dodging taxes, costs a lot of money, but they are also. I mean you talk about burdens, it's it's hearted, go after like wealthy people who have tax attorneys and things like that. They have more clout in Congress, well. It has been a great out seriously stories by publicly about this, but the IRS has, over the years at in part, the explicit behest of terrestrial Republicans put more and more of its efforts into Deasey. I d c documentation questions
Where I mean they really do catch people mixing up, but the amounts of money involved are just really small like there's. Only that the weighty edges he works is you can only claim it if you are low income, the benefits are helpful relative to a lower, come persons income, but he's just not that much money and part of the reason why the arrests can target these folks is because they have less of an ability to fight and if you get audited, and yet you see recipient get a letter in the mail you may not, Yet the letter you may struggled to understand what it means you may just decide to give up with the process and accurate, then get reported by the IRS as a measure of fraud. If you, if you can deal with the hassles of this process, it is reflected as a fault on your part when it could just be,
it's really difficult to deal with the IRS, if you're a single mom minorities and it's it's complicated, but there is evidence, for example, that the ideas, for example, is more popular among Republicans and say, a minimum wage Please I'm. There happen examples of some kind of going after it on that with the argument. Basically, the acc recipients should be treated more like welfare reset recipient rough right, like that kind of argument that no this is a poverty based programme, and so we make it harder off, he paused. What's so, let's take a break is then I do want to talk about that sort of more a sort of underpinning. Here we live with a lot of noise, between the pings, the dings, the emails labelled urgent. That aren't really that urgent, it's hard to cut through the static zero on the things that really matter just like. We can train our boy, it is to be better running faster lifting heavier. We could train our minds to stay focused. Do all the noise we live with step. One download head space, hits bases and have low
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right and this new programme, where you know the documentation problems are in principle challenging, but the government sort of took it upon itself to solve them, and that's because it seems like there is a fairly robust consensus that it would be sad for old people do not,
Yet what is coming to the right- and you think, the same thing right if somebody were destroying the newspaper about hundreds of veterans not being able to get care at the Vienna Hospital because of some paperwork shenanigans ever available without it we got a strained this out at, whereas there's a big question around the edge. You see right, it's like when it is conceptualize alleys by Republicans as well. This is a form of a welfare. Then it's it's good to make it hard to sign up, because welfare dependency is, is a bad thing. There's a lot of questions you no suspicion of the undeserving poor right and that sort of drives, since some of the thinking about do you want to treat. These burdens is like problems to be solved or
you know, you're on your own up. You know you don't get a little bit more complicated in some ways so, for example, social security. The truth is that when they were implementing the programme and figuring out how to effectively do benefit administration, it was really politically contentious at the time re like they actually didn't. Congress actually cut their budgets, so they had no budget initially to even implement the program. I'm and so really. It was like a real political battle and you had these progressives and your administration, who were just super aggressive about figuring out away, design and implement the administrative portion of the programme to ensure it was politically popular. I did. It was definitely on the programme was really contested at the time. So the let you know it was a design. It was a progressive design choice to facilitate its political popularity in some respects
the contrast between that or or Medicare right in the sixties and the affordable care act, which was done by Democrats, there's quite complicated to sign up for those those asiatic subsidies. Right I mean that's a change in sort of progressive thinking or at least that the sort of leadership of the party- a well yeah I'll, just say briefly about the essay rate like that is in part. The complexity reflects the desire to include private health insurance right in some ways. It's like a policy feedback, a fact like if you're gonna have this like weird max of public and private insurance combined with federalism, your fifty states and it's and is really hard to make that administratively simple, reuse, He is also good example of sometimes burdens are not intended right. So, though, the website roll out was disastrous because d, it wasn't
how's the Obama administration wanted it to fail. But then you look at republican governors who were tasked with their own part of the implementation process, and they did things like make it much hard for federally funded, navigate is to help people to sign up. That was an example of the politics coming into play when the Trump Administration came in slashing the outreach budgets reduced, the amount of funding for navigators providing some sort of communication worried they release videos, for example, telling people about how terms was to be right. Those are samples of where there was this really deliberate effort to increase the learning costs in the compliance costs associated with the program right
