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Ezra Klein: January 2, 2011 - January 8, 2011

Some thoughts on the shooting in Arizona

This week, Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, was slain, allegedly by one of his own bodyguards. A few months earlier, he had controversially stood by Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was sentenced to death for "blaspheming" the...

By Ezra Klein  | January 8, 2011; 8:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (161)
 
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Reconciliation

Recap: The December jobs numbers; what defaulting on the debt would mean for the economy; and the biggest threat health-care reform faces. Elsewhere: 1) The theory of this article is correct, but only about Medicare-for-All. The public option has nothing...

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 7:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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When opposition to health-care reform stops being polite and starts getting scary

In the Wyoming state legislature, 10 congressmen and three senators have co-sponsored "The Health Care Choice and Protection Act." The intent? To make it a felony to implement the health-care reform law -- which is, you'll remember, the official...

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 6:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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How much is working in finance worth?

About 40 percent more than working in anything else: Finance scholars Thomas Philippon and Ariel Resheff have actually tried to calculate how much financial-sector workers are overpaid relative to those with similar skills in other professions. About 40%, they say....

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 6:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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A few more notes on health-care reform

May as well just combine these into one post. 1) Some parts are working better than expected. Notably, the small-business tax credits. As the L.A. Times reports, "major insurers around the country are reporting that a growing number of small...

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 5:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Health of Nations  
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Health-care repeal not popular among House Democrats

Over the weekend, Rep. Fred Upton, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, predicted that so many Democrats would join in the effort to repeal the health-care reform bill that the House might get near the two-thirds that could...

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 3:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The biggest threat to health-care reform

Last night, I rounded up some of the GOP's criticisms of the score the Congressional Budget Office produced for the Affordable Care Act. If you want the full rundown, click here. They're a pretty ragged bunch. Most of them...

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 3:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Lunch break

Lesley Hazleton, a religious writer who's working on a biography of Muhammad (and has an incredibly calming voice), decided to really sit down and read the Koran. Here's what she came away with:...

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 12:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Learning Sperling

Matt Yglesias is right that the media -- myself included -- has done a crummy job introducing people to the work and thought of Gene Sperling, as opposed to scrutinizing the few areas of his background that seemed likely to...

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 11:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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The private recession vs. the public recession

One of the important shifts in opinion that we've seen in the past few years has been the transference of the public's anger away from greedy bankers and other private actors who caused the recession and toward lazy unions and...

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 11:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Economy  
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Facebook's rule-bending, Part II

Jon Stewart notices Facebook's belief that transparency is good for everyone but them: The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10cThe Anti-Social Networkwww.thedailyshow.comDaily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook...

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 10:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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What a debt default would mean

The letter Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner sent to Congress on the debt ceiling is worth reading in full, as it does a nice job describing a danger that I'm not sure most people fully appreciate. My sense is that...

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 10:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
Categories:  Budget  
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103,000 new jobs in December; unemployment down to 9.4 percent

December's jobs report has some good news, but not nearly enough of it. The economy added 103,000 jobs -- a gain that was driven by the private sector adding 113,000 jobs but dragged down by the public sector shedding...

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 8:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
Categories:  Economy  
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Wonkbook: So. Much. News.

Anyone getting a sense of deja vu? Gene Sperling, Clinton's NEC director, will be returned to that position later today. William Daley, Clinton's Commerce Secretary, was named chief of staff. Head over to OMB, and Jack Lew, who did...

By Ezra Klein  | January 7, 2011; 6:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Unreconciled

Sorry, gotta run!...

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 7:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Gene Sperling to head the NEC -- again

At 11 a.m. tomorrow, President Obama will name Gene Sperling as director of the National Economic Council, the Washington Post has confirmed. This won't be Sperling's first tour of duty in that spot: He held that position from 1996...

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 7:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Omnibus post on the 'gimmicks' in the CBO's score of the health-care law

Whenever the health-care law and its CBO score comes back into the news, I get deluged with requests to respond to various Republican critiques of the bill's score. Earlier today, for instance, John asked: Can you please respond to...

