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Ezra Klein: May 16, 2010 - May 22, 2010

Off to China

It sounds a bit strange to say "I'm headed to China tomorrow," but, well, I'm headed to China tomorrow. I'll be there on a reporters' trip until June 2, and be back in the States on June 3. I'll be...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 5:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Germany's tough choice

One of the political challenges America faced during the financial crisis was that saving the economy has meant saving some of the actors who caused the crash in the first place. That was, to some degree, an oversimplification: We supported...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 4:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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When will America face a fiscal crisis?

People talk a lot about the possibility that America might face a debt crisis sometime in the future, but "sometime in the future" is the sort of vague timetable that allows folks to pretty much ignore the problem. Over at...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 2:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Paul on the issues

I've noticed some of Rand Paul's supporters arguing that Paul's radical views on federal regulation don't matter because he won't have to vote on things like repealing the Civil Rights Act, or, as Conor Friedersdorf says, repealing the minimum wage...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 2:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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How did people learn about health-care reform?

The new Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll tells you pretty much what you already knew about health-care reform's poll numbers: Opinions are mixed, with disapproval (44 percent) slightly outpolling approval (41 percent). But this poll goes a bit deeper to...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 1:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Health Reform , Polls  
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 1:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Lunch Break

Janelle Monae brings her awesome to Letterman:...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 12:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Three types of arguments over policy

Rand Paul's comments on the Civil Rights Act are a good reminder that Washington is home to two -- actually, three -- different types of policy debates. The first one, the one that we're used to, asks whether a policy...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
 
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Unlikely economic threats creating actual economic problems

The economic danger that people are best able to imagine is some form of collapse. The financial system goes the way of Lehman. The government goes the way of Greece. So far as calamities go, these are pretty simple ones,...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 10:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Infrastructure matters

I gave up my car yesterday. Today I'll head to the Department of Motor Vehicles to turn in my tags. It's a sad milestone for a native Californian like myself. The years between birth and 16 were pretty much...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 10:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Urban Policy  
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What the 111th Congress has done -- and what it still has to do

The Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 -- that is to say, the financial-regulation bill -- passed the Senate last night. That adds one more achievement to what has been an extraordinarily productive Congress. Since Barack Obama's inauguration,...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 9:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Wonkbook: FinReg passes; conference committee looms; joblessness is up

In a 59-39 vote that took place just after 8:30 p.m., the Senate passed the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Chuck Grassley, and Scott Brown all crossed the aisle to vote for it....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 21, 2010; 6:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (47)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

I thought the Senate should keep debating financial regulation today, but I lost that argument. Blame the increasingly serious problem of insufficient Senate floor time. 1) "There is no such thing as 'private' discrimination with respect to a public accommodation....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 6:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Looking forward on FinReg

Wondering what happens next for the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010? Right now, [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid has indicated he will allow a vote on Sen. Sam Brownback’s (R-Kans.) amendment barring Consumer Financial Protection Agency from enforcing...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 5:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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The hard part of freedom

Rand Paul calls his stance on the Civil Rights Act "the hard part of freedom." His argument is echoed by Nick Ottens, who writes that Paul "doesn’t shrink from defending the freedoms of speech and enterprise even if they allow...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (51)
 
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CBO vs. cap-and-trade

Doug Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, has posted the five main conclusions CBO has come to with regard to efforts to deal with climate change. First, price emissions. Second, the price should start low and rise in a...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 3:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Reid wins cloture on FinReg. But at what cost?

The final vote was 60 to 40. Sen. Arlen Specter is back, which gave Democrats one more "aye" then they had yesterday, and Scott Brown flipped to support Harry Reid, joining fellow Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. That...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 3:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Torn apart by Walt and Mearsheimer

Jon Chait explains why he started writing about Israel: Until recently I wrote very rarely about Israel. What changed things for me was the emergence of [Stephen] Walt and [John] Mearsheimer's conspiratorial analysis "The Israel Lobby," which not only inspires...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Israel/Palestine  
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Area politician has some explaining to do

Rand Paul is predictably walking his statements on the Civil Rights Act back as fast as he can. "Let me be clear," he says in a statement released today. "I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 1:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (73)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Lunch Break

I've been really enjoying the National's new album, “High Violet.” So here they are playing my favorite song on the record, “Bloodbuzz, Ohio.”...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 12:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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The problem of Senate floor time