but we need, does as your thing, but the inclusion of of private insurance rights its to an extent baked into the design of the programme that part of its launch was this huge advertising campaign that there had to be navigators because it was, it was conceptualize, as one of the benefits This is that what you're gonna shop for the plans right I mean that we know that he wants to do when there was an explicit programme goal, so there's no default in Rome and then you decide to to reduce the explicit budgetary costs that it's gonna be a sliding scale, income type thing, so you need a lot of verification of that. It has to be redone every year, because people are supposed to be switching right and you can look back on his knee and that's crazy buddy. You know before trumps started, trying to sabotage they deliberately created a fairly high touch kind of programme and you know have we
have my private health insurance, but it's the same thing each year, it's like you, gotta, go pick again and, like that's a is a pain in the ass here. So you could imagine. If you route, we lived in England last year, where it was much simpler right that there were no choices, that you had to make you'd, never reenrolled and look at fifteen different plans rear. He didn't have to carry some sort of insurance card around with you when you went to the pharmacy. Everything was much simpler because its universal system, so that, model and not a model as we have the: U S, system, which is far more complicated: lots of public private actors, state and federal actors, and then, with that system, to make it work. You have to provide people a bunch of health, sorry help held entitled and then does the third. Will, which is that you have an incredibly complicated system and you don't help people, and then there really screwed right damages our version, there are ways to be further zero like there are we
even with these fairly complicated kind of private public structures. There are ways to simplify, to regulate, to reduce this kind of burdens at an end. What you did see through the gradual, limp and implementation of the SBA across states. Some states got really good at figuring out how to help people to write so It is not impossible, but sure the design of the varying designs of different policies are going to inherently increase or decrease the level its
I want you do. If I were more optimistic about it right, you would say: ok, you continue to have elected officials who want this to work well and then there's an iterative learning process right where the government learns about how to give people the help that they need, and by the time you were in the fifteenth year. It's like it's running really smoothly, but then the additional problem is that you have political disagreement about like. Should we even be helping people do this? I do we want this to exist and you create a programme that much you know. A lot of what you're talking about is is other means and and there's still going to fail right dysfunction by others. Were words like it's hard to undermine this Gary programme months is up and running. Right does not a lot you can. You can do administrative or you can pass at a new law so yeah. I know that it is true again, though, like you, it's it's really interested me. If you look at the fifth first fifteen years, the programme, it is really precarious.
Actually the means tested part of such security old age assistance for the four first fifteen years was a much larger social welfare support for older people. Them was actually the Social Security Programme, and so it is interesting to look back as you see all these, political battles behind the scenes that were in many ways playing out and the bureaucratic implementation of the programme. But there ways and we want the concerns around social security. it now is. Actually you know as the pie. Elation on social security is accelerating pretty rapidly right. As for aging and the boomers raging, the administrative budget for the programme has been shrinking, and so they ve been cutting the administrative budget for the programme,
Lotta people rely on their somewhere around seventeen or eighteen hundred field offices spread throughout the country to help people in role in various parts of the SO security programme. The weight times at those offices are getting longer the call times when you call into the programme are getting longer. There is some evidence of sort of decay and the administrative structures and so security that you know they're, not the ram still incredibly prop popular. It still relatively easy to use. But it's not immune basically from that sort of damage, you're saying in particular it wasn't me not in its in the first aiming airs and right, and so so that stability is itself like a political out Oh yeah yeah, I'm one of the most interesting things about the implementation of the programme is when they work. When that you know the there there was this decision right off to have all these field offices I'm in this
but still at the end of the depression era. So there are still a ton of unemployment, and people got pretty worried pretty quickly that there be a lot of patronage right. Like your local field office, your local rap is gonna wanna. Put all these unquotable I'd people like his cousins and political supporters than those offices, and they would know what they were doing, my which would be really bad for the programme. So there was a line of kind of internal conflict, and and battles between on the people, administering the programme in Implementing and Congress over ensuring, basically that those appointments were not political,
we're only hiring experts for those offices. It was a real battle at the beginning and exist. I mean at a different time in the evolution of of the state right. So, if I were recently was that back in the thirties, it was like being postmaster general. Was it like an important political job like I think it was fifty yards? Buzzer general had been the chair of the Dnc. It wasn't like up postal administrative job right, because that was it was this like incredible sink house of of patronage, hiring and so secure administration could have been like that right and so the questions like. What would it be right? And I mean it's: it's a burden of its own kind another area with words like me, aside from from social welfare, but where this comes up a lot is voting right, yeah, that's absolutely the case, and so were earlier we're talking about for a moral language. We sometimes see ruled out, and we give examples in our book. Were you? U finds politicians? Essentially, saint people should have
