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Ezra Klein: November 22, 2009 - November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

No tab dump today. It's Thanksgiving! Barring any unforeseen news breaks, this blog will return Monday. In the meantime, I'm thankful for all of you, my long-suffering, much-appreciated readers....

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 6:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Making turkey the star

I'm a well-known turkey skeptic, but this reader's Thanksgiving menu is enough to convert me: For the last three years, turkey has gone from the least interesting part of our meal to the star. We get a heritage bird from...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 5:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Food  
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The filibuster has gone from affecting 8 percent of big bills in the 1950s to 70 percent in the 2000s

Over at U.S. News and World Report, Robert Schlesinger attaches some more numbers to the rise of the filibuster: The fact of the matter is that the frequency of filibusters has increased by a factor of 50 since the days...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 5:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Senate  
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Thanksgiving menu

In the comments beneath my column applying behavioral economics to Thanksgiving, a couple of folks accuse me of trying to pretty much ban eating during the holiday, which is pretty obviously not the point of the column. In any case,...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 3:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Food  
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The possibility of deficit reduction

It didn't fit in the last post, but I also wanted to quote this bit from David Leonhardt's column: Complaining that Congress and the White House aren’t doing enough to reduce the deficit is always a popular pundit game....

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 3:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Budget  
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Cost control opportunities galore

David Leonhardt has a great column today on all the cost-cutting opportunities still in the Senate bill. Liberals have a tendency to focus on the money that can be saved by a strong public plan, and it's true that that's...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 2:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Health Economics , Health Reform  
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How Robert Byrd Jr. created the modern filibuster

Commenter WoodbridgeVA adds an important piece to the filibuster story: The major change in Senate rules that made possible the modern filibuster occurred under the leadership of Robert Byrd during his first stint as Majority Leader. Byrd introduced the concept...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 2:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Senate  
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Lunch break

Speaking of the obesity crisis, here's a Froot Loops commercial in which the point is that Froot Loops is a healthy part of a well-balanced diet. YouTube Video ResizerMySpace Layouts MySpace Codes MySpace Backgrounds They've got the kid dressed up...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 1:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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We all pay for obesity

Catherine Rampell assembles two maps that do a pretty good job explaining why obesity is, whether we like it or not, something the country needs to worry about, as opposed to something that individuals deal with entirely on their own....

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 1:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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The behavioral economics of Thanksgiving

This column originally appeared in the Food section. It happens every year. It's not that you resolve to be virtuous on Thanksgiving, just reasonable. Two plates of food, and no more. One piece of pie, and that's enough. But...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Articles , Food  
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'Even LBJ would be stuck if he drew this hand'

Mark Schmitt adds another perspective on the rise of the filibuster: In terms of culture and custom, the turning point was almost certainly the previous health-reform debate, in 1993 and 1994. That's when Bob Dole, then the majority leader, made...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 10:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Senate  
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Charts and graphs that will finally make it clear that the stimulus is working

That chart -- or, more accurately, collection of charts -- comes from Jackie Calmes and Michael Cooper, who pulled together a bunch of private forecasts to find what the analysts trusted by the all-powerful market thought the stimulus's effect...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs , Stimulus  
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How a letter from 1964 shows what's wrong with the Senate today

One of the challenges in arguing about the use of the filibuster is that the filibuster has changed drastically in recent decades, but it's done so quietly. Quietly enough that people don't really understand that it's changed at all....

By Ezra Klein  |  November 25, 2009; 8:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
Categories:  Senate  
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Tab dump

1) I didn't know this many tax policy resources could exist in one place at one time. 2) The winning entry in the Washington Post's pundit contest. 3) Could Wall Street actually lose in Congress? 4) Rep. Dave Obey is...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 6:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Let Congress be Congress again

In the filibuster thread this morning, commenter Spotatl asked, "If you really just dislike the filibuster overall and not just because the democrats currently have the majority you would support doing away with it in 7 years when no one...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 5:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Congress , Senate  
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Is there a difference between voting no and voting to filibuster?

It's common these days to hear conservative Democrats say that they view procedural votes as indistinguishable from actual votes. Voting against a bill, and voting against allowing a vote on the bill, are exactly the same, they say. Bruce Bartlett...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 4:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Government , Senate  
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Mammograms for all, all the time?

Dana Milbank's column on the new mammography standards seems strangely sanguine about letting Congress shut down independent scientific processes just because it doesn't like the result. But for all his criticism of the panel, he doesn't really question the science....

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 4:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Health , Health Coverage  
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Obama's liberal predecessor

Matt Yglesias and Kevin Drum are chewing over the hefty bipartisan support Bush got for his various domestic initiatives. The roll call is impressive: No Child Left Behind, the 2001 tax cut, the post-9/11 war resolution, Sarbanes-Oxley, McCain-Feingold, the...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 3:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Why would you want to govern Texas rather than run for Senate?

Although the Texas Governor is weaker in his or her own state compared to most other governors in theirs, and that the Governor might be weaker than the Lieutenant Governor, the Governor of Texas is still possibly more powerful than...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 2:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Defending Geithner

Noam Scheiber defends Timothy Geithner against those demanding his resignation. Scheiber is right on the merits, I think, but the politics matter. Whether Geithner did his best against a bad hand, he created a public relations disaster by bailing out...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 1:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Lunch break

I talk food politics, food and how to lay out your Thanksgiving meal with New York Times food writer and cookbook-author extraordinaire Mark Bittman....

