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Ezra Klein: May 24, 2009 - May 30, 2009

Tab Dump

• The Tim Duy economic analysis everyone is talking about! • Couldn't decide whether to put this in tab dump or not. • Why I'm not renewing my subscription to Cook's Illustrated. • How to improve the Waxman-Markey climate bill....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 6:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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You've Got Questions: Health Reform's Cost Paradox

Russell e-mails: Ezra - I'm wondering if you can help me understand a couple of really simple questions. If one of the major current problems [in health care] is cost - why is reform going to cost even more?? Seems...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 5:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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An E-Mail Apology

Last week, my e-mail changed over from a wpost.com address to a WashPost.com address. Thinking back on it, it makes sense that the changeover happened on the blog e-mail form, too. But I hadn't thought about it. I just kept...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 5:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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School Segregation and Teacher Quality

Education Week's Debra Viadero highlights a depressing new study out of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district in North Carolina. In 2002, the 137,000-student district ended its 30-year busing program. In effect, it de-desegregated its schools. The results were quick and...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 4:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Education  
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Tough Calls

I can't decide if the Google Wave seems extremely exciting or extremely annoying. Thoughts?...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 2:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Your World in Charts: Debtor Nation

This comes via Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco economists Reuven Glick and Kevin Lansing's excitedly named paper, "U.S. Household Deleveraging and Future Consumption Growth." Not good. The authors estimate that getting our debt-to-income ratio down to a more sustainable...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs , Economic Policy  
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The Case For Not Worrying About Inflation

Paul Krugman argues that inflationary fears are overstated. There are, he says, two main reasons to worry about inflation. First, the Federal Reserve is printing money: [I]t’s true that the Fed has taken unprecedented actions lately. More specifically, it has...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Lunch Break

How long could a black hole remain at the center of the earth? And make sure to read the comments....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Lunch Break  
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Ted Kennedy's Coming Health Care Plan

Back in April, Max Baucus, Chairman of the Finance Committee, and Ted Kennedy, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, sent a letter to Barack Obama outlining their legislative timetable: Since our committees share jurisdiction over health care...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Department of Good Ideas

James Surowiecki has a smart column this week wondering why boards of directors haven't come in for more blame throughout the crisis. They, after all, were the folks charged with protecting shareholder value and overseeing aggressive CEOs. The answer, at...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Solutions  
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I Am An Important Fact: The Supreme Court is Historically Conservative Edition

Yesterday, I quoted Dahlia Lithwick making the case that Sonia Sotomayor "has taken a fairly moderate, text-based approach to the cases before her, placing her much closer to retiring Justice David Souter than to the late Justice William Brennan on...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Legal  
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How Dare He Eat Food With Adjectives!

Obviously, Barack Obama shouldn't be laughing about gay protesters who are demanding that he keep his campaign promises. If he thinks the political realities are such that he has to delay action on civil equality for gay Americans, that's something...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Food  
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What Does Ben Bernanke Believe About the Financial Crisis?

Ben Bernanke recommends that we read Yale University professor -- and former AIG consultant -- Gary Gorton's papers for insight into the financial crisis. It's not a bad recommendation. Gorton's latest paper, "Slapped in the Face by the Invisible...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 29, 2009; 6:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Federal Reserve , Financial Crisis  
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Tab Dump

• Introducing Google's chief economist, Hal Varian. • Do CEOs matter? • Do regulators need a corporate boot camp? • Democrats get cozier with big business. • The comments in this post are really, really good. • The truth about...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 28, 2009; 6:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Will Unions Kill Health Care Reform?

I have bad dreams. Nightmares, really. They used to be pretty rare. Every fortnight, maybe. But ever since the public employee union American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees took a knife to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), they've...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 28, 2009; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Health Economics , Health Reform  
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Bill Clinton and the Housing Bubble

Commenter Fallsmeadjc makes a fair point. Bill Clinton might have left office before the worst of the financial sector's excesses. But he wasn't blameless in hyping the housing bubble: In 1997 Congress made the first $500,000 of capital gains on...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 28, 2009; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Reading Lists of the Rich and Famous

David Ignatius's interview with Ben Bernanke contains this validating nugget: Bernanke recommended studies by Gary Gorton, a Yale economist who has analyzed the ways the recent panic resembled those of the late 19th century. In his latest paper, "Slapped in...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 28, 2009; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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I Am An Important Fact: GM Edition

Felix Salmon on the GM bankruptcy plan: The new plan essentially constitutes the nationalization of GM: the US government will own 72.5% of the common equity, plus another $2.5 billion in preferred stock. I can see why bondholders like it:...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 28, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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CBO Decides Against Crazy Ruling That Would Kill Health Reform

This is going to be one of those posts where I try to convince you that a dull, technical decision by the Congressional Budget Office is really a very big deal. Here goes: The CBO has decided against counting premiums...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 28, 2009; 1:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Budget , Health Reform  
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Lunch Break

Ever seen a two-year-old sing Radiohead? Now you have. And I hope you watched past 3:42. That kid can rock out....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 28, 2009; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Is the Geithner Plan DOA?

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Public-Private Investment Program -- better known as Geithner's Plan -- might never live at all. The Legacy Loans Program [LLP], being crafted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., [as] part of the...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 28, 2009; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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Did Bill Clinton Cause the Financial Crisis?

