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Ezra Klein: August 15, 2010 - August 21, 2010

Gone fishin'

I'm hopping on a plane tomorrow to go sit on sand and drink beer and eat fish and stop thinking for a few days about extending the Bush tax cuts. But you're all in good hands. You know Dylan Matthews,...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 6:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Fashion and uncertainty

One last post about Chuck Schumer's fashion copyright bill: It's got four Republican co-sponsors. Lindsey Graham is signed on, and so are Orrin Hatch and Kay Bailey Hutchison and Olympia Snowe. This is why I don't take Republican concerns over...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 6:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Cars and a carbon price

"Americans do hate paying more for petrol," writes Ryan Avent in response to my earlier post on America's love for cars, "but I think people wildly misunderstand the effect of politically acceptable carbon prices on its price. A $100 per...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 5:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Trademarks in fashion

When you report out an article, you often hear a lot of interesting stories that don't end up fitting the overall piece. Luckily, I have a blog, so I can still use them. So! As explained below, the fashion industry...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 5:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Should you be able to copyright a shirt?

On Aug. 5, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced S.3728: the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act. He’s got 10 co-sponsors — including three Republicans — and a big idea: to extend copyright protections to the fashion industry, where...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Industry blogs

Earlier, I mentioned my newfound love for the blog Fashion Incubator, which is about the nuts and bolts of the fashion industry. I'd love to find a few more blogs like this. I read lots of food blogs, for instance,...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Research Desk investigates: How has the role of capital and labor in determining output changed?

By Dylan Matthews fredbrack asks: Years ago I read that the division of productivity gains in the U.S. from WWII to 1973 was 70% labor, 30% capital. Then it reversed to 30% labor, 70% capital. Was, and is, that true?...

By Dylan Matthews  |  August 20, 2010; 2:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Anyone got 11.6 million open jobs?

This is a helpful concept from the folks at the Hamilton Project: The job gap "measures the number of jobs the economy needs to create to return to pre-recession employment levels while also absorbing the 125,000 people who typically...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 1:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Lunch break

I just finished an article on Chuck Schumer's effort to add copyright protection to the fashion industry, and I'll be linking to it a bit later today. The underlying issue here is interesting: We intuitively think that allowing people to...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 12:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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The Treasury meeting and the meta-Treasury meeting

There's been some meta-discussion over a recent meeting between reporters, bloggers, pundits and Treasury officials. The meeting existed under the worst of all media rules: Background. On-the-record is, well, on the record. Somebody tells me something and I tell you....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 11:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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How do you consume media?

Reading Chris Hayes talk about his media diet is a good excuse to spend some time talking about my own. I'm dissatisfied with it. Like a lot of people I know, I spend a fair amount of time on...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 11:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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What the Social Security reforms might look like

It looks like the likeliest product of the fiscal commission will be a package to save some money in Social Security. There've been some concerns that this implies a privatization scheme, but that's not my sense of it. Rather, I'd...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 10:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
Categories:  Social Security  
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Freedom!

Chris Hayes: I'm working on a book right now, so now that I've discovered this firehose of media information flowing at me, I actually need to find software to interrupt that. A grad student told me about a life-changing piece...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 10:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Luxuries and necessities in one graph

I'd say people are underestimating the importance of computers given the evolving nature of the economy, overestimating the importance of appliances, and the centrality of cars doesn't bode well for pricing carbon. Source. Hat tip....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 9:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs  
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A private Medicare system would be a costlier Medicare system

One of the big Republican ideas for reforming Medicare is to turn it into a program of vouchers that beneficiaries can use to purchase private insurance. You see this in Paul Ryan's plan, for instance. But that's not how these...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 9:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Wonkbook: Jobless claims jump; Social Security cuts; GOP warns businesses not to help Dems

New unemployment benefits claims reached 500,000 -- their highest level since November. That "feels more double dip-ish than tepid growth-ish," tweeted Neil Irwin. The White House is quietly deleting some of its climate change promises from its web site....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 20, 2010; 6:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Today we served Obama, three ways: in context, in Bizarro world and in comparison to Hoover and FDR. Elsewhere: 1) Lily Allen explains macroeconomic stabilization. 2) This is the guy we're smearing as an America-hating radical? Seriously? 3) I...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 6:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Confused by the Social Security trust fund?

