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

Reconciliation

Recap: The productivity of the 111th Congress doesn't weaken the case for Senate reform; a century of efforts to break the filibuster in one graph; and this can't possibly be necessary. Elsewhere: 1) The Wyden-Gregg recipe for bipartisanship. 2) Speaker...

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Sen. Jeff Merkley: 'This isn't a question of filibuster or no filibuster'

Senate Democrats are moving toward some version of filibuster reform. And one of the primary agitators behind that project has been Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.). It's his reform proposal -- a modest document that doesn't end the filibuster so...

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 4:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Interviews, Senate  
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Coburn and the 9/11 bill, cont'd

In a post yesterday on the bill extending medical benefits to 9/11 responders, I dismissed Sen. Tom Coburn's argument that the bill hasn't even had a hearing in a committee. But Coburn's office noted that his language was more nuanced,...

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 2:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Chris Christie's Pepsi problem, Part III

Dave Weigel makes the case that though Gov. Chris Christie's personal popularity is dropping, his relentless communications strategy has been successful in making his preferred solutions much more popular than the available alternatives, and in making his chosen opponents much...

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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We don't need to fix partisanship to fix the Senate

Doug Mataconis looks at my graph on the filibuster and comments: I hear this a lot, but I don't really understand it. For one thing, there is a good argument that eliminating the filibuster will make party-line voting less...

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Senate  
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Lunch Break

Tomorrow night is Erev Jewish Christmas, the night when Jews begin their annual hunt for Chinese food in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ. But they've got nothing on Jennifer 8. Lee, who went around the world to track...

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 12:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Beware Harvard law students bearing gifts

So long as I'm annoying doctors, I may as well annoy lawyers, too. D. James Greiner and Cassandra Wolos Pattanayak ran a series of controlled experiments to test whether free legal representation really helped claimants who were suing to receive...

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 12:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Legal  
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Left-right agreement on health-care reform?

Last night, Amanda Carpenter, an aide to Sen. Jim DeMint, tweeted a link to this New York Times story and said, "90,000 doctor shortage predicted by 2020. Only 18,600 new docs matriculate per year. Let's welcome docs, not block 'em."...

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 11:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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The nominations process is absurd

This list of nominees the Senate confirmed before adjourning last night mainly makes clear how insane it is for the Senate to be considering so many nominees. Is there really some pressing reason for Joe Lieberman to weigh in on...

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 10:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Senate  
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Breaking the filibuster in one graph

If you're looking for some good historical data on the filibuster, the fine folks who keep up (the surprisingly useful) Senate.gov site have you covered. They've tracked the number of cloture filings (when the majority begins the process of breaking...

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 9:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Senate  
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A productive Congress doesn't weaken the case for filibuster reform

Two of the themes running through my writing recently appear to contradict: How, on the one hand, can I believe we've had the most productive congress in four decades, yet on the other, argue that the past two years...

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Senate  
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Wonkbook: The 111th Congress is over. How will the 112th compare?

One reader called it 'the Angry Birds' Congress. Majority Leader Harry Reid said it was a "goose on steroids." By the time the 111th gaveled out yesterday, everyone agreed that its final session had been anything but lame. And...

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 6:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Why the lame-duck session has been so productive; Mitch McConnell says the darndest things; and every Senate Democrat supports filibuster reform. Elsewhere: 1) A history of the word "austerity," which has just been named Merriam-Webster's word of the year....

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 7:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Highlights from the president's press conference

The president said a couple of things during his press conference that are worth pulling out. First, on the continuing resolution: I’m also disappointed we weren’t able to come together around a budget to fund our government over the long...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 6:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Senate Democrats support filibuster reform

They say elections have consequences. So too, it turns out, does obstruction. In a move that's as overdue as it is unexpected, every returning Senate Democrat has signed a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid calling for filibuster reform. The...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 6:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (89)
Categories:  Senate  
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The 9/11 bill passes -- but should it really have been this hard?

