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Ezra Klein: January 10, 2010 - January 16, 2010

Tab dump

1) Is it time to get over Wall Street's bonuses? 2) Paul Krugman is not amused by the testimony of bank CEOs. 3) Michael Grunwald thinks people are being too hard on Tim Geithner. 4) How hard is it to...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 6:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Obama's bank-friendly bank tax

Apparently, some liberal lawmakers think Obama's proposed bank tax is too small: Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) introduced a bill Thursday that would impose a 50 percent tax on big bank bonuses and use the money for small-business lending; nearly...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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The health-care reform bill continues to improve

Andrew Pollack reports that the White House wants a shorter period of patent exclusivity for biologics -- which is very, very good news. Both the House and Senate bills would provide a brand-name biologic drug with 12 years of protection...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 5:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Obama to campaign for Coakley

The White House was trying to avoid this, it seemed. They didn't want the risk of campaigning for Martha Coakley in Massachusetts and losing the seat anyway. But that's not as bad as not campaigning for Martha Coakley and...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 5:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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The importance of good building codes

The devastation in Haiti was not just because the earth shook, and hard. The quake there was 7.0. Harder than the 6.5 quake that hit Northern California a day before (remember, though, that the Richter scale is logarithmic, so...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 4:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Reid: Senate will address climate change in spring

He's also fighting Sen. Lisa Murkowski's effort to block the EPA from regulating carbon if Congress fails to act. Full speech, in which he notes that "the rules of the Senate make it easy for a determined minority to stand...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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I'll be on Dylan Ratigan's show from 4-5 pm eastern

The subject of this post really says it all, don't you think?...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 3:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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'Single-payer by attrition'

The Economist follows up on my argument that ruling the individual mandate -- and thus a hybrid universal health-care system -- unconstitutional would be a disaster for conservatism. The clearest way to explain it is that right now, what we...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 3:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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I could train high school students to be better-than-average political pundits

Kevin Drum is baffled by the conventional wisdom that Obama should have "pivoted back to jobs and the economy sooner." Is it a purely political argument that, regardless of the merits, Obama should have been viewed as spending 24/7...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 2:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Economy  
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Q: 'Ma, ma, where's my pa?'

A: "Gone to the White House, ha ha ha!" Political slogans -- and rejoinders -- were better in 1884....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 2:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Sonic boom

Dan Drezner read Gregg Easterbrook's new book “Sonic Boom,” and seems to wish he'd thought better of it: Easterbrook tends to contradict himself or make sweeping declarations that don’t hold up to scrutiny. At one point, he writes that the...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 1:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Books  
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Should Democrats pass health-care reform even if Martha Coakley loses?

I'm fairly optimistic that health-care reform will pass, even if Martha Coakley loses to Scott Brown in Massachusetts. It certainly can pass, as the House could simply approve the Senate bill unchanged and then make modifications through the reconciliation...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 1:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Don't kill the public option of financial reform

It's disappointing to hear that Chris Dodd is thinking of dropping the Consumer Financial Protection Agency to attract bipartisan support for his financial regulation bill. According to the Wall Street Journal, Dodd's offer is conditional on "a beefed-up consumer-protection division...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 12:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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A summary of the commentary on the final weeks of health-care reform

"I am shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that there is politics happening in this Congress!"...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Lunch break

The Voltaggio brothers -- last seen winning Top Chef -- have a new Web video series. In this edition, they teach you how to make chocolate pop rocks....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 12:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Obama administration funneling more money towards public transit

Good news for people who like streetcars: The Obama administration said it was revamping rules on federal transit funding to funnel more of the money to streetcars, bus routes and other projects that promote "livability." The new policy announced...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 11:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Urban Policy  
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The idea that would've been better than the excise tax

I'm more optimistic than Cato's Thomas Firey that the excise tax will bend the cost curve, but we're in full agreement that it would've been better to stick with Max Baucus's original idea and cap the employer tax exclusion, and...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 11:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Health Economics  
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The Senate bill has precedent for opening the exchanges in 2017

Looking back through the Senate bill, it turns out that it actually said that "beginning in 2017, each State may allow issuers of health insurance coverage in the large group market in the State to offer qualified health plans in...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 11:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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10.2% of the population can filibuster the other 89.8%

Gail Collins joins the anti-filibuster ranks today, and brings some numbers. U.S. population: 307,006,550. Population for the 20 least-populated states: 31,434,822. That means that in the Senate, all it takes to stop legislation is one guy plus 40 senators...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 11:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Cynicism on the excise tax

"Unions get a special two-year exclusion from the [excise] tax," comments Megan McArdle. "Presumably, the unions plan to go back and get their exclusion extended every few years." Tyler Cowen agrees with her, commenting that this will "increase the rate...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 10:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Do national exchanges wreck Ben Nelson's abortion compromise?

