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Ezra Klein: June 7, 2009 - June 13, 2009

Tab Dump

• Are calorie counts at chain restaurants about to sweep the nation? • Some optimism on jobs. • Mark Thoma explains how to make financial regulation work. • Is health-care reform killing cap and trade? Or saving it? • In...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 6:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Tab Dump  
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We Love Markets, Says Larry Summers

That, in a nutshell, was the message of his speech to the Council on Foreign Relations today. "In the long sweep of history," Summers said, "Franklin Roosevelt’s policies, denounced by many at the time as a radical attack on capitalism,...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 6:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Financial Regulation , Solutions  
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MSNBC'ing

I'll be on MSNBC's The Ed Show at about 6:40 Eastern. We'll talk some health care, some public plans, some co-op compromises. You'll see. It'll be fun....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 5:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Will the House Progressive Caucus Vote Against Health Reform? An Interview With Rep. Lynn Woolsey.

The theory in health-care reform has been, thus far, that Democrats need to worry about votes on their right flank. But California Rep. Lynn Woolsey, chair of the 80-member House Progressive Caucus, has been arguing the opposite: that Democrats need...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 5:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Health Reform , Interviews  
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Is It Time for a Consumption Tax?

I don't agree with every line of it, but David Brooks's column today is really very good. In particular, his framing device -- that we're moving from an era defined by leverage to an era defined by the unwinding of...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 3:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Economic Policy , Solutions , Taxes  
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Listen to Atul Gawande: Insurers Aren't the Problem in Health Care

Dr. Atul Gawande, author of the now-ubiquitous New Yorker article on regional variations in health-care spending, delivered a customarily graceful commencement speech at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine graduation. In it, he spoke about the value of...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 2:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (60)
Categories:  Health Economics , Health Reform  
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The Ankle-Biters

Steve Pearlstein has a fun column today calling out the "ankle-biters" of the financial crisis. He names a bunch of names, but for sheer chutzpah, it's hard to top Richard Mourdock, the Indiana state treasurer, who brought the challenge against...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 1:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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The Troubling Business Practices of the American Medical Association

The Wonk Room's Lee Fang has a very troubling backgrounder on the American Medical Association's business practices. The story, put very simply, is that the AMA finds it impossible to live on membership dues alone. This is particularly true because...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 1:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Lunch Break: Busting Stereotypes Edition

This video made me realize that I am really unused to incredible beatboxing coming from suburban-looking Canadian teenagers....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 12:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Lunch Break  
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Will Democrats Filibuster the Public Plan, Or Just Oppose It?

In my interview with Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), he said the problem with the public plan could be summed up in one word: "votes." All Republicans, and "at least" three Democrats opposed the policy. In a 60-vote Senate, that...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 12:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Reading Wolf

A wise editor of mine once told me that Martin Wolf's columns in the Financial Times were the hardest things he read in the morning, and the most rewarding. That description fits Wolf's piece on the role that "surplus countries"...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 11:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Solutions  
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Is Amazon.com Regressive?

Alex Tabarrok has a neat post on the economics of really expensive DVD cables. To get the best performance you need an HDMI cable which must be purchased separately (itself a bit of a mystery since almost every blu-ray is...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 11:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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The Public Plan Compromise That Isn't

Last night, I interviewed Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) on his public plan compromise. Conrad proposes that the federal government charter health-care cooperatives that will provide a nonprofit alternative to the for-profit health insurance market. It is, in theory, all...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 10:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Mike Rorty Builds His Own Stress Test

Two days ago, I echoed Felix Salmon's complaint that the stress tests omitted the "baseline scenario" data, which made it impossible for analysts to use the estimates to conduct their own models. Well, almost impossible. Mike Rorty, employing statistical ninjery...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 12, 2009; 9:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Solutions  
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Has Kent Conrad Solved the Public Plan Problem? An Interview.

