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Ezra Klein: April 4, 2010 - April 10, 2010

Reconciliation

Today I made the case for putting Hillary Clinton (or some other legislator) on the Supreme Court, named health-care reform's biggest losers, and tried to figure out what's behind NPR's big ratings. Here's what I didn't get to: 1) "Dow...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 9, 2010; 6:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Should the White House want a controversial Supreme Court nominee?

Nate Silver doesn't think a Supreme Court nomination fight needs to be contentious. "As important as the Supreme Court is," he writes, "congressional hearings are still congressional hearings, and are for the most part an inside-the-beltway affair that won't...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 9, 2010; 5:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (43)
Categories:  Legal  
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Pick a politician for the Supreme Court

My first thought on hearing that Justice Stevens was retiring was that it'd be nice to see him replaced by a legislator with legal training rather than another lawyer. As Matt Yglesias writes, "this is one of these things...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 9, 2010; 5:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (83)
Categories:  Legal  
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Health-care reform's biggest losers

Rep. Bart Stupak has not had an easy year. He made himself a villain to liberals when he threatened to kill the Affordable Care Act unless the already-restrictive abortion language was made more restrictive. He made himself a villain...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 9, 2010; 2:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  2010 Midterms , Health Reform  
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Stevens: Then and now

I'm running around the Hill this afternoon, but this old article by Cass Sunstein -- who now works for the Obama -- does a good job putting Stevens' role in perspective. In 1980, when I clerked at the Court, the...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 9, 2010; 12:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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The red state ripoff

Over at the Fourth Branch, they've got a nice map showing the states that receive more than a dollar back for every dollar they pay in taxes (which they've coded red), and the states that receive less than a dollar...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 9, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (40)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Your surgery may hinge on your doctor's paycheck

One of the problems we had in health-care reform this year is that it's easy to say that insurers are motivated by money, and you can even say that about pharmaceutical companies, but you have to be very, very careful...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 9, 2010; 11:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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Can we close the budget deficit by taxing the rich?

In my chat yesterday, someone asked if we could really eliminate the budget deficit by taxing the rich. The answer is no, but we could make it smaller by taxing the rich. The Wall Street Journal's David Wessel runs...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 9, 2010; 10:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
Categories:  Taxes  
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A post that will help your parents yell at you

Arnold Kling got his hands on some interesting survey data that shows average incomes by college major, and that allowed him to break out the 25th percentile for each major. His findings won't be comforting to humanities or life sciences...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 9, 2010; 10:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Education  
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Some individual mandate discussion

Just because I think it's good to keep posting reminders of how the Affordable Care Act will work, here's Tim Noah on the individual mandate: The individual mandate will be phased in between 2014 and 2016. The new law says...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 9, 2010; 9:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Explaining health-care reform  
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Career -- and life -- goals officially met

I've been fake-quoted in The Onion....

By Ezra Klein  |  April 9, 2010; 7:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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What makes NPR (and the Economist) so special?

I've been thinking a bit about this NPR graph that's been floating around. I wish it included another data point: The Economist magazine. Their explosive growth over the last decade is well known, but consider that the publication had...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 9, 2010; 7:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (44)
Categories:  Journalism  
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Reconciliation

Today, I posted a bunch of graphs tallying the economy's performance since Obama's election, fact-checked the claim that the Affordable Care Act would require 16,000 new IRS agents, and rambled about the problem of financial-sector complexity. Here's what I didn't...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 6:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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The complexity problem

Earlier in the crisis, the line was that "too big to fail" was too big to exist. I'm coming around to an altogether more radical view: What if "too complex to understand" is too complex to exist? Listen to...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 5:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Financial Regulation  
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This is gonna be a hit

Earlier today, I likened Alan Greenspan's testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to Shaggy's hit single "It Wasn't Me." It response, a heroic reader worked this up:...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 4:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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The unemployment rate and November

"All these wonderful graphs and not one that tracks what really matter, the unemployment RATE," wrote visionbrkr in response to my earlier round-up of economic graphs. Actually, I'd just forgotten to include an unemployment rate chart, it wasn't part of...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 3:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Economy  
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Will the IRS need 16,000 new agents to enforce health-care reform?