A few of you have been asking me about this, so I may as well put it up on the blog. The abortion compromise that brought Ben Nelson onto the bill essentially calls for states to do whatever they...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 15, 2010; 7:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Tab dump

1) System failure: An assessment of Obama's first year in office. 2) "Vampires with Dreaming Kids" is the most indie name I have heard for anything, ever. 3) PDF: How political parties control presidential primaries (pdf). 4) Chart: Average annual...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 7:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Barack Obama on repeal of health-care reform: 'That is a fight I want to have'

At a speech before House Democrats today, Obama previewed the message Democrats are going to take into the campaign against Republicans calling for health-care reform's repeal. It was feisty, to say the least. So, I know everybody in the...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 6:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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White House official: 'The exchanges will open to more and more people'

On a conference call earlier today, the union representatives mentioned that the exchanges would open to collective bargaining units and Taft-Hartley plans in 2017. This is, potentially, a very big deal. But details are hard to come by. Does it...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 6:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The (mostly) unchanged excise tax

On a 4:30 p.m. conference call, representatives of the labor movement triumphantly announced the details of their excise tax deal, and I'll list them in a moment. Before I do, however, here's the bottom line: The excise tax is virtually...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 5:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Exciting bureaucracy blogging!

Blogging about the Obama administration's relationship with the federal workforce isn't the way to haul in the links (and when you get the links, you get the power, and when you get the power, you get the women, and so...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 4:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Ways to help Haiti

Cancel their debt. Do it now....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 4:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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A percentage point here and a percentage point there and soon you're talking real money

The news that Americans have stopped getting fatter -- but are still pretty fat -- is a nice opportunity to distinguish things that change how much we spend next year from how much we spend 10 years from now....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 3:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Health Economics  
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White House and union leaders reach deal on the excise tax

Or so says the Associated Press. There are no details yet, but it's apparently the product of "more than 15 hours of negotiating at the White House, ending after midnight. Participants included AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka; Andy Stern, head of...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 2:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Chat transcript

Chicago: Do you think that Ben Nelson can be persuaded to walk back his Nebraska subsidy deal with Harry Reid because of the pending suit by a number of governors of other states which questions the constitutionality of such a...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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When will we have a final health-care bill?

If all goes well, sometime next week....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 2:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Lunch break

Conan O'Brien takes on NBC and Leno:...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 12:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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The constitutionality of the individual mandate

It's a credit to George Will that even in an op-ed arguing that the Supreme Court should declare the individual mandate unconstitutional, Will concludes that they almost certainly won't. As he says, the point of the challenge is to "defy...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 12:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Health of Nations  
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Can't know the facts without a fact sheet

The White House's official fact sheet on the new bank tax is here (pdf). It's a reminder that this isn't some mega-populist innovation on Obama's part: "The EESA statute that created the TARP requires that by 2013 the President put...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 11:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Washington Times: Obama more successful at cutting spending than Bush

The arch-conservative Washington Times is not known for its gentle treatment of Obama or its esteem for the spending records of Democratic Congresses, which makes their lead story today all the more surprising: President Obama notched substantial successes in spending...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 11:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Budget  
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The new bank tax, and beyond

The White House proposed its "fee" on the 50 or so largest banks today. As Felix Salmon summarizes, it's "a 0.15% tax on bank liabilities excluding deposits (which already come with an FDIC fee attached). It would be paid by...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 11:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Financial Regulation , Taxes  
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Live chat at noon today

Ask me anything....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 11:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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The magic powers of the word 'tax'

Ever wonder why politicians will do anything to avoid the word "tax"? Via Julia Whitty, here's a new study from a trio of Columbia psychologists that tries to settle this question. Test subjects were broken up into two groups, and...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Climate Change , Taxes  
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Condescending to the markets

