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Ezra Klein: July 18, 2010 - July 24, 2010

Reconciliation

Recap: The gridlock-and-debt index; maybe the climate bill was always doomed to fail; and Kent Conrad has some ideas for a deficit-neutral stimulus package. Elsewhere: 1) Yuval Levin's five favorite books. 2) White House considering an infrastructure bill. 3) Why...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 6:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Shellenberger: 'This is the end of cap-and-trade for a long time'

Michael Shellenberger, co-founder of the Breakthrough Institute and one half of the heterodox environmental duo of Nordhaus and Shellenberger, has been predicting the political failure of cap-and-trade for some time now. In the past day or so, he's been proved...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Climate Change , Interviews  
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Research desk responds: How does unemployment affect voter turnout?

By Dylan Matthews _SP_ asks: Is there a correlation between unemployment rate and turnout? As we know, for some dumb reason election day is still a weekday that most people have to work which reduces turnout, so if there are...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 3:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Sen. Kent Conrad: 'The immediate threat is not the debt. It’s weak aggregate demand.'

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and a well-known deficit hawk. So I called to ask him what could be done to stimulate the economy without increasing the deficit. A lightly edited transcript of our...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 3:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Interviews  
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Lunch break

Alvin Greene, the Democrats' peculiar nominee in the South Carolina Senate race, releases his official rap song. Update: The faux-Twitter account fooled me. This isn't official, though Alvin Greene likes it....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 12:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Why a climate bill failed

If you wanted to design a threat that our political system couldn't address, here's what you'd do: You'd make the pain of doing nothing come much later, but the pain of doing something begin right now. You'd concentrate the costs...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 12:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (81)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Research desk is open

Dylan Matthews loves to make charts....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 10:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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Stimulus debates

Henry Farrell on the stimulus debate: The real debate between Tyler and Paul seems to me to be twofold. One is over the actual effectiveness of Keynesian policy in recessions – where Tyler seems to me to be not entirely...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 10:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 10:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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CBO: Public option could save $68 billion by 2020

When people think of deficit reduction, they tend to think about spending cuts and tax increases. They don't think as much about saving money by putting more effective policies into place. But as the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of a...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 9:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The gridlock-and-debt index

Tyler Cowen weighs in on the Krugman/Rogoff argument over the highest debt-to-GDP ratio America can hit before the debt becomes a drag on growth. I happen to have no opinions on this topic, and so will leave it alone. But...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 9:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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Wonkbook: Climate bill dead; Obama signs unemployment bill; Geithner vs tax cuts

Harry Reid has officially given up on plans to pass a climate bill through the Senate before the August recess. Which means it's hard to imagine a climate bill passing at all during the remainder of this congressional session....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 23, 2010; 6:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: A look at post-stimulus America; two graphs that show why businesses aren't spending, and I'd like to see more politicians in the Wyden/Ryan mold. Elsewhere: 1) The economic security index. 2) Some interesting thoughts on the Obama administration, the...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 22, 2010; 7:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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When Tucker Carlson asked to join Journolist

I hoped to let my quick accounting of the constant inaccuracies in the Daily Caller's selective quotations from Journolist stand as my last word on the matter. But Tucker Carlson's sanctimonious and evasive statement on the way his site...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 22, 2010; 5:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (226)
 
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The Wyden/Ryan plan for getting ahead

Ross Douthat brings up a quirk of our politics that often puzzles me: Why don't more politicians learn from the success of Ron Wyden and Paul Ryan over the past year or two? Wyden and Ryan were not well known...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 22, 2010; 2:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
 
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Why businesses aren't hiring in two graphs

Chris Gaun notes that we don't have to theorize about what's scaring businesses. We can ask them instead. The National Federation of Independent Businesses -- a small-business trade association that is considered the most right wing of the major business...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 22, 2010; 2:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs  
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Research desk investigates: Was the housing boom responsible for employment growth?

By Dylan Matthews khadjair asks: The theory is this: When you take out the added employment from the construction and real estate boom of the 2000s, we actually didn't add many jobs from the end of the dot-com crash. As...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 22, 2010; 1:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Lunch Break

Dan Ariely asks whether we're really in control of our decisions:...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 22, 2010; 12:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Business confidence

There's something of a running argument over the question of why businesses aren't investing. The issue is not that it's hard to think of a reason. The issue is that it's much too easy. They're probably not investing because there's...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 22, 2010; 12:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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It's up to Congress

I spoke at an event on how the government can encourage innovation yesterday. And as often happens with this topic, the Q&A focused on the way Congress treats the research and development tax credit. Rather than simply setting it into...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 22, 2010; 10:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Could FinReg hurt the economy in the short term?

