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Ezra Klein: October 24, 2010 - October 30, 2010

Reconciliation

Recap: Not enough economic growth in Q3; what the GDP numbers tell us about the election; and six things Obama has done wrong. 1) Immigration reform isn't an obvious political winner for Democrats, and that's particularly true amid 10 percent...

By Ezra Klein  | October 29, 2010; 7:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Raising the retirement age is a bad idea

When people talk about "raising the retirement age," they normally mean raising the "full-retirement age." That means the age where you get what Social Security calls "full benefits." Right now, it's about 66. But most people don't retire at...

By Ezra Klein  | October 29, 2010; 5:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Social Security  
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Six things Obama has done wrong

I spend a lot of time on this blog tussling with some of the less-satisfying critiques of the Obama administration. But it's also worth looking back over the last two years and asking what they could've done better. A...

By Ezra Klein  | October 29, 2010; 4:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  | October 29, 2010; 3:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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What the GDP numbers tell us about the election

Today's GDP numbers are a good way to understand Tuesday's election. Start with who Barack Obama isn't: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. You hear people say that if Obama could only sell his vision, his agenda or his commitments the way...

By Ezra Klein  | October 29, 2010; 3:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Lunch Break

D.C. chef Barton Seaver wants us to get smart about sustainable seafood:...

By Ezra Klein  | October 29, 2010; 1:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Reports from beyond

Jon Cohn reports from an alternative universe in which President Obama skipped health-care reform. I wonder if it's the same alternative universe I visited back in August?...

By Ezra Klein  | October 29, 2010; 12:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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The rich aren't like you and me

They move around to dodge taxes: The Stones are famously tax-averse. I broach the subject with Keith [Richards] in Camp X-Ray, as he calls his backstage lair. There is incense in the air and Ronnie Wood drifts in and out...

By Ezra Klein  | October 29, 2010; 10:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Is Obama anti-business?

Kevin Drum weighs in: What's remarkable about all this is that Obama is, patently, not anti-business. All of the corporate complaints above, when you dig an inch below the surface, amount to lashing out at phantasms. However, although Obama isn't...

By Ezra Klein  | October 29, 2010; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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GDP growth not good enough in Q3

I'm trying to find an elegant way to say GDP growth sucked in the third quarter. Maybe "GDP growth modestly underperformed hopes that it would be about 250 percent faster?" Or how about, "GDP growth was very naught in the...

By Ezra Klein  | October 29, 2010; 10:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Where the recovery will come from

This was in Wonkbook, but I want to emphasize it again: Profits have surged 62 percent from the start of 2009 to mid-2010, according to the Commerce Department. That is faster than any other year and a half in the...

By Ezra Klein  | October 29, 2010; 9:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Wonkbook: Bernanke backs fiscal stimulus; corporate profits at record highs; Volcker rule battle

According to the New York Times' Sewell Chan, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke wants more fiscal stimulus. Which is no surprise, as the case for more stimulus is, if anything, even stronger than the case for more monetary action, and...

By Ezra Klein  | October 29, 2010; 6:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Should we get rid of the corporate income tax?

The Obama administration is gearing up to overhaul the corporate income tax by lowering rates but cracking down on loopholes that allow offshore sheltering of profits. Megan McArdle argues that liberals should want to scrap the tax altogether, and tax the people corporate profits go to, rather than the corporations themselves:

By Dylan Matthews  | October 28, 2010; 4:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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The end of the old bulls

According to Politico, if the GOP takes the House, the party isn't going to decide committee chairmanship based on seniority: If Republicans win the House, all but a few of of the two dozen GOP chairmen will be first-timers with...

By Ezra Klein  | October 28, 2010; 11:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Ain't no such thing as half-way panderers

It's somewhat funny that Obama's comments at yesterday's blogger meeting haven't gotten more attention, given that he as much as said that he'll come out in favor of marriage equality at some point in the future. Here's the money graph:

By Dylan Matthews  | October 28, 2010; 11:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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The limits of filibuster reform

By Dylan Matthews Obama has expressed his frustration with the filibuster before, but he seems to amping up his criticism. He brought it up twice yesterday, first at a meeting with liberal bloggers ("the damage that the filibuster I think...