"One of the things in the health bill is 16,000 additional IRS agents," said Newt Gingrich, echoing the latest GOP talking point. Rep. Paul Ryan joined him, saying the IRS will get "16,000 agents to police this new mandate."...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 2:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Lunch break

Will Wilkinson and I disagree as to whether we need to reform Congress, but agree that Ben's Chili Bowl has bad food. Yeah, you heard me. Bad. The Newsweek article that keeps getting referenced is here....

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 1:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Chat transcript

Arlington, Va.: Ezra, if all of the credible economists say that the government has to spend significantly until the economy demonstrates its own capacity to grow, then why is there so much anxiety about our budget deficit and national debt?...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 1:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Cutting defense spending more popular than cutting education or Social Security

The chart above comes from Annie Lowrey, and is the single best explanation of why it's so much easier to say you want to cut government spending than it is to actually cut it. The blue line reports the...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 12:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Budget , Charts and Graphs  
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 11:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Live chat at noon

You've got questions, I've got something approximating answers. I mean, I hope you've got questions. You do, right? And you'll submit them here, right?...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 11:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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How to make a rectangle out of a circle

The key to thinking mathematically about curved shapes is to pretend they’re made up of lots of little straight pieces. That’s not really true, but it works … as long as you take it to the limit and imagine...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 8:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Greenspan: It wasn't me.

In testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission yesterday, Alan Greenspan pretty much adopted the Shaggy defense: Interest rates? It wasn't me. Deceptive lending practices? It wasn't me. Unchecked excesses on Wall Street? It wasn't me. They even got us...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 8:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Federal Reserve , Financial Crisis , Financial Regulation  
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The economy and the 2010 election (with graphs!)

As we edge closer and closer to the midterms and people like me keep saying that the main thing that matters is the economy; both its absolute performance over the past 14 months and its apparent trends. But why say...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 8, 2010; 7:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  2010 Midterms , Charts and Graphs , Economy  
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Reconciliation

Today I considered the role of idiots in the financial crisis, wondered about the other brewing catastrophes we might be missing (don't miss the second comment), and railed against grilled vegetable plates. Here's what I didn't get to: 1) An...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 6:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Paul Krugman's introduction to climate economics

Once you filter out the noise generated by special-interest groups, you discover that there is widespread agreement among environmental economists that a market-based program to deal with the threat of climate change — one that limits carbon emissions by...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 5:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Will the ACA cause employers to drop coverage?

Over at the Tax Policy Center, Gene Steuerle writes that the Affordable Care Act "will make it beneficial for many employers to drop their insurance coverage." This, Reihan Salam says, substantially complicates the political case for the reform, even as...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 4:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Down with the GVP!

Let's get something straight: A vegetarian is someone who doesn't eat meat. It's not someone who loves vegetables. Or dislikes composed meals. Or thinks food doesn't benefit from seasoning, and saucing, and a variety of textures and grains and...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 3:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (63)
Categories:  Food  
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When Wall Street -- and its chroniclers -- went crazy

As a postscript to my earlier items on Michael Lewis's book "The Big Short," commenter Tim37 points to this January 2007 column by Lewis that stands as possibly the most hubristic and condescending dismissal of Wall Street's critics that I've...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 3:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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The French health-care system is way better than our health-care system

Frum Forum's Rachel Ryan just had her first run-in with the French health-care system, and it went pretty great: I walked into the Centre de Santé – Réaumur’s emergency health center at noon and was admitted within twenty minutes....

