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What We Know and What We Don’t Know (Two Think Minimum)

What We Know and What We Don’t Know (Two Think Minimum)

Scott Wallsten:

Hi, and welcome back to Two Think Minimum, the Technology Policy Institute’s podcast. Today is Wednesday, March 17th, 2021. I’m Scott Wallsten, President and Senior Fellow of the Technology Policy Institute. I am joined by Tom Lenard, Senior Fellow and President of Emeritus at TPI, and Sarah Oh, Senior Fellow at TPI.

Today, we’re just going to take stock of the tech policy landscape. We’ll talk mostly about the $1.9 trillion stimulus and a little bit of antitrust, and we’ll figure out what we know and don’t know. Hopefully, we’ll have more of the know than don’t know, but I don’t know what the over-under is on those odds.

I guess… Well, we won’t learn the over-under, but we will find out what we know and don’t know. So, starting with the…

Tom Lenard:

This is… Scott, is this the first time that we’ve had a completely internal podcast?

Scott Wallsten:

I think it is. It’s a milestone.

Tom Lenard:

A historic event.

Scott Wallsten:

But does it just mean we couldn’t get a guest?

Tom Lenard:

*Laughs* Right..

Scott Wallsten:

Nobody will know. No, it does not mean that.

But actually, before we start, I want to add a plug for TPI’s 2021 Aspen, which we’re currently planning to have in-person August 15th through 17th. We’ve already got a lot of big names lined up. It’s going to be a great conference. We will be announcing some of them soon. So, stay tuned.

Okay. Now with the stimulus, we know that there’s lots and lots for broadband in there. I think people are still sorting out exactly what those are and what they mean, but a list from Craig Moffett seems pretty complete, and he lists the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. That’s $3.2 billion to provide up to $50 a month, and $75 a month in tribal areas, towards the cost of broadband service. It also includes money towards a connected device. The Emergency Connectivity Fund, which is $7.2 billion for equipment and other relevant info services for use by students, teachers, libraries, actually for students, teachers, and library patrons at locations, other than the school or library. There’s something called the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, which is $10 billion for critical capital projects directly enabling work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options in response to the public health emergency with respect to the coronavirus. So, that could be broadband or other things, and there’s also just capital funding, which has another $10 billion.

But then there’s also another part of it that I still don’t completely understand and that I think others don’t. There seems to be $195 billion to states and $130 billion to cities that provides aid to a lot of things: households, small businesses, any industries affected by the coronavirus, but also infrastructure that could be sewage, water, and broadband. Not, for some reason, electricity, and I have no idea why.

Tom Lenard:

Well, I was going to mention that I listened to a fair amount of the hearing this morning. The Senate Commerce Committee had a hearing titled something like “Recent Federal Actions on Broadband: Are We Making Progress?”

I may have missed it because I missed the beginning, you know, the first 20 or 30 minutes of the hearing, but I have no idea after listening to another hour and a half, whether we’re making any progress or not because nobody said anything that really, you know… I was hoping to learn that we had either made progress or not made progress.

What I did learn is that we’re spending a… well, I won’t use the word that comes to mind, a lot of money on broadband and it’s coming out of, I mean what you said illustrates the point, it’s coming out of multiple pots, especially during the last year, and nobody seems to, it’s almost too many pots to be able to follow, to be able to trace what’s going on.

I mean, we had some good people talking at the hearing, but it’s really, you know, it’s just a lot of money, coming out of a lot of pots, and no real plan. I mean, we’re not even talking what they’ve done in the past 10 or 20 years. Just now, no real plan to figure out how to account for how it’s spent and whether it’s doing anything.

Scott Wallsten:

First, I mean missing the first 20 or 30 minutes of a Congressional hearing is always a good strategy because you just miss the Congresspeople, you know, bloviating. So, probably a better use of your time. But yeah, I mean…

Tom Lenard:

You guys were more on top of it. Have we made progress in the past, you know, in closing various digital divides?