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 12:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Food  
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The virtues of Senate leaders who don't care much about the Senate

Writing the last post got me thinking a bit about Bill Frist's admirable willingness to trash the traditions of the Senate and pursue the interests of his party. Arlen Specter straying? Strip him of his committee chairmanship. Democrats filibustering...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 12:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Senate  
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Should Democrats play hardball on committee chairmanships?

Harry Reid gives Jay Rockefeller a hug. In comments, Eerac writes: There's a simple way the entire party can avoid being held hostage by a few centrists. Adopt Republican-style committee management and threaten to strip filibustering democrats of their chairmanships....

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Democrats , Senate  
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Who wants to be governor of Texas?

Neil Sinhababu asks a good question: Houston mayor Bill White [might] enter the race for Governor of Texas. This weakens [the Democrats'] position in the Senate race, as that's what White was running for before. On the Republican side, Sen....

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 11:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Haven't you heard they're rushing?

Tom Toles: It has, however, been amusing to watch some conservatives argue that America is crying out for a much longer committee process and a much slower floor debate schedule on health care. If Americans were really so interested in...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 10:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Cartoons  
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The Federal Reserve is not, and should not be, independent

Tim Fernholz gives voice to some slightly heretical thoughts about pulling Ben Bernanke's renomination as chairman of the Federal Reserve and replacing him with a more full-employment oriented leader, like Federal Reserve governor Janet Yellen. But no, you gasp!...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 9:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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The small-d democratic case against the filibuster

"Are progressives really willing to take their chances with a future GOP-controlled Senate empowered to pass whatever they have 51 votes for?" asks Scott Winship. "With the Supreme Court nominees who could be seated (to say nothing of other judgeships)?...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 24, 2009; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
Categories:  Government , Senate  
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Tab dump

1) Corby Kummer's guide to turkey. 2) How Prop. 187 contributed to California's fiscal crisis. 3) Dennis Moore, a conservative Democrat from Kansas, is retiring next year. Will he start a trend? 4) Obama will set a target for America's...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 6:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Why must we have double-digit unemployment for the foreseeable future?

James Galbraith points fingers: Technically it would have been fairly easy, 10 months ago, to get this bus back on the road. There could have been open-ended fiscal assistance to stop the budget hemorrhage of the states and cities. There...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 6:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Death and taxes

A couple of weeks back, Matthew Yglesias had an insightful post noting that "by far the fastest way to end the war in Afghanistan would be to ask General McChrystal’s staff to produce a plan to make it deficit neutral...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 6:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Afghanistan , Taxes  
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Hostage situation in the United States Senate

[I]magine there's a big meeting with every member of the Democratic caucus in both chambers. You stand at the front of the room and make a presentation: "If health care reform falls apart after having come this far, tens of...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 4:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Senate  
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The same health insurance that members of Congress get

That used to be one of the slogans for health-care reform: Every American should have the same insurance choices that members of Congress have. This obscured, to some degree, that members of Congress don't have very interesting choices: Most of...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 2:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Joe Lieberman understands liberals too well

Here's Joe Lieberman's latest argument against the public option: "This is a radical departure from the way we've responded to the market in America in the past," Lieberman said Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press." "We rely first on competition...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 2:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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California blegging

As I'm out in the Golden State for a couple of days, I'd like to spend some time reading about how truly and epically screwed California is. In particular, I'm looking for really good journalism -- magazine articles, deep blog...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  California  
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Lunch break

Alton Brown explains why you should brine a turkey, and offers a logical proof of why stuffing is evil. YouTube Video Resizer In past years, I've waited till Thanksgiving, or the day before, to ask you all what you're making....

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 12:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Food  
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Sad but true

Jon Cohn surveys the final months of the health-care reform process: For progressives, victories are more likely to come in the form of ground not conceded than ground gained. Every day that legislation doesn’t get worse is a day to...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 12:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Sen. Michael Bennet is not a cynical careerist

“If you get to the final point and you are a critical vote for health care reform and every piece of evidence tells you if you support the bill you will lose your job, would you cast the vote and...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 11:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Are conservatives beginning to admit the need for new taxes?

Kevin Hassett's review of Bruce Bartlett's new book critiquing the relevance of supply-side economics is an extraordinary document. The review appears in the National Review, and Hassett is a well-known conservative economist. Somewhat predictably, his review starts out straining to...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 11:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Reform begets reform

This is a good point from Fred Hiatt: [M]aybe the country isn't all that divided -- most of us would welcome common-sense improvements in health-care delivery and insurance -- but the system feeds on and exacerbates our differences. The advent...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 11:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Was Obama's trip to China an embarrassing failure or an unqualified success?

James Fallows publishes some good takes on President Obama's trip to China, which, unlike most of the domestic commentary on the trip, were contributed by people living in China....

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 10:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  China  
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Is the weak public option bad politics?

The public option written into both the House and Senate bills is a pale shadow of the policy many liberals initially envisioned. Cut off from Medicare's payment rates and networks and limited to the small sliver of Americans eligible to...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 9:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Blanche Lincoln was for the public option before she was against it

Blanche Lincoln gave a real ripsnorter of a speech against the public option on Saturday. "I’ve already alerted the leader, and I’m promising my colleagues, that I’m prepared to vote against moving to the next stage of consideration as...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 23, 2009; 8:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Sarah Palin's ghostwriter gets hold of John McCain's web site

The front page of John McCain's web site reads: I remain committed to opposing any bill that puts your health care decisions in the hands of government bureaucrats while adding more than a trillion dollars to our country's deficit. Taxpayers...

By Ezra Klein  |  November 22, 2009; 1:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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