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Ezra Klein: May 9, 2010 - May 15, 2010

Reconciliation

How was my day? I looked at Jim DeMint's fight on behalf of secret holds, found more evidence that oil isn't as cheap as it looks, and checked out John McCain's increasingly bad public policy. How was your day? 1)...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 6:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Comparing job growth among presidents

Ron Brownstein notes that "if the economy produces jobs over the next eight months at the same pace as it did over the past four months, the nation will have created more jobs in 2010 alone than it did over...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 5:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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John McCain follies

I was readying to write about an immigration article I found interesting and then a TARP article I found depressing, but then I realized that both articles were actually about John McCain and I could cover them in one...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 4:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (70)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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The Asian recovery

The good news? Global demand is rebounding. The unexpected news? It's not coming from the rich countries. Howard Schneider explains: "We have seen demand rebound, but it is very much supported by emerging countries: China, India, Indonesia," said Masanori...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 3:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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New York smug

"I think New Yorkers only seem more smug, because there are more people in New York and thus more arrogant New Yorkers," writes Ta-Nehisi Coates. "In my time, I have watched [folks] from everywhere from Dallas to Cleveland to Columbia,...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 3:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
 
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Discretionary spending is not the same as 'new spending'

Megan McArdle has a post up saying that health-care reform is "already at least a hundred billion dollars in the hole." That's really not right, though it's certainly true that the CBO's estimate suggesting $115 billion in discretionary costs...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 2:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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One insane Senate procedure used to preserve another insane Senate procedure

You know about secret holds, right? Where a senator can block consideration of an item without publicly revealing that he or she is the one blocking consideration of that item? Yesterday afternoon, Ron Wyden and Chuck Grassley were all set...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 2:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Senate  
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The EPA option

The biggest potential news on the climate change front is that the Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with carbon regulation, laying out rules that will cover major emitters, including all new coal plants. Business doesn't want some fickle government...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 1:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Lunch break

I put this in Wonkbook, but I'm worried people might miss it. And it's much too good to miss. It's an HD time-lapse video of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland. Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull - May 1st and 2nd, 2010 from Sean...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 12:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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More evidence that oil isn't as cheap as it looks

Yesterday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski rose to deny unanimous consent to Democrats trying to pass a bill increasing the cap on damages for oil spills from $75 million to $10 billion. Murkowski saw a problem: "It would be impossible or...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 11:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Energy  
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What will conference committee do to FinReg?

Usually, conference committee is used to bring the more liberal House bill into line with the more conservative Senate bill. But given the string of unexpected amendment victories that reforms have amassed in the Senate bill -- many of which...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 10:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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The good old days of low-information advertising

One of James Fallows's readers is skeptical about the long-term economics of online advertising: The ability to measure the way people engage with advertising online only makes it more worthless. Industry average for CTR (click-through-rate) is usually cited somewhere around...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 10:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 10:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Being skeptical of financial innovation: The derivatives case study

Ryan Avent wants more skepticism of the merits of financial innovation, and I'm happy to oblige. Lately, when I think about this, I think about over-the-counter derivatives. They're the customizable, opaque suckers that juice bank profits and confuse regulators...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 10:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Wonkbook: EPA moves on carbon; BP spill worse than we thought; WH had a secret health-care plan

It's Friday here in Washington, and the week is winding down. No votes are expected in either the House or the Senate. The big news, however, is that the Environmental Protection Agency is readying to move on greenhouse gases....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 14, 2010; 7:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

How was my day? Oh, fine. I talked about the grim outlook for the climate bill, broke down the discretionary spending in health-care reform, and made the case for Jay Rayner. How was your day? 1) How Tyler Cowen met...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 5:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Leverage and the legislators who hate it

I sure liked the sound of Susan Collins's amendment imposing stricter leverage limits on banks (for background on leverage limits, see here), but I had a bit of trouble understanding exactly what it did. Luckily, the summary (Word file) they...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 5:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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And the organization kids shall inherit the earth

Kevin Drum goes after David Brooks today, noting that Donald Berwick, who's been nominated to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, doesn't fit the "organization kid" model that Brooks laid out in his column about Elena Kagan. In...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 4:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Knives out

The Web site for season -- I don't know, 12? 19? -- of Top Chef is up. The big surprise is that there's a new judge: Eric Ripert, who'll replace the loathsome Toby Young. But as much as I like...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 2:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Food  
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Poll: Americans want to ‘give the new health-care law a chance’

Speaking of health-care reform, David Weigel catches an interesting health-care question in the new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. It asks, "would you be more likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who says we should give the new...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 2:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Health Reform , Polls  
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Who passed health-care reform?

Sam Stein's long look at the way the Obama campaign informed the Obama administration's approach to health-care reform is a very sharp piece of reporting, and worth a read. It suffers, I think, from the tendency to explain major...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 2:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Al Franken's amendment good enough, smart enough, people like it

Al Franken's amendment to end the absurd situation where banks can shop for their rating agency got 64 votes, including 10 Republicans. For background on it, read this interview I did with Franken last week....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 1:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Lincoln's derivatives language safe -- at least until Tuesday

Given the opposition of the White House, the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, the FDIC, Chris Dodd and all the banks, I was surprised to see that Blanche Lincoln's proposal to separate derivative swap desks from banks survived an amendment designed...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 12:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Lunch break

Math class needs a makeover....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 12:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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About that $115 billion ...