Scott Wallsten:

Well, I think part of the problem is we don’t have a good definition for what it means to close the divide. We sort of know what the divide is, and that’s people who either don’t have, you know, aren’t connected or can’t be connected or can’t connect sufficiently. But then, you know, nobody can agree on what connected sufficiently means, and so people just sort of throw out arbitrary numbers and then, you know, as administrations change, it just switches, you know, it changes who wants to say we’re closing the divide and who says we aren’t, and so people who were unhappy with the Pai FCC said that FCC did a terrible job in making any progress, but of course, connectivity and speeds improved.

And now I’m sure those same people will say that this next FCC will do a great job, but the, you know, the reverse is completely true. People who said that the FCC did a great job will now say that it’s going to do a bad job, and so that’s sort of just normal that’s normal politics. And I think we can be pretty sure that trends will continue where speeds mostly continued to improve and connectivity improves. Although, we don’t know exactly what that means because as wireless becomes an increasingly good substitute for wireline, it’s not necessarily true that home broadband connections will always increase. I’m not saying they’re perfect substitutes now, and maybe we’re a ways away from them, or maybe we’re not, we don’t know.

So, you know, it’s a moving goalpost and even worse than that, it’s a moving goalpost that hasn’t been defined. So, I don’t know how we know when we’ve made sufficient progress on it. I mean, another thing that I harp on constantly is related to that is this measurement issue that people are very, you know, we want to spend money on it, but it almost seems as if we’re more interested in looking like we’re doing something than in actually doing something.

You know, we’ve got however many hundreds of billions of dollars here, you know, ready to roll out to deal with this, and nobody’s interested in studying any of it. You know, what’s worked, what doesn’t. I mean, and the amounts of money for that are just minuscule, but still, better to say you’re expanding the program than to try to out what works. It’s upsetting.

Tom Lenard:

I think along the lines of one of the things you were talking about is one of the subjects that was being debated at this hearing was some of the people saying, “We need to define adequate broadband as 100/100,” and Mike O’Reilly and some of the others were saying, “Well, of course, if you do that, then just by definition, you’re going to wipe out any progress we’ve made because there’d be so many people who basically don’t have adequate broadband.”

Especially with all this money, you think that’s going to be a subject.

Scott Wallsten:

Yeah. I think that definition is going to be a big deal. And it’s really, it’s a debate. I just don’t, I don’t understand why people grasp onto those up-down numbers as being so important. You know, it’s sort of, we developed this way of talking about broadband however long ago, you know, in a time when it really mattered when you were going from, you know, dial-up to DSL and increasing that speed is huge difference. Going from one to five is a big difference. Five to ten is a big difference. But you know, every study that’s been done shows that people value the increment less and less, but we sort of stuck with that when other things matter, and I just, I don’t understand why those other things aren’t part of the debate at all. Why the people who insist on 100/100, or any arbitrary metric, focus explicitly on those?

So first is, you know, what is a required up-down bandwidth that’d be useful? I mean, if we’re doing this on Zoom right now, anybody who’s ever on Zoom, you can go to statistics in the preferences and you can see that you’re using maybe one and a half megabytes per second to do your video chat. But you know, they have other statistics there too. They show you the latency and your packet loss, and those sorts of things also matter for the connection. And we don’t know, maybe there’s no reason to focus on it because maybe there are no problems, but there’s that. There’s people’s Wi-Fi connections that are terrible inside their homes, and you know, the reliability matters, you know, the uptime. And so, you know, criticizing these arbitrary bandwidth measures, some people seem to think that it means you’re giving the ISP as a pass and just trying somehow trying to make excuses for them or save them money, and it’s nothing like that at all. Focusing on a broader set of metrics might make it harder for them. We just, we don’t know, and so I just, I find it odd that the debate insists on sticking with that one set of things. Again, that’s another rant. I read a lot.

