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Ezra Klein: August 29, 2010 - September 4, 2010

Reconciliation

Recap: Here are some grim job numbers; some longer thoughts on the filibuster; and the composition of a Senate based around income brackets rather than states. Elsewhere: 1) David Wessel looks at the GOP's economic agenda. 2) Deutsche Bank takes...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 6:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Better one or better two?

One of the policy mistakes we make a lot is to judge ideas in isolation when they need to be looked at comparatively. "Is this health-care bill perfect" is not as good a question as "is this health-care bill...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 5:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Education  
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The jobs numbers and uncertainty

For the past few months, the GOP has been arguing that the jobs numbers are grim because of the policy uncertainty caused by Barack Obama's radical legislative agenda. So, do today's numbers provide support for that? Well, no. The...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Repeal the 17th amendment?

During our discussion of the filibuster today -- which you can stream over at C-SPAN's Web site -- Heritage's Brian Darling talked a bit about the Senate's important role as a voice for the states. Responding to a questioner,...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 4:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Senate  
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Good news and bad news in the August jobs report

Some Democratic-leaning groups are e-mailing around this clip of Erin Burnett and Andrew Ross Sorkin hailing August's jobs report as good news indeed. I'd say this is the soft bigotry of low economic expectations, which isn't the same as saying...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 3:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Achievements matter

David Brooks has a column today offering a counterfactual scenario in which Obama entered office, passed a massive payroll tax cut instead of the stimulus bill, focused his rhetoric on long-term growth rather than short-term recovery, cut spending, and...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 3:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Orszag to the New York Times

So Peter Orszag will begin contributing occasional columns and blog posts to the New York Times. That seems like a good hire. For a long time, the administration staffers who got boosted to op-ed pages came from the speechwriting team:...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 2:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Lunch Break

A beautiful presentation of the world's oldest living things:...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 2:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Mini-mes

My recent writings against the expansion of intellectual protection laws to new domains have led to a few e-mails like this one: "I recently read your article on fashion copyright and have to totally agree, i also think it...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Intellectual Property  
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Notes on the filibuster

If you happen to be near C-SPAN 2 at 10 a.m. Eastern today, you can catch me and a couple of other folks talking about the filibuster at the American Political Science Association. The moderator, Gregory Koger, is author of...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Senate  
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August jobs report: 54,000 jobs lost; unemployment rate hits 9.6 percent

Another month, another grim jobs report. We lot 54,000 jobs in August. Most of those -- in fact, 114,000 of them -- were expiring census jobs. The private sector added jobs slowly but steadily, posting 67,000 in gains. This...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 9:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Stimulus counterfactuals

Jon Cohn asked some lefty economists to imagine a world in which we'd passed a $1.5 trillion stimulus. What, he wondered, would be different? How much better off would the economy really be? It's a good question, and I...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 8:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Stimulus  
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Wonkbook: White House considers payroll tax holiday; House libs against Social Security cuts; 25% were unemployed during recession

The White House is considering a push for hundreds of billions of dollars in new stimulative spending, focusing on business tax cuts including a temporary cut in payroll taxes. In part, this is good policy. In part, it's necessary...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 3, 2010; 6:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Bad blogger

Sorry for the slow blogging this afternoon, I was crashing on a column and then I had to run to a panel at the American Political Science Association's conference, and both took longer than I'd thought. So I'm going back...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 2, 2010; 4:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Lunch Break

The Antarctic time machine:...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 2, 2010; 12:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Vacation cont'd

"It’s true that American[s] have fewer paid vacations and paid holidays," writes Reihan Salam. "But the top 80 to 90 percent of U.S. households have more disposable income than their counterparts in the vast majority of OECD [Organization for Economic...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 2, 2010; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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Our lost decade in one graph

And note that the graph ends in 2007 -- before the Great Recession had actually begun. Source....

By Ezra Klein  |  September 2, 2010; 10:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs  
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Embracing inflation cont'd

Ken Rogoff is right to suggest that a couple years of higher inflation would help the economy, writes Paul Krugman, but how exactly are we going to get that inflation? The Fed's got a few tricks left in its toolbelt,...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 2, 2010; 9:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Does Elizabeth Warren have something to tell us?

