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Ezra Klein: June 6, 2010 - June 12, 2010

Reconciliation

Recap: Inequality is back to record highs; deficit questions are more complicated than some would let on; and it's hard to imagine an international carbon-pricing scheme without a domestic carbon-pricing bill. And here's what else: 1) The stimulus's health IT...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Thinking about the stimulus

David Leonhardt marshals some evidence that the stimulus worked much as it was expected to work, and tries to caution people against reading too much into an analysis of one program or another. But I think it's worth talking a...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 5:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Did Alvin Greene win because his name begins with A?

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy Watching Alvin Greene try to answer the most basic questions about his campaign was painful, and it brought up the obvious mystery of the South Carolina Democratic primary:...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Inequality back at record highs

In 2005 and 2006 and 2007, I wrote a lot about inequality, which had reached highs not seen since the run-up to the Great Depression. After the financial crisis, I largely stopped, as I figured that the sharp crash...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 2:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Economy , Inequality  
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Consumer confidence hits two-year high

One of the main arguments in David Brooks's column this morning was that "in times like these, deficit spending to pump up the economy doesn’t make consumers feel more confident; it makes them feel more insecure because they see a...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 12:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Lunch break

I was looking for a video to hype Brazil's World Cup team, but I didn't expect to find anything as hilariously intense as this paean to Kaka....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 12:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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The weaker-than-you-think president

Via Jonathan Bernstein comes this classic quote from presidential scholar Richard Neustadt: In form all Presidents are leaders nowadays. In fact this guarantees no more than that they will be clerks. Everybody now expects the man inside the White...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 12:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
 
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Deflation concerns mount

To get a bit less abstract about deficits, the basic thing you worry about in a period of high deficits is inflation. But as the Wall Street Journal reports today, the major danger facing the economy is actually deflation caused...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 10:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Deficit politics

To say another word on the question of deficits, one of the important characteristics of the spending issue is that it's not conceptually difficult to solve in the way that, say, developing new energy technologies is. It's just politically difficult...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 10:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Budget  
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No carbon price means no international carbon price

I've never been certain that if America puts a real price on carbon it will give us the moral authority to convince other countries -- particularly developing nations like India and China and Brazil -- that they should put...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 10:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Deficits and reckless minorities

Tyler Cowen calls today's David Brooks column a "favorite." But I get very skeptical whenever I read assertions like these: Deficit spending in the middle of a debt crisis has different psychological effects than deficit spending at other times. In...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 8:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  Budget  
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Wonkbook: Murkowski defeated; BP to White House; Deflation concerns

Senator Lisa Murkowski's resolution seeking to strip the EPA of its power to regulate carbon failed 47-53 in the Senate, with six Democrats defecting to back the proposal. But though Murkowski might have lost the vote, it looks like...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 11, 2010; 6:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The housing collapse is probably contributing to the unprecedented jump in long-term unemployment; Lindsey Graham's climate nonsense is, at least, a calculated form of nonsense; Rand thinks the Affordable Care Act is a pretty good at doing what it's...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 6:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Imagine a world in which recessions don't mean uninsurance

One of the awful consequences of recessions in a world of employer-based health care is that a lot of people lose their health-care insurance when they lose their jobs. But as the latest study on the Massachusetts reforms shows,...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 5:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Murkowski resolution fails, 47 to 53

Lisa Murkowski's resolution blocking the EPA's authority to regulate carbon failed in the Senate today, 47 to 53. Six Democrats crossed over: Mark Pryor, Evan Bayh, Ben Nelson, Jay Rockefeller, Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu. Some people were surprised that...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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When subsidies attack

This afternoon, Reps. Anthony Weiner and Jason Chaffetz held a news conference that included two live mohair goats in order to protest the absurd subsidies that Congress sends to the mohair goat industry every year. But don't think the goats...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 3:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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The Affordable Care Act is good at being the Affordable Care Act

I got an e-mail this morning from the Obama administration saying that "an important new study from the Rand Corporation published in Health Affairs finds that the Affordable Care Act was the preferred policy option for covering more Americans and...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 3:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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FinReg conference begins

The conference committee to create the final financial-regulation bill is beginning, and in a change from previous practice, is being televised (and streamed) on C-SPAN. Tim Fernholz tells you what to expect: Conference works like this: Going title by title...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 2:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Rapprochement?