Tom Lenard:

Well, I’m not on top of the debate enough to know what people’s motivations are. Maybe it’s just, people want us always to be behind and always have to do more.

Scott Wallsten:

That’s true. I mean, you know, there’s something for aspirational goals, right? That’s for sure.

Tom Lenard:

Right.

Sarah Oh:

There’s also something to be said for how it’s difficult to talk about costs. So, we’re talking about billions of dollars of spending, but no one’s… people don’t really talk about lowering costs or finding cheaper options, or it seems like the debate is always, “We need more money because so expensive.” Why can’t we lower the costs and use the same amount of money, get more bang for the buck? I think that’s part of the incentives of the policy discussion where the lever that seems easiest to change is the amount of total spending, but actually what’s hard and actually beneficial to taxpayers is to figure out ways to lower the cost to provide better service.

So, I just did a quick calculation. The E-Rate Emergency Connectivity Fund in the stimulus bill is $7 billion, divide that by 56 million K through 12 students, that’s about $125 per student in the whole country. So, take off overhead costs and that’s a hundred dollars per student for every student. So, you would think that we could get Chromebooks to every student and that, you know, you would think like, okay, there’s an administrative cost to distribute and to track, but when we’re talking billions of dollars, and then E-Rate itself is $4 billion annually, it’s a constant steady stream. So, that’s all the service to the schools. These one-time allocations should be able to close the divide.

Scott Wallsten:

Also, I mean, your point about the Chromebooks, you know, it’s another area where we should have been learning something during the pandemic because lots of school districts did that. You know, they gave Chromebooks and hotspots to anybody who needed one. And so, you know, in some places in principle, there shouldn’t be any kids who are not connected, but I’m sure there still are despite that. But we haven’t studied it at all.

Tom Lenard:

Does this new program, the $7 billion, does it also redefine the home as a classroom? I thought I heard something about that, but I wasn’t sure whether it did it or not.

Sarah Oh:

From what I’ve read and know, it includes off-campus locations for connected devices, internet service, and equipment. So, it’s extending the school ed-tech to the home, sending devices home, equipment and service. But I just want to continue about the numbers here, like billions of dollars. I don’t hear enough discussion of lowering the cost. We don’t talk about costs. We talk about spending.

Scott Wallsten:

At the moment, we’re not talking about costs in anything. I mean, it’s just all stimulus, but I mean that’s, you know, related of course to your paper, which maybe you should talk about a little bit where you looked at the different ways BTOP from 2009 could have been allocated and the simulations you ran, you know, showing that a reverse auction could have been much more efficient and gotten a much bigger bang for the buck.

But I also thought a really interesting result from that paper was that it looked like the grant assignment process was almost no better than random assignment. That could have saved a lot of money too.

Sarah Oh:

Right. So, that paper was an effort to study the Recovery Act spending, which was about $3 billion, which sounded like a lot then, but now it’s not even much at all, for infrastructure, for middle mile, the connected infrastructure portion of BTOP. And it’s one of few papers that looks at outcomes after the spending, and in that paper, I compare different allocation mechanisms, including a counterfactual analysis for what if NTIA used a reverse auction.

And the idea of the reverse auction would be competition in prices among suppliers, and, you know, E rate does have competitive bidding among providers. There is some metric measure of competition for costs, but in general, I would like to see more studies that look at how the government is actually, how the rules selected are useful or not, or, you know, efficient or not? There is not as much energy going to that effort as energy towards getting spending up.

Tom Lenard:

I think that really gets to the question of incentives for politicians and for government officials. I mean, is the incentive to say, “Look how great we are. We’re spending X billion dollars on this problem,” and not talking about what it’s actually done, or I mean, is there much of an incentive to talk about outcomes?