By Dylan Matthews  | October 28, 2010; 11:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Congress  
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Don't touch the deductions

I'm a fan of phasing out or paring back both the mortgage-interest deduction and the tax exclusion for employer-based health care, so I've been encouraged by reports that the President's Fiscal Commission is seriously examining both. Economist Robert Shapiro, however,...

By Ezra Klein  | October 28, 2010; 11:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Our sensitive corporate overlords

I was pretty excited to read John Gapper's column on President Obama's demonstrated loathing of big business. A lot of the people I know have been asking why Obama hasn't been much more unfriendly to big business -- bailouts, tax...

By Ezra Klein  | October 28, 2010; 10:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Evening in the bond market, morning in America?

This is the most encouraging economic news I've heard in a while....

By Ezra Klein  | October 28, 2010; 10:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Are campaigns and donors fooling themselves?

By Dylan Matthews Thanks to Ezra for having me. It's good to be back posting, and yes, I will graph things if you ask nicely.  Brian Palmer has a useful explainer over at Slate looking at academic studies evaluating the...

By Dylan Matthews  | October 28, 2010; 9:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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What would the 2010 election look like without health-care reform?

Josh Kraushaar makes the case that health-care reform is a primary, not secondary, cause of Democratic distress in this election cycle. He marshals some persuasive evidence (though today's Politico disagrees that Democrats who opposed health-care reform are in good shape),...

By Ezra Klein  | October 28, 2010; 9:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (45)
Categories:  2010 Midterms, Health Reform  
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Programming note

I've got some travel today, so my blogging is unfortunately dependent on WiFi and layovers. Dylan Matthews, however, will be pitching in. Ask him to graph stuff!...

By Ezra Klein  | October 28, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Wonkbook: 57% worry about mortgage; midterm might cost $4 billion; to triangulate or not to triangulate?

What's amazing -- and, for the Democrats, terrifying -- isn't just that 57 percent of Americans are "somewhat" or "very" concerned about making their next mortgage payment. It's that two years ago, when the macroeconomy was in worse shape, that...

By Ezra Klein  | October 28, 2010; 5:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: A great graphic matching deficits to economic growth; introducing the "climate hawks"; and some insight into the type of Speaker John Boehner will -- or at least wants -- to be. Elsewhere: 1) Nate Silver on his House projections....

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 6:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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How much bad press can $100 million buy?

I'd assumed the slight deterioration in health-care reform's poll numbers since June was part and parcel of the deterioration in the Democrats' position since June, and the deterioration in perceptions that the economy is recovering. But Greg Sargent catches a...

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 4:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Divided government and deficits in one graph

From Alicia Parlapiano, one of the Post's graphics wizards: What you're seeing there is that it's not the composition of the government, but the growth of the economy, that drives the deficit. Wide gaps open up during the 1973, 1981,...

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 3:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Budget, Charts and Graphs  
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What kind of speaker will John Boehner be?

At this point, I'd say it's extremely likely that Republicans will win the House, and if they do that, it's similarly likely that John Boehner will become speaker. So what sort of speaker will he be? Paul Kane's interview...

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 3:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Congress  
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Why we needed health-care reform, in one graph

That's health-care coverage in every OECD nation -- all 33 of them -- from the ’90s till today. It's really hard to see about 29 of them. That's because they're all clustered at the top, which means pretty much...

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 2:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs  
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Lunch break

In 2001, Bill O'Reilly interviewed the Insane Clown Posse. Hilarity -- and some serious discussions bout drugs and kids -- ensued and, in 2010, YouTube noticed:...

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 12:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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How much inflation is the market expecting?

You may have noticed some talk in recent days about Treasury selling inflation-protected bonds at a negative yield. This talk may have made your eyes glaze over. The short version is that it means investors think the Federal Reserve will...