I think Bill Clinton makes a persuasive case that it was what he didn't do, rather than what did do, that contributed to the financial crisis. There aren't very compelling arguments out there that repealing the Glass-Steagall Act -- the...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 28, 2009; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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I Am An Important Fact: Sonia Sotomayor Edition

Newsweek's Dahlia Lithwick writes: On the appeals court Judge Sotomayor has taken a fairly moderate, text-based approach to the cases before her, placing her much closer to retiring Justice David Souter than to the late Justice William Brennan on the...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 28, 2009; 10:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Legal  
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How the Banking Industry Is Like Bad Reality TV

I don't have a lot to add to Binyamin Appelbaum and Zachary Goldfarb's report that the Obama administration is weighing the creation of a single agency to regulate the whole of the banking sector. It's a good idea! The devil...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 28, 2009; 9:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Solutions  
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Tab Dump

• Dahlia Lithwick on Sonia Sotomayor. • Why Ayn Rand would support health care reform. • Ecocomics -- a new blog on the economics of comic books. • Why Europe is suffering worse from the financial crisis. • Do Republicans...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 27, 2009; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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How the Public Hurts Health Care Reform

Lori Montgomery has a nice article on a perennial wonk dream: Funding health care, or even American government, through a Value Added Tax (more commonly known as a VAT, and best understood as a modified sales tax). This is how...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 27, 2009; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Health Economics  
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Important Food Advice for Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor's identity as a woman, a Latina, a judge, a professional, and even a single adult have all been front page news recently. But only Politico's Ben Smith has the courage to get at the core of Sotomayor's persona:...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 27, 2009; 3:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Food  
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This is What Regulatory Capture Looks Like

During the stress tests, an administration official told me that some of the most aggressive pushback was coming from, of all people, career regulators. The banks are fine, they said. They're capitalized. This is unnecessary. That's not necessarily surprising: If...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 27, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Government  
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Is Sotomayor Too Empathetic? Not Empathetic Enough?

The likely case conservatives will unite around to bloody Sonia Sotomeyer is the affirmative action suit Ricci vs. DeStefano. It's already been in the Wall Street Journal. Richard Cohen wrote about the case for this newspaper. But so far, most...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 27, 2009; 1:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Legal  
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Atul Gawande on American Health Care

I'm jealous of Atul Gawande's article on medicine in America. I wish I had written it. I wish I could write it. But I didn't, and I can't. You, however, should read it. It's the best article you'll see this...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 27, 2009; 12:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Health Economics , Health Reform  
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Hezbollah Wants Your Money

I'm cheered by the news that Hezbollah has begun talking to the International Monetary Fund. Hezbollah's coalition might win next month's parliamentary elections in Lebanon. And if it does, it doesn't want the aid shut off. So its leaders are...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 27, 2009; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Does The Financial Sector Pollute?

I liked this point by Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf: A market works well if, and only if, decision-makers confront the consequences of their decisions. This is not – and probably cannot be – the case in finance: certainly, people...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 27, 2009; 10:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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Has Feminism Been Bad For Women?

Ross Douthat wrote a column yesterday bemoaning the decline of female happiness. The takeaway is that women are less happy, both in absolute terms and relative to men, than they were before Betty Friedan published her manifesto. "All the achievements...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 27, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs  
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Tab Dump

• Martin Wolf on making Britain's financial sector smaller. • Atul Gawande on some of the most expensive health care in America. • Tim Fernholz on the youngest congressmen. • Matt Crawford on the joys and virutes of manual labor....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 26, 2009; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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We Have Seen the Future

Paul Krugman has some nice musings on visiting Hong Kong. Hong Kong, with its incredible cluster of tall buildings stacked up the slope of a mountain, is the way the future was supposed to look. The future — the way...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 26, 2009; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Why There Is No Supreme Court "Fight."

The crawl on MSNBC -- yes, I'm sitting in front of the teevee when I should be at the beach, I fail at vacation -- just informed me of some "BREAKING" news. Mitt Romney - who has literally no role...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 26, 2009; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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The Supreme Court: More Than Just Abortion and Affirmative Action!

I mentioned earlier that for all the attention that's likely to accrue to issues like affirmative action and abortion, those questions don't absorb the bulk of the Court's time. A nice visual illustration of this can be seen at On...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 26, 2009; 3:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Legal  
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Health Care Reform for Beginners: The Senate Finance Committee

My colleague Ceci Connelly had a nice profile of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) over the weekend. Read it. It also happens to be a nice segue into the second entry of "Health Reform for Beginners." You hear a lot...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 26, 2009; 2:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Health Reform , Health Reform For Beginners  
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Is Wall Street Closer to Main Street Than we Thought?

Reuters' Felix Salmon has a pretty striking graph comparing the path of the stock market and the trends in unemployment: "It seems that the two indicators are much more coincident than you might think," he says. I believe that's the...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 26, 2009; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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Sonia Sotomayor's Toughest Cases

This can be a bit of a dull reminder, but contrary to what you're likely to hear in the next few months, the Supreme Court was not specifically formed to decide cases relating to abortion and affirmative action. For instance:...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 26, 2009; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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As Goes California, So Goes the Nation?

Paul Krugman has a very nice column on the fiscal disaster -- and "disaster" is not too strong a word -- facing California. The Golden State has, as Krugman argues, a survival-level economic threat that's fundamentally the result of a...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 26, 2009; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  California  
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Are Debit Cards the Future?

A couple days ago, I got some pushback for arguing that the credit industry's tiered model amounted to a subsidization scheme: Credit card users who fall into debt get socked with fees and interest rates that in turn subsidize reward...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 26, 2009; 10:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (51)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Credit Where It's Due

Just for the record: The twin bankruptcies suffered by Pattie Barreiro, the wife of New York Times economics writer Edmund Andrews, were not reported by "a blogger for The Atlantic." They were reported by Megan McArdle, the business and economics...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 26, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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