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Ezra Klein: November 28, 2010 - December 4, 2010

Reconciliation

Recap: McCain and the problem of "independence"; the fiscal commission sort of succeeded; and November's job numbers were awful. Elsewhere: 1) More Eichengreen on Ireland. 2) "The women who read this statement scored significantly higher on average than other women...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 6:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Congress should pass the DREAM Act

Here's what the DREAM Act does: If you're an illegal immigrant who can show proof that you were brought to this country while still a child and have lived here since, you can apply for a "conditional" status that becomes...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 5:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (43)
Categories:  Immigration  
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A worst-of-both-worlds health system

Earlier in the week, I wrote about a report that cost controls in Medicare are driving some doctors to abandon the system and focus their efforts on patients whose insurance companies will pay them more money. The problem is that...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 5:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Medicare  
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John McCain and the perils of independence

John McCain's shameful and hypocritical performance at the hearings on "don't ask, don't tell" has sent James Fallows into another round "Whatever happened to John McCain?" How could yesterday's enlightened maverick be today's retrograde crank? The sad fall of...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 4:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Did managed care work?

The bright moment for private health care in America was the mid-1990s, when the managed care revolution tamed spending growth. Eventually, consumers got angry at HMOs and politicians browbeat them, and -- even though there was never evidence that their...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 3:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs, Health Reform  
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How does the government innovate?

Matt Continetti says that "we need to distinguish between a government that finances long-term investment and a government that finances present consumption." He identifies entitlements like Medicare and Social Security as being consumption-oriented, while things like education, infrastructure and R&D...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 2:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Lunch break

Jose Andres shows you hot to make a red paella:...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 1:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Tim Wu on net neutrality

Tim Wu is a law professor at Columbia University, author of the (excellent) new book "The Master Switch" and chairman of the board of Free Press. Oh, and he coined the term "net neutrality" in 2003. He spoke to me...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 12:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Interviews, Tech  
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The fiscal commission succeeded -- sort of

There are a few ways to look at the final vote on the Simpson-Bowles plan: One way is that the 11 votes they got is fewer than the 14 votes they needed to recommend the plan to Congress. Another...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 11:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Democrats have few options on the tax cuts -- but that's their fault

David Leonhardt makes the case that given their initial bungling on the tax cuts, Democrats have little choice but to extend them now. In part, he's right. Legislative chicken is a game of credibility: If the other side doesn't believe...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Martin Luther King Jr. on Obama and liberals

I've been pretty critical of the Obama administration over the past couple of days (see here and here, for starters). If everything plays out as I expect it will, I'll probably be pretty critical over the next couple of days,...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 10:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
 
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American misperceptions of foreign aid spending in one graph

Source....

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 9:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs  
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An ugly jobs report

The November jobs report is ugly. Last month, the jobs report showed the economy added 150,000 jobs, sparking hopes that recovery was underway. And the recent economic data had been good: Black Friday saw a lot of shoppers, and...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 9:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (125)
 
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Wonkbook: Tons o' tax cut votes; Simpson-Bowles likely to win a majority vote

When Mitch McConnell demanded that Senate Democrats bring the Bush tax cuts for a vote before moving onto other business, I don't think this is what he meant. Yesterday, House Democrats passed an extension of the Bush tax cuts...

By Ezra Klein  | December 3, 2010; 6:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The Democrats have really mucked up the tax cuts; party disunity has its benefits; and three reasons to relax -- a bit -- about the deficit. Elsewhere: 1) House Dems passed an extension of the tax cuts for income...

By Ezra Klein  | December 2, 2010; 6:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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The federal pay freeze and recruitment

The view from campus, via an e-mail I received: I'm a student at the University of Oklahoma. Today the University hosts recruiters for the U.S. State Department who come to campus to talk to students about career opportunities with the...

By Ezra Klein  | December 2, 2010; 5:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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Citizens for All That Is Good About America

Americans for America. The New Century Foundation for Progress. A Bright Future for Children and Families. PAC names are a genre unto themselves. A proud, optimistic, vapid genre that's designed to sound so much like apple pie that you never...