Scott Wallsten:

Well, there’s an incentive to say that your outcomes are good, but there’s never much of an incentive to do a rigorous evaluation, and any kind of evaluation has to have as a possible answer that it didn’t work. And you know, nobody, particularly when you’re doing a self-evaluation, could do that. I mean, the government does some things to get around that. I mean, GAO does analyses. They’re pretty good. Although, they’ve got a pretty full plate. A number of assignments they have, and you know, sometimes we separate data collection from the agencies that are doing the thing.

I think it’d be better if the FCC were not in charge of collecting all this data. I think BEA and BLS might do a better job of it and have no, you know, no conflicts of interest in, in doing it. They’d also probably do a better job with big data available to outsiders. The Census is set up that way.

Tom Lenard:

So Scott, I don’t think you mentioned in your list of, maybe because it hasn’t been passed yet, the $94 billion Clyburn-Kloubuchar proposal.

Scott Wallsten:

That’s right. That’s a whole separate thing. Right? Isn’t it. So, what does that, what is that specifically? So, it’s another $2 billion, let’s say $6 billion for Emergency Broadband Benefit, an extra $2 billion for E- rate, and then where is the rest? Where is the rest? I mean, everybody wants to say that they’re part of the solution, and you know, not to be so cynical, I think most of them will want to be part of the solution, but nobody gets any credit for saying, “Let’s do an experiment. Let’s try to get the biggest bang for the buck.”

Tom Lenard:

And, you know, maybe if the agencies themselves, you know, don’t have an incentive evaluate their own work, it does seem to me that the Congress should have some sort of incentive. I mean, they vote the money, they should have some sort of incentive.

Scott Wallsten:

That’s true. Although maybe, you know, it’s a little bit different now in the context of the 1.9 trillion, because the amounts of money we’re talking about for broadband are huge, but it’s still just a fraction, right?

Tom Lenard:

I mean I know I am, but I feel like people have just gotten numb to these large figures. You know?

Scott Wallsten:

Yeah. You know, I remember, I think it was Paul Dessau did some analysis, some sort of back of the envelope calculations on how much it would cost to connect the country to fiber the whole rest of the country and it was sort of $40 billion to get to, you know, to get three quarters of the way to connecting everyone who’s remaining, but then another $40 billion to get to the last quarter. It was probably actually even probably even a higher number to get to a smaller share than I’m remembering. But now those numbers seem small, even though they’re not.

Tom Lenard:

Right.

Scott Wallsten:

But it’s hard to keep things in perspective.

Tom Lenard:

Yeah, I recall in my OIRA days, where a hundred million dollars was considered a major regulation, and it still is, I think, that would warrant the cost-benefit analysis and everything, but a hundred million dollars, it’s just small potatoes these days.

Scott Wallsten:

Yeah. I mean, it doesn’t even show up in rounding errors.

Tom Lenard:

Right.

Sarah Oh:

And maybe it’s due to the pandemic emergency, like exigent circumstances of the crisis. But do you think that there will be evaluation after the trillions are spent?

Scott Wallsten:

Well, I mean, when we’re talking about trillions, you know, there’s no question that there’s going to be a lot of fraud involved, so we’ll definitely hear those stories, even though those probably aren’t really the ways that the money gets wasted. Those will be the sort of the, “Wow, can you believe this happened?” kind of story, but in terms of, you know, evaluations, what did the money do any good? I don’t know, but you’re also, you know, you’re raising the question of what is money supposed to do in the first place? If it’s supposed to get the economy going, maybe you do want to build fiber everywhere you can because you’re just putting people to work, and it’s not really about the broadband. I don’t think anyone who promotes these programs would stay that. I don’t think anyone believes that to be the case, but there is a bigger question of what it’s for.

Sarah Oh:

Will we discover the multiplier effect is small? Well, I don’t know. Maybe, I don’t know. How do we measure the multiplier effect now? Or how do we justify?

Scott Wallsten:

Yeah, that’s funny. It’ll highlight the way everybody misuses the input output tables.

