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Ezra Klein: June 27, 2010 - July 3, 2010

Reconciliation

Recap: I mainly want people to pay attention to the fact that Democrats aren't going to pass a full budget this year, which means they can't use reconciliation next year, so that's the only post of mine I'm going to...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 6:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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The importance of getting specific on the deficit

Michael Kinsley and Ross Douthat both make the point that simply letting current policies roll forward might reduce the deficit, but it's not easy and it's not necessarily best. I think everyone can agree on that. I'd probably let...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 4:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Budget  
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Are Democrats setting themselves up for failure in 2011 by not passing a budget?

The most important job news of the days was not the June jobs numbers. It was a mostly ignored vote in the House of Representatives last night. By a vote of 215 to 210, the House passed a "budget...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 4:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (47)
Categories:  Budget  
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A serious-minded characterization of Jeffrey Sachs

Reihan Salam is a friend of mine and a very smart guy, but he has an odd habit of substituting positions he likes for positions that are operative in the American political debate. There's something to that: It's important to...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 3:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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'Scott Pilgrim,' trailer 3

I continue to be unreasonably excited for "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World."...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 3:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Private-sector job growth doesn't look great, either

Last month, David Leonhardt was fairly positive on the jobs report even as many others were negative. This month, he isn't. "The economic recovery has lost significant steam in the last few months," he writes, and as evidence, points to...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 2:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Economy  
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Research Desk responds: Is unemployment insurance stimulative?

By Dylan Matthews Patrick_M wants to know whether fellow commenter Kevin_Willis is right in stating: "... there is no evidence that indefinite extension of unemployment benefits has much of an economically stimulative effect, that I know of." I actually touched...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 1:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (53)
 
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Lunch break

I don't know why I find ninja cat so funny. But I do. I really do....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 12:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Expect health-care reform to require more reforms

I don't follow the Massachusetts health-care reform too closely, as I don't think it's a great predictor for national health-care reform. I argued in my article "Overstated," and still believe, that most all state reforms fail over the long term...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
 
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Economists react

I always find the economist reactions over at the WSJ's Real Time Economics useful in helping me think through the unemployment numbers, and this set is no different. I'll quote one, but you should read them all: This is the...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 11:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Research Desk responds: How do various countries' spending compare?

By Dylan Matthews jackjudge4000yahoocom asks: i've been searching for a good chart showing government spending (at all levels) as percentage of gdp for all countries This is the chart you're looking for (all data courtesy of the OECD, and you...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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The White House's economic message

"Today’s employment report shows continued signs of gradual labor market recovery," reads the first line of Christina Romer's analysis of the May jobs report. She emphasizes the 83,000 jobs created in the private sector (the 125,000 net job loss is...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 10:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (47)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Economy lost 125,000 jobs and 652,000 workers in June

A brutal unemployment report this month. Payrolls dropped by 125,000. In another one of those unwanted lessons in how we calculate unemployment data, the unemployment rate dropped from 9.7 percent to 9.5 percent -- but not because people got...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 9:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Economy  
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Wonkbook: Republicans reject immigration push; Brooksley Born and Eliot Spitzer on FinReg; Bingaman takes over climate

Obama renewed his call for immigration reform yesterday, but Republicans in the Senate -- even the ones who supported immigration reform when Bush tried it -- are not biting. On the bright side for Obama, Maria Cantwell has pledged...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2010; 6:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Good legislation languishes, bad legislation sails through

I've forgotten to mention that while the Senate failed to pass an extension of unemployment insurance last night, it did manage to extend the new homebuyer's tax credit. That's the $8,000 payoff for any first-time homebuyer who buys a place...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 6:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (49)
 
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Someone should have told Barney Frank how powerful he was

Barney Frank combines stand-up comedy with a denunciation of the Republican record on Fannie, Freddie and subprime lending. Click on image to play video....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 3:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Who's the ant?