The bill extending medical benefits to 9/11 responders passed today. It had been held up because, well, it's not exactly clear. At one point, Sen. Tom Coburn said the problem was the bill hadn't had a hearing in committee. That...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 5:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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They're going to need some cough drops

House Republicans have announced plans to read the Constitution aloud on the House floor on second day of the new Congress. As Jonathan Bernstein says, "it's well known that the Constitution is clear and unambiguous at all points, and that...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 2:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
 
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D.C. now larger than Wyoming, but still powerless in Congress

Over e-mail, a reader directed my attention to an interesting tidbit from the Census: Washington, D.C., now has 601,723 residents. Wyoming has 563,626. And yet Wyoming has two senators and a congressman, all of whom have the full suite of...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 1:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
 
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The 'Angry Birds' Congress

That's what Aleidy thinks this lame-duck session should be renamed, considering how un-lame it turned out to be. I like it. If you don't get the reference, head here....

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 1:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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The political winner of the lame-duck session is ...

President Obama: In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Wednesday, 56 percent of Americans said they support how Obama has handled the lame-duck session that’s expected to end this week. Forty-one percent said they disapprove. Members of Congress on both...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 1:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Polls  
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Lunch break

Sheryl Sandberg, former chief of staff to Larry Summers and current COO of Facebook, looks at why we don't have more female executives, and what can be done about it:...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 12:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Comments and e-mails

James Fallows had a thoughtful post explaining why he doesn't have a comment section, which he then followed with an offer -- quickly retracted -- to try out a moderated comments section. Across my, err, RSS feed, Brad DeLong said...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 11:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
 
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The science of playing hard to get

I'm not single anymore, but back when I was, I found the idea of "playing hard to get" fairly confusing. The people I knew who had the most success in the dating world seemed to be the best at conveying...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 11:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Did the tax deal help Obama among independents?

Not according to Gallup: If anything, he looks to have lost some ground among self-described independents. He's also lost about eight points among liberals in recent months, though gained about as much among moderate Republicans. That may not be a...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 10:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Polls  
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Why has the lame-duck session been so productive?

So far, the lame-duck session has managed to pass an $850 billion tax-cuts-and-stimulus deal, the repeal of DADT, the Defense Authorization bill, a continuing resolution to keep funding the federal government, the START treaty, the food-safety bill, and probably a...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 10:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (92)
Categories:  Senate  
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Mitch McConnell says the darndest things

I'm not surprised that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to spend the next two years kicking President Obama in the shins. What does surprise me is that he keeps saying he wants to spend the next two years...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 9:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Senate  
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Wonkbook: Stopgap budget passed; America moves West; net neutrality rules move forward; food safety bill moves to Obama

Top Stories Census reapportioning is shifting seats West, reports Alexander Burns: "For Democrats and Republicans alike, the U.S. Census data unveiled Tuesday had an unmistakable and familiar political message: Go West. All five of the country’s fastest-growing states --...

By Ezra Klein  | December 22, 2010; 6:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Chris Christie is falling in the polls; the State of the Union should prominently feature investments; and the Senate voted to defund the implementation of both health-care reform and financial regulation. Elsewhere: 1) Mitch McConnell should've added a "MWAHAHAHAHA"...

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 6:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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The 111th's biggest loser: Tax policy

The real loser of the 111th Congress has been tax policy. Most other issues the Congress took on, for all the compromises and inadequacies and delays, were moved forward. Tax policy was moved backwards. The most egregious thing about the...

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 5:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Senate votes to defund health-care reform and financial regulation

The Senate passed the Continuing Resolution 79-16 this afternoon. Another way of saying that: The Senate voted to defund the implementation of both health-care reform and financial-regulation reform. The good news is that law will keep the government's lights on...

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 4:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Budget  
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How to crack the New York Times most-popular list

Thomas Weber says that all you need is an article, some coordination and 1,300 of your closest friends: The most-emailed articles list on The New York Times website is one of the Internet's key barometers of news and trends, an...

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 3:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Who does the census help?

Dave Weigel walks us through the changes the new census will mean for the numbers of congressional representatives various states have in Congress. Weigel has also coded partisan control of the states, as that'll matter heavily when it comes to...

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Lunch Break

Missed last night's eclipse? Here it is: Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse from William Castleman on Vimeo....

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 12:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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START the counterfactuals

It looks like the START treaty will pass. That's as it should be: With the last six Republican secretaries of state supporting a treaty negotiated by a Democratic administration, this is as close to a consensus document as you can...

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 11:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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BaucusCare vs. ObamaCare

It doesn't really bother me if people refer to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as "ObamaCare," and I'm sure I've done it myself on several occasions. But at least on the blog, I try not to rely on...

