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Ezra Klein: December 26, 2010 - January 1, 2011

The real Rosie

It turns out that Rosie the Riveter was not a huge fan of riveting: One day, a photographer representing United Press International came to her factory and captured Mrs. Doyle leaning over a piece of machinery and wearing a red...

By Ezra Klein  | December 31, 2010; 1:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
 
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Column: Pinning down 'Obamanomics'

We're two years into the Obama administration, and "change we can believe in" has become "continuity we can believe in." So far, five senior members of the president's team have resigned their posts - and not one has been...

By Ezra Klein  | December 31, 2010; 10:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Will Gene Sperling replace Larry Summers? Also: What the Tea Party wants from the Constitution; and should Obama be a better loser? Elsewhere: 1) "Nothing much happened in 2010." 2) Benjamin Wallace-Wells is a really fine writer. 3) How...

By Ezra Klein  | December 30, 2010; 6:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Home, sweet home

There's been a lot of pessimism on the housing markets going around lately. Ryan Avent has a more optimistic take: If home prices stabilised from May of 2009 to May of 2010 while conditions were highly uncertain, then sank as...

By Ezra Klein  | December 30, 2010; 4:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Yes, the Constitution is binding

This morning, I gave a quick interview to MSNBC where I made, I thought, some fairly banal points on the GOP's plan to honor the Constitution by having it read aloud on the House floor. Asked if it was...

By Ezra Klein  | December 30, 2010; 3:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (176)
 
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Some good news

new applications for unemployment benefits are at their lowest level since June of 2008....

By Ezra Klein  | December 30, 2010; 2:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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What sort of loser should Obama be?

Recently, Jonathan Bernstein asked liberals, “As the 111th Congress winds down, what’s your biggest disappointment of the things you expected to happen?” Mike Konczal gives his answer: I expected Obama to be a better loser, specifically to be better...

By Ezra Klein  | December 30, 2010; 1:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Lunch Break

Odd pronunciation of "pasta," but good video on its history and production:...

By Ezra Klein  | December 30, 2010; 12:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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What the tea party wants from the Constitution

I'm very curious to know what the GOP -- or the tea partyers they're presumably pandering to -- think will happen when every piece of legislation requires "a statement from its sponsor outlining where in the Constitution Congress is...

By Ezra Klein  | December 30, 2010; 11:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (266)
 
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Dr. Dionne's couch

EJ Dionne plays marriage counselor today and offers some sound adviceon how to "restore a functional relationship between the White House and its sometimes-friends, sometimes-critics on the left": Too often, the White House has been caught whining about its progressive...

By Ezra Klein  | December 30, 2010; 10:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Will Gene Sperling replace Larry Summers?

Alongside -- and perhaps in front of -- Roger Altman, Gene Sperling is rumored to be the leading contender to succeed Larry Summers as director of the National Economics Council. At the moment, Sperling serves as an adviser (or,...

By Ezra Klein  | December 30, 2010; 8:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Wonkbook: Elizabeth Warren looking for CFPB chief; Banks increasing lending; revolving door spinning faster; Republicans attack EPA regs as 'gas tax'

Top Stories Elizabeth Warren is hunting for a chief to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, reports Damian Paletta and Victoria McGrane: "White House adviser Elizabeth Warren and a top lieutenant are quietly asking business and consumer groups for...

By Ezra Klein  | December 30, 2010; 6:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Housing prices might still have a ways to fall; the Republicans need a leader; and Gary Burtless wrote in on the stimulus. Elsewhere: 1) Attackerman 3.0: It's calling from inside the house! 2) File under "pop culture matters": "I...

By Ezra Klein  | December 29, 2010; 6:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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A guide to the legal arguments over the individual mandate

Kevin Sack has a clear and useful overview of the legal arguments over the individual mandate that I've seen. As a sort of disclaimer, readers should know that I consider the legal arguments to be little more than motivated skepticism:...

By Ezra Klein  | December 29, 2010; 4:13 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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A grim lesson from the stimulus

In the post below, Gary Burtless explains that fairly little of the stimulus was devoted to actually building stuff because the government (correctly) assessed that it couldn't build stuff quickly enough to make building stuff a good use of stimulus...

By Ezra Klein  | December 29, 2010; 2:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Infrastructure  
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Gary Burtless on the stimulus

On Monday, I linked to this op-ed from Tom Esvlin, Vermont's "stimulus czar," lamenting the way the money got spent. "Although I'd like to think Vermont did better than many states, much of the money ended up continuing bloated programs...

