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Ezra Klein: October 10, 2010 - October 16, 2010

Reconciliation

Recap: Four ways to help homeowners; Treasury's response; and Ben Bernanke answered half the question. Elsewhere: 1) How Wall Street made Christine O'Donnell. 2) James Fallows on the RMB. 3) Dems try to connect the Chamber of Commerce to the...

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 6:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Mitch Daniels and the complicated relationship between conservatives and intellectuals

Last night, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels received the Hudson Institute's Herman Kahn Award. It was a friendly audience for Daniels, who ran Hudson before running for office, and for his 2012 ambitions. (One of the other people sitting at...

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 6:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  2012 Presidential  
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The constitutionality of the individual mandate, cont'd

Reader JB responds to Bill Dailey's defense of the Supreme Court's impartiality: I had a professor in law school who one day handed out the text of a law, and a description of a situation. He gave the class a...

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 5:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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The Treasury's defense of HAMP

My column this morning was not kind toward the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. When officials from Treasury called to press their case, I suggested a Q&A format so that you all could hear their argument. The participants were...

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 4:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Housing Crisis, Interviews  
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Dissents: The constitutionality of the individual mandate

Bill Daley, a visiting associate professor at Notre Dame Law School, e-mailed this reply to my earlier comments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. I'll respond in a subsequent post. As an aside, I try to read the comments,...

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 3:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Stop whining

I'm much closer to Ross Douthat's view of the White House than, well, the White House's view of the White House....

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 3:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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(Late) lunch break

Ze Frank does TED! Man, I really miss this guy's show. I tend to think of lunch breaks as pretty optional entertainment. And, technically, this one is to do. This blog does not have the power of coercion. But it's...

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 2:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Bernanke answers half the question

With both employment and inflation far undershooting the Fed's targets this year, the big question has been whether the central bank will act. Today, at a monetary conference in Boston, Ben Bernanke offered a partial answer. The Federal Reserve...

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 11:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Steve Jobs: Minimalist

How Steve Jobs thinks: What makes Steve’s methodology different from everyone else’s is that he always believed the most important decisions you make are not the things you do – but the things that you decide not to do. He’s...

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Column: Four ways the foreclosure mess could be used to help homeowners

If you didn't think the gods of financial crises had a sense of humor, consider that the latest economic threat is that foreclosures have largely stopped. What's next? Our (401)ks are looking too full? Although the potential for chaos...

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Articles, Housing Crisis  
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Do the polls back up the attacks on the Chamber of Commerce?

From one "Beltway inside-game commentator" to another: No, the attacks on the Chamber of Commerce aren't helping Democrats in the election. A MoveOn.org poll showing that voters respond negatively when asked, "If a candidate is backed by anonymous or corporate...

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 10:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 10:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Why clean-energy funding is politically easier than cap-and-trade

Dave Roberts didn't like my piece on clean energy funding as the next and likeliest strategy for climate policy. His argument rests on my contention that the politics of funding clean energy are better than the politics of taxing dirty...

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Wonkbook: Health-care challenge boosted; helping homeowners; House looks at Social Security supplement

In Florida, Judge Roger Vinson has decided to let the case against health-care reform go forward. His ruling was only about whether the states have the "standing" to bring the case to court, but he also admonished the Obama...

By Ezra Klein  | October 15, 2010; 6:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: A cheat sheet on how the stimulus actually spent its money; a question about the markets and the foreclosure crisis; and Dean Baker is optimistic, for once. Elsewhere: 1) Posts I want to respond to tomorrow, Part 1: David...

By Ezra Klein  | October 14, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Dean Baker: 'This isn’t going to be TARP II'

I was talking to the Center for Economic and Policy Research's Dean Baker about the foreclosure mess earlier today, and he was notably less concerned than some of the other voices I've featured on the blog. "The idea that it’ll...

By Ezra Klein  | October 14, 2010; 4:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Housing Crisis  
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Nancy Pelosi's problem

If Democrats get wiped out in this election, it'll be because the base stayed home. And the conventional wisdom on the base's apathy is that they've had to compromise too much, swallow their pride too often. They lost the public...

By Ezra Klein  | October 14, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Didn't the stimulus take care of our infrastructure needs?

The main objection I've been hearing in response to my columns on the need for more infrastructure spending is that the stimulus was supposed to have handled all of this for us and the fact that it didn't shows...