work hard to vote. It shouldn't be easy to vote use. It should be like walking through the desert to get water to know right, and so you should be willing to vote every year, so you don't get kicked after all You should be willing to register twenty eight days beforehand. If you move, you should be willing to have your idea, which you are so that sort of moral language has infuse what is generally not very defensible idea right like oh, let's make it harder for people of old is, is when you talk about it like that, it's hard to really get behind that as a concept, but it it's absolutely the case that when you look at voting very much like abortion there, you can see the part and divide very plainly
state after state, where they, where they've, taken legislative votes on these issues, about issues like folder idea about issues like a when people can register or whatever you can do it on election day or not. Some aspects of this is still left within often secretary of State's office. So how often they purged rolls and what sort of people get kicked off, but very much it. It is the case that you see voting and registration as venue where burdens have been put in place and it's not thing writes a week in our book which sort of traced three of voting in America and we start with the reconstruction era, and you see many of the same patterns of these administrative barriers being put in place to limit the ability of newly freed slave to participate in the political process. That's really only until you get to the late twentieth century that both parties for a sign up to the idea of saying
we should make it easier for people of old and turn out as a good thing, and that agreement basically disappeared after two thousand- and I mean this is like the United States- is M output- execrable. It's really old political system in a lot of ways right, and so we had elections from the beginning, but not at all. A contemporary vision of universal suffrage. Read your property qualification, say nothing of race and engender. So the idea that, like there should be barriers to voting was really kind of baked in, as opposed to
saying, ok, you know we'd be throughout the dictator yesterday and now we want a modern system in which all citizens vote and- and you owe it may assume, every country has a method to ensure that the people voting- you know really our citizens or you know, are in voting seven times, but so much of that responsibilities put on you. He right. You have to go register you. If you move, you have to go register again: it's not! You are you're right as someone who factual ie is an American to go, cast a vote Unita you need to make it happen. Yeah! No, I mean the facts are absolutely right. I mean. I also think this is one of the things we talk about in the book to, as we sort of feel like progressives, don't make enough of the issues around administrative burdens in terms of how actually they important they are in terms of effecting kind of basic rights that we do or don't have, access to and voting of his lay a fairly basic right in a democracy
you know, for example, were spending a lot of time now arguing about different, dumb democratic primary candidates whose moderate in or are they to progressively to moderate? Are they this or those that now the reality is like there's about three states? This is gonna, probably boil down to write one of those states in particular, especially Wisconsin, Michigan. To some extent, Florida actually three have really significant barriers to vote it like. I could imagine, spending a lot of time and resources just making sure that we have every one on the rolls, no matter how hard it is to just get them on the rules and that's probably gonna have a bigger impact than whether its Buddha Jack warrant on how I mean how how hard is it to divine risk? I met you. Doesn't it was exactly I've De C4 wilds is actually super easy devout here. I think there's no partisan competition at all, but like how? What what do you do to make it hard to vote?
used to be a lot easier than it is now and so was cards historically as vied with Minnesota for the highest rates of turn out in the country. Apparently, because it's there, this law, good Scandinavians, and the people, and I think it's their civic duty, but also because was one of the first states to adopt election day registration. So if you forget to rigid turn, you ve moved. You can still turn up on election day and vote. and the state as also expanded, new absolute absentee, no excuse for the aim, which is essentially a form of early voting. So, historically, very easy to vote after two thousand and ten, the new city adoption of a voter ideal, or than you see, efforts to reach use the window of time in which you can vote certain days got kicked out, so you couldn't vote on Sundays, which was a traditional US,
pulls the Poles days when black churches got mobilized, come out and vote a certain groups got get it more so fewer student and you need to vote. Then You're out of state idea will not work right. So you have to get this, So I d that is good only for voting and for nothing else. I think you're still. Ninety doesn't work when regular steed night, that is provided by the state government right that the universe use consonants part of state. So you have to get the second the idea and you have to bring a copy of a transcript or something that shows your current student. So you have these additional layers on certain groups that are expect.