By Ezra Klein  | December 29, 2010; 2:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Stimulus  
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Lunch Break

The coolest eyeglasses you've ever seen:...

By Ezra Klein  | December 29, 2010; 12:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Gary Shilling: Housing prices may still have 20% to fall

Gary Shillings's overview of the housing market -- which is based on an impressive 39 charts -- is about the clearest and most comprehensive I've seen. It's also the grimmest. "The bottom line," he says, is that "house prices...

By Ezra Klein  | December 29, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Economy  
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Who speaks for the Republicans?

When the inevitable showdown between the revived Republican Party and the Obama White House occurs, who will speak for the Republicans? In 1994, they had Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich, both of whom were nationally credible leaders, at least...

By Ezra Klein  | December 29, 2010; 10:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  2012 Presidential, Polls  
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Links that will improve your morning

In the beginning, there was dough....

By Ezra Klein  | December 29, 2010; 9:54 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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The 2010 labor market in one graph

Much more here. Note that the big drag on the labor market's recovery has been cuts in public-sector jobs. If the line for government jobs looked more like the line for private jobs, the labor market would be in...

By Ezra Klein  | December 29, 2010; 9:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs, Economy  
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Monetary policy in fiction

"It’s too bad, " writes Matthew Yglesias, that "'You Shall Know Our Velocity' isn’t a novel about monetary policy." That got me wondering about whether there are any novels about monetary policy. Some believe 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' is...

By Ezra Klein  | December 29, 2010; 8:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Books, Federal Reserve  
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Wonkbook: GOP's Fannie flip-flop; WH thinking on Summers' replacement; 157 banks failed in 2010

Top Stories House Republicans have shifted to opposing Fannie/Freddie privatization, reports Alan Zibel: "Earlier this year, leading House Republicans proposed to privatize mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or place them in receivership starting in two years. Now,...

By Ezra Klein  | December 29, 2010; 7:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The median voter either approves of health-care reform or wants it to be more liberal; some questions about the conventional political history of the Democratic Party; and the filibuster that Republicans don't like. Elsewhere: 1) A 1975 Time article...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 6:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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How the brain handles uncertainty

Jonah Lehrer turns to neuroscience to explain why uncertainty is so bad for the economy: Camerer’s experiment revolved around a decision making game known as the Ellsberg paradox. Camerer imaged the brains of subjects while they placed bets on whether...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 5:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Talkback: Obama and Vick

There were a lot of good comments on my earlier post regarding President Obama's praise for the Eagles' decision to play Michael Vick. First, on the question of offering moral support to businesses that hire ex-convicts, jckdoors writes: No. What...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 4:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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The filibuster that Republicans don't like

Mike Lee, the Utah Republican who beat Sen. Bob Bennett in the primary, says that the filibuster "ought not apply with respect to judicial nominees." This position goes back to 2005, when Sen. Bill Frist attempted to eliminate the so-called...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 3:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Senate  
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Deficits, tax cuts and the GOP

This is the sort of comment that I think gets one dismissed as a hopeless partisan, but is also unambiguously true: Nobody, and I mean nobody, in a position of influence within the GOP cares about deficits when tax cuts...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 3:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
 
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Putting the stimulus bill in perspective

If you're interested in an extremely detailed walkthrough of the various camps and models that dominate the economics profession's debates over fiscal stimulus, this paper (pdf) by Alan Auerbach, William Gale, and Benjamin Harris is worth your time. And if...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Stimulus  
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What's good for McDonald's is not necessarily good for America

Bad economies, it seems, are good for fast food: This study utilizes information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (1990-2007) to explore the relationship between the risk of unemployment and the consumption of various healthy and unhealthy foods. Estimates,...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 1:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Lunch Break

Is that Jimmy Fallon doing Neil Young doing Willow Smith's 'Whip My Hair'? Why, yes. Yes it is....

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 12:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Live by the polls, die by the polls?

Speaker John Boehner's office tweets, "@CNN survey: 60 percent of Americans oppose unconstitutional individual mandate in ObamaCare." The link goes to this Hill article reporting that support for the individual mandate has slipped from 44 percent to 38 percent. But...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 12:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Why Obama weighed in on behalf of Michael Vick

The weirdest story of the morning is President Obama's call to Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the NFL Eagles. Two things apparently happened during the call: Obama praised the team for giving Michael Vick a second chance, and then...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 11:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (229)
 
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How banks are structured

The finance lawyer behind Economics of Contempt set out to write a defense of the resolution authority provisions in the Dodd-Frank bill, but then realized that to understand why they would work, "you really have to have an understanding of...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Financial Regulation  
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Harry Reid as a young man

Mark Warren's profile of Harry Reid is a great read, but what really caught my eye was this photograph of the Senate majority leader as a young man. Reid is second from the left: Photo credit: Courtesy of Harry Reid,...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Did the Democratic Party really move from economic issues to social issues?