As you know by now, the FinReg bill is getting squeezed by the need to move a war supplemental and an extension of unemployment insurance next week. But it's worth taking this problem out of the context of this or...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 12:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Senate  
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Bad economic news

Jobless claims rose by 25,000 last week, hitting 471,000. Economists had predicted a fall of about 4,000....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 11:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Ye olde Senate

Joseph Morton, a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, sat down with Ben Nelson to ask about Tom Harkin's proposal to cap ATM fees. What follows was, well, you'd better read for yourself: The Nebraska Democrat pleaded ignorance when asked this...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
Categories:  Senate  
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Rand Paul may not be a racist, but he is an extremist

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy It's safe to say Rand Paul's first few days as the Republican nominee for the open Senate seat in Kentucky are not going well. When you can't answer...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 10:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (142)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Senate should keep debating financial regulation

As Senate majority leader, Harry Reid has to juggle a lot of bills, and he has to carefully, jealously, guard the Senate's limited floor time. Republicans use the filibuster process to stretch the votes on non-controversial legislation -- like,...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 9:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Wonkbook: Scott Brown may vote for cloture on FinReg; Susan Collins is scaring the banks; Obama talks immigration reform

After losing yesterday's cloture vote, Harry Reid is expected to take another shot at ending debate on the financial regulation bill today. This time Scott Brown may be on board, though Reid would still need one more vote. Left...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 20, 2010; 7:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

If you like interviews with economists who know about every financial crisis over the past 800 years, political scientists who know about every serious primary challenge in the past 40 years or senators who want to reform the filibuster, then...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 6:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Will 2010 be the year of the primary challenge?

For all the talk of anti-incumbent fever, we've not actually seen that many incumbents defeated in primary challenges yet. Bill Halter has forced Blanche Lincoln into a runoff, but we don't know who'll win. Bob Bennett didn't lose in...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 5:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Reid loses cloture vote on financial regulation

The plan was for the financial-regulation reform bill to have a vote for cloture -- that is to say, a vote to end debate and move to a final vote -- at 2 p.m. today. But a handful Senate Democrats...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 4:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (56)
 
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 2:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Ken Rogoff: 'It really boils down to arrogance and ignorance'

In their book “This Time is Different,” Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff construct the richest and most detailed history of financial crises that anyone has developed. Their data set covers 66 countries, five continents and eight centuries, and gives them...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 2:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Financial Regulation , Interviews  
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How bad is the housing situation?

Really bad, at least if you believe new data out of the Mortgage Banker's Association. One in every 10 mortgage holders is now officially "delinquent" -- that is to say, late on at least one payment. That's an all-time...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 1:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Housing Crisis  
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Walter Mondale on the filibuster

A member of Sen. Tom Udall's staff sent along video of Walter Mondale's testimony at this morning's Rules Committee hearing on the filibuster. Mondale's experience attempting to reform the filibuster plays heavily into my interview with Udall, but it's well...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 1:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Senate  
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Sen. Tom Udall: ‘I have spoken to a number of Republicans who are not happy with the rules’

Sen. Tom Udall is a member of the Rules Committee whose loud exasperation with the filibuster led, in part, to today's hearing on the issue. Udall favors what he calls "the Constitutional option" -- and what others call "the nuclear...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 12:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Interviews , Senate  
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Jose Rosales

Very sad story in this morning's Post. Jose Rosales was a devout Christian. He sent every spare penny he made as a landscaper and handyman back to his family in Guatemala, and he was so strong and industrious that he...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 12:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Lunch break

'Man as an Industrial Palace,' an animated update: Der Mensch als Industriepalast [Man as Industrial Palace] from Henning Lederer on Vimeo....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 11:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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No country for incumbents

The results of last night's primary and special elections largely speak to the limits of political punditry. The country is turning against incumbents from both political parties, as you saw with Rand Paul in Kentucky and Bill Halter in...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 10:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (49)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Senate Rules Committee holds hearing on filibuster

Walter Mondale, who took aim at the practice when he served as Jimmy Carter's vice president, kicks things off at 10am. You can watch it live here....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 9:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Department of Corrections