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 6:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (39)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Facebook's rule-bending

Justin Fox has a good post on why Facebook doesn't want to go public and whether that tells us something "interesting and disturbing about the current state of public financial markets." And it probably does. But it also tells us...

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 3:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Daley's career

Thanks to commenter JJenkins for pointing me to this terrific Chicago Magazine profile of incoming-chief of staff William Daley. I won't attempt to summarize the piece, because it's worth reading in full. Daley comes off, it must be said, as...

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 1:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Huck Finning the Constitution

So rather than read the Constitution straight through, the House GOP actually read the Constitution-as-amended straight through. The idea being, I guess, that if people heard that taxes and congressional representation were originally "determined by adding to the whole Number...

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 1:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
 
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Lunch Break

On the off chance that you haven't yet seen this story about the homeless man with the wonderful radio voice, this is worth watching: Happily, it looks like things are turning around for him....

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 12:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Repealing health-care reform would cost $230 billion over 10 years -- and more after that

The Congressional Budget Office took a look at the Republican repeal bill and came back with some numbers (pdf) the GOP isn't going to like. Jon Cohn summarizes: The news from the CBO is exactly what you would have thought:...

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (48)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The mystery of Bill Daley

Imagine I told you that one of the candidates President Obama is considering for chief of staff opposed the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, opposed doing health-care reform and led the Chamber of Commerce's effort to loosen...

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 10:57 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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Will symbolism be enough for the tea parties?

Kevin Drum is puzzled by the way Speaker John Boehner is handling the effort to repeal health-care reform. "He's scheduling a quick vote with no hearings and no CBO scoring just so he can say he's done it, after which...

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 9:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  2010 Midterms, House  
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The Democrats' power give

Dan Foster at the National Review and AllahPundit at HotAir.com both agree: There's really nothing for minority parties to fear in the Democrats' proposed filibuster reforms. And they're right about that. Compare the provisions that say minorities can't do something...

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 9:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Senate  
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A very bad year for health-care spending

Spending on health care only grew by 4 percent in 2009. That's less growth than we've seen in a half-century! Hurrah and huzzah? A silver lining in an otherwise grim year? Well, not quite: When looking at health-care spending, you've...

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 9:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Health Economics  
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Wonkbook: Boehner's new rules; Dems' release filibuster reform proposal

I thought Speaker Boehner's speech was quite good. He did not promise too much, which ends up being a common problem for speakers. In fact, he hardly promised anything at all. Insofar as he had an agenda, it was...

By Ezra Klein  | January 6, 2011; 6:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The Democrats unveiled their modest filibuster reforms; libertarians are more powerful than they'd have you believe; and I thought Speaker Boehner gave a very good speech today. Elsewhere: 1) Why is the path from Wall Street to Washington so...

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 6:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Party unity in two graphs

This is really good stuff from CQ: The increase in party unity helps explain why the filibuster has become so unmanageable: A minority senator's individual incentives are often to collaborate with the majority on legislation so they can add items...

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 4:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Senate  
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The welfare state for the middle class

I can't wholeheartedly recommend Pew's tax expenditure database as, at this point, it's missing such tax expenditures as the exclusion for employer-sponsored health-care insurance, and that's a bit like having the World Cup without inviting Brazil. They say that'll be...

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 4:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Taxes  
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A very smart speech by Speaker Boehner

If you spent the afternoon watching C-SPAN, as I did, you heard applause. A lot of it. Over and over again. And when John Boehner took the podium to be sworn in as Speaker of the House of Representatives,...

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 3:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (100)
Categories:  2010 Midterms, Congress  
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Lunch Break

Changes in 200 countries, over 200 years, in four minutes: That man can seriously visualize some data....

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 1:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Senate Democrats unveil filibuster reforms

Sens. Tom Harkin, Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley have released their package of proposed reforms to the Senate rules. But before we get into what might change, let's say what won't change: The 60-vote requirement to break a filibuster won't...