if you try and any rather got the right question is not so much. How do they make it hard to follow its food? That who do they make it hard to vote hoo hoo, which group Esteban like that? It's really it's so clearly targeted at certain groups of people is targeted at the poor, black people, students and then caught up in some of the friction, though, as well or actually older adults and people with disabilities. So others you know it's basically designed to prevent particular people from voting right leg harder. I mean you know it's not a single agency, on the one hand, not new to have a bears running windows it, but there's been an incredible sort of trend in that direction. Right after after twenty tellin me not just in Wisconsin, but that was a year when Republicans did well in a lot of states and
seems like there's some fairly centralize playbook that that their working off of or you know, learning buddy. It's like it's on a coincidence. Re though I don't, I think, gradually overtime tactics gets shifted, so it for awhile. Voter idea was very much to go to strategy now. I think they're more efforts to make registration more difficult and theirs Point out. The book is actually more empirical evidence that making registration harder, reduces turn out than voter idea has pirkl effect pattern, and there's also just write like how many pulling her is you ever open and I mean we know, there's lots of evidence that black people away much longer lines to foe. I mean you know it's kind of all those layers of burden in the list of his shock. In me, I was in Berlin and Federal eggs Day and in Germany one time and I had a chance to observe some people there. Any is amazing how fast and simple it is to vote. If you like wanted to be right, I mean that you did that summit.
Stuff about verifying who people are its act is bound to be some friction there, but the Gatt. How long the lines are is pretty purely a function of how many spaces to you open up an lighter you know in in american urban areas like state governments just make them very in that deter people from go here, and you you see what early voting, indeed, the the evidence we have about that, as I generally doesn't increase, turn out, because most people show up or people who would otherwise but there is some evidence that it will bring in more marginal voters if its expanded, more and poor areas causes fewer early voting sides in poor neighbourhoods and attend to be of lower quality, and so, if you actually fully implemented it and had lots of sides were really accessible for poor people, it might have a much more positive.
Sat down and turn out. If that's what you want to do and then also I or automatic registration is that I guess a trend that the Democrats have been pushing in that state eliminated. large burden there and male voting. I mean, I think, there's a lot of evidence about how effective voting by mail is and states the two areas of it very effective like Oregon. Folks are right. Like you got, you got high participation when you let people to sort of male imbalance, and it's no. That's huge fur on older people for people with disabilities, that sort of thing, in his good thing about what did the point about all all one Roman goes beyond folding right, so we call it Registration for elections or own Roman would some welfare programmes. If you look at Trump Administration are what their policies towards snap forts food stamps initially to try to make it harder to get access to benefits through the farm bill, dad failed
so then they turned room, can process and essentially are telling states. We don't want you. to use administrative data to help people and role in the programme. We we don't want you to two basic: We make use of the information that you already have. We want people submitted extra sets of forms, does a general design principle here that if the state has information that it can use to help you vote or to help you sign up for a programme, it should probably use that and that information may be more reliable and less susceptible to fraud in the form that someone fills out submits themselves. We should take a second reckon. I wanna get get back to the southern roman point. If you like, basically anyone listening to this right now, I'm willing to bet that you are you're dealing with stress. Maybe there's a ton of it like an overwhelming amount, or maybe it's more like a low but steady drumbeat background stress, no matter how you
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the dot com, slash weeds August you're, talking about the administrative data Right- and this is like the government any given day has lie information about what's goin on rights on bureaus, let offices, but typically I don't tip oftentimes. That information is not used right, and so, if you want something from a government, you need to go cough it up again and say: ok, here's where I live. When another office is collecting property taxes and where I live fright, or you saying here so much money I make when the IRS knows how much money I make great answer your saying right, if you, if you wanted to wait
sound principle for making sure people unrolled is to use that administrative date right, and we have this debate every April fifteen around specifically tax reporting. When most of the time we are giving the iris information that they already have and we're spending hours doing, that we spend something like seven point: eight billion hours per year on attacks reporting and so that that sort of dead. The most obvious example Kazanovitch as all of us, but the IRS another point The government has allowed data. They could use to help us get access to other types of programmes as well as really great examples. ample of Otto and roman and medicated concept that at one point under the Doyle Administration, the inner cassettes