On Monday, I posted some tables from a Congressional Budget Office presentation anticipating the breakdown of the 2020 budget. One of the things I took from those tables was that health-care reform wasn't much of a contributor to federal spending,...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 8:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Budget  
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Wonkbook: Primary results complicate FinReg; read Elena Kagan's every written word; oil reaching Louisiana

In last night's Arkansas Democratic primary, Lt. governor Bill Halter forced Blanche Lincoln into a runoff. Question of the day: How does that affect efforts to write her proposal to split derivatives swap desks off from banks, which is...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 19, 2010; 7:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Sick day

Proper food-preservation techniques are important, is all I'm going to say. Back tomorrow....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 18, 2010; 9:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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Wonkbook: Dems threaten to filibuster FinReg; BP's new plan; GM's surprising profit

Financial regulation nears a cloture vote, but some Democrats haven't seen their amendments taken up, and they're threatening to filibuster if they don't get consideration. BP's latest plan to kill the leak makes a lot more sense than their...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 18, 2010; 6:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Catching up on the day? Well, there's posts on the tension between Israel and liberalism, the budget outlook for 2020 and how Robin Hood went Tea Party. And elsewhere on the Internet: 1) "I think we are witnessing the biggest...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 6:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Uncle Brutha's

Good news! The pepper-popping madman behind Uncle Brutha's hot sauce is getting his business back on its feet and gearing up for an expansion! D.C. folk will know the score on this one: Uncle Brutha's is the hot sauce of...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Where's all the debt coming from?

The financial crisis and the resulting recession have coincided with a rapid run-up in American -- and global -- government debt. A lot of people, understandably enough, assume that this is the product of government spending. The stimulus was...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 4:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Budget  
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Government in general

Ross Douthat has a very strong column today arguing that the strange outcome of the manifold disasters in the public and private sphere has been more power accruing to those who contributed to the problem. The biggest banks are bigger...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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The New York Review of Books

Peter Beinart's been taking some criticism for publishing his essay on Israel in the New York Review of Books, which is apparently an anti-Israel publication because it occasionally publishes left-wing Jews. Beinart scoffs at this, and so do I. In...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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The EPA option likely to live to fight another day

As people following the issue know, the only serious chance that a climate-change bill has to pass is that the business community gets so scared or tired of the EPA bluntly regulating carbon that they ask Congress to fashion...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 2:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 1:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Robin Hood

Traditionally, Robin Hood is an armed redistributionist. Huey Long with a bow-and-arrow. But according to A.O. Scott, the latest incarnation of the myth has more of a Tea Party flavor. You may have heard that Robin Hood stole from...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 1:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Lunch break

Some genius recut the trailer for “Batman: The Dark Knight” using only footage from Toy Story 2. It works incredibly well....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 12:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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The 2020 budget

CBO Director Doug Elmendorf gave a presentation (pdf) at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's 35th annual Forum on Science and Technology Policy. If you want to spend some time freaking out about America's rising deficit, check out...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 12:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Budget  
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Think Tank: The $100 billion question; the future of food; and can Google save the news?

1) Andrew Haldane, the Bank of England's executive director of financial stability, argues that the banking industry is "a pollutant" and needs to be dealt with as such. 2) Some reasons to worry about the future of food. 3)...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 11:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Costs and consequences

In late March, Andrew Haldane, the Bank of England's executive director for financial stability, delivered an interesting talk on the right ways to think about the risks posed by the modern banking system, and the options on offer for dealing...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 11:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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The conflict between Zionism and liberalism

Peter Beinart has a long and interesting essay in the New York Review of Books arguing that Israel -- and in particular its young -- is moving very far to the right in a way that's going to cause...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Israel/Palestine  
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What the record industry can learn from The Awl

Over at the Awl, Joe Berkowitz writes about learning that his deep affection for Death Cab for Cutie's album 'Narrow Stairs' was based on a lie: He'd downloaded the album online, but what he'd downloaded online wasn't actually the album....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 9:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Understatement of the day

From Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm's new book, Crisis Economics: Marx's ideas, which are far more sophisticated than this precis suggests, remain controversial....

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 8:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Wonkbook: Cloture coming on FinReg; First success against oil spill; Jon Kyl dismisses filibuster against Kagan

Word is that Harry Reid is likely to file cloture on financial regulation today, setting up a final vote as early as Wednesday. But no one is celebrating yet: There are still amendments left to be voted on, including...

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 6:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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