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Ezra Klein: September 19, 2010 - September 25, 2010

Reconciliation

Recap: The appeal of Thomas Malthus; the revolving door in one graph; and how to balance the budget using only spending cuts. Elsewhere: 1) The banks don't seem particularly bothered by financial-regulation reform or Basel III. 2) Dana Goldstein looks...

By Ezra Klein  | September 24, 2010; 5:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Cutting spending is hard, cont'd

As further proof that cutting spending is hard to do, take note of the repeated cuts Democrats are proposing to the food stamp program. There's a semi-convincing explanation that low inflation means the program is overfunded and these cuts make...

By Ezra Klein  | September 24, 2010; 1:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Constitutional heresies

Lexington passes along some appropriately contrarian points on the Constitutional worship that the Tea Parties have seized on: Professor Klarman made four main points about what he calls "constitutional idolatry." They are (1) that the framers' Constitution represented values that...

By Ezra Klein  | September 24, 2010; 12:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Lunch Break

Is the future of mobile a shape-shifting, weight-shifting handset?...

By Ezra Klein  | September 24, 2010; 12:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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How to balance the budget through spending cuts

In their paper "One Thousand Cuts," Michael Ettlinger and Michael Linden tried to create realistic scenarios in which we cut or eliminate the deficit solely through the use of spending cuts. It's an interesting read for a depressing reason: For...

By Ezra Klein  | September 24, 2010; 11:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (44)
Categories:  Budget, Interviews  
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What wasn't there

Jonathan Bernstein notes some of the dogs that didn't bark in the GOP's Pledge....

By Ezra Klein  | September 24, 2010; 10:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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There's no such thing as easy spending cuts

If you're wondering why the GOP's "Pledge to America" didn't actually recommend any specific spending cuts, here's the answer: There's no such thing as government waste. At least not as politicians define it. When most people think about the government...

By Ezra Klein  | September 24, 2010; 10:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Budget  
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The revolving door in one graph

What you're seeing is the drop in revenue for a staffer-turned-lobbyist when their former boss leaves politics. It's from this paper (pdf) by Jordi Blanes i Vidal, Mirko Draca and Christian Fons-Rosen. Here's the abstract: Washington's 'revolving door' -...

By Ezra Klein  | September 24, 2010; 10:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Congress  
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Question of the day

If you could pass any existing piece of legislation tomorrow, what would it be?...

By Ezra Klein  | September 24, 2010; 9:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (43)
 
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Why we have a budget problem

Austin Frakt is right. You really can't post this graph enough: If you're trying to bring the budget into balance, nothing really matters except for Medicare and Medicaid. Other things can help, of course. But they can't get you to...

By Ezra Klein  | September 24, 2010; 9:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Budget  
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Why does Malthus appeal to novelists?

I'm less surprised by the persistent appeal of Thomas Malthus to novelists than by the degree to which his ideas are ignored by everyone else. That's not because I'm a Malthusian. Quite the opposite, in fact. But the argument that...

By Ezra Klein  | September 24, 2010; 9:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Wonkbook: Tax vote delayed; DISCLOSE fails again; Lew blocked

We won't see a vote on the Bush tax cuts before the election. And we won't see the vote because Democrats don't want to take the vote. And they wonder why there's an "enthusiasm gap." As we learned yesterday,...

By Ezra Klein  | September 24, 2010; 5:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The GOP has a plan to increase the deficit; the Democrats need a plan of their own; and Nancy-Ann DeParle on the GOP's health-care ideas. Elsewhere: 1) Novelists and Malthus. 2) Restaurant owners trying to shut down D.C.'s food...

By Ezra Klein  | September 23, 2010; 6:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Are Republicans afraid of taking on the health-care law?

I want to emphasize something that Nancy-Ann DeParle pointed out in our interview: The GOP isn’t banning discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. They just want you to think they are. When I first read over the GOP’s “repeal-and-replace” language, I...

By Ezra Klein  | September 23, 2010; 3:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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DeParle: GOP plan doesn't 'make sense'

Health-care reform begins today. At least, some of it does. As of today, health insurers must extend dependent coverage for children up to age 26. They also can't discriminate against children based on preexisting conditions. Coverage can no longer...

By Ezra Klein  | September 23, 2010; 2:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Health Reform, Interviews  
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Turnover? Yes. A shake-up? Not really.

As Anne Kornblut and Scott Wilson note, there's less to the turnover in the White House than meets the eye. CEA Chair Christina Romer was replaced by CEA member Austen Goolsbee. OMB director Peter Orszag was replaced by former OMB...