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 11:10 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Handicapping the deficit under divided government, cont'd

John Sides tracks down a political science paper testing the effect of divided government on state deficits from 1968 to 1987. The answer? It made it worse, because the parties had more difficulty coordinating on unpopular choices and voters were...

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 10:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Great moments in apologies

I'm sorry if you, or anyone else, took offense when I had no choice but to stomp on your head while you lay defenseless on the ground....

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 10:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Climate hawks

David Roberts has been trying to popularize the term "climate hawk," and he's got me -- and others -- convinced. Here's how Matthew Yglesias describes it: What’s a climate hawk? Well of course much like a deficit hawk or a...

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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How should we think about bad poll numbers for good bills?

If you were going to wring the mockery and hypocrisy out of David Brooks's column yesterday and extract a serious critique from it, I think it would be this: Should public disapproval of a piece of legislation force its...

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 10:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Polls  
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Wonkbook: What matters for jobs; the Tea Parties vs. the appropriators; would more stimulus have saved the Dems?

If you ask most candidates or political consultants what this election is about, they'll say "jobs." If you ask them what the next Congress will actually do about jobs -- no matter who wins -- they'll get rather quiet....

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 6:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Handicapping the deficit under divided government; the problems with a small-tent strategy; and David Brooks vs. David Brooks. Elsewhere: 1) What will happen after the election. 2) Isn't it a bit early for the "this time, we really could...

By Ezra Klein  | October 26, 2010; 6:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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David Brooks didn't always dismiss policy achievements

David Brooks has a sharp column today mocking Democrats for being proud of their accomplishments despite facing a loss at the polls. He also had a sharp column in 2005 criticizing Republicans for accomplishing nothing despite having just won a...

By Ezra Klein  | October 26, 2010; 4:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Quantitative electioneering

Dan Gross wants to see us holding elections every year, or maybe every two years. But it's not because of the salutary effect they have on democracy. It's because of the stimulative effect they have on the economy: Every four...

By Ezra Klein  | October 26, 2010; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Should Democrats adopt a small-tent strategy?

When I heard that Ari Berman's book on the Democratic Party would come out quite awhile after the 2008 election, I felt bad for him: By that time, I figured, there wouldn't be particularly large intra-Democratic arguments. I was...

By Ezra Klein  | October 26, 2010; 2:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
Categories:  Democrats  
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Lunch break

I think one of the more interesting technological trends in the next couple of decades will be watching places like India and China reverse=engineer high-cost innovations that we take for granted in the West into low-cost forms that people can...

By Ezra Klein  | October 26, 2010; 12:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Half of all doctors using electronic records, most of the rest considering it

One of the stimulus's lesser-known but more-important efforts was the massive push to get doctors to use electronic medical records. The legislation included $20 billion to help them and, perhaps more importantly, penalties -- in the form of a cut...

By Ezra Klein  | October 26, 2010; 11:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Can the market trust gradual deficit reduction?

There's a critique of the Affordable Care Act that argues that it doesn't save money. This critique is wrong. It doesn't save money if the bill is changed and its cost controls are repealed. But as written, our best estimate...

By Ezra Klein  | October 26, 2010; 11:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Budget, Health Reform  
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Handicapping the deficit under divided government

If Republicans take the House, how much likelier is a full extension of the Bush tax cuts? I'd say the odds that the cuts for income over $250,000 remain in place for at least a few more years go...

By Ezra Klein  | October 26, 2010; 10:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
Categories:  2010 Midterms, Budget  
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More storm clouds for Democrats

And I mean that literally....

By Ezra Klein  | October 26, 2010; 9:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Can you see the messaging effect?

Over the past month or two, Democrats tried a variety of new messaging strategies to shake up the election. President Obama became, at least for a time, more partisan and confrontational in an effort to fire up the base. Secret...