By Ezra Klein  | December 2, 2010; 5:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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'Chicken crap' by the numbers

Soon-to-be-House Speaker John Boehner is not happy to see the House Democrats pushing a bill that includes only the tax cuts for income under $250,000. “I’m trying to catch my breath so I don’t refer to this maneuver going...

By Ezra Klein  | December 2, 2010; 2:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (68)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Three reasons to relax -- a bit -- about the deficit

The deficit is a problem, particularly in the long term. But to listen to Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, you'd think it was going to eat your children. Tomorrow. Without cleaning up the mess. There's some deficit fear-mongering going around...

By Ezra Klein  | December 2, 2010; 2:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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The benefits of party disunity

Sen. John Cornyn's threat to leave Republican senators who vote against the earmark ban to the tender mercies of primary challengers is provoking spasms of yearning among liberals who envy that sort of party discipline. But should it? Consider this...

By Ezra Klein  | December 2, 2010; 1:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Lunch Break

Seldom is the question asked: Why not eat insects?...

By Ezra Klein  | December 2, 2010; 12:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Why did the Democrats falter on the tax cuts?

This post by Greg Sargent contains some wise words on the psychology of the Democrats: At risk of overgeneralizing, the problem isn't that Dems aren't capable of winning an argument. It's that they don't think they're capable of winning...

By Ezra Klein  | December 2, 2010; 10:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (244)
 
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Who employs economists?

We do, apparently: More than half — 53 percent — of all economists in the United States are employed by the government. (Hat tip: Catherine Rampell.)...

By Ezra Klein  | December 2, 2010; 9:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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When you've lost Barry Eichengreen ...

I really worry when Barry Eichengreen -- perhaps America's most knowledgeable economist when it comes to E.U.-related issues -- begins saying things like this: The Irish “rescue package” finalized over the weekend is a disaster. You can say one thing...

By Ezra Klein  | December 2, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Andy Stern takes on America's second deficit

"Do we really need another deficit-reduction plan?" I ask Andy Stern. I like this stuff, but even I'm getting exhausted by the endless parade of plans, each just slightly different than the last, and none with an obviously supportive...

By Ezra Klein  | December 2, 2010; 9:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Budget  
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Wonkbook: For Bush tax cuts, three more years? And FCC releases network neutrality proposal

We're fast approaching the midnight hour for the Bush tax cuts, and Congress still hasn't reached a deal. In fact, it increasingly looks like they won't really reach a deal. Instead, they'll punt: We'll see a short extension of...

By Ezra Klein  | December 2, 2010; 6:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The best and worst ideas in the fiscal commission's final report; Republicans dare Democrats to reform the filibuster; and Obama's bad poker. Elsewhere: 1) Avik Roy rounds up the fiscal commission's health-care proposals. 2) Google attacks its grifters. 3)...

By Ezra Klein  | December 1, 2010; 7:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Republicans dare Democrats to reform the filibuster

Mitch McConnell's threat to filibuster literally everything Democrats want to do until Democrats and Republicans agree to a compromise on the Bush tax cuts can be read as a power play, but it can also be read as a dare:...

By Ezra Klein  | December 1, 2010; 5:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Senate  
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Obama's bad poker

On page 116 of “The Promise,” Jonathan Alter describes President Obama's approach to the stimulus as "bad poker." "Instead of holding his cards close, and then sweetening the pot for Republicans with tax cuts in the final negotiations, [Obama]...

By Ezra Klein  | December 1, 2010; 4:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (106)
 
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Infidelity in Russia

Julia Ioffe has a fascinating article on the prevalence and increasing acceptability of infidelity in Russia: 20 years ago an affair was considered a career-wrecking scandal. But by 1998, a study showed that Russian men and women led their peers...

By Ezra Klein  | December 1, 2010; 2:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Lunch Break

How did I not know Top Chef All Stars was premiering tonight? As a preview, here's Richard Blais, who's my favorite among the contestants, preparing tofu in beef fat, which was his answer to the "perplexed tofu" challenge in season...