So, actually to go back quickly to one thing. So, with the new E-Rate money essentially allowing you to call a house a school room so that, you know, places outside of school can get connected, do you think that could have net neutrality implications? I mean, no. Does that mean you could set up a house and it’s part of your school intranet? I mean, obviously I don’t know if it’s no, but you know, I’m imagining, you know, schools want to make, they want their students to be part of their internal network or are they going to be required to give them, you know, a plain old internet connection? Saying plain old is the wrong connotation, but I mean the same kind of connection everyone else has.

Sarah Oh:

Yeah, and that is interesting. Are hotspots governed by terms of service for the school? Or can they, I don’t know, can the school track what the students are doing home? Privacy, also.

Scott Wallsten:

Good question. I don’t know. I wonder what the different school districts have done with that.

Tom Lenard:

There are restrictions on schools that accept the E-Rate money. There are restrictions on what the kids can access right, generally?

Scott Wallsten:

In the school. I don’t know if that’s part of E-Rate itself, but schools tend to have, they do have blockers, which all the students are extremely adept at getting around.

Tom Lenard:

Right. So that’s part of the educational program, right?

Scott Wallsten:

It is. I think that’s… Well, I was going to say, that’s the main thing they’ve learned this year, but you know, they’re at home, so they don’t even need to worry about those blockers. So, they’ve all gotten good at doing TikToks while they sit in front of their computer, listening to their teacher who was probably also making TikToks.

Sarah Oh:

But that is a good point. I mean, it’s not directly related, but I hope that there are some voices that can say where the E-Rate money went. Like, we should study it. There aren’t really good studies that show us where it went or how it was used or what was more effective than others, are there?

Scott Wallsten:

No, not a lot. I mean Tom Hazlett and I wrote a paper looking at sort of the effects, whether there’s a relationship between how much schools got and test outcomes. And, you know, there wasn’t which is the same as other papers which have not found a relationship, and that’s part of the ongoing debate about what are the benefits of technology in school, and we often find that, you know, it’s hard to identify them.

And that’s a different question for whether kids can access their materials from home. Those are two different things, not to conflate them. But of course, we’re biased in this and have a vested interest in wanting people to study it because partly that’s what we do and also because we have decided to solve the mapping problem on our own since the government is taking so long anyway, I’m actually only partly joking. Sarah, do you want to talk for a minute about our dashboard?

Tom Lenard:

That was another issue that came up during this year, the mapping.

Scott Wallsten:

Yep.

Sarah Oh:

Sure. So at TPI, we’re building a web app online tool to help us answer questions that we’ve been discussing here, you know, “Where is broadband buildout happening? How does it compare with speeds?” All the questions that policy makers have, we have too.

And so we’re using big datasets and machine learning and regressions to answer those questions and to keep up with all these new maps that are coming out, and we also track subsidies from the USF and we keep them all up to date and that’s our effort to actually study the spending and what questions people are asking about.

Scott Wallsten:

I mean, when people say there are no maps, I mean, we’ve built, you know, we have, it’s a cloud-based tool where we’ve combined all of public data that there is from the FCC, from the census, all of the data from Universal Service, whether it’s E-Rate, Lifeline, High Cost, speed test data, and we have a whole backlog of other data that we’re putting in. We can analyze that at any geographic level. We can overlay maps, we can run regressions, we can combine data.

So since, this is a tool that should have existed by now but didn’t, we made it. People can get in touch us if they’re interested in learning more. It’s a fun project, and someday the government might catch up with us. We’ll see, not to exaggerate, but…

So, let’s turn for a minute to antitrust, which is another, another big issue, and Tom, you were just saying before that it’s hard to even, you know, a few years ago, it’s hard to imagine debates going the way they are now.

Tom Leonard:

Yeah. I mean the debate… I mean, we know there’s been legislation been introduced in the Senate and there will be legislation I guess, introduced in the house, and probably at this stage, the details are less important than what it all indicates about.