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 12:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Senate  
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What libertarians should, and shouldn't, be blamed for

Ross Douthat is right to say that worrying about what would happen if Ron Paul seized ultimate power and decreed America a minarchy probably isn't a good use of anyone's time. But where Douthat thinks that minarchy is used as...

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 11:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (42)
 
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Has the U.S. government ever defaulted on its debt?

Yes, as it turns out. Once in 1790, and then again in 1933. Bruce Bartlett has many more links on the politics and consequences of defaulting on the debt here....

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 11:08 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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The incumbent's advantage

In theory, I'm the perfect customer for the Nissan Leaf. I don't drive frequently. I don't need a car with much space. I never need to go farther than 100 miles at a time. But the Nissan Leaf wouldn't...

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 11:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  Energy  
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A better world

That's from XKCD. Here's the Wikipedia article....

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 10:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Repealing health-care reform would cost hundreds of billions of dollars -- and Eric Cantor knows it

House Republicans are in a pickle: One of their new rules says that new legislation must be paid for. But the health-care bill reduces the federal deficit by more than $100 billion over the next 10 years. Luckily, they've figured...

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 8:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (84)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Wonkbook: Democrats divided on filibuster reform; Obama's CoS shortlist; Fed staying the course

It's no surprise that Senate Democrats are divided on what an acceptable package of filibuster reforms would actually look like. But they're soon to face a problem best described by The Wire's Omar Little: "If you come at the...

By Ezra Klein  | January 5, 2011; 6:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: We've changed the filibuster many times before; Bill Daley would be a very odd choice for chief of staff; and the value of incumbency appears to be declining. Elsewhere: 1) A 10-year-old discovered a supernova. 2) Can redistribution accelerate...

By Ezra Klein  | January 4, 2011; 6:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Understanding inequality, Part II

In response to this post, Brookings's Gary Burtless wrote in with some helpful comments on inequality and median incomes that I want to quote at length. Standard disclaimer: I've made light edits for space and clarity. I asked what made...

By Ezra Klein  | January 4, 2011; 5:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Inequality  
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An anti-poverty program that works

Brazil is employing a version of an idea now in use in some 40 countries around the globe, one already successful on a staggeringly enormous scale. This is likely the most important government antipoverty program the world has ever seen....

By Ezra Klein  | January 4, 2011; 4:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Why 'make them filibuster' won't work

While reporting out this history of filibuster reforms, I came across Steve Smith's comprehensive and useful report (pdf) on the way Senate practices have evolved since the mid-20th century or so. Toward the end, he considers some of the ideas...

By Ezra Klein  | January 4, 2011; 3:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Senate  
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The business community wants policy, not people

In addition to opposing health-care reform, it looks like Bill Daley also opposed the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And this report he co-chaired for the Chamber of Commerce in 2007, which primarily concerns itself with loosening...

By Ezra Klein  | January 4, 2011; 2:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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The Constitution and the filibuster

Over at the Atlantic, David Repass argues that the silent filibuster -- which is to say, the conversion of the Senate into a body that requires supermajority votes to conduct daily business -- is unconstitutional. You can also read law...

By Ezra Klein  | January 4, 2011; 1:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Legal, Senate  
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Lunch Break

I've been talking with some friends lately about how you'd build the playlist for an Aughts-nostalgia party. The problem isn't coming up with bands, but coming up with bands that you're pretty certain will forever be Aughts bands,as opposed to...

By Ezra Klein  | January 4, 2011; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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The history of filibuster reform

The actual process is getting increasingly complicated -- the Senate's first "legislative day" might take a couple of weeks, for instance -- but Senate Democrats look to be pushing forward with their effort to reform the filibuster. Cue shock...

By Ezra Klein  | January 4, 2011; 11:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Senate  
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My favorite 2010 retrospective so far

The year according to Tom Toles....

By Ezra Klein  | January 4, 2011; 9:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Bill Daley vs. health-care reform

To expand a bit on the argument I made in today's Wonkbook, the right test for the Obama administration to apply to potential candidates for chief of staff is not "will this person be liked?" or "will this person be...

By Ezra Klein  | January 4, 2011; 9:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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What was incumbency worth in 2010?