just about having data on income by someone on food stamps like little is both for backup furthers the sort of cross Programme and Roman. That states can facilitate and many states to do it substantially reduce the burden of substantially increases. Take up so yeah, I'm in they have tons of administrative data that they really can use trade. burden and increase purchasing goods you're. So you have this some technical, Chow Juliette Anderson privacy are issues that are legitimate concerns to talk about. But this also just the political prohibition from doing this, that you're seen in places like the Trump administration, which is essentially saying you can use the tools that you have at your disposal to make life easier for citizens. Yes, if ever I wish us style written on this, but they have like a whole set of proposed rules are, are sometimes completed. Rules around stand right, which
All of them are about making it harder to sign up, and you know one of them is. This is like heart even understand words like into the calculation how eligible you are, has something to do with your utility costs, and there had been a process where states could just sort of take the average and say: ok, here's what it is and now they want to say no, everybody needs to do an individualised documentation of their heating bills, and you know it's it's like you can imagine. Rabies is gonna, be if he terrifying pain and ultimately, like some people get a little bit more. And a lot of people get a little bit less and clearly like they. Just don't wanna be spending money on yeah. One of the biggest aspects to that proposed rule change to snap is actually what would
What happened basically is currently most people don't have to document asset levels to get on snap. At this point there are proposing this rule change which would make it so effectively. Now most people would have to do an asset requirements. The evidence around is basically that that is administratively one of the toughest things to document. As you need, your prove, you don't secretly have money, Well, it's complicated salt, so I'm Mercedes your garage over with complicated about it and so, for example, if I pulled up this book for social Workers in Arkansas the detailed how they would figure out someone's asset levels for eligibility. The book itself is about seventy pages long and it starts with what even call
if such NASA and they cause right through all the different levels of how you even try to document those assets and actually the learning process a big part of it because effectively. What is effectively what the issue as there are a lot of assets that are precluded from the acid allocation. But most people don't realize what is the like notional concern here is like I could win the lottery and then quit my job, and then I have a low income. So now I'm signing up for food stamps, crap a really I shouldn't be allowed to become so rich cracked. So there is the guy and then a soda unblinking on his right now, but there was a guy, I'm in a soda that the Republicans were on promoting quite a bet. Who was this old gentlemen, I'm who had of yes Ferris HI asset levels arm. He was like maybe seventy, but a low income level right, and so he was he
made a big promotional campaign that he was able to qualify for Sap and in Minnesota. Because of that. So again, it's like these rare says: yeah, real Hungary, there, the haze versus you know, and thousands of people who will lose benefits if you ve designed a policy as to exclude at one guy in the soul- and I beg Pardon and about the one guy in Minnesota writers. Who does that right? I mean really gives really you people who even make this theoretical and then who would do it among resolute in an hour they actually doing and that there is a great disservice. Who cares right, verses cause? You really already like how? How do you demonstrate that you aren't secretly rich? That's it bigots. It's true
Jake Right- it's both people understanding, because what they hear is they hear the oh. I can't have more than fifteen hundred dollars now sets are twenty five zero dollars and assets, and they immediately think, oh, but I have a car or eva I've this right. That was some of those things actually excluded, but people don't know that or people know that my card might be excluded But they think it's worth more than this cause? They paid ten thousand dollars what they really it's the value, the current value, which might only be a thousand and they say you're selling. You are not worth Yathrib paid for it like. I understand that, but also on that applying for foods right at is: how does this sort of inequality aspect the process right, which is that? who succeed in getting through these really onerous processes had it might be people who are super persevering, like there's just some aspect of your personality that are super diligent, but there's also good evidence that it's probably gonna be correlated to other factors like education and
grief poverty, and so people who have lower levels of education and who are especially poor, might struggle more to get the benefit that they actually need more than the person who succeed in getting through the administrative magazines you're talking about people who typically not much education often young unmarried parents, friends of people with a lot like going on in life, not necessarily like, probably never took an accounting class ride like down. Probably maybe dont, know what the word assets means exactly right. In economics terms- and you know, maybe their language so that you know they're not like the best reading sub sample of the american population, and you give them all these forms and and weird stuff, and so then you suppose tat you need to have social workers, help them navigated, but if your goal is to get people off, then it's easy to yeah. Exactly no- and I mean I think generally, one of the things that we try to point out in the book is also important.
