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Ezra Klein: November 7, 2010 - November 13, 2010

Why bipartisan health-care reform has proven impossible

"Every time we moved toward them, they would move away." -- Hillary Clinton, 1995. As an addendum to the previous post, it's worth thinking about partisanship and health-care reform not in terms of President Obama, but in terms of...

By Ezra Klein  | November 12, 2010; 7:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (43)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Obama's moderate health-care law

Over on the Twitter machine, I linked to this Matt Yglesias post noting that President Obama appointed a fairly conservative (which is not the same as partisan) Republican and a fairly conservative Democrat to co-chair the deficit commission. It's almost...

By Ezra Klein  | November 12, 2010; 6:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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If Texas dropped out of Medicaid, ctd.

Reihan Salam responds to my post on Texas Medicaid, arguing that conservative states that ditched the program wouldn't just leave poor Texans to fend for themselves in emergency rooms. Rather, he writes, "states that opt out of Medicaid could, and...

By Suzy Khimm  | November 12, 2010; 3:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Why wait to seat the new Congress?

I quoted it in this morning's Wonkbook, but Bruce Ackerman's op-ed calling for legislation to abolish the lame-duck session of Congress seems a little funny to me. It would make a lot more sense to just inaugurate members of Congress...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 12, 2010; 3:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  2010 Midterms, Congress, Government  
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The Simpson-Bowles plan for capping stuff

If you really get into the guts of the Simpson-Bowles deficit plan, what you'll find are a lot of caps. Most of the early savings come from a cap on discretionary spending that "rolls discretionary spending back to FY2010...

By Ezra Klein  | November 12, 2010; 12:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Budget  
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The 21st-century retreat from public higher education

One striking thing about the current global recession, a crisis that has hit those in the United States with weaker education backgrounds much harder than others, is that one response has been the massive retrenchment, austerity and abandonment of the...

By Michael Konczal  | November 12, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Social Security, ctd

Megan McArdle offers a reply to my concerns about our paternalistic treatment of future obligations that I like a lot. There are at least two important points. The first is essentially that paternalism is unavoidable. Even when provided with all...

By Karl Smith  | November 12, 2010; 9:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Wonkbook: Liberals push on taxes; G-20 agreement; Korea trade deal fails

President Obama speaks during a news conference at the G-20 Summit in Seoul. (Reuters) Top Stories Liberal activists are pushing the White House to not compromise on extending the Bush tax cuts, reports Perry Bacon: "Liberal groups have blasted...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 12, 2010; 9:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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California vs. Texas: The Jekyll and Hyde of health-care reform

So Texas is making noises about ditching Medicaid, but on the other end of the spectrum, some blue states are rushing to embrace the program's expansion under the federal health-care reform law as quickly as possible. Take California, for example:...

By Suzy Khimm  | November 11, 2010; 6:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  California, Government, Health, Health Coverage, Health Reform, Obama administration, states  
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Waldman on the technocrats

These two posts by Steve Randy Waldman, “Tragedy of the technocrats” and “Moral heuristics, public policy, and self-defeating tribalism,” are well worth your time. In them, Steve describes how those on the liberal side of the economic wonk space concede the moral language, preferring to stay within models and numbers. This creates a blind spot to our thoughts that ultimately leaves the other side to win those debates by default ("[E]ven in a challenging landscape it is

By Mike Konczal  | November 11, 2010; 6:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Speaking with Greg Anrig about the chairman's mark

In order to better understand the chairman’s mark on deficit reduction released yesterday, I spoke with Greg Anrig, vice president of policy and programs at the Century Foundation. What follows is a transcript of our conversation, slightly edited for length....

By Michael Konczal  | November 11, 2010; 2:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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How Joe Lieberman helped the Democrats lose the election

Since the election, there's been a lot of talk about what President Obama and the Democratic leadership could've done differently. I offered six ideas here. But there's been rather less discussion of what individual legislators could've done differently. Consider, for...