By Ezra Klein  | September 23, 2010; 12:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Lunch Break

The Katy Perry video “Sesame Street” thinks too hot to air: Seems pretty tame to me. Does anyone else think Perry looks like an anime character?...

By Ezra Klein  | September 23, 2010; 12:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Lies, damn lies, and the 'Y' axis

Alexander Hart catches the GOP's "Pledge" in some serious chart-based trickery. Here's their graph showing that President Obama has exploded the size of the government: Looking at the chart, Obama seems to have slightly more than doubled the size of...

By Ezra Klein  | September 23, 2010; 10:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
 
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The budget in 2060

Brad DeLong asks a good question: What is the most likely outcome for the U.S. budget come 2060? 1. We will have raised taxes to pay for government health spending. 2. We will have cut doctors' wages and enslaved them...

By Ezra Klein  | September 23, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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The Democrats need a plan, too

For all that I'm unimpressed with the Republicans' "Pledge to America," I'm glad they wrote and released it. It's important for the voters to know what the parties want to do and why they want to do it. In...

By Ezra Klein  | September 23, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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The GOP's bad idea

"America is more than a country," begins the GOP's 'Pledge to America.' America, it turns out, is an "idea," an "inspiration," and a "belief." And the GOP wants to govern it. Their policy agenda is detailed and specific -- a...

By Ezra Klein  | September 23, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (344)
 
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Wonkbook: GOP's 'Pledge'; no vote on tax cuts; DISCLOSE gets another chance

The GOP's will unveil its "Pledge to America" today, though the document is already available for download on such fine web sites as 'The Washington Post.' And given the early reaction, the GOP deserves some credit: Amidst an acrimonious...

By Ezra Klein  | September 23, 2010; 6:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Larry, Larry, Larry! (and his potential replacements); some encouraging signs for filibuster reform, and why we should cut Medicare rather than Social Security. Elsewhere: 1) Why the small-business bill won't create many jobs. 2) Lennon and McCartney. 3) I...

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 7:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Why Americans hate inflation

I think that policy debates among elites have a tendency to get going before there's really broad awareness of what the two sides are talking about, so kudos to James Surowiecki for offering a clear explanation of why it is...

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 3:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Looks like we're getting an Abramoff movie

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 3:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Money matters -- even for teachers

A new study out of Vanderbilt tested whether giving teachers big bonuses if their students showed improvements would improve outcomes over three years. The answer? Not really. Linda Perlstein (in a very good post) isn't surprised. "Presuming that merit pay...

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 3:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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Did Summers really leave to return to Harvard?

I was interested by Ed Luce's article suggesting that Larry Summers is returning to Harvard in part because Harvard gives people only two years of leave before revoking their tenure. That sounded, I thought, like a convenient excuse: Surely that...

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 1:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Lunch Break

In spring 2008, Larry Summers headed to Yale to deliver a lecture in honor of Arthur Okun. In it, Summers explained how he thinks about financial crises. It seems like a good day to repost it....

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 12:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Cut Medicare first

"Social Security offers cash benefits, whereas Medicare is an in-kind benefit, in the form of health care (which in turn is distinct from health, itself another in-kind benefit)," writes Tyler Cowen. "Therefore always cut Medicare first." I agree. This...

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (54)
Categories:  Budget  
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Institutional interests start talking filibuster reform

Tomorrow, the Senate Rules Committee is holding another in its series of hearings on the development and current use of the filibuster. Those have been going on all year, however, so there's nothing surprising about that. What was surprising was...

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 11:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Senate  
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Do opinionated outlets have a hiring advantage?

I was interested to see that Peter Goodman, one of the New York Times' marquee economic writers, was heading to the Huffington Post. But I was more interested to read why: "For me it's a chance to write with a...

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 11:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Journalism  
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People don't listen to the president, cont'd

From Playbook: TVNewser.com: “625,000 Tune in to CNBC for President's Town Hall … moderated by CNBC's John Harwood … more than 450,000 viewers behind #1 [Fox News Channel] (1.08M) in the hour, but ahead of CNN (436K) and MSNBC (217K)....

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 10:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Andrew Samwick endorses Anne Mulcahy to succeed Summers

The big rumor is that Obama will choose Anne Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox, to succeed Larry Summers as chairman of the NEC. Andrew Samwick, who served as chief economist for George W. Bush's CEA, likes the idea: President Obama's...