Apparently five percentage points, which is a lot lower than it's been in the past: Steve Ansolabehere and Jim Snyder estimate the incumbency advantage in the past set of House elections to be 5 percentage points. They estimated these the...

By Ezra Klein  | January 4, 2011; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  2010 Midterms, Political Science  
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Wonkbook: Bill Daley as CoS?; House will vote on HCR repeal Jan. 12th; a very long day for filibuster reform

Personnel may be destiny, but it's also, as the White House is finding out, a pain in the neck. The last week has been dominated by rumors that Gene Sperling would succeed Larry Summers as director of the National...

By Ezra Klein  | January 4, 2011; 6:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Some thoughts -- and graphs -- on income stagnation and inequality; the investment deficit; and Richard Ben Cramer appreciation day. Elsewhere: 1) The economics of the Dave Matthews Band. 2) Garrett Epps on the individual mandate. 3) Democrats firming...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 7:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Government on the scale, Part III

An academic involved in some efforts to evaluate government programs says that both Sen. Kent Conrad and this reader are right: I suspect Senator Conrad and the anonymous letter writer use the term “metrics” to denote different things. There is...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 5:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Government  
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File under 'can't win'

During the Bush administration, Democrats made a big deal of the Republicans' tendency to pass big initiatives without paying for them. The tax cuts, for instance, went right onto the deficit. So too did the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. The...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 5:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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'The Committee on the Disposition of Useless Papers in the Executive Departments'

You'll find some great stuff in the "historical essays" section of Senate.gov. For instance: In 1906, the Senate maintained 66 standing and select committees — eight more committees than members of the majority party...The large number of committees and the...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 3:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Senate  
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Government on the scale, cont'd

A reader who spends a lot of time delivering metrics to the government was not happy to hear Sen. Kent Conrad and others saying that there are no metrics or evaluation components behind most government programs, and in particular for...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 2:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Government  
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Lots of administration policymakers are to the left of Olympia Snowe

Brad DeLong, who worked with Gene Sperling in the Clinton administration, testifies on behalf of Sperling's liberal bona fides. In response, Duncan Black observes that "anecdotes suggesting 'he's really a liberal!' seem to pop up when people are floated for...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Lunch Break

Arianna Huffington shares one of the secrets of her success: Getting a good night's sleep. Reminds me of Justin Fox's argument that "the propensity to nod off in planes, which I do not possess, may be the No. 1 prerequisite...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 1:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Paragraphs that scare me

The longer you've been unemployed, the harder it is to find new work: People who have been out of work for five weeks have a monthly reemployment rate of about 31 percent. People who have been out of work for...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 12:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Economy  
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Some thoughts -- and graphs -- on inequality and income

I've been spending some time thinking about income inequality for a piece I'm writing. As part of it, I made this graph comparing trends in inequality -- as measured by the share of pre-tax income that goes to the top...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 11:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (65)
Categories:  Economy, Inequality  
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Column: America's other deficit

The sense in Washington -- and, it seems, in the country -- is that the government's New Year's resolution should be same as everyone else's New Year's resolution: Lose some weight and get fit. Of course, the government is constantly...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 10:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Budget, Infrastructure  
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Think about conditions, not candidates

The speculation over Ambassador Jon Huntsman's presidential aspirations -- and really all the potential 2012 contenders -- is too focused on candidates and not focused enough on conditions. But candidates can really only be judged in relation to the...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  2012 Presidential  
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Richard Ben Cramer appreciation day

I'm horrified to learn that "What It Takes," arguably the single greatest piece of campaign reportage ever published, was met with dismissive reviews and slow sales upon its release, and the cool reception eventually drove its author, Richard Ben Cramer,...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 9:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Books  
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Wonkbook: The new rules; WH nears successor for Summers; John Roberts wants more judges confirmed

It's the end of the winter vacation in Washington, and the beginning of the 112th Congress. Which means there's plenty to watch out for this week. The early fights the GOP decides to pick will get a lot of...

By Ezra Klein  | January 3, 2011; 7:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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