By Ezra Klein  | October 14, 2010; 1:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (40)
Categories:  Stimulus  
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Lunch Break

This lecture is about changing education, though I continue to think that what's really revolutionary about it is the animated medium in which it's delivered:...

By Ezra Klein  | October 14, 2010; 1:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Arguments that would've confused our ancestors

McDonald's is currently trying to convince people that its burgers can, in fact, grow mold. This is considered a selling point, at least in the modern world. Photo credit: Jeff Chiu/AP....

By Ezra Klein  | October 14, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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'A plan and a dream'

This Kenyan man has no background in aviation or engineering. But he's always loved planes. And after spending months researching on the internet, he's trying to build one in his yard. The test flight is scheduled for next week. James...

By Ezra Klein  | October 14, 2010; 12:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Why don't the markets care about the foreclosure crisis?

The foreclosure mess really looks pretty bad. Here's one vision of the worst-case, bad-case and even not-so-bad scenarios. They're all grim. Here's a "doomsday scenario." The words "TARP" and "two" are getting thrown around a lot, and congressmen are musing...

By Ezra Klein  | October 14, 2010; 11:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (43)
Categories:  Housing Crisis  
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Life expectancy in the United States

You may have heard that if you take out infant mortality, car accidents, murders and suicides, life expectancy in the United States looks pretty good compared with other developed nations. It isn't true....

By Ezra Klein  | October 14, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Steve Pearlstein: 'It's better to take the pain and move on with it'

Yesterday, my colleague Steve Pearlstein wrote a case for wage cuts. Matt Yglesias responded here. Pearlstein asked me to post this reply: Matt has it exactly right. If we are going to live within our means as a country, there's...

By Ezra Klein  | October 14, 2010; 9:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Bad news -- and good news -- on education policy

Kevin Drum speaks some hard truths on education and poverty policy: I'm going to get the ed people mad at me again -- and I guess I'll add the poverty people too this time -- but I continue to think...

By Ezra Klein  | October 14, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Education  
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Wonkbook: Regulators push foreclosure fixes for banks -- but what will homeowners get?

It's becoming clearer that the foreclosure mess is likely to require some sort of federal response. In a good scenario, agencies like Fannie and Freddie can simply take of this on their own. In a bad scenario, where investors...

By Ezra Klein  | October 14, 2010; 6:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: What to do about state pensions; part two of my interview with Steve Rattner; and the next hope for slowing climate change. Elsewhere: 1) Peter Baker catches President Obama in a reflective and self-critical mood. 2)Starbucks decides to focus...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 6:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Stopping climate change 2.0

I've spent the past few weeks gathering string on a column about the best strategies for addressing climate change without a carbon price. Unfortunately for me, David Leonhardt wrote that exact column today. Fortunately for you, he did a...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Send food -- and management textbooks

Ray Fisman summarizes recent research showing that management consultants can help companies in developing nations make huge productivity gains: In an earlier study, Bloom worked with a pair of London School of Economics researchers to conduct a worldwide survey of...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Economics  
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Rattner: 'GM and Chrysler deserved to go bankrupt'

America's auto industry seems healthy today. Sales are up, and so are profits. GM is readying an IPO. "An apology is due to Barack Obama," wrote the Economist, which opposed the government's intervention into the automobile market. "His takeover...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 3:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Financial Crisis, Interviews  
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The failure of conservative elites

There's been an interesting conversation happening about why the GOP is the only major right-of-center political party that doubts the science behind global warming. See Ron Brownstein and Bill McKibben's contributions, and then read this take from Ross Douthat, which...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 2:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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When Twitter met Washington

Twitter CEO Biz Stone explains why he bought a suit and came to the Capitol: Twitter executives did a meet-and-greet with federal lawmakers in recent months because they wanted to establish a good relationship with politicians when the company is...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 2:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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The same economic problems all the way through

As some of my recent posts suggest, I've been spending more time lately looking into state and local finances. And what's really amazing is how, well, familiar it all seems. The federal government is facing a short-term economic problem driven...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 1:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  states  
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Lunch break

If you liked the Insane Clown Posse profile I linked earlier, you need to see the "SNL" parody: "Are children small or are they just far away?" These are the great questions of our time....