Greg Mankiw points to a Wall Street Journal report that credit ratings agencies are asking clients to stop using their ratings until they can figure out the legal exposure implied by the financial regulation bill's provision making them liable for...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 22, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Post-stimulus America

I put this in the lead to Wonkbook, but I wanted to give it a post of its own, too. Via Paul Krugman, the economic forecasters at Goldman Sachs have updated -- and downgraded -- their outlook for the U.S....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 22, 2010; 10:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Wonkbook: Fed says action possible; Senate Dems split on climate bill; jobless benefits pass

In testimony before the Senate, Fed chair Ben Bernanke appeared to embrace a sort of reverse-Augustinian view of further measures to help the economy: It will remain chaste now, but reserves the right to intervene more aggressively later. That...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 22, 2010; 6:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

By Dylan Matthews Today, Ezra looked at how to make a jobs program deficit neutral, corrected the Daily Caller on Journolist and explained the GOP's latest method for holding up unemployment benefits. 1) George Voinovich should think about what George...

By Dylan Matthews  |  July 21, 2010; 6:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Research desk graphs: More filibuster data than you know what to do with

By Dylan Matthews bswainbank asks: How many senate filibusters/cloture votes have taken place during 111th Congress? What were the motions being filibustered and on what dates did they take place? One hundred nine cloture motions or votes have been filed;...

By Dylan Matthews  |  July 21, 2010; 2:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Congress  
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How's that energy bill coming?

Kate Sheppard reports: "We're really not at the point where I can determine what I think is best for the caucus," Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters following the meeting, when asked if there were any new details on the...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 1:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Different states are having different recessions

I've made the point recently that the federal extensions of unemployment benefits apply differently to states with low unemployment rates and states with high unemployment rates. This graph from Catherine Rampell explains why: If you're in Nebraska, where unemployment is...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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What lesson did the White House take from Sherrod?

According to some of Ben Smith's administration sources, Jim Messina, White House deputy chief of staff, was impressed by the speed with which Tom Vilsack canned Shirley Sherrod. "We could have waited all day," he reportedly said. "We could have...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 1:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Lunch break

Naif Al-Mutawa talks about superheroes inspired by Islam:...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 12:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Too much money and too much complexity

Steve Pearlstein on Top Secret America: The series is a powerful reminder that it's not only bleeding-heart liberals who fall into the trap of trying to solve seemingly urgent problems by throwing too much money at them. It turns out...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 12:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 11:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (66)
 
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Why Republicans are taking 30 more hours

When you take a vote on cloture -- a vote on whether the Senate can then move to a vote on passage -- there are a few odd rules you have to follow. The first is you have to wait...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 11:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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Research desk is open

Dylan Matthews can sneeze with his eyes open. Or so I hear....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 10:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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A deficit-neutral jobs program

Yesterday's unemployment vote -- in which Democrats barely mustered the 60 votes necessary to pass a short, less-generous extension of unemployment benefits -- showed pretty decisively that there's going to be no further emergency jobs legislation coming out of the...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 10:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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You shall know them by their work

A few weeks ago, there was a targeted leak of old Journolist threads meant to humiliate and harm David Weigel. That was an awful experience for all involved. Now we're getting the inevitable dregs of that story: right-wing reporters crawling...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 9:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (212)
 
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Wonkbook: Jobless aid advances; Kagan wins committee vote; energy bill uncertain

Republican attempts to filibuster the unemployment insurance extension failed yesterday, setting up the bill for final passage over a month after benefits expired; the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Elena Kagan's Supreme Court nomination to the Senate floor;...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 21, 2010; 6:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The Senate passed an extension of unemployment benefits, but a closer look at the bill reveals a broader failure; the case against Elizabeth Warren; and Dylan Matthews looked at an idea for a deficit-neutral stimulus. 1) Do cheaper doctors...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 20, 2010; 5:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Research desk explains: How effective would deficit-neutral stimulus be?

By Dylan Matthews In the Wall Street Journal the other day, Princeton economist Alan Blinder had an interesting idea for bypassing deficit concerns to get stimulus measures passed. Blinder proposed letting the Bush tax cuts for high earners expire early,...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 20, 2010; 3:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
Categories:  Stimulus  
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'Girl raised from birth by Wolf Blitzer'

Girl Raised From Birth By Wolf Blitzer Taken Into Protective Custody...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 20, 2010; 2:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Why Democrats can't break the filibuster

Matt Yglesias mentioned Tom Udall's hope that the Senate will adopt new rules that reform the filibuster and ease some of the obstruction at the start of the 112th Congress. I did an interview with Udall on this plan...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 20, 2010; 2:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
Categories:  Senate  
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Lunch break

The Apple iPhone 4 controversy explained through Taiwanese CGI and an extended Steve-Jobs-as-Darth-Vader metaphor:...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 20, 2010; 12:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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The case against Elizabeth Warren