(Earlier today, Sen. Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, introduced a "potential compromise" on the public plan: A system of federally-chartered co-ops that could offer a non-profit alternative to the for-profit insurance industry....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 6:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (51)
Categories:  Health Reform , Interviews  
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Tab Dump

• The Washington Post launches its economic solutions page. I'm there, along with a continually updated collection of news articles, commentary, and resources on the issue. One-stop shopping! • Mike Rorty builds something amazing. • What British conservatives think of...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Tab Dump  
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Don't Overestimate the Congressional Budget Office

I hope people have read Lori Montgomery's excellent profile of Doug Elmendorf, the new director of the Congressional Budget Office. After all, if I've not convinced you folks of the importance of the CBO, I probably haven't convinced you of...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The Difficulties of Bipartisanship

Matt Yglesias has some smart thoughts on bipartisanship. In particular, he notes that there's no such thing as a "bipartisan vote." It's a moving target. The more seats a particular party has, the harder it is to achieve a...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 4:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Hardball on Health Care?

This morning, the New York Times reported that the American Medical Association had sent the Senate Finance Committee a firm, detailed rejection of the public plan. “The A.M.A. does not believe that creating a public health insurance option for...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The Left Wakes Up to Financial Regulation

I rather liked Bob Kuttner's list of five questions that Obama's financial regulation plan will have to resolve. A lot of folks will find it a welcome introduction to the financial regulation fight. I was also interested by this nugget...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 2:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Financial Regulation , Solutions  
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Transcript of My Post Chat

Earlier today, I did a live chat for the Post. The questions were mainly on health-care reform, financial regulation, and whether I'm a socialist. The answers may interest some of you. What follows is the full transcript. Washington, D.C.: Hey...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 2:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Paying, Going

Normally, I'd make a big deal out of Barack Obama holding a press conference to loudly announce his support for PAYGO rules. But health reform and financial regulation have sort of taken this blog over in recent weeks. Luckily, Tim...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 1:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Budget  
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Lunch Break: Discovering the Internet Edition

This is pretty spectacular: A clip from the early '90s in which Tom Brokaw promises to take "a look at a part of the computer world that we've all been hearing a good deal about but many of us still...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Why the American Medical Association Opposes the Public Insurance Plan

To understand the importance -- or lack thereof -- of the American Medical Association's opposition to the public plan, you first need to understand "Operation: Coffeecup." This was the AMA's big political campaign in 1961. It came at another...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 12:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Post Live Chat!

I'm doing my first of these Washington Post live chat thingies at noon today (that's eastern time). As I understand it, the way this works is that you ask me questions and I answer them. In real time. It's like...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Is the Obama Administration Getting Serious About Executive Compensation? (No.)

I've not dug deeply enough into the administration's new financial compensation proposal to have a really strong opinion on the matter, but it certainly doesn't look like much. Put simply, it gives investors a bit more authority to organize "advisory"...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Should Health Care Reform Be Bipartisan?

David Broder has a column today talking up the Wyden-Bennett bill and the importance of bipartisanship in health reform. He quotes Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), saying, "we will fight almost to the last man and woman against a government-run...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 10:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Newspapers and Blogs, Working Together

Yesterday, David Leonhardt wrote an excellent column breaking down the contributors to our budget deficit. I linked it, complete with fulsome praise, here. The piece was built around an analysis of the various factors that have sent us plummeting from...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 10:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Was This a Financial Crisis or a Trade Deficit Crisis?

I have nothing much to add to this analysis by Kevin Drum, but it definitely tracks with my understanding, and I'd sure love to hear some answers: [B]etter regulation would have reduced the size of the credit bubble and the...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 8:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Solutions  
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Sen. Rockefeller's Very Good Idea

Most of the attention will focus on the public plan outlined in Sen. Jay Rockefeller's Consumer Health Choices Act. Think of it as the "strong" version of the public plan: For the first few years at least, it can use...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2009; 7:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Tab Dump

• How banking works in Canada. • The rise of big box bookstores. • Mark Bittman on the difficulties with eating fish. • Another set of stress tests? • What was the New York Times thinking?...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 6:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Your Deficit in Charts

David Leonhardt's column deconstructing the projected federal deficit between 2009 and 2012 is better than a must-read. It's a must-bookmark. The question is fairly simple: In 2001, the Congressional Budget Office expected that the federal government would run an annual...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Budget , Charts and Graphs  
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Streets Blog

I tucked a link to the new Capitol Hill version of Streets Blog in tab dump yesterday, but I've been enjoying the blog enough that I wanted to give it a plug on its own terms. If you're at all...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 5:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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It's The Doctors, Stupid

Steve Pearlstein's column today focuses on one of my favorite topics in health reform: The centrality of doctors. They, after all, are the ones making most of the decisions in the health-care system. Consumers outsource their thinking to their doctor,...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Why Barack Obama Always Supported, But Couldn't Admit He Supported, Taxing Health Benefits

Dan Froomkin points to reports that Barack Obama is edging toward endorsing some form of a cap on the employer tax exclusion. Of course he is. For reasons I can't understand, the media has gone along with this months-long...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 4:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Is The Administration Embracing a "Lock the Barn Door After the Horses Are Out" Theory of Financial Reform?

