RSF Authors Pamela Herd and Donald Moynihan Discuss Their Book, Administrative Burden, on The Weeds Podcast

January 2, 2020

On the most recent episode of The Weeds podcast, RSF authors Pamela Herd and Donald Moynihan discuss their book, Administrative Burden: Policymaking by Other Means with senior Vox correspondent Matthew Yglesias. 

Moynihan describes administrative burdens as “the frictions we experience when we encounter government.” Herd offers the example of the devastating effects of onerous administrative burdens in the case of 220,000 Tennessee children who lost Medicaid due to considerable obstacles to receiving coverage, including a semi-annual re-verification process that includes a 50-page application. Herd also explains the reasons for the different uptake levels of various government benefit programs, including nearly 100% participation in Social Security benefits programs by those who are eligible, vs. 50-80% of eligible people receiving Medicaid and food stamp benefits. Herd and Moynihan discuss the ways that voting rights are compromised by voter ID and registration laws, and how these policies disproportionately affect marginalized groups. They also point to the ways that political administrations can facilitate access to public benefits, such as President George W. Bush’s administration’s efforts to remove barriers to access SNAP benefits, and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to fully fund public defenders to represent defendants in eviction cases. The podcast features a lively discussion of the ways that administrative burdens can have a profound effect on people’s lives, especially for marginalized groups, including those that are low-income, older, less educated, or whose lives are affected by disability. 

Pamela Herd is a professor in the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. Herd's research focuses on inequality and how it intersects with health, aging, and policy. 

Donald Moynihan is the inaugural McCourt Chair in the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. His research examines how to improve how government works. 



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