Paul Krugman is not impressed with the efforts to deflect financial regulation by pinning the blame for the crisis on government policy. Government, after all, will make mistakes. Markets can't be so fragile that they're unable to bear them. [There]...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 10:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Meet the conference committee

So, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer, Congressman Clyburn, Chairman Miller, Chairman Rangel, Chairman Waxman, Leader Reid, Senator Durbin, Chairman Baucus, Chairman Dodd, Chairman Harkin, Rahm Emanuel, Phil Schiliro, Nancy-Ann DeParle, and President Obama walk into a room... Wait, have you...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 10:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Americans not getting fatter

That's what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say, anyway. Obesity rates have held steady for five years among men and a solid 10 years among women, which is good news. So what's the cause here? Better eating habits?...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 9:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Congressional inaction isn't an option

I spend a lot of my time talking about congressional gridlock these days. Underlying my arguments is the judgment that Congress needs the capacity to act. A lot of people, of course, argue the opposite point: Our system is...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 9:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Budget , Congress  
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The case for, and against, culinary school

Ever consider going to culinary school? It's worth considering, especially in these lean times, whether it's worth spending tens of thousands of dollars on culinary school. Unlike lawyers or doctors, chefs require no accreditation. And while an ace law,...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 8:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Food  
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Poll: Support for health-care reform rising

I wouldn't make too much of this poll: The country remains divided. But I'm interested to see polling on the bill three months from now. My hunch is that voters take their cues from process. A bill that fails...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 14, 2010; 7:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Health Reform , Polls  
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Tab dump

1) 'Book,' TNR's new online literary review, has really hit the ground running. 2) If you think getting journalists to cover political science is hard, try cosmology. 3) Is it possible to govern in the age of Fox News? 4)...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 6:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Political science for amateurs

Jonathan Bernstein has some advice for the layman trying to navigate the political science waters. I tried to take his advice and download papers from the American Political Science Association's conference, but the 2009 page wasn't working and the 2008...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 6:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Political Science  
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The Senate's awful free rider provision likely to survive negotiations

It looks like the House's employer mandate is going to fall to the Senate's free rider provision. The free rider provision -- which I'd previously called "the worst policy in the world" -- has been improved over its earlier incarnations,...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 5:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Programming note

In recent months, this blog has focused almost entirely on health-care reform. Some of my more recent readers think that it actually is a health-care blog, and that I'm a health-care reporter. But during the campaign, I wrote about the...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 5:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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Taxing bank size

The administration appears to be considering a tax on very big banks, or very interconnected banks, or both. There are three things to recommend that sort of a tax. First, it raises money. Second, it forces banks to pay for...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 4:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Harold Ford's big joke

Until compelling evidence emerges to suggest otherwise, I think you have to believe that Harold Ford is just having a laugh with this Senate thing. How else do you explain an interview in which a seasoned politician responds to...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 3:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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White House supports national exchanges

The Wall Street Journal reports: The White House wants to include a national health-insurance exchange in the health bill, which would give House Democrats one of their top remaining demands, according to an official involved in the discussions. At...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 2:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Haiti

I don't know what to say about the earthquake in Haiti. A corner of the world that has endured too much devastation was just handed much more. Tyler Cowen comments: Just two days ago I was trying to convince...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 1:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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America spends way, way, way more on health care

It's hard to constantly come up with new ways to say "America spends way, way, way, way, way more than any other country on health care." But we do! Just look at the National Geographic graph above, which puts...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 1:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs , Health Reform , Health of Nations  
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Lunch break

On Monday, a reader asked me for my top picks for Restaurant Week. Here’s my answer: Stay home during Restaurant Week. But I only noticed that that was the question when I double-checked it. Originally, I thought it was to...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 12:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Harry Reid on liars, hacks and partisans

People often talk about how this or that politician doesn't like to stick to the script. But usually, that means this or that politician talks a lot in an ostentatiously folksy manner. That's not true for Harry Reid, who both...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 12:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Senate  
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How too-big-to-fail looked from the inside

There was an interesting exchange a few moments ago in the financial crisis hearings. The bankers were asked whether they ever built their "too-big-to-fail" status into their internal strategies. They said no, of course. But J.P. Morgan's Jamie Dimon had...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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The faux independence of the big banks

The ongoing Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearings are being conducted mainly in the past tense. The banks are done wobbling. They're in awesome shape now. They've paid back their TARP, and they never needed it in the first place. They...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 11:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Lisa Murkowski wants to block EPA action on climate change

So far, the Senate hasn't been able to get its act together long enough to pass legislation doing something about climate change. But if Lisa Murkowski has her way, it will get its act together long enough to do...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 11:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Will eliminating the filibuster result in majority rule?