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 2:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
Categories:  Health of Nations  
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Just asking

Does the D.C. Court of Appeals' decision destroying net neutrality and letting Comcast choke off traffic to Web sites it doesn't like move filling the two vacancies on the court up the Obama administration's priority list?...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Can't regulate what you can't see

Simon Johnson and James Kwak say that limiting leverage would be all well and good, but that it's too easy for banks to hide how leveraged they really are. Stephen Waldman agrees. Kevin Drum doesn't. I'd side with Drum, though...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 1:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Lunch break

"It's the classical age of bacon. ... This is the Periclean age of bacon."...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 12:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Sebelius: 'Our department will serve as a nationwide health insurance reform Help Desk'

"We have a great law," Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said yesterday. "Now, we have to carry it out." To that end, she promised that "our department will serve as a nationwide health insurance reform Help Desk....

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 12:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Is Larry Summers leaving? Will Peter Orszag replace him?

The Atlantic's Joshua Green thinks Larry Summers is on his way out of the administration. That seems possible. Green also thinks Peter Orszag might replace Summers as head of the National Economic Council. I'm told that that's not going to...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 11:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Catastrophe thinking

While I'm on the topic of Michael Lewis's "The Big Short," one of the interesting threads running through the book is Lewis's fascination with the mental habits of the hardy few who recognized that all of Wall Street was nuts...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 11:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Books  
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Michael Lewis and the idiots

Larry Summers famously wrote -- but sadly, did not publish -- a paper that began with a timeless bit of wisdom: "THERE ARE IDIOTS," Summers said. "Look around." That paper was written decades ago. Maybe it's time to finally publish...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 9:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
Categories:  Books  
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What the banks are reading on the consumer financial protection agency

Via Mike Allen, some firm on K Street is thinking hard enough about the Consumer Financial Protection Agency that they've released a 189-page document exhaustively detailing the different CFPA ideas out there, and how they differ from one another. You...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 8:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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'The intent of these laws is therefore the opposite of what the Court asserted.'

In an interview with Justin Fox, historian Brian Murphy says that the views the founding fathers held towards corporations and corporate personhood were "the opposite" of what the Supreme Court said in Citizens United. An excerpt: Q: The corporations of...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 8:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Economic Policy , Legal  
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There's no place like home

Well, that's that for vacation. Huge thanks to Dylan, Suzy, and Mike for their amazing work while I was gone. And now that I'm back, you can keep following them: Mike runs the amazing blog Rortybomb, Suzy is at Mother...

By Ezra Klein  |  April 7, 2010; 6:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Reconciliation

By Dylan Matthews Today, Suzy asked whether Massachusetts residents are gaming the individual mandate and talked more about states' role in health-care reform. Mike looked at municipal financial scandals and how banks calculate what customers are worth. And I praised...

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 6, 2010; 6:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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'Mind reading' the news

By Suzy Khimm A New York Times article about the science of reading explains how figuring out someone else’s mental state is central to what attracts us to works of fiction in the first place: This layered process of figuring...

By Washington Post Editors  |  April 6, 2010; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Are people in Massachusetts gaming the individual mandate?

By Suzy Khimm A Boston Globe story argues that thousands of customers are trying to game the Massachusetts health-care system by buying coverage when they need it and dropping it right afterward, despite the individual mandate to be insured: In...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 6, 2010; 1:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Coal, corruption and campaign finance reform

By Dylan Matthews The Massey Energy coal mine explosion yesterday was tragic, killing 25 people, more than any accident since decades. Sadly, it was also all too predictable. The disaster appears to be the consequence of a failed ventilation system...

By Multiplatform Editor  |  April 6, 2010; 1:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
Tags: Coal mining, Don Blankenship, Massey Energy, Mountaintop removal mining, West Virginia  
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The corporate tax shuffle

By Dylan Matthews Christopher Helman of Forbes has a great piece on the corporate tax payments of prominent companies. Here's how GE managed to avoid paying a cent to the U.S. government in 2009: The most egregious example is General...

By Multiplatform Editor  |  April 6, 2010; 12:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Taxes  
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States and the fate of health reform, ctd.