Greg Sargent reports that top White House advisers are headed to the AFL-CIO headquarters today for a make-up meeting. Patrick Gaspard and Jen O'Malley represented the White House, though no one -- at least no one I know -- thinks...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 1:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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It's about carbon, not Congress

If I saw the Senate debate over Lisa Murkowski's effort to bar the EPA from regulating carbon happening anywhere else, I'd sigh and tell myself that these folks simply don't know much about the Senate. But this debate is...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 12:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Lunch break

BP spills a cup of coffee:...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 12:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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The housing crash and long-term unemployment

Annie Lowrey, whose company I frequently enjoy in non-work contexts, has a very good piece on the unprecedented rise in long-term unemployment (see graph above) that focuses particularly on the story of Cindy Paoletti, a 53-year-old woman in upstate...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 11:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Economy , Housing Crisis  
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Lindsey Graham's calculated nonsense

If you want to feel really pessimistic about the politics of climate change, head over to Kate Sheppard's place, where you can read Lindsey Graham trying to find a rhetorical bridge between questioning global warming and supporting efforts to...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 11:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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The conservative mind at work

Please read John Podhoretz's review of "A Solitary Man" through to its very last word. The last word. Please. Trust me....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 10:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
 
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Why aren't there more Mexican Americans on America's World Cup team?

From an interesting interview with Steve Wilson, author of "The Boys From Little Mexico." Loads and loads of Latinos are playing soccer [at the youth level] but not a lot are moving on to play at the professional and the...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 9:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Labor vs. Lincoln

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy I was on Countdown last night talking about the White House's curious decision to berate organized labor for spending money to defeat Blanche Lincoln, and I might as...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 9:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Wonkbook: Lincoln's hand strengthened; energy bill stalled; deficit fears dominant

In the wake of her primary victory, Blanche Lincoln is gaining support for her derivatives reform proposal. Meanwhile, energy legislation is stalled in the Senate following Lindsey Graham's announcement that he will oppose a carbon cap. Some attention is...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 10, 2010; 6:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Roundup time: The "lone Republican" theory of legislating is bunk, cap-and-trade would be much rougher on coal-powered electricity plants than on drivers, and China might be facing a real estate bubble. Here's what we didn't do: 1) Lindsey Graham's effort...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2010; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Proposal to hamstring EPA nearing a vote

The Senate is likely to vote tomorrow on Lisa Murkowski's proposal to bar the EPA from regulating carbon emissions as a pollutant. Whatever happens in the Senate, Murkowski's proposal won't go into effect. It isn't likely to pass the...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2010; 5:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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The word 'bailout'

People should read Matthew Yglesias's post on the increasingly destructive role the word "bailout" is playing in our public discourse. Like Matt, I've heard pretty much every policy people don't like referred to as a bailout. Money to pay teachers...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2010; 4:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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What to do in the absence of cap-and-trade?

Now that Lindsey Graham has effectively killed any hopes of putting a price on carbon this year, it's worth thinking about what can be done in the absence of a comprehensive climate bill. And one useful place to start...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2010; 1:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Climate Change , Energy  
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Problems ahead for China's banks?

Patrick Chovanec is an associate professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management in Beijing. Prior to that, he worked for several private equity funds focused on China, and continues to serve as a fund adviser. He's also got...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2010; 1:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  China , Interviews  
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The economics of getting reporters to pay attention

From Raffi Khatchadourian's profile of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks: Still, the site remains a project in early development. Assange has been searching for the right way not only to manage it but also to get readers interested in...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2010; 1:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Lunch break

This is some seriously competent hula-hooping....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2010; 12:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Is China in a housing bubble?