By Ezra Klein  | November 11, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (161)
Categories:  2010 Midterms, Health Reform  
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The soft paternalism of tough choices

There is a lot hand-wringing over the sustainability of Social Security. A fair bit of it is on display in the co-chairmen's proposal. However, sustainability is not really at issue. What is at issue is desirability. Social Security is a...

By Karl Smith  | November 11, 2010; 1:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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The best-laid plans

The future is not the realization of our hopes and dreams, a warning to mend our ways, an adventure to inspire us, nor a romance to touch our hearts. The future is just another place in spacetime. -- Robin...

By Karl Smith  | November 11, 2010; 10:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Banks oppose bank regulation. News at 11.

Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit has an op-ed in the Financial Times arguing that the Basel III agreement will slow aggregate demand, reduce credit availability, hurt consumers, purple monkey dishwasher. Mike and Karl are better equipped to evaluate the piece on...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 11, 2010; 10:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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But who versus?

James Fallows's cover story on clean coal in this month's Atlantic is, like everything Fallows writes, informative, smartly argued and a joy to read. That said, David Roberts raises good points about the piece's framing. The article is packaged...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 11, 2010; 9:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Wonkbook: The debt commission reports!

Former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, left, and former senator Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.), chairmen of President Obama's debt commission. (Alex Brandon/AP) Top Stories The co-chairmen of the president's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform released...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 11, 2010; 9:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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'Its like my accountant telling me how much my income should be'

Perhaps the oddest feature of the report from the co-chairs of the deficit commission is its cap on the amount of revenues the federal government can raise. It would've been one thing to propose a tax plan bringing revenues up...

By Ezra Klein  | November 10, 2010; 3:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Budget  
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There is no report from the fiscal commission

Here is the most important fact about the proposal released by the co-chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform: It is not the commission's report. And here is the second most important fact to remember: The...

By Ezra Klein  | November 10, 2010; 2:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (118)
Categories:  Budget  
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Epistemic overture

Sarah Palin looks to be on the losing end of a brawl with the Wall Street Journal. Yet, as my co-guest blogger Mike Konczal notes: Palin is a savvy reader of where the grass-roots conservative mind is going, so if...

By Karl Smith  | November 10, 2010; 2:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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The fiscal commission reports -- sort of

The fiscal commission is not going to manage to get 14 of its 18 members to agree on a plan to balance the budget, as was the original intent. That means, among other things, that it isn't assured a...

By Ezra Klein  | November 10, 2010; 1:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Budget  
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Do voters like obese candidates?

Would New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie be an electable Republican nominee? (Mel Evans/AP) Nick Baumann, Adam Serwer and our own Suzy Khimm are having a Twitter argument over whether New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- who, I agree with Ezra,...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 10, 2010; 12:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Mitch McConnell shouts from the sidelines

Attempting to make good on the GOP's threat to dismantle health-care reform, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to file a "friend of the court" brief in support of a multi-state lawsuit against the law. Politico has a copy...

By Suzy Khimm  | November 10, 2010; 11:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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On being liberal

Matt Yglesias argues that the modern left is the proper heir to Locke and Hume. There’s a commonly held view that modern day American liberals aren’t “really” liberals and that the “real” heirs of the classical liberal tradition of Hume,...

By Karl Smith  | November 10, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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The drawbacks of the GOP's all-or-nothingism on health-care reform

To this day, no one has even attempted to argue against the following claim: The health-care law that President Obama signed into law in March is similar to the law that Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts, and similar...

By Ezra Klein  | November 10, 2010; 11:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The coming right-wing front on monetary policy

In May 2010, the Maine state Republican convention produced and voted for an ultra-conservative platform ("investigate collusion between government and industry in the global warming myth, and prosecute any illegal collusion. ... Repeal and prohibit any participation in efforts...

By Michael Konczal  | November 10, 2010; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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What does Proposition 26 mean for climate change?

