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Ezra Klein: January 23, 2011 - January 29, 2011

Reconciliation

Recap: Too young not to work, too old to get a job; why corporate tax reform will be hard in one graph; and did the Senate just lose the future? Elsewhere: 1) Five things to understand about the riots in...

By Ezra Klein  | January 28, 2011; 7:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Will the Medicare cuts in health-care reform stick?

It's a bit after 5 p.m. on a Friday, which means it's a good time for a long post on the sustainability of the Medicare productivity adjustments in the Affordable Care Act. Excited? No? Then let me rephrase. The...

By Ezra Klein  | January 28, 2011; 4:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Like public policy? Want to win some money?

In the last day or so, I've been alerted to two competitions that readers of this blog might be interested in. One is for a little money, but might appeal to a lot of you. The other is for a...

By Ezra Klein  | January 28, 2011; 3:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Where to read about Egypt

The big news today is happening in Egypt, not Congress. But I'm not well equipped to comment on it. I did, however, find this Q&A with Robert Danin pretty helpful. Griff Witte and Janine Zacharia have a good article surveying...

By Ezra Klein  | January 28, 2011; 2:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Too young not to work, too old to get a job, Part II

From the inbox: Some of my work is as a primary doctor at a VA primary care clinic in Southeast Michigan. We are totally overwhelmed right now with people who lost their insurance from auto-related layoffs and are using VA...

By Ezra Klein  | January 28, 2011; 1:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Lunch break

Jerry Seinfeld is going to take over the world:...

By Ezra Klein  | January 28, 2011; 1:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Did the Senate just lose the future?

The pity of the deal that Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell struck on rules reform is that this was a really good moment for Senate reform. The usual danger with this kind of project is that it'll end up...

By Ezra Klein  | January 28, 2011; 12:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Senate  
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Good news and bad news on GDP

GDP grew at 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, which isn't too bad. And as Neil Irwin notes, the underlying data is even a bit better than that. The topline number was a bit depressed, as businesses cut...

By Ezra Klein  | January 28, 2011; 11:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Economy  
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Too young not to work, too old to get a job

Pew's new report on long-term unemployment is sobering stuff: Thirty percent of those who are jobless have been unemployed a year or more (long-term unemployment) as of December 2010. Equaling 4.2 million people -- roughly the population of Kentucky...

By Ezra Klein  | January 28, 2011; 11:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  Economy  
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Wine tasting at Davos, 2011 edition

Felix Salmon reports: Wine tasting was historically one of the more interesting and enjoyable events that was put on at Davos, but it got nixed in 2009 when conspicuous consumption of first-growth clarets was considered inappropriate in the face of...

By Ezra Klein  | January 28, 2011; 10:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Why corporate tax reform will be hard, in one graph

Binyamin Appelbaum, as an addendum to this sobering look at the realities of corporate tax reform, points to the work of NYU's Aswath Damodaran, who has compiled a rough estimate of the effective tax rates in various industries. You might...

By Ezra Klein  | January 28, 2011; 9:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Wonkbook: Filibuster reform dead

So why did Senate Democrats agree, in principle, that simple majorities can't change the Senate's rules, and even exceedingly modest changes to the filibuster are out-of-bounds? Easy: They're a simple majority now, but someday soon, they'll be a simple...

By Ezra Klein  | January 28, 2011; 6:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Reid and McConnell agree that the Senate is pretty much fine the way it is; Boehner backs off Social Security cuts; and 21 Senate Republicans want to make our budget process more like California's. Elsewhere: 1) Rand Paul identifies...

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 6:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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More staffing changes at the White House

Jake Tapper lays it out: Sources tell ABC News that President Obama will announce a number of staffing changes this afternoon, including the appointment of two new deputy chiefs of staff: current head of the White House Office of Health...

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 5:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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The United States of Awesome

Yesterday, I linked to a map titled "the United States of Shame," which showed what every state should be, well, ashamed of. Ilya Gerner, however, has a persuasive rejoinder. Behold, the United States of Awesome:...