My colleague Neil Irwin has a post this morning throwing some cold water on the heated advocacy for Elizabeth Warren to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I'd group the objections into two buckets -- innovation and administration --...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 20, 2010; 11:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (45)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Research desk is open

Dylan Matthews knows....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 20, 2010; 11:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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Suicide rates over time and space

Brendan Koerner: Despite all we've learned about human psychology over the past several decades, we seem unable to make much of a dent in America's overall suicide rate, which has remained remarkably stable over the past half-century. In fact, the...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 20, 2010; 10:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Opportunism and polls

Jon Chait is pleased to see Charlie Crist admitting that political pressure factors into his policy positions. "I think it actually takes real guts to admit something like this," Chait writes. "There's no such thing is a non-opportunistic politician." I...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 20, 2010; 9:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Unemployment benefits to pass, but all alone

Democrats are set to pass an extension of unemployment benefits today. The presence of Carte Goodwin, Sen. Robert Byrd's temporary replacement, gives them the 60 votes necessary to break the Republicans' -- and Ben Nelson's -- filibuster of the bill....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 20, 2010; 9:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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Wonkbook: Jobless benefits to pass; BP seeks new cap method; Warren for CFPB?

The Senate is finally set to approve an extension of unemployment benefits over a month after they initially expired. But there's somewhat less to this than meets the eye: Though unemployment is still near 10 percent, the extension won't...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 20, 2010; 6:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: What's really going on with the Massachusetts health-care plan; how the Republicans are blaming the Democrats for the Bush tax cuts; and the death of cap-and-trade. Elsewhere: 1) The head of the Tax Policy Center testifies on the Bush...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 6:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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The Massachusetts plan is working -- but the American health-care system is not

In recent weeks, critics of the Affordable Care Act have turned their attention to Massachusetts, where there's some evidence that the reforms signed into law by Mitt Romney in 2005 are struggling: Emergency room visits haven't dropped. Gov. Deval Patrick...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 5:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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If cap-and-trade dies, is an energy bill worth doing?

Brad Plumer weighs the pros and cons of what's now the likeliest outcome. The answer? It depends....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 3:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Top Secret America

The downside of Top Secret America: There is a vast, sprawling surveillance complex that's watching everything we do, and is not in turn being effectively watched or controlled. The upside, at least for civil libertarians, is that secrecy means lack...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 2:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Research desk responds: How partisan are 'independent' voters?

By Dylan Matthews quarkpt asks: Is there really such a thing as a "swing voter?" I can see that there are swing states, where the population is roughly balanced between voters who support each of the 2 major parties; but...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 2:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Political Science  
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'What is coming will feel like a recession'

Nouriel Roubini's economic forecast is not comforting: At the global level, the countries that spent too much – the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Greece and elsewhere – now need to deleverage and are spending, consuming and importing less....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 1:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
Categories:  Economy  
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Lunch break

The founder of Wikileaks explains what he does, and why he does it:...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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The economics of dying in one graph

And that graph -- which shows different incomes groups -- still hides huge inequality: The study estimated that out-of-pocket health-care spending in the last year of life amounted to $11,618 on average, with the 90th percentile equal to $29,335,...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 12:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (46)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs , Health , Health Economics  
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Cost control and the ACA

One of the odder claims Republicans levy at the Affordable Care Act is that, yes, it does pay for itself and reduce the deficit, but we could've reduced the deficit even more if we had taken all of the policies...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 11:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Republicans now blaming Democrats for Bush tax cuts

The new Republican line is that there's a “Democrat tax hike" on the way. And it's a big 'un: "An unprecedented $3.8 trillion increase" that will affect -- and this is their bold and underline, not mine -- "every...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 11:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (39)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Research desk is open

Let Dylan Matthews refudiate your questions....

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 11:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Why the Bush tax cuts won't need 60 votes

When Democrats regained Congress in 2006, they tried to draw a contrast between their fiscal responsibility and the free-spending ways of the Republicans by forcing themselves to live under PAYGO rules. That meant, in the absence of 60 votes to...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 10:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Superbill!

Jonathan Bernstein thinks the majority should get one bill each year that's free from both the filibuster and the nutty requirements of the budget reconciliation process: Replace reconciliation with a free bill: one bill a year with a time certain...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 9:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Cap-and-trade is dead

You can't pass what you can't say: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid played dumb last week when a reporter asked him if the energy and climate bill headed to the floor would come with a “cap” on greenhouse gas...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Wonkbook: BP cap test ambiguous; GOP fights for Arizona law; job retraining fails

Coast Guard commandant Thad Allen says the BP oil cap's success is not certain yet; Republican members of Congress are pushing legislation that would halt the Justice Department's challenge to Arizona's immigration law; the market says California and Illinois...

By Ezra Klein  |  July 19, 2010; 6:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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