I've not commented on John Boehner calling the financial crisis "an ant" because, well, what can you say? But Gail Collins is right to point out that the metaphor got the relative sizes of the financial sector and the FinReg...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 3:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Two stimulus talking points that are wrong

We're going to be fair and balanced here. You sometimes hear Democrats say, or imply, that stimulus will pay for itself by generating economic growth. I've heard some economists refer to this as "the liberal Laffer curve." It's not true....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
Categories:  Stimulus  
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Toward better Supreme Court hearings

Right now, Supreme Court nomination hearings are a rare moment for lots of senators to talk while lots of reporters are paying attention. That devolves, quite predictably, into a lot of people trying to get on TV rather than trying...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 2:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Stabenow: ‘To take money from job creation to fund unemployment benefits makes no sense.’

Debbie Stabenow is the junior senator from Michigan, and one of the Senate's loudest voices on extending jobless benefits. We spoke this afternoon about last night's defeat of the unemployment insurance extension, why deficit spending is appropriate during a...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 1:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
 
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Lunch break

A very cool presentation on retrofitting suburbia:...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 1:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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The view from Nevada

A readers writes in: I moved to Nevada 2 years ago and had a job waiting for me here finding jobs for others as a recruiter in IT and engineering. Since there are really only three sectors of work here...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 12:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Research desk is open

There must be something you want to know....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 11:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
 
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Bad job numbers

Ruh-roh. After sticking around 460,000 for weeks, jobless claims jumped to 472,000 last week. Economists had expected them to fall to the high 450s. That's not a good sign in advance of tomorrow's unemployment report. In fact, it's not...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 11:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Don't just sit there. Do nothing.

Due to the nature of the U.S. Senate, doing nothing is always and everywhere easier than doing something. After all, doing nothing takes only 41 votes. Doing something takes 60 votes. So when you hear Bob Bixby of the...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 11:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Budget  
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HealthCare.gov

Though the health-care bill doesn't really kick in until 2014, it mandated that the Department of Health and Human Services build out the Web site for comparison shopping by July 1, 2010. That seemed a bit odd to me, as...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 10:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Unemployment bill fails to beat filibuster, 59-37

The latest effort to pass an extension of unemployment benefits -- which was, at this point, a compromise of a compromise of a compromise of a compromise --failed in the Senate last night. By now, you know this story: It...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 9:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (69)
 
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Wonkbook: House passes FinReg; unemployment insurance fails; CBO makes the case for stimulus

The House passed the revised conference report for FinReg, but with the Senate delaying its vote until after the Fourth of July, final passage remains uncertain. The Senate, meanwhile, did not pass the standalone unemployment insurance extension, meaning checks...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 1, 2010; 6:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The Congressional Budget Office says that policy decisions will affect the size of the federal deficit; health-care reform appears to be gaining in the polls; and I'm looking for evidence of Eric Cantor's wonkish ways. Elsewhere: 1) Russ Feingold...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 6:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Research desk responds: How does the achievement gap vary by state?

By Dylan Matthews roberthemphill asks: What states experience the highest racial achievement gap and how is has that changed over the course of history? Thankfully, the Department of Education keeps great, great data (PDF) on this very subject, with individual...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 4:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Education  
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Daily Kos poll fraud

For the past year and a half, Daily Kos has contracted with the pollster Research 2000 to conduct polling for the site. As part of the deal, Markos Moulitsas posted all of the internal numbers that were part of the...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 3:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
Categories:  Polls  
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The Bush administration's fiscal record

One of the other takeaways from the Congressional Budget Office's long-term budget outlook is that the Bush administration really wasn't fiscally responsible, while the Obama administration pretty much has been. The major domestic initiatives of the Bush years --...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 3:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Budget  
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Is Eric Cantor a policy wonk?