By Ezra Klein  | October 26, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Wonkbook: Election tops $2 billion; divided gov. does not mean deficit reduction; market believes in inflation

We're one week out from the election, and divided government seems a serious possibility. The optimistic spin on that goes something like this: Remember the 90s? Democrats and Republicans didn't like each other, per se, but they came together...

By Ezra Klein  | October 26, 2010; 5:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The case against giving multinational corporations a tax holiday (and a dissent); the most devastating ad of the season; and White House economists hate the penny. Elsewhere: 1) America's confused attitudes toward inequality. 2) Brad DeLong vs. Joe Stiglitz....

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 6:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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The money problem

EJ Dionne is really eloquent on the flood of anonymous, corporate cash that's flooded the final days of the election. And though I'm not sure how much this money matters -- the political science on the question is mixed, and...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 5:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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This might be the most devastating ad of the election

And it's mostly a positive ad! Nicely done, Brown campaign. And if you want a more substantive take on Brown, see this profile by John Judis....

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 2:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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The problem with charity

Donations to private charities fell by 11 percent last year. That's the steepest one-time drop in 20 years, and it came, of course, just as the need for the services that those charities provide exploded. Charity is counter-cyclical. When the...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 2:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Remembering Paul Wellstone, cont'd

I'm not the only young person Wellstone inspired to go into politics. A reader writes in to tell of the impact Wellstone had on her career choices -- even after his death: By the time I started college in Minnesota...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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The scariest sentence I've read today

There are no chain grocery stores in all of Detroit. And here's the runner-up: As a reporter, I've worked from New York to St. Louis to Los Angeles, and Detroit is the only big city I know of that doesn't...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 12:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Why it gets better

When the 'It Gets Better' project began, I, like many others, thought it was a beautiful idea and watched many of the videos. But it wasn't really for me: I'm not gay, and so couldn't say much about the experience...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 12:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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Dissents: Why we should give multinationals a tax holiday

My post criticizing a "repatriation holiday" -- a limited period in which multinational corporations who bring overseas income back into the United States would get a big tax break -- channeled a lot of the economists I've talked to about...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 12:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Amber waves of exports

There are (at least) two major forces affecting agriculture right now. First, China, India and other populous, developing nations need more food. Second, drought has destroyed crops in competitor countries such as Russia and Ukraine. Both of these forces,...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Food  
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How to make a penny, cont'd

The comments to Friday's graphic on the many steps -- and two cents -- needed to mint a single penny included this gem: That diagram is missing a few very important steps outside of the manufacturing process, most notably the...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 11:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Remembering Paul Wellstone

Sen. Paul Wellstone died eight years ago today. He was one of the first politicians I ever met, and one the people who inspired me to go into politics. On the fifth anniversary of his death, I wrote a remembrance...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 10:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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An exciting post about taxing multinational corporations!

There's a fair amount of talk right now about a "repatriation holiday," which is a term just boring enough to keep anyone from paying attention. When you hear it, the words you should be hearing are "massive corporate-tax break that...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 10:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Save the spambots, save the world

Or at least blog comment sections....

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 9:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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What life will look like if Republicans win the House, Part III

Environmental edition: Right now, Lisa Jackson's EPA is the country's last defense against endlessly rising carbon emissions. Thanks to a 2007 Supreme Court decision, the agency is supposed to start regulating greenhouse gases as soon as next year. That's not...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 9:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Orszag's malpractice proposal, cont'd

A reader who researches health-care policy questions e-mailed to say he was not impressed by Peter Orszag's proposal to develop "best practices" checklists and then protect doctors who follow them from medical-malpractice lawsuits. The problem, he said, is that we've...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Wonkbook: TARP firms favoring GOP; fiscal commissions hits tax deductions; Christina Romer warns against deficit reduction

On Sunday, I rewatched an old episode of the West Wing. "Enemies Foreign and Domestic," it was called, and one of the subplots involved a computer-chip manufacturer who'd just discovered a serious defect. The company was doing the right...

By Ezra Klein  | October 25, 2010; 5:54 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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