Kevin Drum offers a guide for the perplexed....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 4:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Social Security  
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Is Obama FDR or Hoover? Or neither?

I think the strongest objection to my earlier post is that, well, wasn't Barack Obama supposed to be FDR? A Democrat elected amid an economic collapse who presides over a roaring recovery and reshapes American politics in his image? Daniel...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 4:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Where Obama went wrong (Bizarro earth remix)

Democrats in Washington are divided and somewhat puzzled over President Obama’s fading popularity. They reject, of course, the Republican view that the president is basically a showy communicator whose preference for speeches rather than action has alienated voters. But...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 3:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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What the Fed is afraid of

Neil Irwin extends Chris Hayes's farming analogy to offer the best explanation yet of why the Fed is reluctant to do new things to speed a slow recovery. This is a debate I have trouble adjudicating, but when you think...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 1:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Lunch Break

Anthony Bourdain goes to the French Laundry:...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 12:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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A stimulus idea that doesn't need 60 votes

Bill Gross, director of PIMCO, the world's largest bond fund, has an idea for "the last real big thing that [the] administration can do ...that doesn't increase the deficit and that doesn't require legislation." Shahien Nasiripour lays it out:...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 11:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Housing Crisis  
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Research desk is open

What would you like to know?...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 11:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Time for the revolution?

New jobless claims rose to 500,000 this week. Meanwhile: Karin Wilzig has a hard time choosing a favorite color from among the 64 that she and her husband can use to illuminate the 14 1/2- foot, 450-gallon aquarium in their...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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If only Obama had ...

See if this structure seems familiar to you: Over the past two years, Barack Obama has done X. Now, his poll numbers have slipped to 44 percent. His party is slated to lose a lot of seats in the 2010...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 10:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (105)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Road map to where?

Matt Miller has a thorough critique today of the Paul Ryan road map. The taxes are too low, he says, the savings take too long, and the health-care portion doesn't go nearly far enough. It's worth reading the whole thing....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 9:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Wonkbook: GM announces IPO; FinReg covers banker pay; small biz losing jobs; the tax cuts and you

In what is due to be among the biggest stock offerings in history, GM has announced its initial public offering after being bailed out by the federal government. You'll be hearing a lot about this as the administration tries...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2010; 6:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

By Dylan Matthews Today, Ezra considered Mitt Romney's job creation proposal, laid out three solutions for demand declines, and looked at yet another tax cut chart. 1) Matt Yglesias goes hard against barber licensing. 2) The Census released new data...

By Dylan Matthews  |  August 18, 2010; 6:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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A lame line

Time for some ostentatious even-handedness: I dinged Mitt Romney today for some lazy anti-Democrat rhetoric, but this bit from the president has been bugging me. The quote comes from his Tuesday remarks at a luncheon for Sen. Patty Murray: They...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 18, 2010; 6:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
 
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Research desk explains: How do housing starts and household formation rates relate?

By Dylan Matthews bharshaw asks: How does the rate of household creation relate to the rate of new housing construction? During recessions, the household formation rate generally falls. Renters squeeze more people into the same units, young adults either stay...

By Washington Post Editors  |  August 18, 2010; 5:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Mitt Romney's got a plan

The first few paragraphs of Mitt Romney's job-creation proposal read like the introduction to a particularly boring segment on the Hannity show ("Almost every action the president has taken has deepened and lengthened the downturn"). But get past them,...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 18, 2010; 4:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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More tax charts!

Last week, I posted a graphic showing how many dollars various income groups would save under the Bush and Obama tax plans. The basic takeaway was that the middle class would do a bit better under Obama's plan and the...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 18, 2010; 1:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Lunch break

Sheryl WuDunn talks about the world's greatest -- and most counterproductive -- injustice:...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 18, 2010; 12:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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XKCD takes on highway policy

And don't miss the rollover text: "They actually started this reversed-text practice in 1977 -- not for ease-of-use reasons, but because too many people were driving backward down the highway blasting the Star Wars opening theme." I love nerds....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 18, 2010; 11:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Research desk is open

The Dylan Matthews Act of 2010 would end uncertainty....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 18, 2010; 11:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Gin, juice and state monopolies

I wouldn't have thought that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Christian conservative with a hard moralist streak, would be the guy to substantially loosen the state's liquor laws and increase the availability of booze. But so it goes. And...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 18, 2010; 11:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Thinking clearly about demand declines -- and what to do about them