Given how low the chances of congressional action on climate change are now, state efforts like California's climate bill, AB 32, are going to pick up a lot of the slack. AB 32 requires the state to cut yearly emissions...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 10, 2010; 10:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Climate Change  
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Wonkbook: Tax cut compromise outline; Fed backlash; earmark battle

Sen. Kent Conrad is behind a proposed Bush tax cut compromise. (Melina Mara/TWP) Top Stories Sens. Evan Bayh and Kent Conrad have proposed a Bush tax cut compromise that's garnering GOP interest, reports John McKinnon: "Two top Senate Democrats floated...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 10, 2010; 8:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Early thoughts on Joel Klein, Cathie Black and education reform in New York York

New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein stepped down today after eight years on the job and will be replaced by Hearst chairwoman Cathie Black. In the coming days, we’ll see many assessments of Klein’s legacy; what’s clear is that...

By Dana Goldstein  | November 9, 2010; 6:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Noah Millman asks about QE2

Specifically he asks four questions: 1. If the Chinese intend to let their currency float, and if the general assumption that a free-floating Yuan would appreciate significantly against the dollar, they should probably unload their Treasury holdings first, to avoid...

By Karl Smith  | November 9, 2010; 3:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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The latest on servicing and modifications

Kevin Drum wants to know what the latest empirical work tells us about the servicer industry. Let's do this: Hot off the presses (October 2010), here's Sumit Agarwal, Gene Amromin, Itzhak Ben-David, Souphala Chomsisengphet and Douglas Evanoff on "Market-Based Loss Mitigation...

By Michael Konczal  | November 9, 2010; 1:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Mortgage-servicing conflicts baked right into the cake

Marian Wang of ProPublica combs through recent mortgage debt servicer job postings and finds things like “$10.00-$12.00/Hour. High-school education required." And that's for a “Supervisor of Foreclosure Department" position. These positions are the people who are going to determine a...

By Mike Konczal  | November 9, 2010; 12:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Why repealing the health-care law will be difficult in two charts

Health reformers were the first to experience the pain of getting specific: Their cause was popular, but their bill had its difficult parts, and as the media -- and the other side -- focused on those parts for months on...

By Ezra Klein  | November 9, 2010; 11:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Health Reform, Polls  
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Death by dichotomy

In Wall Street Journal last week, Alan Metzer claimed that Milton Friedman never would have supported quantitative easing. Yesterday Sarah Palin slammed Bernanke as well. This type of criticism is convenient for those who would like to paint our current...

By Karl Smith  | November 9, 2010; 10:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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What would Hillary have done?

Eventually, the question was going to be asked: What would Hillary have done? Dylan Matthews had some thoughts on this earlier, but I'd observe that it depends who you ask. Dana Milbank made some calls and was told HRC would've...

By Ezra Klein  | November 9, 2010; 9:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Wonkbook: Obama backs Fed; South Korea trade deal; courts block foreclosures

President Obama spoke while meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi. (Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images) Top Stories President Obama supports the Fed's quantitative easing plan, reports Neil Irwin: "Speaking at a news conference in New Delhi with Indian...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 9, 2010; 8:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Questioning 'what works'

This morning I heard a lecture by British education expert Geoff Whitty on the emerging similarities between school reform efforts in the Obama-era United States and the Cameron-era U.K., particularly around the concepts of school choice and accountability. Whitty was...

By Dana Goldstein  | November 8, 2010; 3:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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What if states ditch Medicaid?

The Medicaid expansion was meant to be one of the hallmark accomplishments of health-care reform. The Affordable Care Act will expand the program rapidly by subsidizing insurance for all Americans up to 133 percent of the poverty line, which will...

By Suzy Khimm  | November 8, 2010; 3:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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How to spend $140,000,000 on American politics

Meg Whitman's losing campaign to become governor of California cost her $140,000,000. Ouch. Matt Yglesias takes a moment to offer rich people with political ambitions some good advice: Start lower. "Self-finance a campaign for Mayor or State Treasurer or something....

By Ezra Klein  | November 8, 2010; 3:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Do deficits matter?