Elizabeth Warren is the frontrunner to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She's also, however, a professor at Harvard Law School, which isn't very compatible with taking a full-time job in Washington. Something's going to have to give. And if...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 2, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Larry Sabato predicts massive GOP wins in 2010

Here's his outlook: Given what we can see at this moment, Republicans have a good chance to win the House by picking up as many as 47 seats, net. This is a “net” number since the GOP will probably lose...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 2, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (43)
 
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Wonkbook: Romer wants more stimulus; five reasons for economic optimism; illegal immigration down

In her final speech as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, Christina Romer issued the clearest call any member of the administration has made for substantial new stimulus. "The only surefire ways for policymakers to substantially increase aggregate...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 2, 2010; 6:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Germany didn't have a credit boom; making hard choices on the budget is not the same thing as making hard choices on Social Security; and my problems with the FinReg bill. 1) I'm always amused by writers who...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 6:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Lieberman cont'd

Yesterday, I wrote a post about Joe Lieberman proving a fairly loyal Democrat. Jonathan Bernstein makes the case that this is one of Harry Reid's major accomplishments: Indeed, while there are plenty of places where I think Reid could have...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 5:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Wall Street rises again

Some Twitter conversations I had yesterday and this post from Matt Yglesias suggest it's a good time to revisit my critique of the financial regulation bill and its heavy reliance on regulators. Now, there's lots of good stuff in the...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 3:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Embracing inflation

I tend to think that the best thing we could do for job growth would be fiscal policy: fast government spending or well-targeted tax cuts. Monetary policy seems a lot more uncertain. But Ken Rogoff, who knows much more about...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 2:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Thrown into managerial waters

Over at Confessions of a Community College Dean, there's an interesting thread on making the transition from faculty to management. The underlying theme, as you'll see if you read to the last graf, is that "higher ed doesn’t really train...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 2:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Brazil's breadbasket

In less than 30 years Brazil has turned itself from a food importer into one of the world’s great breadbaskets. It is the first country to have caught up with the traditional “big five” grain exporters (America, Canada, Australia,...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 1:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Food  
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Lunch break

The happy planet index:...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Making hard choices on the budget

Megan McArdle does some back-of-the-envelope math that leads her to doubt that Social Security's 75-year shortfall and extending Bush's upper-income tax cuts would both cost about 0.7 percent of GDP. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has posted...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 11:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Social Security  
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Explaining Germany

The Economist is hosting an interesting roundtable on Germany's economic recovery -- what's behind it and whether it's sustainable. There's a lot of discussion over all the usual suspects: The decline in the Euro which supercharged Germany's exports, the country's...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 10:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Where the job losses are in one graph

Annie Lowrey intervenes in the structural-vs.-cyclical unemployment argument with a nice graph showing job losses by sector (click on it for a much larger version): You're seeing sharp drops in the industries involved in building things (construction, mining and logging,...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 9:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs , Economy  
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I need a (non-copyrighted) drink

I've spent the past few days with my family in California, and the week before that in a small diving town in Mexico. I had some good food, and a lot of time to rest and read. But I...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 9:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Wonkbook: Jobs bill details sketched; unions target boardrooms; new oil reg rules

The Obama administration is considering including infrastructure improvements and additional tax cuts in its next piece of jobs legislation. Meanwhile, an SEC decision expanding shareholder power over corporate boards has led unions to consider installing their supporters on target...

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2010; 8:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Why health care is different

Austin Frakt rounds up some reasons health care is different from other markets, and thus more resistant to cost controls: * Health care markets and the airline industry both have barriers to entry. The former requires special licensor, the latter...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 6:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
Categories:  Health Economics  
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Will we ever recover from the financial crisis?

Well, define recovery. If recovery is getting back to the low unemployment levels that preceded the crisis, then no, we might not ever recover. If recovery is just getting back to some more normal-looking growth and job numbers, it's...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 5:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Annoying e-mail you don't want, cont'd

Apparently, there's already a name for "annoying messages that aren't technically spam." Matt Penniman writes: Actually, there's already a name for this (and it's fairly clever): bacn. It's "email you want, but not right now". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacn But I think I...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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It's hard to save an industry we don't respect

A few years ago, I headed to Chicago to report out a long article on the state of America's manufacturing sector. I'd known the situation was grim -- but not that it was so unnecessarily grim. Manufacturing, I found, was...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 2:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Dad culture in Sweden

This is a good example of how policy can drive culture, or maybe how policy can suppress culture. It's possible that American dads very much want to take time off to be with their children, but there's no policy support...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 2:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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The future of e-mail

I'm excited about the new "priority inbox" function that's coming to Gmail. The idea, as Farhad Manjoo explains it, is that we've pretty much conquered spam, but now we need to separate mail we actually want to read from the...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 2:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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We have unemployment, not structural unemployment

The term "structural unemployment" gets bandied about a lot, but it isn't explained very clearly or very often. In a nice column for Project Syndicate, Brad DeLong explains what structural unemployment is, and how we know we're not facing it:...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Lunch Break

Rick Bayless -- winner of the first Top Chef masters, authority on Mexican cuisine and a very nice-seeming guy -- talks to Google's employees:...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 12:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Trillions and percents

Here's a number you've probably heard before: Social Security is facing a $5.4 trillion shortfall through 2084. Nasty stuff, and a scary number. But let's put that in context: $5.4 trillion over the next 75 years is equal to 1.92...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 12:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Social Security  
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The mortgage interest deduction not about mortgages at all?