Tyler Cowen's post separating types of demand problems is really worth reading. There are at least three ways in which demand can decline, he says, and each suggests different solutions. The first is the most basic: Spending goes down for...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 18, 2010; 10:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Best fundraiser ever

Al Kamen gets all the good invites: It's "Sen. Conrad's Biggest Non-Event of the Year!" the invitation says. "You are invited not to attend a special reception for Friends of Kent Conrad." The invite -- we're told it was...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 18, 2010; 10:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Wonkbook: Geithner gives Fannie and Freddie clues; major health care regs announced; future Fed action unlikely

The Obama administration opened its conference on the future of housing policy yesterday with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner promising both an overhaul of Fannie and Freddie and a continued federal role in backstopping mortgages. Meanwhile, the national insurance commissioners'...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 18, 2010; 6:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Unreconciled

Got crunched for time so no reconciliation today. Maybe you should make some (indoor!) grilled corn instead....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 6:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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What the Federal Reserve could -- but probably won't -- do

Joseph Gagnon, a former associate director of monetary affairs at the Federal Reserve lays out exactly what he thinks the Federal Reserve should do to help the economy, and exactly how much he thinks those actions will do to help...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 4:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Dean Baker: 'We’ve lost about $6 trillion in housing wealth, and I expect we will lose more.'

When I looked over the invitees to the Treasury Department's forum on housing policy today, I noticed one of the names that wasn't there: The Center for Economic and Policy Research's director, Dean Baker. Back in the early aughts, Baker...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 3:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Interviews  
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Research Desk estimates: How much would revenue Obama's charitable giving proposal produce?

By Dylan Matthews wswest asks: At some point, the Obama campaign had proposed limiting the deduction for charitable contributions (including to religious org's) to a base percentage rather than allowing deductions at the individual's highest marginal rate -- was that...

By Dylan Matthews  |  August 17, 2010; 3:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Not again

Another oil disaster. And this one may be the worst yet. The Onion reports: In what may be the greatest environmental disaster in the nation's history, the supertanker TI Oceania docked without incident at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 3:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Climate Change , Energy  
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The reluctant Fed

More from Neil Irwin on why the Fed doesn't want to do more to help the economy: Fed leadership, however, views the bar as being higher for using such unconventional steps than it is for using the more deeply...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 2:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Why are Republicans turning an easy win into a complicated one?

One political question about the Ground Zero Islamic complex/mosque/theater-space/swimming pool: Why are Republicans trumpeting this? And why, a week or two ago, did they start talking about the 14th amendment? Republicans are going to win a lot of seats this year. And they're going to do it on the backs of the economy. Getting into social issues -- particularly social issues that might anger minorities -- is a dangerous play. It loses them long-term votes that they just don't need to lose. It paints their party as intolerant and opportunistic. And it's unnecessary: It's not like they're hurting for things to talk about.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 1:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
 
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Lunch Break

Gone double dippin'....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Research desk is open

Dylan Matthews can speak in bar graphs....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 11:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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The case for a temporary extension of all the Bush tax cuts

Mark Zandi argues that "the prudent middle ground [on the Bush tax cuts] would be to forestall any tax increases in 2011 and to phase in higher rates on upper-income households in 2012, when the economy will be on firmer...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 10:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Chris Hayes makes the case for a more aggressive Fed

And he does it with folksy analogies! Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy The idea that the Fed should shift its stance and do everything possible to get the recovery moving is still a...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 10:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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The mosque non-story

Jonathan Bernstein offers some real talk: Here's the deal: the odds are very, very good that the current controversy about the "Ground Zero Mosque"... 1. Won't affect any elections this year. 2. Certainly won't affect the presidential election in...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 9:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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Chinese food

Not as fatty as you think. Or at least not as fatty as some researchers would like you to think. If you don't believe me (or Fuschia Dunlop, who I linked to in the first sentence, and whose cookbooks I...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 9:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Political scientists make me happy

Political scientists believe a few things about elections, some of which I think are pretty encouraging. And this John Sides post is a good opportunity to talk about them. First, campaigns don't matter as much as we think. I take...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Political Science  
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Wonkbook: Treasury talks housing; lending loosens; death and joblessness

Feel that electricity in the air? Find your heart beating a little faster, your senses seeming a bit sharper? You're not alone. That's how everyone is feeling in the run-up to today's Treasury conference on 'The Future of Housing...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 17, 2010; 6:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

By Dylan Matthews Today, Ezra made the case for Larry Summers as CEA chair, critiqued Paul Ryan's Post op-ed and politician op-eds in general, and argued that Iran saber-rattling is keeping Israel from making tough choices in the peace process....