Patrick Chovanec is an associate professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management in Beijing, China. Prior to that, he worked for several private equity funds focused on China, and continues to serve as a fund adviser. He's also...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2010; 10:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  China , Interviews  
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Lindsey Graham and the failure of the 'lone Republican' theory

With Lindsey Graham bolting a bill he helped draft, efforts to address climate change in this Congress look likely to fail. And because the next Congress is likely to have more Republicans, and because the House's approval of Waxman-Markey...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2010; 10:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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No country for primary challenges?

Now that Blanche Lincoln has survived her primary, odds are that the total number of incumbent senators knocked off in primary challenges this year will be ... two. That's not that uncommon of a year. We saw three incumbents lose...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2010; 9:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Wonkbook: Against grand theories; Graham bolts from climate bill; FinReg schedule

So, something happened last night? Some sort of election? Chris Cilizza has the full results, but most of the interpretive energy is focused on Blanche Lincoln's close victory over Bill Halter. As Marc Ambinder says, however, 3,000 votes is...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 9, 2010; 6:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

How was my day? I warmed up to Richard Lugar's energy-efficiency proposal; noted that the effect of all these anti-incumbent, anti-Washington primaries was going to be to empower Washington-based political parties; and looked at the government's "IT gap." How was...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 6:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Dispatch from a Frankfurt minibar

A jet-setting correspondent reports: A data point on obesity (and alcoholism). In the minibar in a room at the Frankfurt Hilton, one can procure a 0.2-liter Coca-Cola for 4.5 euros, which works out to $26.77 per liter. A refreshing...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 5:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Europe , Food  
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Academic prose

Reading even a mildly stylish opening to an academic paper on issues in financial taxation is a good reminder of how nice it would be if the academy put a bit more emphasis on readable prose. A looming global catastrophe....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 5:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Department of corrections

A friend writes in to complicate my post yesterday that used data from the national income and product account data to look at total governmental spending, and thus total governmental stimulus: As per your post yesterday on how state/local policies...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 4:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Increasing health spending also increases profits

Megan McArdle and I have gone back and forth on pharmaceutical innovation more than enough times to know each other's positions by heart, so I'm not really trying to stir up old arguments here. But I am confused by her...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 3:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The government's crummy computers

The news in Peter Orszag's speech this morning is that the White House is "asking each agency to develop a list of their bottom 5 percent performing discretionary programs" in order to make cuts more obvious. On the one...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 2:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Government  
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FCIC says Goldman Sachs is playing the American people for 'chumps'

The Federal Crisis Inquiry Commission is pretty pissed at Goldman Sachs. Actually, make that really pissed. “We’re not going to let the American people be played for chumps here,” said co-chair Phil Angelides. His colleague Bill Thomas added that Goldman...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Re: Primary losses

Jonathan Bernstein says that I'm underselling the significance of three sitting senators losing in primaries: That's three out of around 33, 34 or maybe 35, so lets call it 9%. Moreover, in this cycle in particular a whole bunch of...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 1:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Lunch break

It turns out that Gil-Scott Heron is not only still around, but he's still awesome....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 12:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Voter rage = 87% reelection rate?

With Gallup registering an all-time high in the percentage of people who say that their congressperson does not deserve to be reelected, it looks like we're headed for a massive wave of anti-incumbent destruction this November. Or does it? John...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 11:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Richard Lugar's alternative climate bill

One of the conceptual difficulties with trying to evaluate various energy bills is that the problem of climate change is qualitatively different than other problems. Usually, whether a bill makes a problem better is the primary question underlying whether...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 11:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Anti-incumbent, pro-party primaries

Mike Allen notes that a Blanche Lincoln loss would make 2010 a banner year for sitting senators bumped off in primaries. We'd be at three -- Bob Bennett, Arlen Specter and Lincoln -- which is more than we've seen...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 10:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Five -- make that six -- things to watch in advance of a climate bill