I've always been a bit puzzled by Eric Cantor. The word on him, as this Politico story says, is that he's "a serious wonk," which makes him a counterpoint to John Boehner, "a backslapper who loves golf and socializes...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 1:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Feingold vs. FinReg

Kevin Drum and Jonathan Bernstein are giving Russ Feingold some grief for not supporting the financial regulation reform bill. In the specific, their argument makes sense: The bill is being made somewhat worse because Feingold refuses to support it. On...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 1:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Lunch break

Smoked-salmon vodka: an Alaska specialty....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 12:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Angle vs. Reid -- and Nevada -- on unemployment benefits

Whatever else Nevadans can say about their Senate race this year, they can't say they've been denied a clear choice. In the blue corner is Harry Reid, who took to the Senate floor last night to introduce yet another bill...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 12:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Research desk is open

Ask Dylan Matthews a question....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 11:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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More polls show health-care reform gaining popularity

The Kaiser Family Foundation is the latest survey outlet to see positive movement on the health-care reform bill. In their May poll, 41 percent approved of the bill and 44 percent didn't. Their June poll has flipped to 48...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 11:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The weirdness of the Scott Brown compromise

I'm not certain I've done a very good job expressing just how weird last night's Scott Brown compromise was, but Daniel Indiviglio hammers the point home in a post this morning: Conference reconvened due to the protests from centrists Republicans...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 10:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Why we worry

Pete Davis: What more can Washington do? We've already done about everything anyone can think of to stimulate the economy. It's had some beneficial effect, but it may not be enough. I am still haunted by Robert Schiller's statement to...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 9:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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CBO: Long-term deficit depends on congressional decisions

The Congressional Budget Office released the latest version of the long-term budget outlook today. It's an interesting document, because it requires the CBO to do some fancy footwork. In theory, CBO's deficit assumptions project the effects of settled law. And...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 9:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Budget  
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Wonkbook: Bank fee replaced with other bank fees; a utilities-only carbon price?

In a last-ditch attempt to secure Scott Brown's vote, FinReg conferees have scrapped a $19 billion bank fee intended to pay for the bill's implementation and replaced it with TARP money and a hike in FDIC fees. That means...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 30, 2010; 6:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Unreconciled

Day got away from me, so no reconciliation. You should feel very unreconciled....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 6:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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It's good to be number 60

The House and Senate are reconvening the conference committee to drop the language that offended Scott Brown. CNBC has the likely compromise: The conferees will propose ending the Treasury Department’s authority to require banks to accept additional TARP funds. While...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 5:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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A tale of two -- actually, many more than two -- list serves

What if I told you I ran a secret e-mail list that connected progressive writers with staffers for Democratic politicians so that those staffers could tell the progressives what, exactly, their bosses wanted them writing about that day? Sadly, I...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (95)
 
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A price on carbon, but not much of one?

It's not exactly clear what was agreed to at President Obama's meeting with various senators to discuss the climate and energy bill. As Politico tells it, the final bill has to include a price on carbon, but not much of...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Research Desk responds: How do stimulus size and economic growth compare internationally?

By Dylan Matthews Some guy named Ezra Klein asks: See if you can pull together some data comparing the size of a country's stimulus with downturn (measured by gdp growth). Brookings has tallied up the size of G-20 countries' stimulus...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 1:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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A progressive budget calculator

Not to be outdone by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Deficit, the Center for Economic Policy Research has a new budget calculator out that lets you put more liberal policies into play and see what happens to the debt...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 1:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Budget  
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Scott Brown's problems with FinReg

As you've heard by now, the financial regulation bill is in trouble. Robert Byrd's death changed the vote calculus in the Senate (the second time this has happened to Harry Reid and Barack Obama during the end game of...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 1:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Lunch break

Clay Shriky explains how "cognitive surplus" -- all those hours we have to do stuff that we previously used for watching other people do stuff -- will change the world....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 12:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Remembering the 1986 tax reform

I've been reading Eric Patashnik's “Reforms at Risk,” which looks at how major legislation fares in the months and years after its passage. His section on the 1986 tax reform, which most people remember as a rare moment of bipartisan...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 11:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Luck of the Irish vs. economic policy of the Irish

Liz Alderman has a terrific piece this morning assessing how well -- or, to be more accurate, how poorly -- austerity economics worked for Ireland. As she reports, when the collapse hit, the small, heavily indebted country hiked taxes...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Vox populi on the deficit