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 10:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 10:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Chris Christie's Pepsi problem, cont'd

I thought this was going to take longer to happen, but it looks like Gov. Chris Christie's extremely aggressive style is wearing a bit on his state: The polls, from Quinnipiac and Rutgers-Eagleton, show Christie's approval rating in New...

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 10:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  2012 Presidential  
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Cuts or investments at the State of the Union?

Bob Kuttner says the White House is planning to propose Social Security cuts -- alongside a variety of other deficit-reduction efforts -- in the State of the Union. The political rationale is twofold: "to pre-empt an even more draconian set...

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 10:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Budget  
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Wonkbook: Budget bill handicaps both FinReg and health reform; Census favors GOP states

Here's the problem with funding 2011's government using 2010's budget: When the 2010 budget passed, neither financial regulation nor health-care reform had passed. And so the 2010 budget didn't include the new funds necessary to support their implementation. We're not...

By Ezra Klein  | December 21, 2010; 6:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Chris Christie's Pepsi problem; a world with an individual mandate; and the Democrats hand over some more hostages. Elsewhere: 1) Listen to Pinna Storm's 2010 Christmas Mix. 2) The Brickskeller was a terrible bar. 3) Rober Ebert's favorite films...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 6:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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More problems with funding government through a Continuing Resolution

As Pat Garofalo notes, the 2010 budget didn't include new funds for the agencies that have to implement financial reform. And if the Continuing Resolution uses 2010 levels, it won't include those funds, either: The resolution does not include funding...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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A world with an individual mandate, cont'd

A Massachusetts reader writes in: I'm a resident of MA, although I get insurance through my employer, where this year we were able to choose between a whopping two different insurance plans. Out of curiosity, I went to the website...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Earmarks and executive power

I'm against earmarks. But I'm against earmarks because I'm a technocrat who doesn't like offering lobbyists more entry points to the political process and who doesn't think congresspeople tend to make great decisions about infrastructure spending. But the people who...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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The Democrats hand over more hostages

Over the past two years, Senate Democrats have prioritized historic legislation over routine legislation. A lot of time has been spent on health-care reform, DADT repeal, financial regulation, jobs bills, food safety and other legislative achievements that simply would...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 1:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Budget  
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How much is $250,000?

When it comes to "adjustable gross income" -- which is the number that decides your tax bracket -- it's really about $315,000. David Leonhardt explains: Earning $250,000 in adjustable gross income is different from earning $250,000 in total income. High-income...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Lunch Break

J.J. Abrams and his “mystery box”:...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 12:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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How earmarks mapped the human genome

From Jamelle Bouie's interview with Sean Kelly, co-author of "Cheese Factories on the Moon," a defense of earmarks: Pete Domenici was looking for a way to preserve jobs for Department of Energy labs in New Mexico. He got a small...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 12:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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"Obama's comeback" will be tweeted

At 9:30 a.m., political scientist Brendan Nyahn tweeted: Regardless of effect of tax cut deal on 2012, it will be framed as turning point in media narrative of any Obama comeback http://j.mp/fAXkSN Two minutes later, Karl Rove decided to prove...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 11:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Column: A world with an individual mandate

Unless someone can drop into Anthony Kennedy's dreamspace and, "Inception"-style, either figure out what he thinks of the individual mandate or simply tell him what to think of the individual mandate, it's not worth spending much time speculating on the...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The original tea party and the Constitution

It's common enough these days to hear that the country is going awry because of all these elites who don't care enough about the Constitution. So I was interested to read about Pauline Maier's history of the national argument over...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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All politics aren't local

Andrew Gelman has no patience for Tip O'Neill's old dictum: Sure, all politics are local -- if you're Tip O'Neill and represent a ironclad Democratic seat in Congress. It's easy to be smug about your political skills if you're in...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 9:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Chris Christie's Pepsi problem

In 1975, Pepsi unleashed "the Pepsi Challenge," a blind taste test where subjects threw back an ounce of each beverage and reported back on their favorite. Their favorite was Pepsi. You already know what happened next: Coca-Cola developed a...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  2012 Presidential  
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Wonkbook: The do-something Congress keeps doing things

The 111th Congress refuses to go quietly into that sweet night. Friday, of course, saw the $850 billion tax deal sent to President Obama. On Saturday, the Senate broke the filibuster protecting the Don't Ask, Don't Tell rules. On...

By Ezra Klein  | December 20, 2010; 2:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (45)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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