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 10:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Obama on corporate advertising

The president's most recent radio address was focused on the aftermath of the Citizens United decision and the Republican filibuster against the Disclose Act that would force corporations to take responsibility for their political advertisements. But it ends on...

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 10:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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The Federal Reserve and credibility

At this point, there's wide agreement that a bit of inflation would do the economy good. Ken Rogoff thinks so. Paul Krugman thinks so. Tyler Cowen is on board, and so is James Surowiecki. But the Federal Reserve isn't. "Raising...

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 9:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Wonkbook: 'Larry, Larry, Larry!' edition

National Economic Council chairman Larry Summers will resign at the end of the year and return to teaching at Harvard. That changes the whole outlook for the economic team. Two days ago, it seemed that the team was consolidating....

By Ezra Klein  | September 22, 2010; 6:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Unreconciled

Have to resign as NEC director and return to Harvard run to a dinner, so no links tonight....

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Larry Summers leaving the White House

It's official. Larry Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, is leaving the White House. He'll be returning to Harvard before the end of the year. Summers's announcement comes on the heels of Peter Orszag's and Christina Romer's...

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 6:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Larry Summers to leave White House 'soon'

Bloombergs' Hans Nichols is reporting, and MSNBC's Savanna Guthrie is confirming, that Larry Summers will leave the White House shortly after the election. Here's Nichols: Administration officials are weighing whether to put a prominent corporate executive in the NEC...

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 5:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Steven Rattner on the auto union

Jon Cohn has a terrific interview with Steven Rattner, a famed private-equity investor who helped the Obama administration with the auto bailouts (and has a new book coming out). You should read the whole thing, but I thought his take...

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 5:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Why immigrant, GLBT and good-government groups were behind the defense bill

Here's a question for you: Why are immigration advocates, GLBT groups and good-government types crestfallen that the defense-spending authorization bill failed to beat a Republican filibuster? "The political gridlock that has immobilized the Senate has resulted once again in a...

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 4:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Senate  
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Federal Reserve won't help, won't explain why

As expected, the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee met today, and decided against doing anything further to stimulate the economy. But it's worth reading their news release explaining -- or, more accurately, not explaining -- why. Paragraph one: Everything...

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 3:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Blue Sky series: Rob Shapiro's plan

Two weeks ago, I spoke with former SEIU president and current Georgetown fellow/fiscal commission member Andy Stern about hosting a series of pieces laying out different ideas to kick-start job creation. The idea here is not to see how many...

By Rob Shapiro  | September 21, 2010; 2:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Blue sky series  
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The best health-care cartoon you'll see today

Earlier today, when I touted the Kaiser Family Foundation's expansive health-reform portal, I ignored the video they were touting because, well, I didn't want to watch an animated video about the new law. But Kate Pickert says it's "most everything...

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 1:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Clinton: 'It’ll be Newt Gingrich all over again'

Dana Goldstein talks to Bill Clinton about the midterms -- and their aftermath: Disgruntled Obama supporters planning to sit out the midterms are making “a horrible mistake,” [Clinton] said. “Like everything else you do when you’re mad, there’s an...

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Lunch break

This Ke$ha/"Star Trek" mash-up is, well, just watch it....

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 12:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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News on the Web

Megan Garber's article on Slate's foray into long-form journalism will make you very optimistic about online news, and so will Matthew Yglesias's comments. I'll just add two things that make me yet more optimistic. First, I think people really...

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Skip the tuna melt

If I were going to Quizno's for lunch and trying to order healthy, I might pick up a large tuna melt. Bad move: With 1,520 calories and 101 grams of fat, it's actually worse than eating a stick of butter....

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 11:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Food  
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Vote on Bush tax cuts likely to come soon

Sen. Dick Durbin says to expect a vote on the Bush tax cuts before the Senate adjourns in October. He also said he is “very confident there are not 60 votes in the Senate to extend the entire Bush tax...

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 10:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Taxes  
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The Bush tax cuts and 9/11

I spent some time this morning looking for survey data on taxes. My hunch was that the number of Americans unhappy with their tax bill was not that different in the 1990s (so, pre-Bush tax cuts) and in the Aughts....

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 10:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Looking for information on health-care reform?

This morning, the Kaiser Family Foundation launched a Web site devoted to explaining and tracking the implementation of the new health-care law. I've spent some time tooling around on it, and it's really good. In particular, their timeline -- that...

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 9:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Why the Democrats will lose the midterm election

It's the enthusiasm, stupid. A few weeks ago, the political world was stunned to see Republicans leading Democrats by 10 points on Gallup's generic ballot. The august polling company had been asking that question for 70 years, and Republicans had...