By Dylan Matthews  |  August 16, 2010; 6:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Consider the Germans

Germany's growth numbers look pretty good right now: If the next three quarters are as robust as their last quarter, growth will be almost 9 percent next year. And they think they know why: their stimulus, which focused on keeping...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 4:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Research Desk investigates: Could Congress still enable reconciliation for next year?

By Dylan Matthews rwclayton7 asks: Dylan, this is more of a legal research question but: is there any reason why Congress could not pass a 2011 budget resolution during the lame duck session? If they did, how many reconciliation bills...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 4:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Congress  
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Money and school lunch

Jill Richardson: Currently, schools receive about $2.68 for each free lunch served. Money is not only needed for healthy food, it is also needed for equipment, supplies, labor and training. Reformers like Ann Cooper call for an additional $1.00. The...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Food  
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Against commercial cannabis

Drug-policy expert Mark Kleiman makes the case against legalizing marijuana and letting companies market and sell it: Cannabis use (like drinking, eating, and gambling) is harmless to most of the people who engage in it. Is it wrong to suggest...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 2:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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Summers for CEA?

In today's Wonkbook, I linked to Frank Ahrens's fun list of left-field candidates to replace Christina Romer as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Sadly, most of them are essentially ineligible: CEA always usually goes to academic economists, and...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 2:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Think tank: Taxes, parking and lawsuits

1) The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities rounds up 10 facts about Social Security's current condition and future trajectory. 2) François Gourio and Jianjun Miao find that temporary cuts in dividend and capital gains taxes actually lead to a...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 2:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Think Tank  
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'A much more terrifying place'

"It's sad," writes Megan McArdle, "but the economy makes presidents seem like geniuses or clowns more than it should." True that. I also agree with her conclusion: Whichever way it works out, one side or another will overattribute the 2012...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 1:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Lunch Break

I'm a bit late on this, but did you know BIg Boi's got a free mix tape out for download? Good stuff....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 1:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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More on Ryan's op-ed

Ryan's op-ed is a nice excuse to reprise my pleading for newspapers to stop publishing columns from politicians and instead offer legislators who want access to the newspaper's reader an interview with a member of the editorial board that will...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 12:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Paul Ryan's plan would end Medicare as we know it

"The Democrats' political machine has attacked my contribution to this debate," wrote Paul Ryan, "making the false claim that the only solution put forward to save Medicare would 'end Medicare as we know it.'" This is a baffling line of...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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Big Elizabeth Warren news

There's now a rap -- with autotune: Via Felix Salmon....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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What would an Israeli attack on Iran make better?

By this point, I imagine many of you have read Jeffrey Goldberg's article considering the rationale for, and the consequences of, an Israeli attack on Iran. As it happens, I'm not an intelligence analyst: I don't know if such...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (43)
Categories:  Israel/Palestine  
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Score one for wheat

It's like the Washington Generals winning the title: In July, one of the longest losing streaks in the history of culinary combat finally came to end. According to the Nielsen Company, 52-week dollar sales of packaged wheat bread topped those...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 10:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Messages don't matter (much)

Political scientists Norm Ornstein and Alan Abramovitz round up some myths about midterm elections. Here's No. 3: The president's message is crucial. In fact, his message has little effect on midterm elections. If voters are unhappy with the president...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 10:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Political Science  
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Column: The GOP thinks health-care reform costs too much. So why are they trying to repeal all the cost controls?

I've got some good news for deficit hawks: This year, Congress passed legislation reducing the deficit by about $125 billion over the next 10 years. But, as they say on the infomercials, that's not all! The bill cuts the deficit...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 9:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Articles , Health Reform  
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Wonkbook: States have 100+ billion in unspent stimulus; out-of-the-box Romer replacements; Fannie and Freddie safe?

The big thing to watch this week is Tuesday's Treasury summit on housing policy, which will be the official kick-off for the effort to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But with the housing market sagging again, can you...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 16, 2010; 6:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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