But that there are just sort of sub populations. The tender encounter this stuff more frequently so, for example, a yacht, for sure, big people with low incomes are people and alone labour market? A people with disabilities? Parents are kids with disability is like their certain groups that just this sort of a constant presence in their life, so some of it might be confusion or energy quite figure it out and some of it just and when you read people's narratives Jamila matched our. Has this really amazing buck, fragmented democracy, Jamila matched our fact pregnant Congress and cheese interviewing all these people on Medicaid and along the narratives honestly around some of those are just people are completely overwhelmed right, you're, looking at people who have a lot going on and they're just overwhelmed we, we know you're going to manage studies from behavioral psychology that the experience of poverty is
Stressful, reduces your cognitive capacity, reduces your ability to make it citizens are more likely to to make a decision, that's bad for you in the long run, if you're under distresses poverty, and even if you're, even hot so and one other one of the reasons we ended up writing this book. Is our elder daughter s, hand ability and when she was diagnosed at about eighteen months, old medicate as a waiver program for kids with disabilities- and I you know, I ve taught help see my whole career. I knew about the programme also knew that these programmes, Are we really difficult to navigate? So I got The phone I've got to the fifty pages in the mail. I got on the phone with the social worker who are Rony, asleep sort of told me. She didn't think my daughter would qualify and I just sort of looked at everything, and I was ethically like a cat, I'm not here to you- and I have I ever like- I do the stuff for a living, and I couldn't fathom getting through the process. So yeah, it's it's! It's
farewell my website. I've got a set of forms, has been sitting on my desk for four days and add it to do thing on my phone that deal with the damn forms, and, fortunately might my privilege in life is to have one of these like desk jobs, where at some point I will in fact just like take forty five minutes, while I'm supposed to be working, unlike focus on this other thing, but if you're working at a restaurant, if we're going to store right, if you're on your feet, if your work equipment is not like an internet connection right, it's that much harder to like actually ever find. The time when, like when is the offer Can it be open like what, when is the social worker can be available and how many people have printers in their homes and their long right, right, yeah, no, and and and really I mean a lot of these programmes require face to face contact and right and there the social workers and the administrators are actually typically overwhelmed. I'm so so he know that if they tell you
have to be here on next Thursday, at two o clock. You have to be there next Thursday at two o clock, but if you're working in a low wage Tom, you can't just not show up to the low wage top real get fired like those are the kinds of things that p all on gathered or are we know a fact in Rome and Edward? I'll get it? I mean it's not like an unsolvable problem to like you, could higher more staff ride, so they had more flexibility. The office could stay open later hours, but a it would cost money and be you'd have to want to do it right. You would have to be plagued by the fear that people who need assistance are not getting it. that's often not the case and a lot of states have. I mean particularly around one of the things that they did with the passage of the sea. I am actually very deliberately try to reduce these kinds of burdens on the medical programme, so they did things like reduce the number of times theoretically, in most states that
had to requalify, for example, or eliminate the need for an in person interview you. I mean, real variants and the degree to which states require that are don't require that the genius of the Federalist Yeah- You can imagine that hinder the cumulative effect of these negative experiences. Rice, you have to go somewhere else, Yeah I'm on Thursday, and you can't get time off work, so you may lose. Your job is to pull together bunch documentation that hard to get and how that makes people feel about the state right did. Do you think the state? The government? Is there to help you, or do you really just their experiences through this lands of hassle all of the time and there's another sort of irony that underlies that that that fact, which is that we have this conventional wisdom in politics, which is that progressive, are people who are quite comfortable with the use of state
Our and conservatives are really concerned about the state region into your life and affecting your individual liberty. When, across a series of policy programmes, we talk about the book and in health care and voting in abortion and welfare policies. You see Republicans having a very high degree of comfort with using administrative, our two make people's life more onerous. So as there is there any, as is the Good NEWS here there, their places that have done like exciting new things to make make people's lives easier. There, like hot best practices that should spread around the inverse. So I think there are some examples, but unfortunately it is for the polarized issue, so we talked earlier about all registration. You see those get adopted in blue states. In some states you see them. It adopted and in vetoed by republican governor, like Chris Christie in New Jersey. You see some countries, so Estonia is the sort of cars. An example of this technological,