And there was a major house report last year. I mean, it’s a little shocking when you look at the kind of, I don’t know how intellectual movements go, how rapidly this new, I don’t know what you want to call it. People have called it different things, but you know, this new Neo-Brandeisian or whatever, I haven’t heard that term that much recently, but this new thinking about antitrust. The thinking about antitrust, call it the reform movement in antitrust, has taken hold, you know, in a very, very short period of time, just a period of probably just a year or two almost.

And basically, the goals of this movement are to, to turn, to just to make a 180-degree turn in antitrust enforcement, kind of to largely discard what has been the anti-trust thinking of the last 30 or 40 years. It’s tended, it’s been kind of caricatured as, you know, Chicago School thinking and that kind of mischaracterizes, you know, just overly concerned with price.

But anyway, I mean, it’s, you know, a lot of the proponents of this thinking want to discard the consumer welfare standard, not all of them, there’s people, but there is a general view. I think it’s based on two things, two premises that I don’t think I’ve really been established, although that obviously it’s a lot of debate about them.

One is that we really have a significant market power problem in this country in tech and maybe even more broadly. And the second is that we’ve had a significant, it is largely due to, to the extent it’s true, it’s largely due to under enforcement of antitrust, and that is due to in the in the minds of the proponents due to the Chicago School revolution.

So, basically what they want to do is turn and a trust back to what it was before, presumably less economic analysis, because I think what the “Chicago School” did in that whole revolution was really to elevate the role of economics in antitrust enforcement. So, I think basically what, if successful, I think this would kind of turn things around.

Scott Wallsten:

Without talking about the economics of it, first. I don’t completely understand the popularity of this movement. I mean, I understand kind of the intellectual appeal of the arguments, whether, regardless of how valid they are, but I mean, these are the same companies that have pretty much gotten us through the pandemic. They’re, you know, the ones that bring us stuff, and you know, it’s the one part of the economy that’s actually worked, and also in various surveys, not that I put much stock in state of preference surveys, but these are still among the most admired companies that exist.

So, you know, is this, do you think that this is something that’s, you know, more broadly popular or is antitrust just too esoteric anyway for most people to think about? But if it is too esoteric for most people to think about, or if it’s not actually a particularly popular approach to rethinking antitrust, what accounts for the rapid change in the debate, because it just, it doesn’t fit with public overall public perception?

Tom Leonard:

Yeah. Well, those are, those are all good questions, and I don’t know that they have any easy answers. I mean, one is that maybe some people like the divorce, the actual popularity of these services, you know, that the big digital companies, the Amazons and the Googles of the world actually provide which most people like, with the fact that there are very rich people, people of a $100, $200 billion, the founders of these companies, and there’s, I guess there’s always that maybe a little bit of resentment against… it’s kind of an extension of the populist politics that we’ve had in this country and around the world really in the last few years. I mean, that seems to be part of it.

Scott Wallsten:

Well, I’ve seen as part of some of the irony of it is that if some of the more extreme people got what they wanted, they’d break up the companies and shareholders often like that. So, you know, the people who are rich would get even richer.

Tom Leonard:

Yeah. So that’s, yeah, that’s what happened when they broke up Standard Oil. It’s hard for me to believe when I look at these things that the various proposals… I mean, there’s the general proposals for reforming antitrust law, and then there’s specific things with respect to these companies. It’s hard to imagine how, if any of these things were really carried out, you know, how consumers would benefit.

Scott Wallsten:

Right. Yeah. Well, I mean, that’s where it goes to more of the European approach where it’s focused on competitors, not consumers with an idea that somehow that benefit trickles down. Although, I think the people who like this focus on competitors probably do not like the phrase “trickle down.”

Tom Leonard:

Right, but I think the interesting question that you raised is kind of implicit as, you know, “What are the politics of this?”

