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Ezra Klein: December 27, 2009 - January 2, 2010

Belated New Year's thoughts

I spent a couple of minutes last night watching 'The Party's Over,' a documentary Philip Seymour Hoffman produced on the 2000 election. I say "a couple of minutes" because I couldn't stand it for long: Putting aside the achingly...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 1, 2010; 6:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Tab dump

1) How Wall Street wins on the Hill. 2) How lobbyists complete Congress's homework. 3) Weighing the costs of end-of-life care. 4) Some of the best brackets I've ever seen. 5) Ron Paul's son has entered the Kentucky Senate race....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 8:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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The single most important thing Democrats could do for jobs

The arcane rules and regulations governing the 51-vote budget reconciliation process made it a tricky path for health-care reform. But they make it perfect for stimulus. After all, what's dearer to the budget than spending money and changing tax...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 6:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Budget , Stimulus  
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French Constitutional Council nixes carbon tax for being insufficiently tax-y

In response to a legal challenge by the Socialist Party, France's Constitutional Council -- their Supreme Court, as I understand it -- rejected Nicolas Sarkozy's carbon tax. Why? Because it "allowed for too many exemptions. The council, it seems,...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 4:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Sen. Bernie Sanders: Health-care bill could spark "a revolution in primary health care"

Tell me a bit about the provisions to expand community health centers that you added into the Senate bill. In most areas of Vermont right now, you can drive to a community health center near you where you’ll get...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Health Reform , Interviews  
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Sausagemaking: not as awesome as some would have you believe

Matt Yglesias doesn't like it when people compare the legislative process to making sausage. Comparing the operations of the US Congress to those of a sausage-maker is a huge insult to the sausage industry. You may or may not think...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Government  
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The satisfactions are notoriously fleeting

A few years ago, Tony Judt received a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig's disease. At this point, he's paralyzed from the neck down. His essay on the experience -- dictated, of course -- particularly the torments of the night, is deeply...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Lunch break

Jose Andres and Craig Ferguson talk kitchen gadgets. For those looking for belated Christmas gifts, I rather doubt anyone in your life needs a pineapple corer. But everyone in your life needs a Microplane zester....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Making private insurers into public utilities

James Surowiecki predicts the future of the insurance industry: Congress’s support for community rating and universal access doesn’t fit well with its insistence that health-care reform must rely on private insurance companies. After all, measuring risk, and setting prices accordingly,...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Are we heading for a double-dip recession?

Karl Case, co-founder of the famed Case-Shiller housing index, thinks his earlier optimism about the economic recovery was misplaced. He now believes “the probability is very high of a serious double dip like 1982.” Making that more likely is that...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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In health care, more is not always better

The dominant perception in American medicine is that more is better: More insurance is better insurance, and more health care is better health care. If that were unambiguously true, cost control would be a really hard choice: Every dollar...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 11:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Health Economics , Health Reform  
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Looking forward to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report? Me too!

Back in July, I wrote a post begging Michael Lewis, Roger Lowenstein or some other talented writer to join the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and save them from musty irrelevance by helping them turn their findings into a report of...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Brad DeLong: Obama economic team "exceeds expectations"

Brad DeLong grades the first year of the Obama economic team: [A] sizeable fiscal stimulus, a second round now moving through the congress, victory in the intellectual war over whether the government should and can stabilize the economy, blocking any...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Death and taxes

Or, to be more specific, death and tax-avoidance: Starting Jan. 1, the estate tax -- which can erase nearly half of a wealthy person's estate -- goes away for a year. For families facing end-of-life decisions in the immediate future,...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Main Street roasting on an open fire...

If you're looking for a white-hot burst of year-end nostalgia, Brady Dennis's article based on thousands of internal AIG e-mails will make you hate Wall Street all over again. Marvel, for instance, as Tom Athan, an executive in the...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 8:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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How good are Chicago's schools?

Miami, Houston and New York had higher scores than Chicago on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Boston, San Diego and Atlanta had bigger gains. Even fourth-graders in the much-maligned D.C. schools improved nearly twice as much since 2003. That's...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 30, 2009; 7:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Education  
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Tab dump

1) Polarized America. 2) Is physics to blame for AT&T's crummy 3G service? 3) How much did Tiger Woods cost shareholders? 4) Reid to force a vote on the Transportation Security administrator. 5) Cato's Michael Cannon says that "anyone who...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 6:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Federal Reserve beginning to pull back?

Many economists and observers want to see the Federal Reserve think up creative ways to pump more money into a sagging economy. Instead, it looks like they're coming up with creative ways to begin taking some of the money out:...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 5:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Economic Policy , Federal Reserve  
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Remembering Carter correctly

"I was 9 when Jimmy Carter took office," says John Yoo. "I can remember him giving a speech in a funny sweater and asking people to turn down thermostats. And then there was the malaise speech. I thought they meant...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 5:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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A more partisan politics with more bipartisan results

I don't think David Broder's "pox-on-both-their-houses" take on health-care reform sufficiently accounts for the abject groveling before the Gang of Six and the Republican abandonment of the Wyden-Bennett bill. But Broder is certainly not alone when he says, "What...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 4:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Congress , Government , Senate  
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World's most embarrassing legislative body, cont'd

You know what would be good to have right now? Strong and seasoned leadership at the Transportation Security Administration. But the TSA hasn't had a director for about a year. Why? The dysfunctions of the Senate, that's why. President Obama’s...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Have the House and Senate begun merging their bills yet?