The short answer is yes, but more specifically, sort of. Non-economists generally think of deficits as an issue of responsibility. Deficits mean that we are living beyond our means. This is not good, as it will surely come back to...

By Karl Smith  | November 8, 2010; 3:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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The fundamentals of the economy

Via Matt Yglesias, I see that Third Way is very concerned about growth: Democrats must now invest the same passion and intellectual rigor in economic growth – the new crisis for America’s middle and working classes. For roughly 75 years,...

By Karl Smith  | November 8, 2010; 2:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Finreg futures: Three As, Volcker, Bean floated at CFPB

Three points on how the initial post-election strategy on financial reform implementation is shaping up: The GOP's Three As Approach to Regulatory Implementation I think the best summary of what tactics the GOP will use to disrupt financial reform comes...

By Mike Konczal  | November 8, 2010; 2:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Was Evan Bayh right about health reform? When?

I'm a big fan of Sen. Evan Bayh's critique of the U.S. Senate. But I'm a bit confused by his critique of the 111th Congress's accomplishments. Responding to the results of the recent midterm election, he wrote: We also overreached...

By Ezra Klein  | November 8, 2010; 1:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Why doesn’t anyone mention the proposed policy response to structural unemployment?

Speaking of Allison Schrager’s recent summary, I’m noticing everyone is name-dropping and referencing Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Narayana Kocherlakota’s argument that a skills mismatch is causing our current unemployment crisis, without mentioning his first policy response to that...

By Mike Konczal  | November 8, 2010; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Our unemployment crisis is not structural

It looks like, from here on out, there's going to be a lot of offhanded references to "structural unemployment," unemployment that demand-centered monetary and fiscal policy can't help. David Brooks is as good of a guide to what very serious...

By Michael Konczal  | November 8, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Letting it happen here

In 2001, Ben Bernanke earned the nickname Helicopter Ben, after a talk he gave at the National Economists Club. The title of the talk was “Deflation: Making Sure ‘It’ Doesn't Happen Here,” a reference to the spiral of disinflation, leading...

By Karl Smith  | November 8, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Counterfactual histories

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (Evan Vucci/AP) Dana Milbank considers how Hillary Clinton would have dealt with health-care reform: Clinton campaign advisers I spoke with say she almost certainly would have pulled the plug on comprehensive health-care reform...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 8, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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How the British feel about their socialized health-care system

Claire Rayner, one of Britain's best-loved advice columnists, died Tuesday. But before she went, she asked her son to deliver this message: "Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS, I'll come back and haunt him."...

By Ezra Klein  | November 8, 2010; 11:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Being right isn't enough

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) (Joe Koshollek/AP) The past week has seen a good number of liberal appreciations of Russ Feingold, so I was glad to see Neil Sinhababu point out that his legislative style, while pleasing to liberals, often...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 8, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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How to think about QE2

I am continually amazed at how monetary policy seems to get otherwise smart people twisted in knots. Here is the typically sharp Reihan Salam: Felix [Salmon] has written a measured post on the potential risks involved in QE2. After acknowledging...

By Karl Smith  | November 8, 2010; 10:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Economic policy affects the economy

Though I'm glad to see the president of the United States acknowledging that elections are primarily driven by economic factors, it's weird that he thinks this constitutes a defense of his administration: President Obama said in an interview broadcast Sunday...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 8, 2010; 9:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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And now, a comment on Keith Olbermann

I was flying to Spain when MSNBC suspended Keith Olbermann. And then, before I sat down to write this post, Phil Griffin, the network's president, announced that Olbermann would be returning on Tuesday. As an MSNBC contributor who frequently appears...

By Ezra Klein  | November 8, 2010; 9:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (49)
 
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Wonkbook: GOP resists compromise; regulatory failure before crisis; return of gold standard?

World governments should consider a return to the gold standard, World Bank President Robert Zoellick says. (Mark Gail/TWP) Top Stories Congressional Republicans are resistant to compromising on a Bush tax cut extension, reports Renee Schoof: "Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who's...

By Dylan Matthews  | November 8, 2010; 8:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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