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 1:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Joe Manchin and the liberal brand

This post by Jonathan Chait is, somewhat inadvertently, an interesting commentary on the upsides and downsides of maintaining a strong party brand. Chait is looking at the West Virginia Senate race, where the Democratic nominee is Joe Manchin, the...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  2010 Midterms, Democrats  
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Chef salaries in one graph

Chowhound took data from StarChefs.com's 2009 salary survey and pulled together this graph comparing the effective hourly wage of chefs de cuisine -- that is, the No. 2 chef at nice restaurants -- with the pay of a bus driver...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 11:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs, Food  
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Barney Frank, Ron Paul and 55 others advocate for defense cuts

Later today, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Ron Paul and 55 congressional co-signers are sending a letter to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform advocating defense cuts. The letter is good not just on cuts, but on theory: It's...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 10:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Budget  
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Public service announcement

This profile of the newly evangelical Insane Clown Posse is amazing. That is all....

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 10:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Want to read political scientists forecasting the midterm elections?

The political science journal PS (can you guess what it stands for?) solicited a number of articles forecasting the coming election and kindly left them outside the paywall. Read them here. James Campbell's survey notes that if you tally together...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Political Science  
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What to do about state pensions

Yesterday's post on state pension plans emphasized the problems with spinning the state fiscal crunch into a morality tale of greedy public employees and weak-kneed state legislators. That's useful for Republicans who want to score some points against unions, but...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 9:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Budget, states  
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Bills that Obama signed into law yesterday

H.R. 2923, the “Combat Methamphetamine Enhancement Act of 2010,” which requires retail sellers of products containing pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine that are precursors for methamphetamine to submit to the Department of Justice a self-certification that includes a statement that the...

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Wonkbook: Drilling ban lifted; Fed minutes hint at action; FinReg's first legal challenge

After prolonged pressure from both industry and Gulf region politicians, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced yesterday that the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling has been lifted. Environmentalists are not happy, but budget wonks might approve: This means that Sen....

By Ezra Klein  | October 13, 2010; 6:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The liberal "brand" doesn't matter; an interview with Steve Rattner; and some real talk about state pensions. 1) An amazing battle between stick figures. 2) John Carney is not impressed by Rattner's attack on Sheila Bair. 3) Michael Tomasky's...

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 7:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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How much can we blame on state pensions?

Wondering why New Jersey isn't finishing its much-needed commuter tunnel to New York? Easy, says David Brooks. Blame public employees, their pensions and their pay. "States across the nation will be paralyzed for the rest of our lives because they...

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
Categories:  Budget  
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Study: Immigration helps, offshoring doesn't hurt

“Immigration, Offshoring and American Jobs,” by Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, Giovanni Peri and Greg C. Wright: How many "American jobs" are taken away from US-born workers due to immigration and offshoring? Or is it possible, instead, that immigration and offshoring, by...

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 3:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Rattner: 'This is how Congress keeps their foot on the neck of the executive branch'

America's auto industry seems healthy today. Sales are up, and so are profits. GM is readying an IPO. "An apology is due to Barack Obama," wrote the Economist, which opposed the government's intervention into the automobile market. "His takeover...

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 3:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Interviews, Obama administration  
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Diamond and Kroszner

According to the New York Times, Republicans are blocking Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond's nomination to the Federal Reserve Board "in retaliation for a refusal by Democrats to give a full 14-year term to Randall S. Kroszner, who served on...

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 1:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Lunch break

Melinda Gates on what nonprofits can learn from Coca-Cola:...

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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'I've already considered that idea and rejected it'

If "Overhaul," Steve Rattner's book on the auto rescue, has a hero, it's Larry Summers. Summers comes across pragmatic, decisive and fair. Rattner -- who tears into other officials, notably Sheila Bair -- says his discussions with Summers "were the...

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 11:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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'Illegal immigrants'

Over the years, I've gotten a lot of criticism for preferring the term "illegal immigrants" rather than embracing "undocumented immigrants," or something similar. Nicole at PostBourgie explains my thinking better than I could: For the record, I don’t like the...

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Immigration  
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Debunking myths about Canadian health care

Are Canadians flooding into the United States to get better health care? No. Are Canadian doctors immigrating to the United States to work for our health-care system? No....