I meant to put this in Wonkbook, but read David Roberts on the five things to watch to see whether a climate bill has any hope of passing. I'd add a sixth to his list, which is "Lindsey Graham." And...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 9:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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The BP bankruptcy scenario

Could the oil spill really drive a giant like BP into bankruptcy? Well, sure. Just ask Texaco. This outcome might seem far-fetched right now. But on Wall Street bankers have already coined a term for it: “the Texaco scenario.” In...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 9:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Wonkbook: Harry's Reid's busy summer; BP bankruptcy?; Bernanke's outlook

Harry Reid has put together a packed Senate schedule for the summer, including financial reform, war funding, energy legislation and Elena Kagan's confirmation. Meanwhile, Wall Street is starting to think about a BP bankruptcy. And Ben Bernanke is predicting...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 7:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

There's no net governmental stimulus, Lisa Murkowski has not learned the lessons of the BP oil spill, and an energy-only bill might be worse than no climate bill at all. Oh, and here's what else: 1) Chinese wage increases could...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 5:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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How a bill becomes a part of a war supplemental

I made some calls Monday afternoon to check on the status of Tom Harkin's effort to get $27 billion to help schools around the country avoid crippling layoffs. You'd think that would've been straightforward enough, but you (probably) don't report...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 4:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Congress  
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Climate bill pessimism

To say another word on Chuck Schumer's prediction that the Senate is going to do an energy bill rather than a climate bill, we're really in a do-or-die period for climate legislation. The House passed Waxman-Markey last year. That passage,...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 3:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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The problem of 'first-hired, last-fired'

Even putting aside things like work rules and union contracts, layoffs are hard. You've got to be a cold soul to call someone you've known for years into your office and wreck their economic stability, their daily routine, their sense...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 3:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
Categories:  Education  
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Is Reid's energy bill worse than no bill at all?

Harry Reid has called for an "energy bill" by July. But it's not the energy bill we've been waiting for. It not only lacks a price on carbon, but as Brad Plumer explains, it makes it harder to ever...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 2:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Lunch Break

24 hours at Alinea:...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 12:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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It's useful to have geniuses around

A neat anecdote from inside the administration's response to the oil spill: Obama has also called in some of the many scientists on the federal payroll, led by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Chu at one point...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 12:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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America does not have an expansionary fiscal policy

As everyone knows, the federal government is still spending a $700 billion stimulus package passed at the beginning of 2009. As most people know, state and local governments have had to sharply cut spending because the recession has decimated...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Think Tank: The economists strike back edition

1. Gary King and Andrew Gelman examine why presidential-campaign polls are so unpredictable even though presidential-campaign outcomes are extremely predictable. 2. Donald Marron and Phillip Swagel offer a proposal for reforming Fannie and Freddie. 3. Doug Elmendorf, the director of...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 10:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Think Tank  
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With friends like Lisa Murkowski, the climate doesn't need enemies

If you were to zoom out on the BP oil spill and try to draw some lessons about prevention, you'd probably come up with these: Continued reliance on fossil fuels carries costs that travel far beyond what we pay at...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 10:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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If political scientists wrote the news

A powerful thunderstorm forced President Obama to cancel his Memorial Day speech near Chicago on Monday -- an arbitrary event that had no affect on the trajectory of American politics. Obama now faces some of the most difficult challenges of...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Political Science  
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on tail risk

Richard Posner had a nice piece over the weekend on the conceptual mistakes that lead people to underprepare for events that they don't think are likely to happen anytime soon. The financial disaster, the BP oil spill, Hurricane Katrina, the...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 9:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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Wonkbook: Containment cap (mostly) working; Kagan's policy views; a bailout for schools?

BP says its containment cap is capturing most of the oil spilling into the Gulf, Clinton-administration memos from Elena Kagan offer insight into her policy opinions and political skills, Sen. Lisa Murkowski wants to block the EPA from regulating...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 7, 2010; 6:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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