It's conventional wisdom that starting in about 1960, the Democratic Party -- and the American Left more broadly -- stopped focusing on economic issues and put interest-group politics at the center of the liberal project. "What happened after that was...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 10:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  History  
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How much has the recession increased government spending?

Compared with a counterfactual in which there was no financial crisis, the answer is about two percentage points of GDP, and most of that comes from unemployment benefits, food stamps and Medicaid. Paul Krugman runs through the charts and graphs...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 9:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Budget  
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Remembering 'Obama for America'

Was the 2008 campaign really that long ago? Jonathan Bernstein and Ross Douthat are arguing over the uniqueness of the excitement that Barack Obama's candidacy generated. Douthat says that Obama "persuaded Democrats that the laws of politics had been...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 9:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Wonkbook: Obama's 2011 Budget (slightly) delayed; earmarkers become lettermarkers; corporations are buying each other rather than hiring workers

Top Stories Obama's budget has been delayed a week, reports Jonathan Weisman: "President Barack Obama's budget proposal for fiscal 2012 will be released in mid-February, a little more than a week after its planned release date. The administration is...

By Ezra Klein  | December 28, 2010; 6:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Tax reform will be harder than people think; the Founding Fathers would've hated the filibuster; and scoring the Obama administration's record on inequality. Elsewhere: 1) Today is a dark day for twentysomething men everywhere. 2) The economics of getting...

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 6:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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The five best books I read this year

’Tis the season for lists, it seems, so here are the five best books I read this year: 1) “The Master Switch,” by Tim Wu: The book is about the way information mediums begin as democratic lands populated by enthusiastic...

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 4:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Books  
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Scoring the obama administration's record on inequality

So is Jacob Weisberg right to say that "if Obama has declared war on inequality, inequality seems to be winning"? Here's the scorecard, I think: The stimulus (and subsequent extensions of its components, like unemployment insurance): Major downward redistribution. The...

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Inequality  
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The mathematics of cities

Physicist Geoffrey West specializes in finding simple mathematical laws that unite large categories of seemingly unlike things. In the late 1990s, he published a seminal (and controversial) paper showing that "the metabolic rate of a creature is equal to...

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Separating alternative history from plain old history

Jack Shafer's nightmarish alternative history in which the FCC decides to regulate the Internet in 1993 and stamps its jackboot down on the soft face of the new medium suffers, I think, from an unusual flaw: an insufficient familiarity with...

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 1:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Lunch break

Steven Johnson argues that the best way to understand the Web is as a large city, "built by many people, completely controlled by no one, intricately interconnected and yet functioning as many independent parts."...

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 12:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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You can't blame the Framers for the filibuster

If Democrats really do try to reform the filibuster Jan. 5, we're likely to hear a lot about how the Founding Fathers designed the Senate with the filibuster in mind, or how the filibuster is written into the Constitution....

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  History, Senate  
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'Disapproval [of Congress] is built into the institution’s DNA'

Josh Huder considers why Congress, which is basically a democratic body, is so perennially unpopular: Literature on this topic often points to people’s dissatisfaction with the process of legislating (Hibbing 1995; 2001). Durr, Gilmour, and Wolbrecht (1997, gated) find that...

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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The difficulty of defending the conservative position on the individual mandate

Avik Roy, a conservative health-policy wonk, mounts a valiant effort to rationalize the multi-decade period of conservative affection for the individual mandate with the current conservative consensus that the mandate is an unconstitutional monstrosity -- but it's not an easy...

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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What's in the 9/11 health bill?

I covered the political fight over this legislation last week but didn't do a good job explaining what was actually in the bill. Luckily, John Culhane did....

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Tom Toles is worth a thousand words

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 9:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Why we're not likely to get tax reform

There's no issue that lends itself to as many applause lines as tax reform. At about 70,000 pages, the tax code is both intrinsically absurd and widely disliked. Rep. Dave Camp, the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means...

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (40)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Wonkbook: Meet the Fed's new votes; Goldman Sachs sage says 2011 is 'year of the US'; don't expect more shake-ups in Obama's cabinet

Top Stories Sewell Chan profiles the four new members of the Federal Reserve's Open market Committee: "One is an economist who fears that the Fed’s easy-money policies could lead to manias like the housing bubble that burst in 2007....

By Ezra Klein  | December 27, 2010; 6:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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