Jonathan Bernstein doesn't think eliminating the filibuster will result in quite the majoritarian utopia proponents suggest. Are filibuster opponents in favor of majority rule in the Senate? No, not really. What they're in favor of is majority party rule....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 10:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
Categories:  Senate  
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Grilling Wall Street

It's the first day of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's hearings, and the witness list is pretty impressive: Lloyd Blankfein, head of Goldman Sachs; Jamie Dimon, chief of JP Morgan; John Mack, CEO of Morgan Stanley; and an array of...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 10:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Good for the Jews

I'm publishing this David Brooks excerpt for my grandfather: Jews are a famously accomplished group. They make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world’s chess champions, 27 percent of the Nobel physics laureates and...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Domino's self-flagellating ad strategy

"The admission by Domino's of its own awfulness may be the most extreme form yet of the mea culpa ad, a kind of subgenre in which a company publicly confesses its defects and mistakes and vows to do better," writes...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 9:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Food  
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What happens to health-care reform if Martha Coakley loses?

A bunch of you have e-mailed me asking what I think of Martha Coakley's increasingly hapless campaign for Ted Kennedy's seat. I have no idea. I'm not very good at predicting elections. But I don't think this is particularly...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 8:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (65)
Categories:  2010 Midterms , Health Reform  
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Making banks pay

In return for the FDIC insuring bank deposits, banks are assessed a regular fee. It's a lot like paying for insurance, actually. And in what seems like a sensible move, the FDIC wants banks engaging in risky behavior to pay...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 8:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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What a difference a black president makes

"Despite the bad economy, blacks' assessments about the state of black progress in America have improved more dramatically during the past two years than at any time in the past quarter century, according to a comprehensive new nationwide Pew...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 13, 2010; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs  
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Tab dump

1) The teacher's unions are moving toward including student achievement in teacher's evaluations. 2) Chris Orr assesses the year in film. 3) Arlen Specter will support Dawn Johnsen's nomination. 4) Mark Penn is just terrible. 5) Scott Lemieux thinks the...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 6:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Bad politics, good sociology

Eugene Robinson on the Reid flap: Color bias has always existed in this country. We don't talk about it because we think of color as subordinate to racial identification. There are African Americans with skin so light-hued that only...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 6:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Appointed treasurers are better than elected treasurers

Speaking of academic research, here's an interesting paper showing that appointed treasurers are much better at their jobs than elected treasurers. This paper investigates whether methods of public official selection affect policymaking in cities. I draw on the unique characteristics...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Why did insurers try and stop their bailout?

One of the liberal arguments against the health-care bill was that it was a giveaway to private insurers. It's curious, then, that those same insurers were quietly funding a campaign to kill the bill. This isn't a "gotcha" against liberals,...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 5:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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In (qualified) praise of political scientists

Seth Masket defends political science from those who think the discipline undervalues the importance of individual people and particular campaigns: [W]hile we can learn a lot by studying a single election, studying hundreds or thousands of them makes it far...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 5:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Political Science  
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The trouble with taking hostages

My mental model of Ben Nelson's thinking went something like this: He's a senator from a conservative state who wanted to vote for a liberal bill. He figured the way to sell that to skeptical audiences back home was...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Majority of poll: More health-care reform, please

Greg Sargent checks out the internals of the new CBS poll: By this measure, I'm among the majority of Americans who don't support health-care reform, as I want it to go a lot further than it does....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Health Reform , Polls  
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The virtues of paying your mortgage

Tim Lee makes the case for paying your mortgage even when it's not economically beneficial to do so: In college, I had a friend who occasionally shoplifted. I wasn’t shy about voicing my disapproval of this practice, and I would...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 3:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Housing Crisis  
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Stewart vs. Yoo

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10cJohn Yoo Pt. 1www.thedailyshow.comDaily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Crisis Last night's showdown between Jon Stewart and John Yoo was a shuddering disappointment. Stewart didn't lay a glove on Yoo....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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How Wall Street's profits can be the economy's loss