Not quite. But they've begun to begin merging their bills. David Drucker reports: Congressional aides began laying the groundwork Monday for Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to negotiate competing health care reform bills into legislation that can...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 2:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Attacking the excise tax -- and cost control

Bob Herbert's column today isn't so much a good argument against the excise tax as it is an example of why cost control will be virtually impossible, and thus national bankruptcy -- a real decrease in wages -- is a...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 1:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Ben Nelson in trouble back home

Parochialism and power don't seem to be protecting Ben Nelson's that much, as a new poll out of Nebraska shows him at 30 percent in a hypothetical match-up against the sitting Republican governor, Dave Heineman. In part, this is just...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 1:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Polls  
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Lunch break

U2, Mick Jagger, Fergie and Will.I.Am team up to play "Gimme Shelter." I'm not a Fergie fan, but she kills it on this song. YouTube Video ResizerMySpace Layouts MySpace Codes MySpace Backgrounds...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 12:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Theory meets reality; wins

Krugman oversells the affordability claim by linking to a widely cited report by McKinsey & Company. The main point of the McKinsey study is provided in their Exhibit B, which illustrates a rather peculiar finding that there are a...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Climate Change , Economics  
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What to watch for in conference

Paul Waldman ticks off 10 policies to watch as the House and Senate meet to merge their bills. At this point, I'd say the likeliest, and biggest, possible victories would be a move toward a national exchange and an increase...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Fiscal responsibility, Wall Street Journal Style

Most people fear that the various fiscal commissions being formed won't work. The Wall Street Journal worries that they will. Working, in this case, would mean a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts to bring the long-term deficit...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Scenes from the future

Two interesting holiday facts from Amazon: The Kindle was their most-gifted item ever and electronic books outsold physical books on Christmas Day. (Via Kevin Huffman.)...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 10:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Climate change is bad, but the Senate is tired

This Guardian article explaining what different temperature rises would mean for the global climate is one of the most helpfully concrete interventions into the climate change discussion I've seen. For instance, a rise of a "mere" two degrees Celsius,...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Happy Holidays to the CBO

If the role of the Federal Reserve is to take away the punchbowl just as the party is getting started, the role of the Congressional Budget Office is to walk around the party telling everyone exactly how drunk they're getting...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Budget  
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The difficulty of cost control

MIT economist Jon Gruber talks up the excise tax: [T]here have been numerous criticisms of the Senate financing. Perhaps the strongest is that some insurance plans will be "unfairly" burdened. For example, firms with older employees may have higher insurance...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 29, 2009; 8:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Tab dump

1) The image atop this post comes from Good magazine and is meant to be a guide to eating seasonally. I read it more as an explanation of why so much of the locavore movement is based in California....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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The world's most embarrassing legislative body

I've been focusing on the filibuster today, but Senate "holds" are almost as pernicious. For instance: Of the 200 or so Obama nominations pending, some 75 have gotten through committee but were being held up for various reasons in...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Senate  
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Filibustering the government itself

The People for the American Way released a report this week making an important vote on the filibuster process. Most people think of the filibuster in terms of killing bills. They don't think of it in terms of slowing...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Senate  
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Things I would like to eat right now

Black-eyed peas with apple smoked bacon and jalapeños....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Food  
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Can China's government out-innovate the American energy sector?

Evan Osnos's essay on China's green energy revolution is one of the best things I've read on the tricky intersection between government and innovation. For instance: In 2001, the 863 Program launched a “clean coal” project, and Yao Qiang,...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  China , Climate Change  
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The Republican campaign to destroy the filibuster

Byron York thinks he's got himself a gotcha in his argument that Bill Frist didn't hate the filibuster so much as he hated the filibuster when applied to judicial nominees. Since my article only references Frist's effort to "shut...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 2:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Senate  
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Chat transcript

End to Filibuster: Why does it take a "bill" to amend or remove the filibuster? As part of the rules, can't an incoming senate majority leader just remove them? Ezra Klein: Not really. Or at least, not exclusively. On the...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 1:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Lunch break

This BBC special on Heston Blumenthal's perfect Christmas dinner is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 12:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Conservative Senate Democrats balk at cap-and-trade

Things aren't looking good for climate legislation in 2010....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 12:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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The Noah's Ark strategy for financial regulation

The effort to re-regulate the financial sector is continuing in the Senate (the House, remember, already passed its bill), where Chris Dodd, chairman of the Banking Committee, and Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Banking Committee, have resolved...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 11:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Live chat at noon

Usually, my Post chats are on Thursday. But since Thursday is New Year's Eve, and the Outlook section wants me to take questions on the filibuster article, we've moved it up to noon today. You can submit questions in advance,...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 11:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Strange health-care rumors

From the e-mail machine: You identified Orszag's letter explaining lauding [the Independent Medicare Advisory Council]. Now IMAC is in Senate bill with the provision that no future act of Congress can remove it. Who wrote this? Is this Constitutional? Is...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 10:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Anti-filibuster weekend

For those who missed it because they were, I don't know, spending achingly rare moments with their family and celebrating the birth of their personal savior and discreetly tripping other human beings to snatch the last half-price Blue-Ray DVD players,...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 10:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Senate  
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The awful aughts

Paul Krugman pens the first interesting decade retrospective I've read: [F]rom an economic point of view, I’d suggest that we call the decade past the Big Zero. It was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 9:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Economy  
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Republicans try and fail to justify voting for Medicare Part D

Charles Babington of the AP thinks back to the long-ago days of 2003, and the Medicare drug benefit that the then-dominant Republicans passed into law. Better yet, he asks some of them about it, and gets some rather peculiar responses...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 8:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Will Timothy Geithner be whatever America needs him to be?

Timothy Geithner on whether he's afraid of being fired: I spent most of my professional life in this building. Watching the politics of the things we did in the past financial crises in Mexico and Asia had a powerful effect...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 28, 2009; 7:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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