By Suzy Khimm I wrote last week about how the fate of health reform depends on the states, given their starring role in carrying out major parts of the Affordable Care Act. They'll be hugely responsible for setting up the...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 6, 2010; 11:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Matt Taibbi on muni finance scandals

By Mike Konczal If you head to the south end of the Medina in Marrakesh in Morocco, for 10 dirham you can see a series of palaces built with money lent from French banks starting in the 1890s. This "prelude...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 6, 2010; 11:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Enforcement matters

By Dylan Matthews Given as it doesn't look like the Employee Free Choice Act will be able to pass the Senate anytime soon, steps like these from the Labor Department are more than welcome: The Labor Department is encouraging low-wage...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 6, 2010; 10:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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What are you worth to your bank?

By Mike Konczal Let's take a breather from shadow banking to discuss commercial banking. (We play both kinds here, country *and* western.) Specifically you, as a customer: How much does your commercial bank make off of you? I recently went...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 6, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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World goes one way, scientists and donors the same

By Dylan Matthews Besides their apparent inability to spot a scientific consensus in plain view, the thing that puzzles me the most about climate change deniers is why, exactly, they think those trying to stop climate change are so invested...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 6, 2010; 8:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (55)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Reconciliation

By Dylan Matthews Today, Mike graphed too-big-to-fail banks, looked at the problem historically and looked at the state of the financial-reform debate. Suzy explained what health-care reform will mean for immigrants and how pro-reform attorneys general are going on the...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 5, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Pro-reform attorneys general on the offense

By Suzy Khimm While the GOP repeal drive continues to crumble, some pro-reform state officials are now stepping up to defend the legal status of the Affordable Care Act. In states such as Georgia and Kentucky, Democratic attorneys general who...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 5, 2010; 4:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Why immigrants get short shrift on health reform

By Suzy Khimm President Obama’s health law has brought the Democrats closer than ever to achieving their dream of universal coverage, with their plan predicted to insure some 95 percent of Americans who are legally in the country. But even...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 5, 2010; 2:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  Health Reform , Immigration  
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You do it to yourself, just you and no one else

By Dylan Matthews Naftali Bendavid at the Wall Street Journal has a hilarious piece on Republican worries that conservative non-participation in the census will cost them at House reapportionment: In a counter move, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R., N.C.), the top...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 5, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Republicans  
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Tax-heavy and making plenty cash

By Dylan Matthews The Tax Policy Center's Roberton Williams and Rosanne Altshuler have a great piece in The Washington Post debunking myths about tax policy. This, in particular, is a crucial point: 2. Americans are overtaxed. In 2007, federal, state...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 5, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Updates on the battle for financial reform

By Mike Konczal How goes the battle for financial reform? Noam Scheiber has an update on the situation that is a must-read for the current situation. A few things: It looks like Republicans are weakening on opposing a strong consumer...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 5, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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The next justice

By Dylan Matthews With John Paul Stevens expected to retire within a month, the shortlist for Obama's next Supreme Court pick seems to have already narrowed to three: Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Diane Wood of the Seventh Circuit Court of...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 5, 2010; 9:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Too big to fail historically

By Mike Konczal The following two graphs are from F.M. Scherer's "A Perplexed Economist Confronts 'Too Big to Fail' " paper. The first is a graph of the assets of the top firms historically: As you can see, starting in...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 5, 2010; 9:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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Too big to fail in two dimensions

By Mike Konczal I want to lay out why I think size caps are an important supplement to the resolution authority as it is currently written in the Dodd bill in two posts. The first will be thinking about "too...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 5, 2010; 8:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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A better consumption tax

By Dylan Matthews Although I disagree with him entirely on whether the federal government should be instituting new broad-based taxes, Irwin Stelzer is right to argue, as was Pete Davis, that a value-added tax won't be implemented in anything resembling...

By Washington Post editor  |  April 5, 2010; 8:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Taxes  
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