That, right now, is the concern. In recent weeks, there have been some ambitious plans previewed out of 1600 Pennsylvania. Efforts to merge the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, for instance. But as David...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 3:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Financial Regulation , Solutions  
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Should Unions Get Special Treatment in Health Reform?

One of the big challenges for health-care reformers who want to see the employer tax exclusion capped is the fact that labor unions, who are generally their allies on health reform, are dead-set against the idea. Now, Sen. Max Baucus...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 2:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Health Reform , Unions  
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The "Constituent Person"

Yesterday, before Tim Geithner testified to the Senate Appropriations' financial services subcommittee, Ben Nelson (D) offered some introductory remarks channeling, we can only presume, the ordinary Nebraskans he works so assiduously to represent: When I go home, I have...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 2:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Lunch Break: Brick!

Last night, I rewatched one of my favorite movies: "Brick", the best hard-boiled noir ever set in a Southern California high school. And this morning, the Internets -- or, more specifically, the tweetnets (twitternets?) -- informed me that you can...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 1:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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An Interview With Jim Cooper

In recent weeks, we've talked about the administration's idea for controlling health-care costs by allowing the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to make Medicare reforms without requiring congressional approval. It's a big, bold idea, that first found expression in legislation from...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 12:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Health Reform , Interviews  
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My Head, Blogging

Cato's Will Wilkinson joins me for some live-action wonkery on the public plan, the strange death of Treasury Sec.Timothy Geithner's toxic loans program, and the secret to true happiness (seriously)....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 10:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Video  
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Why Don't We Have DIY Stress Tests?

This is an interesting point: the Congressional Oversight Panel notes that the government didn't release the "baseline scenario" of the stress tests. They only released the "adverse scenario." Releasing both would have demonstrated how sensitive the banks are to changes...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 8:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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Wyden Does Not Support the Public Plan 'Trigger'

This claim originated in a blog post by Robert Reich, and many of you e-mailed it to me. I couldn't confirm it, so I didn't run it. Last night, Sen. Ron Wyden's office released an official statement setting the record...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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A Strange, and Possibly Terrible, Case Against Health-Care Reform

It's a bit hard to know where to start with the Wall Street Journal's long argument against health care reform. Our health care system, they argue, is worth the money we pay for it. It is a dazzling achievement,...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Tab Dump

• The latest legal wrangling over the auto bailout. • DC gets its very own Streets Blog! • Paul Krugman spies a British bounce. • Was the financial crisis a failure of capitalism? Or of regulation? • Does anyone else...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2009; 6:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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The Senate HELP Committee Releases (Most of) Its Health Reform Bill

This is it.This is what health reform looks like. Embedded in that link is actual legislative language. More than 600 pages of it, in fact. It's the preliminary first draft of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee's bill...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2009; 4:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Is Larry Summers a Big Meanie? Does It Matter?

I'm actually a bit surprised we've not had more anonymously sourced stories about tensions on the White House economics team. But one point on these sorts of stories, and the embedded idea that economic recovery is substantially dependent on Larry...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2009; 3:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Obama administration  
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Lunch Break

Lots of meetings. Slow blogging day. But I am warming to Zach Galifianakis:...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2009; 2:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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You World in Charts: Stress Test Aftermath Edition

Binyamin Applebaum's look at the effort by banks to repay their TARP capital comes complete with this helpful graph: And that's all capital raised on the private market. One odd argument I stumbled upon while reporting out the PPIP story...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2009; 1:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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Should Banks Be Allowed to Repay TARP Funds?