By Ezra Klein  | December 1, 2010; 1:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Technology matters

David Pogue runs through 10 lessons he's learned in 10 years covering technology. It's a good list, but I'd add one more: I think the cool, knowing thing is to dismiss a lot of the breathless gadget-hype out there, but...

By Ezra Klein  | December 1, 2010; 1:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Republicans give their definition of 'bipartisanship'

Here's the story of bipartisanship since the election. President Obama asked the House and Senate Republican leaders, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, to the White House on Nov. 18 to talk through a compromise on the Bush tax cuts...

By Ezra Klein  | December 1, 2010; 12:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
 
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The best and the worst of the fiscal commission's final report

We won't know until Friday whether the final proposal from Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles can attract the votes of 14 of the commission's 18 members. Right now, the outlook is doubtful. But we do have the final proposal,...

By Ezra Klein  | December 1, 2010; 10:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (77)
Categories:  Budget  
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Wonkbook: White House takes over Bush tax cuts; Senate passes food safety but rejects earmark ban; fiscal commission report coming

The outcome of yesterday's long-awaited powwow between President Obama and the Republican congressional leadership was a plan for further powwows -- these helmed by OMB director Jack Lew and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and including one negotiator from both...

By Ezra Klein  | December 1, 2010; 6:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Mitch McConnell's political psychology -- and ours; the federal-pay freeze and private-sector resentment; and why is the Obama administration making the tax cuts its problem? Elsewhere: 1) "I'm a senior at Harvard and I'm undocumented." 2) Inexpensive HDMI cables...

By Ezra Klein  | November 30, 2010; 6:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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The tax cuts vs. the pay freeze

The pay freeze for federal workers will raise about $60 billion over 10 years. It's necessary, the president said, because these are times "where all of us are called on to make some sacrifices." Contrast that with the tax cuts...

By Ezra Klein  | November 30, 2010; 3:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
 
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More meetings, more problems

In what Sam Stein calls "a classic Washington solution to an intractable political standoff," Tuesday's meeting between President Obama and the Republican congressional leadership didn't end in a deal on the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts or unemployment insurance benefits....

By Ezra Klein  | November 30, 2010; 3:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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'These people are living in a dream world'

A disgruntled private-sector worker writes in: Your disgruntled federal worker states “though the employees with advanced degrees are paid well, they could be paid a lot more working in Corporate America.” Oh yeah? Have they had a look at Corporate...

By Ezra Klein  | November 30, 2010; 2:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Lunch break

I've been thinking about Google lately, so here's an interview with one of its co-founders, Sergey Brin. He looks surprisingly like Zach Braff....

By Ezra Klein  | November 30, 2010; 12:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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What's next for WikiLeaks -- and for information

Looks like Wall Street has reason to worry: In a rare, two-hour interview conducted in London on November 11, Assange said that he’s still sitting on a trove of secret documents, about half of which relate to the private sector....

By Ezra Klein  | November 30, 2010; 12:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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Assistants and moral hazard

Speaking of Google, I've been reading Ken Auletta's history of the company, which includes this passage in which Larry Page explains why he doesn't have an assistant: "The amount of time it takes me to actually schedule is not very...

By Ezra Klein  | November 30, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Your brain -- and your search engine -- on Evernote

The declared topic of Stephen Johnson's "Where Good Ideas Come From" is innovation, and how it happens. I read the book as an investigation into how to think better, smarter and more efficiently. Saying things like "it's one of...

By Ezra Klein  | November 30, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Tech  
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Obama 'lost my vote with this move'

From a disgruntled federal worker: Government service will still be stable, though, to many, less attractive, employment after the pay freeze. But this President has lost my vote with this move. At DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) where I...

By Ezra Klein  | November 30, 2010; 10:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (172)
 
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The political psychology of Mitch McConnell -- and the rest of us

I don't think we need to get into talmudic arguments over whether, when Mitch McConnell says "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," he's implying a strategy of...