other nation ferry to Estonia one time with the finnish people, and they were just looking to buy cheap sets out or other things recommend about Estonia but little store. The air has really invested in technology and there in their administration, and they have this. What they call a once. Only principle which is once you give information to the government and the government has it and you don't have to provide at a can never be nice. Are there will be great? I ever knew some investment in information technology and government. But it also requires a philosophical approach where you think about how you want to make life easier for citizens and mostly massively, I guess mostly without or at least not for low incomes. As is right. I mean I mean this where we're we're dignitary its polarize topic right, but is also its particular segment of the population, but really targeted for the outbreak.
I think it's important to keep in mind even twenty years ago I mean it saw in part today, it's very polarized. There very much have been periods, for example under George W Bush. He that administration did an enormous amount of work actually and reducing administrative burdens and the Sap programme its by without this huge increase and take up Tommy Thomson and was Consarn, had a big impact on reducing administrative burdens on the Medicaid programme. So you know, I guess the optimistic view is that there are points at which there is consensus around doing this. That does go across the political spectrum, although its fair to say at this point, it's definitely because they were worth billions. And sad though, actually it's interesting is, I think, most liberals like don't know that snow half an hour.
But he's a huge turn about in isolated circles. Reich is this. This was like where a guess like it was a compassionate conservatism thing and also like farmers and Walmart liked having people signed up for sap, and today they really changed a lot of stuff and made it a lot easier and that got a lot more people on the programme, and then it became characterized. I think, by a new generation of Republicans, as like Obama had like guns. the terrible, but that it was actually but, and they had just as they did, they change their thinking. It s always a weekly talk about in and snapped the billow Riley. You know using snap as this example of abuse of the welfare system works really being handed out these. surfers in California, as opposed to the truly needy
truly needy has become this sub category of people who are defined as a sort of semi deserving now in and conservative politics, whereas there is an idea that does a lot of people weren't, that needy shouldn't be getting these benefits, but yeah that the famous the famous here use people buying stuff- with their right now. Losses are after lobster before they go to the casino and right that the good life that your living on sat right. So I think that there has been this turn about were for a while. You did see this bipartisan effort and partly within the Bush administration, they just have some very good people within the Department of Agriculture sometimes, I think, is partly in administrative story where they had an under secretary who really took this is an issue and and and and one was successful with it- and partly it's this broader policy story, worthies political principles,
the side and late in the Bush administration. You start see that happening is especially with Medicaid than me. Be. Programmes have become too generous into too easy to sign onto, and we need to ratchet this back a little bit and it's you know I feel, like one thing: that's happening with companies is that his legislative record is like fairly me. so tax cuts, re so Emmy, so they're trying to show to like the conservative universe that, like that they're doing something, whereas Bush I mean say what you will about him. There was a very eventful, like eight year span in the United States Congress that were multiple tax cuts. It was a big education bill. There was a big
build. That was wars like that. There is a lack of nobody. Nobody was ever challenging times like what. What are you doing here right, whereas with Trump like they, they passed? One tax law. Ya know, that's exactly re, so this is something that we do talk about. Generally in the past
which is that this has been the main mechanism by which the Trump Administration has been able to enact policy change. Certainly with the icy I write like the hurt failure to overturn the icy eyes, so they have used this really effectively. Thickets, also important to point out the views us most effectively in certain agencies where they have competent leadership, so so CMS Centre for Medicare Medical Services in Burma. She is competent less so in agencies were, there is less competent leadership, but guides it's very much the main way in which they ve been able to get change. Yours will do if you're interested in social policy change. You should be looking at rule making process and you should be looking at the administrative burdens that are being embedded in the big policies like magic
snap I D Monaghan PAM heard before I let you guys go. I do I'd like to close out as guests wait. What would he wish? I had asked you about here what whether we miss, I think, there's a question about. What do you do the solve this problem? Yeah yeah? How do we solve so there's a bunch, of answers here. I think one of the one of these answers is about just training people who work in the public sector to think about costs and benefits that's individuals and citizens encounter so we teach some These students that go work in aid- seize? And we don't really you this language of administrative burdens terribly much, and so it's a big easier, I think than for bureaucrats to generate these negative externalities, or at least not be conscious about them in a way.