I wrote a post yesterday explaining what the CBO was talking about when it said health-care reform could lead to $115 billion in further discretionary spending if Congress so chose. What I didn't know was that the majority of the...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 11:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Today in FinReg amendments

Here's what the Senate is considering adding to the financial-regulation bill: * Collins amendment to mandate minimum leverage and risk-based capital requirements for insured depository institutions, depository institution holding companies, and nonbank financial companies that the Council identifies for Board...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 9:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

This one is titled, appropriately, "The circus that awaits Kagan."...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 9:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Climate change bill in a tough spot

Last night, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman appeared on John King's CNN program to promote their climate bill, the American Power Act. The transcript is fairly lengthy, but at no point does King ask them to explain the provisions...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 9:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Wonkbook: All about Kerry-Lieberman; Big April budget deficit; Elena Kagan's nickname

Financial regulation continues its slow march through the Senate today, with eight amendments likely to come up for a vote. We're starting to hear talk of a final vote on Tuesday. Meanwhile, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman brought out...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 13, 2010; 7:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Big day today. I heard from James Galbraith on why the deficit doesn't -- and won't -- matter, looked into discretionary funding and health-care reform and saw a dog dance to techno. Here's what I didn't get to: 1) Conan...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 12, 2010; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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On preemption

I've been a bit curious as to why financial reformers are so intent on securing "state preemption": In most cases, a federal standard is more protective than 50 different state standards. Luckily, Mike Konczal writes up his thoughts on the...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 12, 2010; 4:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Galbraith: The danger posed by the deficit ‘is zero’

James Galbraith is an economist and the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. chair in government and business relations at the University of Texas at Austin. He's also a skeptic of the prevailing concern over America's long-term deficit. With many people now...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 12, 2010; 3:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (118)
Categories:  Interviews  
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Lunch Break

Why yes, that is a dog dancing to techno. See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 12, 2010; 1:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Kerry-Lieberman bill emerges

Over at Huffington Post, John Kerry rolls out the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill. The piece is a bit short on specifics, but it's at least an interesting look at the politics of the issue: Kerry focuses on the danger of being...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 12, 2010; 12:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Discretionary spending and the Affordable Care Act

When the Congressional Budget Office assesses the cost of a bill, they look at mandatory effects. So if the bill says you have to give subsidies to everyone making less than $80,000, they figure out how much that is likely...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 12, 2010; 12:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Krugman on the Greece comparison

Basically, the United States can expect economic recovery to bring the deficit down substantially; Greece, which has a larger structural deficit and also faces a grinding adjustment to overvaluation with the eurozone, can’t. Yes, the United States needs fiscal...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 12, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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The economics of newspapers in two charts

James Fallows posted a slideshow compiled by Hal Varian, Google's chief economist, on the economics of newspapers. The first chart breaks down where newspapers get their money, and how they spend it: And here's a breakdown of ad revenue: Those...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 12, 2010; 11:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Senate punts on Fannie and Freddie

I was sympathetic to John McCain's plan to eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but Annie Lowrey made a pretty compelling case that it was a terrible idea. But it was a terrible idea for a weird reason: It got...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 12, 2010; 11:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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What the Affordable Care Act is already doing

Demonstrating epic econo-wonk convergence, both Steve Pearlstein and David Leonhardt have columns today comparing America's fiscal condition to Greece's, and arguing for a cocktail of tax increases and spending cuts to balance the books. The main thing to say about...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 12, 2010; 10:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Forget temperament -- what about judicial lifespan?

If you want to see the insanity of lifetime appointments for Supreme Court justices thrown into sharp relief, check out Nate Silver's model that builds the life expectancy of a judge into an overall assessment of his or her...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 12, 2010; 9:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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Wonkbook: Energy bill cometh; Dems rallying to Kagan; Oil regulators get split in two

The action today is in the Senate (and that's not just because the House and White House didn't tell me what was on their schedules). Elena Kagan will spend her day meeting with senators; the senators will spend their...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 12, 2010; 7:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

What'd I do today? Well, I interviewed Bruce Ackerman on campaign-finance law, noted the many similarities between Barack Obama and Elena Kagan, and wondered how a politically involved individual could work in the White House and on the Hill without...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 6:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Landmark

Some of my Post colleagues headed over to the Kaiser Family Foundation on Monday for a panel on health-care reform. But maybe you don't want to watch a video, Maybe, in fact, you're interested in a handbook that includes a...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 5:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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'Citizens United was a shot across the bow'

Bruce Ackerman is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale, and an expert on election law. I called him earlier today to talk about how Citizens United should affect our understanding of the Supreme Court, and of Elena...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 5:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Interviews , Legal  
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'Extraordinarily -- almost artistically -- careful'

SCOTUS Blog's Thomas Goldstein describes Elena Kagan as "extraordinarily — almost artistically — careful. I don’t know anyone who has had a conversation with her in which she expressed a personal conviction on a question of constitutional law in...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Legal  
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Take the easy vote!