We talk a lot about profits in this country. But we don't talk a lot about the value of different types of profits. For instance: If I steal $20 off your dresser (let's not ask how I got there), I'm...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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The problem with campaign books

Marc Ambinder offhandedly remarks that "Political scientists aren't going to like" Game Change -- John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's compendium of reporting and, well, gossip from the 2008 election -- "because it portrays politics as it is actually lived by...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 2:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Books  
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States with gay-marriage bans are seeing higher divorce rates

It's common to hear that gay marriage threatens traditional marriage. But Nate Silver runs the numbers and finds just the opposite. Since 2003, states that haven't banned gay marriage have seen an 8 percent drop in divorce rates. States...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 1:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Lunch break

Gordon Ramsay teaches you how to cook a steak in under three minutes. That's not to say the steak cooks in less than three minutes. The learning just doesn't take long. You know what I mean....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 1:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Study: Obama better at bending Congress than Lyndon Johnson

According to Congressional Quarterly, President Obama "did better even than legendary arm-twister Lyndon Johnson in winning congressional votes on issues where he took a position." That is to say, if Obama told Congress he wanted X, Congress was more...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 12:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Government , Obama administration  
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The Federal Reserve outearns Goldman Sachs

The Federal Reserve had a pretty good year: Wall Street firms aren't the only banks that had a banner year. The Federal Reserve made record profits in 2009, as its unconventional efforts to prop up the economy created a windfall...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 12:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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House and Senate negotiators considering new Medicare tax

In the House/Senate negotiations, Democrats want to make three major changes to the health-care bill, all of which cost money. First, they want to weaken the excise tax, which means less revenue. Second, they want to increase the subsidies, which...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 11:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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New math for the stimulus

The original justification for the stimulus, as the administration described it, was that it would "save or create about 3.5 million jobs." But it looks like counting those just got a bit more difficult: The White House says it will...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Stimulus  
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The importance of community rating

Uwe Reinhardt has a good overview of how the German, Swiss and Dutch health-care systems work, focusing on the widespread acceptance of "community rating" -- everyone paying the same insurance premiums regardless of health risk -- in each....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 10:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Prescient people saying scary things

Raghuram Rajan, the Chicago economist who famously skunked Alan Greenspan's retirement party by offering a prescient paper arguing that the financial sector has put the world at risk of a major economic crisis, has a new book coming out: Entitled...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 10:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Previewing the final health-care bill

EJ Dionne sketches out the likely outcome of the House-Senate negotiations: Over the past week, I've talked with key figures in the House, Senate and White House, and the outlines of a deal are becoming reasonably clear. The public...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 9:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Is the administration at odds with itself over pollution regulation?

As the prospects for cap-and-trade dim in the Senate, attention is focusing on the Environmental Protection Agency, which has been slowly positioning itself to regulate carbon as a pollutant in the event that the Congress doesn't act. The EPA,...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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What's sad about not eating

There's a place called the Old-Timer's Restaurant across the street from the Lake Street screening room in Chicago. I love that place. No fuss, no muss, friendly, the owner stands behind the cash register and chats with everybody going...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 8:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Food  
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A tale of two taxes

Given the choice between a financial-transactions tax -- which would levy an infinitesimal fine on each, well, financial transaction -- and a tax on Wall Street's bonuses, I'd take the former in a heartbeat. Unlike a tax on bonuses, the...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 12, 2010; 7:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Financial Regulation , Taxes  
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Tab dump

1) Al Gore is very interested in fonts. 2) Ta-Nehisi Coates, on the comparison between Harry Reid's analysis of Obama's electability and Trent Lott's yearning for segregation. 3) 70% of Afghans think their country is going in the right direction....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 6:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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National exchanges vs. state exchanges

The post below names off five things that the Senate and the House could do to improve the health-care bill. Chief among them is to snatch the national exchanges from the House legislation and include them in the final product....