Felix Salmon makes the case for allowing the banks to repay the TARP funds. And it's convincing. "If Treasury needs new firepower to rescue banks in real trouble, then — given Congressional opposition to any new bailout bill — the...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2009; 12:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Solutions  
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Should We Care That the Banks Don't Want to Play Ball With Geithner?

The Treasury Department's effort to price and purchase the toxic loans clouding bank balance sheets -- the PPIP program -- appears to have failed. And it's failed for a very simple reason: The banks refused to participate. They didn't see...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2009; 12:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Solutions  
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Health Reform for Beginners: The Difference Between Socialized Medicine, Single-Payer Health Care, and What We'll Be Getting

I've been meaning to write this post for some time. The words "socialized medicine" and"single-payer health care" get thrown around with such gleeful abandon that they've both become a bit unmoored from their actual meanings. In the American health-care...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2009; 11:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Health Reform For Beginners  
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Tab Dump

• What is the public plan like in the states? • Can fixing corporate boards fix corporate America? • Health reform now comes with a guarantee! • Paul Krugman thinks the recession might end by the summer....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 6:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Peter Orszag Responds to His Critics

In his New Yorker profile of Peter Orszag, Ryan Lizza argued that Orszag was the Obama administration official who best represented -- and even guarded -- "Obamaism." I think you see a bit of that today over at Orszag's blog....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 5:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Can The Efficient Markets Hypothesis Survive?

George Manson University economist Tyler Cowen has written an interesting new paper entitled "A Simple Theory of the Financial Crisis." That's a good title, because I'm very much on the lookout for simple theories of the financial crisis. The paper's...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Solutions  
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The "Congressionalist" White House

I quite liked Matt Bai's exploration of Barack Obama's relationship with Congress, in part because it read a bit like a sequel to "It's His Party," an article Dana Goldstein and I wrote on the same subject in the...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 2:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Health Care Reform for Beginners: The Many Flavors of the Public Plan

For most of you, this is the big one. The inclusion of a strong public insurance option has become, for most observers I know, the single most recognizable marker for victory. If the public plan exists, liberals have won. If...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 1:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (76)
Categories:  Health Coverage , Health Reform For Beginners  
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Lunch Break

Last weekend, The New York Times Magazine had an article naming Zach Galifianakis the towering comedic genius of my generation. Of all the Galifianakis clips, gags and sketches currently in Internet orbit, none have done more to cement his reputation...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 12:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Lunch Break  
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The Problem With Really Complicated Ideas to Make Dirty Energy Clean

I'd meant to link to this the other day, but Eugene Robinson is saying very sensible things about efforts to "capture" the carbon emissions generated by coal plants. [W]ould the stuff stay down there? The whole point of the...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Think Tank Update

As always, these will hang out on the left sidebar all week. For now, get your wonk on: 1) The Congressional Budget Office releases its first cost estimates for cap-and-trade legislation. Important! 2) The Council on Economic Advisers makes the...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 11:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Think Tank  
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Has The Obama Administration's Banking Plan Failed?

When Tim Geithner's Public-Private Investment Partnership (PPIP) plan was announced, it dominated commentary for a solid week. It was big, complicated, controversial, and, it seemed, important. It was the center of the administration's most important project: Rescuing the banking...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 11:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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Does the Federal Reserve Want to Increase Inflation?

Janet Yellen, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve, wants to see a bit more inflation than the Fed has been allowed in recent years. Rather than the historically low 1.5 percent target the Fed has recently hewed to, she...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 10:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Federal Reserve , Solutions  
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What It Means to Be Pro-Choice

Rozalyn Farmer Love is a young medical student in Birmingham, Alabama. She means to be an obstetrician-gynecologist. She wants to deliver babies, and work with midwives, and support families. And slowly, haltingly, she's come to the conclusion that that also...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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How Bicycling Makes Bicycling Safer

Streetsblog nabs a nice graph showing that bike accidents in New York are falling even as bike ridership is rising. "By my calculations," writes Felix Salmon, "these numbers mean that you’d need to ride your bike in NYC for 7,300...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Urban Policy  
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When Senators Stop Tweeting Polite and Start Tweeting Real

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, was not pleased with Barack Obama this weekend. But he didn't issue a press release, or blast him on the Sunday shows. Instead, he hit him where...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2009; 7:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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