That they would be if they had a little bit more of a sense of boy. That's really going to hurt a certain population of people who will be able to get through the process. People, young people, I think, is partly right about helping getting people to shift our perspective towards thinking about. Ok, what this actually be like. If I was trying to navigate this put right like getting them the perspective of shaft yeah and then I think I think there are ino, as we talked about some, tools already using administrative data, new technologies can be. This fall along those lines in terms of capturing who would be eligible for programmes, but a big part at one of the things that we talk. just sort of given the reality of our health care system, health insurance system and social welfare system, We have a lot of private public mixing which is inherently complicated, and so sometimes really. The best mechanism to reduce burden is just tat.
provide more help to people, so Elizabeth Warren, actually around evictions has this proposal to basically fully fun public defenders to help people out with affection, effectually a great example of of that kind of help. There's the faster example that I can talk about yes, also does does been experiments as fast as the bane of every high school student parents who are getting ready to go to college because it's this famously complicated process. The sign up to get federal aid and has been some experimental work done to figure out What makes it easier and in one treatment of people are just told, hey eligible for this, and here's how you sign up sought site, reducing learning, I'm gonna give you the information and has no effect. Does
frequent. Where someone helps you fill out the form and pull together documentation, and that has a very big effect like it. It increases enrollment rates in college, actual enrollment rates from about twenty eight percent. Thirty, six percent- that's a big, sizeable effect, I'm so that this it a part of the take away message that there were were trying to convey to people who work in them. aggressive side of the Isle is that this is a form of politics and concern. Lives, have gotten very good at this as a form of politics and progressives had been left by the wayside. so progressives are really fond of rolling out new programme landing ability, Calahorra, Scott. That's were ridicule and social media, because she, alone forgiveness programme, where, if you started Small businesses can area were there for three years. You might get my twin thousand dollar and
same time. We have. We already have this public loan forgiveness program. If you work in the public sector to turn the book that well, you can get in less than one percent of people are eligible, gather right and so the much more often The strategy will just be the fix our programme and that prove many more lives than this very targeted, very conditional Ized program that really gonna help lot? I think the key point on the progressive side, as I think there is a tendency to think about this- is sort of incremental technocratic change that really MRS. How large of an impact study has on people. You know it's not a sort of technocratic, small, incremental change. If you're talking about half in some cases of people who are eligible for programme not getting benefits, that's not you're, not incremental change, right, we're talkin about fairly large change. Pam heard done one him. Thank you so much the book as administrative burden of rhetoric,
should check it out. It's like superweeds topic, really fascinating, fastenings up as a thanks. So much you guys thanks to mark. I protest our engineer and Jackson, your felt user and the media on Tuesday accessible, affordable broadband. helps communities reached or their american dream for soon such as on a Chavez means rising above the poverty line and becoming valedictorian of international High School Langley Park and thanks to action from HIV can help these turning to reality. That's my eighteen to you, making two billion dollar three year. Commitment to help close the digital divide to more Americans have a chance to succeed. To learn more is he d dot com, slash connecting communities
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Transcript generated on 2021-09-10.