Because these companies are popular. So, presumably our elected representatives are somewhat, you know, somewhat responsive to that. So, the question is how far this reform will go in terms of actual legislation, given that it is to some significant extent aimed at these companies that are popular,

Scott Wallsten:

Or if you know, if the companies actually wanted to do something about it, what they do is, well, I have a hard time believing anything is this simple, but Jeff Bezos can act more like his ex-wife McKenzie Scott who’s decided nobody needs as much money as she has, and she gives away huge chunks of it. You know, there’s something to being a good philanthropist.

Tom Leonard:

You have to believe though, that given the way things generally work out, that whatever happens, probably these companies are gonna, are going to find some way of winning.

Scott Wallsten:

Yeah. That’s a good point.

Tom Lenard:

And probably be more entrenched than before.

Scott Wallsten:

Right? Well, I mean, that’s an often a side effect that exists for incumbents, incumbents win.

Tom Lenard:

But I’m obviously overly cynical. So…

Scott Wallsten:

I don’t know. We don’t know if you’re overly cynical or not for a while.

Tom Lenard:

Right.

Scott Wallsten:

Maybe you’re underly cynical.

Tom Lenard:

Right, right, but it’s obviously going to be a subject of conversation. I don’t know what the odds of something passing are. I don’t know.

Scott Wallsten:

And we don’t, I mean, I guess we have a sense of, who’s moving into some of these antitrust positions now, but you know, there’s still no FTC Chair, permanent chair, named. I mean, some of these things are still up in the air.

Tom Leonard:

I don’t think we have a good idea. At least I don’t have a good idea. We have, obviously some of the, a nomination for an FTC Commissionership and another Lena Khan is, I don’t know if she’s been formally nominated yet, but I heard she’s going to be nominated as well, and Tim Wu has been appointed to a position at the White House. In terms of actually, who’s going to be Chair of the FTC and who’s going to be Attorney General for Anti-trust, I don’t know.

I look at PredictIt, and every day it’s dramatically changed. I just looked at it today, and there was a completely new name that maybe I should’ve known, but I wasn’t familiar with, who was pretty high up in the probability ranking.

Scott Wallsten:

And that also suggests, and we talked about this the other day that the administration is doing a great job of keeping its information close hold. If these prediction markets are so, and that maybe, you know, maybe just the number of people who like to bet on incoming attorneys general is pretty small.

Tom Lenard:

Well, I think it probably this small, but interestingly enough, yesterday, or the day before Rebecca slaughter, who’s the acting Chair of the FTC was at the top of the list for in PredictIt for the Assistant Attorney General. You know now, she’s not on there at all.

Scott Wallsten:

Wow. That’s amazing.

Tom Lenard:

I think it’s a thin market and nobody, and I think it probably very few people who are really interested in it. Just, I mean, you know, of the people who participate in PredictIt.

Scott Wallsten:

Right. I assume you don’t have an account on there.

Tom Lenard:

No, I don’t. *Laughs*

Scott Wallsten:

Right. So who with knowledge plays on that? I have to find out

Tom Lenard:

You would think they would be doing it fairly, fairly soon. I mean, maybe they wanted to wait for some of these positions until Merrick Garland got confirmed, but now he’s confirmed. And actually, they did nominate some other some other high-level Justice Department people before he was confirmed.

Scott Wallsten:

Right. I mean, I guess it could mean either. There’s a lot of debate internal debate about who these people should be, or if there’s a lot of internal, “Hey, we got a lot of other things to worry about going on inside.” I mean, to be fair, they certainly do have a lot of other things to worry about.

Tom Leonard:

Yeah, but I would assume he will want to fill those positions.

Scott Wallsten:

Yeah. I would imagine.

Tom Lenard:

That’s interesting.

Scott Wallsten:

Yeah. Well, I think we are, I think we’re out of time, so this was a good discussion. We’ll have to do this every now and then and see what we know, what we don’t know. Maybe we should just have that be the title of the segment, “What We Know, What We Don’t Know, and Where We Come Down This Week.”

Tom Lenard:

Focusing on the latter, right?

Scott Wallsten:

Exactly. All right. Well, thanks so much.

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