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 9:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  2010 Midterms, Polls  
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Wonkbook: Bush tax cuts could balance the budget; Obama hints at payroll tax; defunding HCR will be hard

Here's a fact that should dominate much of next week's debate over taxes: Letting the Bush tax cuts expire would be just about enough to hit Obama's goal of balancing the budget (minus interest payments) by 2015. That's all...

By Ezra Klein  | September 21, 2010; 6:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The White House takes on the insurers; we're taxing the rich because they're rich, not because they're evil; and it's Newt Gingrich's world now -- we just live in it. Elsewhere: 1) Tyler Cowen makes the case for inflation....

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 6:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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The Bush tax cuts need to expire to pay for Bush's spending

There's not much more to be said about Todd Henderson's financial situation. But one element of his complaint that hasn't gotten much attention is what he thinks he's being taxed for: "I would introduce [the president] to my family...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 5:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Personalizing income

A reader e-mails: We talk about tax cuts "for people making less than $250,000" not "tax cuts on income earned up to $250,000." We're linguistically making a person's income level a part of their identity. It's a subtle shift, but...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 4:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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The next worst thing to recession

So the recession officially ended in June 2009. That is to say, things stopped getting worse and started getting better more than a year ago. The problem is that they're not getting better very fast. Fifteen months later, recovery looks...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 4:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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The Blue Sky Series: David Walker's plan

Two weeks ago, I spoke with former SEIU president and current Georgetown fellow/fiscal commission member Andy Stern about hosting a series of pieces laying out different ideas to kick-start job creation. The idea here is not to see how...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 3:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Blue sky series  
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Monday NBER round-up

"The Institutional Causes of China's Great Famine, 1959-61," by Xin Meng, Nancy Qian and Pierre Yared: This paper investigates the institutional causes of China’s Great Famine. It presents two empirical findings: 1) in 1959, when the famine began, food production...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 3:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Economics  
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What happens if Republicans shut down the government?

More and more Republicans are talking about shutting down the government over health-care repeal. Kevin Drum would like to see them try: The problem for Republicans is that it would give President Obama a perfect soapbox for talking endlessly about...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 2:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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How Newt Gingrich remade the Senate

This paper (pdf) by Sean Theriault and David Rohde proposes a new and intuitively convincing explanation for rising polarization in the U.S. Senate: Blame the House. And in particular, blame Newt Gingrich. The House, as we know, is a...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 1:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Senate  
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Lunch break

Did you know there are 187 non-edible ways to use pig parts -- including aluminum molds, weaponry and more? Hope you're not eating a BLT while you watch this:...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 1:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Tax cuts for the middle-class are also tax cuts for the rich

I think people are actually quite confused about how the tax cuts work. So here's Annie Lowrey*: Pop quiz. Say you make a steady $250,001, every year. How many dollars of additional income tax will you pay if the Obama...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 12:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Taxes  
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The White House vs. the insurers

On Wednesday, President Obama will deliver a speech defending the health-care bill and touting its early achievements: Insurers can no longer discriminate against children for preexisting conditions and they have to let them remain on their parents' insurance until...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 11:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (93)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Want to know more about lame-duck sessions?

Norm Ornstein's got you covered: Lame duck sessions are commonplace, with 17 having been held from 1940 through 2008—or one after every two elections. To be sure, some were pro forma and accomplished little; others were targeted on a...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 10:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Congress  
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We're all HuffPost now

I'm a big fan of the new Bloomberg Businessweek, so I subscribe to their RSS feed of popular articles. Among today's entries? "When It Comes to Casual Sex, Men Aren't So Picky." And right after that? "Casual Sex Doesn't Cause...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 10:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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The rich are not bad. Just rich.

Here's a riddle: Todd Henderson's household makes north of $400,000 in a city where the median household income is $46,748. Yet Henderson says his family is "just getting by despite seeming to be rich." How can this be? The...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
Categories:  Inequality, Taxes  
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(Insurance) markets in everything

Now that we're all used to pre-nups, it's time to start thinking about divorce insurance: Ever had that sinking feeling that the person your friend is marrying is perfectly awful? Of course not, because you love everyone. But should it...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 9:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Wonkbook: WH plans health reform push; Fed likely to delay; BP well dead

Ding-dong, BP's well is dead. Or, at the least, sealed with cement plugs. Tests conducted Sunday affirmed that the "bottom kill" will hold, and thus that particular danger is over. Now there's just the long period of clean-up and...

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 6:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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