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 4:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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When commitment is just another word for nothing left to lose

Responding to Ben McGrath's New Yorker article on football and brain injury, Ta-Nehisi Coates searches his own feelings about the sport and admits that "in some measure, pro football is quite beautiful because it gives us human beings willingly...

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 4:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
 
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Reid and McConnell agree: There will be no reform of the filibuster

A few moments ago, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell took to the floor of the Senate to announce a five-point agreement on rules reform. But the five-points weren't, well, the point. The real agreement was on the process by...

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 1:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
Categories:  Senate  
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Lunch Break

At the end of the day, what matters isn't how salmon is regulated. It's how it's cooked. Here's Gordon Ramsay to make sure you don't do it wrong:...

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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What's the deal with salmon?

Like many examples of governmental dysfunction, the way salmon are regulated makes more sense when you look at it closely than when you simplify it for a laugh line. The reason fishing for salmon in freshwater and fishing for salmon...

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 12:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Boehner backs off Social Security cuts

The big concern that progressives had going into the State of the Union address was that President Obama would propose cuts to Social Security. That didn't happen. And now, a few days after the State of the Union, John...

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 12:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
Categories:  Social Security  
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Repeal EMTALA!

Okay, it's a bit of an awkward slogan. But reader RC is right. A universal health-care insurance program is the logical endpoint of the bill Ronald Reagan signed into law mandating (pretty much) universal emergency hospital care: If the Republican...

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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FCIC final report: 'Financial crisis was avoidable'

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has released its final report, which looks to "determine what happened and how it happened so that we could understand why it happened." The full document -- including the dissents from four of the Republicans...

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 10:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Financial Crisis  
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What Congress spent to stabilize the financial system in one graph

From the CBO's latest budget outlook (pdf): We basically broke even on TARP and deposit insurance, but backing the mortgage market has cost quite a bit. This graph obviously omits the Federal Reserve's efforts....

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 10:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs  
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Why the State of the Union is so long

Former presidential speechwriter James Fallows explains why State of the Union speeches end up the way they do: Because of their length, they simply can't have either a concentrated or a sustained emotional tone or theme -- unlike, say, Obama's...

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 9:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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Wonkbook: Should Washington look to California for guidance on how to do the budget?

Here's the question: Do tax cuts cause deficits? If not, then there's no reason to worry about the Congressional Budget Office's revised estimate that the deficit will reach $1.5 trillion this year, not $1 trillion, as they'd predicted in...

By Ezra Klein  | January 27, 2011; 6:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: I wasn't a big fan of the SOTU; it's okay if China's GDP passes ours; and Mitch McConnell's honesty is a marvel. Elsewhere: 1) The United States of Shame. 2) Should life be more like videogames? 3) More people...

By Ezra Klein  | January 26, 2011; 6:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Where was Ryan's roadmap?

Paul Ryan was tapped to give the GOP's response to the State of the Union last night because his fiscal “Roadmap” -- which gets specific on the way he would save money by reducing the benefits paid out by Medicare...

By Ezra Klein  | January 26, 2011; 5:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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The case of the olive

I take Dennis Kucinich's word that the unpitted olive in the sandwich he bought from the Longsworth Building cafeteria three years ago really has caused him a lot of dental damage, requiring expensive corrective procedures resulting in a lot of...

By Ezra Klein  | January 26, 2011; 3:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Perhaps new policy wasn't really the point of the State of the Union

Maybe old policy was. That, at least, is the theory being advanced by Time's Michael Grunwald, who suggests that the White House took stock of their policy achievements, judged them good but unpopular, and decided the best way to ensure...

By Ezra Klein  | January 26, 2011; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Mitch McConnell: The most honest man in Washington

There are politicians who lie and exaggerate and spin. Who never tell you what they're really doing, or why they're doing it. Who wrap their partisanship in the prettiest of platitudes and swear that they're looking for agreement when...