I'd always taken it as obvious that the mortgage interest deduction was policy Congress put in place specifically to encourage home ownership. But Barry Ritholtz says that's not true at all. Instead, it's a holdover from decisions made to soften...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 12:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Americans vs. vacation

The Economist's Lexington columnist isn't getting much of a vacation this summer, but he sees that as fitting. After all, he writes about America, and we don't get much in the way of vacation, either: As all the world knows,...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 11:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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Joe Lieberman: Loyal Democrat

Twenty-two Democratic senators have donated $10,000 each to Harry Reid's reelection effort. Another senator gave $12,300. And one generous Reid supporter ponied up $14,000. Anyone want to guess who the big-spending Reid backer was? Anyone? Bueller? It was Joe Lieberman....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 11:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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How to fix Social Security in one graph

"The revenue loss over the next 75 years just from extending the tax cuts for people making over $250,000 -- the top 2 percent of Americans -- would be about as large as the entire Social Security shortfall over...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 10:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
Categories:  Social Security  
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Wondering what's going on with the financial regulation bill?

Business Week has a very good look at how the different regulatory agencies are gearing up for implementation. For instance: The SEC expects to increase its budget by about 20 percent in the next fiscal year, to $1.2 billion, more...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 10:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Wonkbook: More jobs bills; Wall Street turns on Obama; the calorie information cometh

Thought the wars over job-creation bills were over? Apparently not. In a speech in the Rose Garden yesterday, President Obama announced his administration was working on new legislative measures to spur job growth to be unveiled in coming weeks....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 1:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The case against reforming Social Security; the deficit commission's legislators tilt right; and Charlie Crist's campaign strategy is to withhold the most important information voters can have. Elsewhere: 1) The crisis in customer service. 2) How the stimulus is...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 6:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Leading indicators

I know I'm a broken record about this stuff but, well, here's Joe Klein: If Obama is not reelected, it will be because he comes across as disdaining what he does for a living. I don't think he thinks of...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 6:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Is health reform's small-business tax credit working?

I can't quite decide whether this article is telling me that the small-business tax cut passed as part of the Affordable Care Act is working, not working, about to start working, or we just don't know yet. On the one...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 3:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The Republicans on the deficit commission are more conservative than the Democrats are liberal

Here are the legislators serving on the president's deficit commission: For the Democrats, Kent Conrad, Max Baucus, and Dick Durbin are representing the Senate, and Xavier Becerra, Jan Schakowsky, and John Spratt are representing the House. For the Republicans, Mitch...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 2:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Budget  
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Lunch Break

And then God created the earth -- in eight bits: SUPERNATURAL CREATOR 2 from Mareike on Vimeo....

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 1:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Recessions in everything

You might think that being locked up in prison for the duration of the recession might protect you from its effects. Nope: [B]lack market prices were suddenly going through the roof. The price of a deck of smokes tripled. There...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 1:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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The Cossacks work for the czar

Josh Green liked Laura Tyson's New York Times op-ed on why we need a second stimulus. He liked it so much, in fact, that it convinced him Tyson should be in the administration. "Quick," he writes, "who in the White...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 12:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 12:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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The case against reforming Social Security

In my previous post, I wrote that "if you're worried about [Social Security]'s finances, you can really only do one of two things: Lower the amount of money the program sends out or increase the amount of money it brings...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 11:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Social Security  
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Private accounts don't make Social Security solvent

We're seeing some fresh debate on Social Security reform lately, though not much in the way of fresh ideas for what to do about Social Security. If you're worried about the program's finances, you can really only do one of...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 11:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Social Security  
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Charlie Crist: A puzzle wrapped in an enigma shrouded in mystery

In a bid to pick up Democratic votes without losing every last Republican vote, Charlie Crist is refusing to say who he'll caucus with if he's elected to the Senate in November. The fact that that's smart politics suggests...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 10:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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America is complicated

"A government crusade to promote homeownership is un-American," write Yaron Brook and Don Watkins. "America’s distinction is that it was the first nation founded on the principle that you have a right to pursue your own happiness without government interference."...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 9:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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What I read on my summer vacation

Enormous thanks to Dylan Matthews, Suzy Khimm, Justin Fox, and John Sides, all of whom made it possible for me to take some much-appreciated vacation. And what did I do on my vacation? Read books, mostly. In particular, these books:...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 8:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Books  
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Wonkbook: Volcker's tax plan; Europe fights U.S. on FinReg; 10 years till recovery?

Did you know lawmakers have made more than 15,000 tweaks to the tax code since the 1986 reform? That, and more, in the report Paul Volcker's presidential advisory committee just released on tax simplification. Did you know advanced economies...

By Ezra Klein  |  August 30, 2010; 2:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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