By Ezra Klein  | November 30, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Psychology  
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Wonkbook: Dem compromise would extend 90% of Bush tax cuts; food-safety bill comes to vote; federal-pay freeze

President Obama is meeting with the Republican congressional leadership today, but it's hard to imagine much progress being made at the powwow: Obama has already embraced the federal-pay freeze that the GOP was hoping to pass, congressional Democrats are...

By Ezra Klein  | November 30, 2010; 5:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The Social Security problem is a retirement-security problem; why Medicare has to be careful not to control costs much more effectively than private health care; and three ways to look at Obama's federal-pay freeze. Elsewhere: 1) Ace congressional reporter...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 7:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Checking in with health-care reform

Tyler Cowen has a pessimistic take on the early months of health-care reform. Like Tyler, I've upgraded my assessment of the likelihood that Supreme Court attacks the individual mandate directly. My take on that is here. As for the other...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 4:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Three ways to look at Obama's federal pay freeze

You can look at the president's announcement of a two-year pay freeze for federal workers in a few different ways, and they're not mutually exclusive. 1) This is more unwise, unilateral bipartisanship: It's one thing for the president to...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 4:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (158)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Column: We don't have a Social Security problem. We have a retirement-security problem.

For anyone who would like to retire someday, reading the news can be depressing. There's the Social Security shortfall, of course, and the reports that pensions promised to state employees are terribly underfunded. The financial crisis wiped out plenty...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Social Security  
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The genius of Amazon Prime

Business Week explains: Amazon Prime may be the most ingenious and effective customer loyalty program in all of e-commerce, if not retail in general. It converts casual shoppers like Tinsley, who gorge on the gratification of having purchases reliably appear...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Why Google's grifter is our problem

Lots of people are linking to David Segal's profile of online scam artist/bully/search-optimization genius Vitaly Borker, and for good reason: It's a rollicking whodunnit about a devious online merchant that's actually an incredibly sophisticated look at the world Google creates...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Tech  
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Lunch break

Douglas Rushoff warns that you can either be the programmer, or be the programmed:...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 12:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Four interesting comments on the Wikileaks dump

Michael Hastings (this was originally crammed into a tweet, so I've decompressed the abbreviations): If the New York Times had the scoop without Wikileaks, would the U.S. media's reaction be more like the Pentagon Papers? [Would we see more] solidarity?...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Want to sell books to Americans? Eliminate all traces of self-doubt.

Gillian Tett describes the difference between packaging a book for the American and British markets: Initially I planned to start the book by admitting that I was not a true expert on high finance: instead I crashed into this world...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 11:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Books  
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The most important two sentences I've read on China's economy

From David Leonhardt's terrific piece on the same: Saying that China does not have a big-enough consumer economy is really another way of saying that not enough of its resources reach the broad mass of its people. If they...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  China  
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The history of the two-party vote in one isarithmic visualization

What's an "isarithmic visualization"? According to David Sparks, it's basically a map "wherein a third variable is represented in two dimensions by color, or by contour lines, indicating gradations." He made one tracking the two-party vote since 1920, and it's...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 10:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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A bad few days for multilateralism

Here's what other countries are learning about the United States this month: We can't keep our confidential discussions with you private and we can't credibly commit to the treaties we agree on with you in public. Between the embarrassment that...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 9:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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What happens when Medicare controls costs too well

There's one school of thought that says Congress is incapable of controlling costs in Medicare, and then there's, well, this: Want an appointment with kidney specialist Adam Weinstein of Easton, Md.? If you're a senior covered by Medicare, the wait...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Health Economics, Medicare  
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Wonkbook: The liberal budget plan; Sheila Bair's fiscal warning; Senate Dems remain divided on Bush tax cuts

Another day, another deficit-reduction plan. Today's big release will establish the liberal pole in the fiscal-responsibility debate: It's a joint effort from the progressive think tanks The Century Foundation, Demos, and the Economic Policy Institute, and among its other...

By Ezra Klein  | November 29, 2010; 6:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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