Home > News > Is Health Care Reform a Game of Chicken?
122 views 32 sec 0 Comment

Is Health Care Reform a Game of Chicken?

- March 9, 2010

bq. I claim the interesting version of the game for Democratic Representatives in conservative districts is Chicken.

So says Sandeep Baliga in this post at Cheap Talk (via Marginal Revolution). It’s a nice game-theoretic analysis of the (probably?) impending health care vote, focusing on conservative Democrats. Here is one interesting bit:

bq. But there is a symmetric equilibrium where each conservative Rep’s strategy is uncertain [NB: “Rep” is representative, not Republican]. They might vote for it, they might not. There is no implicit or explicit coördination among the voters in this equilibrium. This equilibrium is bad for Obama. Sometimes lots of people vote for the bill and it passes with excess votes. But sometimes it fails.

One implication: if the representative wants to extract concessions from the Democratic leadership, it’s thus a good idea to signal uncertainty or even opposition to the bill — as many conservative Democrats have done. This raises the possibility, as one friend noted to me, that the prevalence of these signals in news stories may inflate the perceived chance that health care reform will fail in the House.