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 10:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Health of Nations  
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

The Democrats' attack on foreign campaign contributions is pretty much bunk. The Chamber of Commerce, like many large organizations with an international presence, takes in money overseas. It also spends money here. That does not mean it spends foreign...

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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The irrelevance of the liberal 'brand'

There is perhaps no surer signal that Democrats are about to suffer a terrific defeat than to see liberals begin discussing how to define, redefine, or otherwise burnish their "brand." So far as I'm concerned, this falls firmly in the...

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 9:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Political Science  
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Messynomics

Justin Fox says that yesterday's Nobel Prize is part of a longer trend in which the Nobel committee has stopped rewarding economists who make the world look elegant and begun favoring economists who prove that the world is messy: Diamond...

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 9:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Economics  
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Wonkbook: WH infrastructure report; Diamond's Nobel (and Shelby's response); admin opposes foreclosure moratorium

President Obama renewed his call for increased infrastructure spending yesterday, making the case both in public remarks and in a report (pdf) released by the Council of Economic Advisers. The report's argument, by this time, will be familiar to...

By Ezra Klein  | October 12, 2010; 6:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Column: Where to find the next Facebook

"The idea of the lone genius who has the eureka moment where they suddenly get a great idea that changes the world is not just the exception, but almost nonexistent," says Steven Johnson, author of "Where Good Ideas Come...

By Ezra Klein  | October 11, 2010; 4:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Articles  
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Will our fiscal crisis save the planet?

Donald Marron thinks that the likeliest path to a carbon tax -- or a cap-and-trade program -- is as a fix to our budget woes: Perhaps the environmental community should make common cause with the budget worrywarts. In principle, a...

By Ezra Klein  | October 11, 2010; 3:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Greg Mankiw's tax bill

There's a lot wrong with this Greg Mankiw article on taxes. Most of the really egregious bits are summed up by Kevin Drum, but there are a few he doesn't mention. It's important, first, to understand that Mankiw is comparing...

By Ezra Klein  | October 11, 2010; 3:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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Lunch break

Speaking of infrastructure, this time-lapse video of a building being demolished and reconstructed over three years is very cool: 3 Years At The Same Place (english version) from Ramon on Vimeo....

By Ezra Klein  | October 11, 2010; 1:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Footnote of the day

We called Senator Coburn's Washington office to find out his annual operating budget. His assistant revealed that Coburn's office has an estimated annual budget of $3 million, and that none of that recurrent funding has led to a cure for...

By Ezra Klein  | October 11, 2010; 12:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Infrastructure: The right jobs for the right people doing the right things at the right time

The Council of Economic Advisers has a report (pdf) out today making the case for more infrastructure investment. Most of the arguments will be familiar to folks who read last week's column on the subject, but the CEA presses one...

By Ezra Klein  | October 11, 2010; 11:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (69)
Categories:  Infrastructure  
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Column: An ugly word for an ugly economy

You may not know the term "hysteresis." It's the "lagging of an effect behind its cause," and it's an ugly word that sounds like a foot fungus. It's also an ugly thing to have happen to your economy. And...

By Ezra Klein  | October 11, 2010; 11:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Articles, Charts and Graphs, Economy  
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Shooting it while it's down

Cap-and-trade has been dead for months, but that didn't stop West Virginia governor (and Senate candidate) Joe Manchin from shooting it -- yes, with a gun -- in his latest ad: In case you were wondering, Manchin is the Democrat...

By Ezra Klein  | October 11, 2010; 10:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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How to raise revenues without raising taxes

Donald Marron -- as summarized by Pete Davis -- has some ideas: 1. Increase economic growth. Each percentage point of addition growth would add approximately $2.5 trillion to federal revenues over the next decade. That's real growth. A point of...

By Ezra Klein  | October 11, 2010; 10:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Where was Wonkbook?

There was some confusion over this, so just for the record, Wonkbook takes federal holidays off. Blogging will also be a bit slow today, or at least end earlier than usual....

By Ezra Klein  | October 11, 2010; 9:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Peter Diamond wins the Nobel Prize, continues being blocked by the Senate

For months now, Sen. Richard Shelby has been blocking the nomination of economist Peter Diamond to join the board of the Federal Reserve. "I do not believe he’s ready to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board," Shelby said,...

By Ezra Klein  | October 11, 2010; 9:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (108)
 
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