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 5:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Five ways the House and Senate could negotiate out a better bill

I'm going to skip the beginning of this column because, well, you guys don't need to sit through the wind-up. Suffice to say this appeared in the Sunday business section, and it's my wish list for the House and Senate...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The problems with budget reconciliation

I've long compared the budget reconciliation process to deciding legislation on penalty kicks. Mark Schmitt, however, has a better analogy: While budget reconciliation is sometimes referred to as "the 50-vote Senate," that's a bit of a misnomer -- it is...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 4:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Senate  
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What the media could learn from the NFL

In football, you have one set of players that runs offense and another that runs defense. That makes sense: Your linebacker should be learning how to be an excellent linebacker, not a mediocre running back. Specialization! Adam Smith! The...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 3:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Journalism  
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The Polish Dietization of America

Tom Geoghegan's op-ed arguing that the filibuster is unconstitutional isn't very convincing. I'm also, as a general rule, opposed to declaring all manner of things that people don't like "unconstitutional." But as an argument that the filibuster grossly violates the...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 3:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Senate  
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Governor of the Nanny State

National politicians have made some serious strides on health-care reform, or if you want to be even more specific, health-care insurance reform. But no one can touch Mike Bloomberg when it comes to actually improving his city's health: First New...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 2:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Health  
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Obama considering a tax on Wall Street

Jackie Calmes reports that the White House is weighing a new tax on Wall Street that would help balance the budget deficit and, though the article doesn't say this, show that the administration's punishing the banks. The two tax ideas...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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'Social justice and progress can go hand in hand'

Paul Krugman delivers some real talk on Europe's growth rates, employment numbers and all the rest of it. Tyler Cowen makes some interesting points in reply. The eighth item is particularly important, though I think Cowen overestimates how much our...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Europe  
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Avatar and property rights

David Henderson offers the libertarian take on Avatar: The defense of property rights in Avatar is so clear that, at one point in the movie, when the bad guys are justifying their war on the grounds that they need...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 1:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Movies  
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Blame people for the financial crisis

Jacob Weisberg has written a nice primer on the competing -- and intertwined -- explanations for the financial crisis: There are no strong candidates for what logicians call a sufficient condition — a single factor that would have caused the...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Financial Regulation  
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Lunch break

Steve Jobs recently gave the commencement speech at Stanford. The subject? "How to live before you die."...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 12:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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How race affects attitudes towards Obama, health care

On the one hand, you don't want to make too much of this sort of thing. On the other hand, you don't want to totally ignore it, either: According to a recent study by researchers from Stanford and the...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 12:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Political Science , Polls  
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California is getting even crazier

Want to impose a three-fifths majority for passing a budget in California? How about include "fertilized eggs" in the state constitution's definition of a human being? Want to force schools to offer Christmas music? How about drug test legislators?...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 11:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  California  
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Think Tank: Deficits, jobs, bubbles and the real meaning of privacy

1) The budget deficit was about $390 billion in the first quarter, CBO estimates. 2) Economists David Cutler and Neeraj Sood project that health-care reform could add 400,000 jobs. 3) The Federal Reserve embraces some new, more behavioralist, theories of...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 11:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Think Tank  
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Rahm sticking around

There's been some talk lately that Rahm Emanuel might be on his way out. "Talk" may be too strong a word, actually. Rumors? Interest? Speculation? It's been loud enough, in any case, that Emanuel was asked to clarify his...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Deficit update

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the first quarter of fiscal year 2010 -- which means, somewhat confusingly, the period from October 2009 to December 2009 -- saw a record $390 billion budget deficit. That's $56 billion more than the...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Budget  
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You can never go home again (and nor should you)

Roger Lowenstein thinks people should stop pretending that mortgages are a moral obligation and begin viewing them as a business contract -- and one that it often makes sense to break: [T]he housing collapse left 10.7 million families owing...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Housing Crisis  
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Bad framing on the excise tax

A lot of the arguments over the excise tax are getting caught in a bad, and even slightly misleading, sales job from its supporters. Sen. John Kerry's blog post defending the policy, for instance, isn't playing it straight. Saying it...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 9:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Marco Rubio is an attractive Senate candidate

Marco Rubio, who's running for Senate in Florida, is often mentioned as a rising star in the Republican Party. Because I think the modern Republican Party's agenda would be disastrous for America, I'm glad to hear that the Republican Party's...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 8:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Reid and Obama

I'm trying really hard to understand why Harry Reid's comments about Barack Obama's electability were offensive. Do people seriously dispute that light-skinned African Americans have traditionally been more palatable to white Americans? We literally have studies on this subject. Is...

By Ezra Klein  |  January 11, 2010; 7:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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