The amended version of Audit the Fed passed the Senate 96 to 0 today. A version that was closer to the original -- that is to say, it would've created a regular audit rather than a one-time audit -- lost,...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 3:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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The Supreme Anthony Kennedy of the U.S.

Insofar as some of the argument for Elena Kagan is based on the idea that "the most important job for the next Supreme Court Justice is to sway Anthony Kennedy, and Kagan is the nominee best able to do...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 2:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Legal  
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Lunch break

Ready for suspended animation?...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 1:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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The problem of human lobbying

I put this in the lead to Wonkbook today, but I want to make a few further points: The report cites 243 government insiders turned lobbyists working for the industry. Of those, 202 used to work in Congress, and the...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 12:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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You can't just say no

In a moment of calculated fogeyism yesterday, Obama lamented that "with iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 11:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Barack Obama picks himself for the Supreme Court

In a very strange essay from February, Jeffrey Rosen argued -- presumably facetiously -- that Barack Obama should "nominate himself to replace John Paul Stevens." The reason? Obama's cerebral, detached style, his background, his deference to Congress and his...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 11:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Legal  
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Kagan's scholarship

Intertwined with the question of whether Elena Kagan scholarship has been plentiful enough for the public to understand her positions is the question of whether Kagan's scholarship has been good enough to merit her nomination to the Supreme Court. Eugene...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 9:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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The case for, and against, Kagan

Rachel Maddow did a very nice job laying this out, talking first to Kagan-skeptic Glenn Greenwald, who focused on the difficulty of evaluating someone with such a sparse written record. Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 8:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Legal  
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Wonkbook: EU bailout cheers markets; Washington wonders about Elena Kagan; awe-inspiring lobbying from the banks

The White House had a good day yesterday, with the initial Kagan rollout going relatively smoothly. The day-two story is looking a bit tougher for them, however, as people begin to wonder whether we know -- or even can...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 11, 2010; 7:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

I'm trying to figure out what the role of reconciliation is in the age of Wonkbook. Seems odd to start the day with a massive hunk of aggregation and end it with a couple of links. Maybe just keep the...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 10, 2010; 6:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Exempting end-users -- or not

Quick refresher: A derivative end-user is someone -- usually a company -- who uses a derivative hedge against real risks. United Airlines hedging against a sudden spike in the price of oil, for instance. And these folks have been working...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 10, 2010; 5:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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How to move the Court

Earlier today, I called Walter Dellinger, who served as the head of Clinton's Office of Legal Counsel and, from 1997-1998, his solicitor general, to ask about his impressions of Elena Kagan over that period. I'll wrap those insights into...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 10, 2010; 5:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Will the court 'become a conscious agent overturning progressive laws the way the court was before the New Deal'?

Simon Lazarus is public policy counsel to the National Senior Citizens Law Center and a frequent commentator on the Supreme Court and the intersection of the law and economic and labor issues. I called him today to ask about what...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 10, 2010; 3:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Interviews , Legal  
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Lunch Break

Oh my God. A full-length, low-budget, fan-created Mega Man movie. "MegaMan"-Fan Film from Eddie Lebron on Vimeo....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 10, 2010; 1:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Elena Kagan is not Harriet Miers or David Souter

The New Republic seems to be keeping Dana Milbank's 1998 profile of Elana Kagan behind a paywall, but I read it on Nexis (Update: Here's a free version) and it's a good reminder that though Kagan's thin written record...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 10, 2010; 1:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Legal  
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Can men still be appointed to the Supreme Court?

"Just wondering," tweets Kathryn Jean Lopez. "Are men allowed to be nominated to the Supreme Court anymore?" Putting aside the weird gender politics of this sentence (and the fact that the New York Times hints that Obama's next pick will...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 10, 2010; 12:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
Categories:  Legal  
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Is Greece the new France? Or the new AIG?

On Friday, David Weigel noted that "Greece" had begun popping up in Republican speeches where "France" used to be: It's "the nation whose name Republicans invoke to make the case against Democratic policies." But Greece is serving another purpose, too:...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 10, 2010; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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Do we know the right questions to ask Kagan?

There are at least two reasons that it's hard to say whether Elena Kagan is a "good" or "bad" pick for the Supreme Court. First, her thin written record means we don't have enough evidence to answer our questions....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 10, 2010; 10:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (43)
Categories:  Legal  
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Who is Europe really bailing out?

Tyler Cowen has some smart thoughts on the European Union's announcement of a $750 billion euro bailout fund: 1. The fundamental cause of the financial crisis has been people and institutions thinking they are wealthy than they are; this spread...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 10, 2010; 9:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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Wonkbook: An Elena Kagan primer; oil spill beats containment dome; Europeans agree on mega-bailout

If a tree falls in the forest and it's the tree that everyone expected to fall, does it make the evening news? We'll find out later today, when Barack Obama nominates solicitor general Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 10, 2010; 7:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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