For all the reasons the political science-types say, town halls don't offer a terrifically reliable guide to public opinion. But that's not to say they're of no benefit. The Peterson, MacArthur and Kellogg foundations partnered with AmericaSpeaks to hold 60...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 10:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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Wonkbook: FinReg doesn't have the votes; Kagan's uneventful first day

With Scott Brown, Russ Feingold, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins all on the fence, and Robert Byrd's vote lost, FinReg's final passage is in doubt. And that's not the only bad news for a major Obama priority: Lindsey Graham...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 29, 2010; 6:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The next Robert Byrd will have to fix the Senate's rules, not just master them; some thoughts on how I do my job; and does income inequality cause financial crises? Elsewhere: 1) Regulators matter. 2) Austin Frakt on doc...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 6:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Red stimulus, blue stimulus, one stimulus, two stimulus

One angle of the stimulus debate that gets lost in the "stimulus: yes or no?" discussion is the disagreement between different types of stimulus. Should you use monetary or fiscal stimulus? Spending or tax cuts? Offset or not offset? Keith...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 6:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Conservative legal case against the Affordable Care Act suffers a setback

One of the things that has confused me about the attack on the Affordable Care Act's constitutionality is that it's so limited. The Affordable Care Act isn't under attack, actually. Only the individual mandate is. And though the individual mandate...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 4:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Does income inequality cause financial crises?

Paul Krugman posted some slides (pdf) this morning from a talk he gave exploring the connection between inequality and major economic crises. They're a bit incomplete without Krugman's accompanying remarks, but in them, Krugman says that he used to...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 3:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Financial Crisis , Inequality  
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Research Desk responds: Could raising the income cap save Social Security?

By Dylan Matthews jpeg asks: Back during the GWB years and the push to privatize Social Security, I did a bit of a thought experiment. What if Social Security was changed so companies no longer had to contribute their portion...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 2:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Worrying about the wrong spending will keep us from doing the right spending

In a post titled "the invisible bond market vigilantes continue their invisible attack," Paul Krugman notes that the interest rate on 10-year treasuries is 3.05 percent, which is so low that you almost feel bad for the people purchasing...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 1:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Partisanship and policy

In my household, we have a rule about arguments: Once you've moved from arguing about the initial point of dispute to arguing about things said during the argument, the discussion has outlived its purpose. I'm reminded of that rule with...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 1:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (74)
 
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Lunch break

Robert Byrd had a complicated record, with a rough past on race and a lot to criticize on pork. But I prefer to remember the good things. So here he is in his prescient, eloquent opposition to the Iraq war:...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 12:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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An economics problem or a political problem?

I quite liked Robert Samuelson's column today outlining the various positions in today's economic debate. As he says, the logic of Keynesian stimulus spending is tight, and the danger posed by debt crises is real, but there's some contradiction between...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Research desk is open

You've got questions, Dylan Matthews blah blah blah....

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 11:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Think Tank

1) John Taylor -- of the famed "Taylor rule" -- gives his take on the financial crisis, and the response. 2) Paul Krugman's slightly cryptic slides from his talk on inequality and crises. 3) How contributions from subprime mortgage lenders...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Think Tank  
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The post-Byrd Senate

Robert C. Byrd died last night. The Internet is filling with elegant obituaries, including this package at the Charleston Gazette and Joe Holley's recollection here at The Post. I won't try to match them. Instead, I want to talk...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 10:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Senate  
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Want low deficits? Grow.

IMF economists Olivier Blanchard and Carlo Cottarelli offer a nice reminder on the importance of strong economic growth to low deficits: Strong growth has a staggering effect on public debt: a one percentage point increase in potential growth -- assuming...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Books  
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Wonkbook: Robert Byrd dies; G-20: Prelude to Depression or wise turn from spending?

In Toronto, members of the G-20 have cut a deal on deficit reduction, ignoring the White House's push to focus on growth. Paul Krugman thinks this could mean a "Long Depression." Greg Mankiw think it's only prudent. There was...

By Ezra Klein  |  June 28, 2010; 6:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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