By Ezra Klein  | January 26, 2011; 2:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Senate  
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Lunch Break

It's time to redesign medical data:...

By Ezra Klein  | January 26, 2011; 12:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Can we win the future if we lose the present?

Mike Konczal says that "in a non-crisis time, [Obama's State of the Union] would have been a great vision of the role of government in the economy." But this isn't a non-crisis time. Unemployment is stuck above 9 percent, we've...

By Ezra Klein  | January 26, 2011; 11:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Economy  
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What type of innovation should America focus on?

Michael Mandel thinks Obama focused on the wrong types of innovation in last night's speech: I counted how many words the President devoted to different areas of innovation. -2 words for biomedical research, the area where the U.S. is far...

By Ezra Klein  | January 26, 2011; 10:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (35)
 
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We won't always be the biggest

This bugged me last night, and it's worth talking about today: One of the first big applause lines of the speech came when Barack Obama said, "For all the hits we’ve taken these last few years, for all the...

By Ezra Klein  | January 26, 2011; 10:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Americans do not want repeal

I've not really jumped on the poll showing that more Americans want to expand health-care reform than repeal it, as "expand" could really mean anything. Perhaps voters have been convinced that the mythical Republican alternatives do more than the...

By Ezra Klein  | January 26, 2011; 10:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Health Reform, Polls  
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Wonkbook: So much State of the Union

The question that gets asked of every investor is the same: "How much?" Investments, after all, primarily matter for how much capital they give their beneficiary access to. But "how much" was a question that President Obama studiously avoided...

By Ezra Klein  | January 26, 2011; 6:41 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Lots of vision, but few policy specifics

At more than 6,000 words, there was a lot in tonight's State of the Union. The bulk of it was a vision of what American economic policy should be pointed towards in the years to come: A country that...

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 9:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (28)
 
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State of the Union word cloud

From the "remarks as prepared for delivery": Full text of the speech below the fold:...

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 8:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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SOTU coverage

Live commentary will be on my Twitter feed. Post-event commentary will be here. The White House, by the way, is trying something interesting, "where in addition to the regular live stream of the event we’re gonna have an “enhanced” version...

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 7:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Let Rahm -- and non-residents in general -- run!

Whatever the Illinois Supreme Court decides, the law that's thrown Rahm Emanuel's mayoral hopes into doubt seems, well, pretty dumb. What's the point of a rule saying that Chicago's mayor had to reside in Chicago for the 365 days preceding...

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 4:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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What Clinton did

It looks like the giant bounce Bill Clinton enjoyed after the 1998 State of the Union address had more to do with Monica Lewinsky than with any set of policy proposals. Nevertheless, according to Gallup, three of the four...

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 4:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Obama looks for a compromise on spending cuts

The president will call for a five-year non-security discretionary spending freeze tonight. This is worth about $400 billion to the budget over 10 years. Is it a good idea? Depends on how you look at it. The argument among...

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 3:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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What about the short term?

Tonight's State of the Union will be about the future, mostly. What the American economy should look like in five, 10 and 20 years. The major policy initiatives are expected to span that timetable: Infrastructure investment, R&D, education and...

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 1:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Lunch break

According to Gallup's table, the only State of the Union that had a really significant impact on a president's approval ratings was Bill Clinton's 1998 address, which lifted his favorables from 59 percent to 69 percent. And looking at approval...

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 12:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Speeches don't (usually) matter, in one table

"U.S. presidents rarely see a spike in public support after their delivery of State of the Union addresses," concludes Gallup. "Since 1978, Gallup has measured only four instances when a president's approval rating increased by at least four percentage points...

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 11:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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Spending cuts as culture war

In his column on Friday, Dana Milbank argued that the spending cuts (pdf) proposed by the Republican Study Committee were as much culture war as fiscal policy. "Among the items the group proposes to eliminate or decimate: the National Endowment...

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 11:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (58)
Categories:  Budget  
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What the speech has done already

The president won't give his annual State of the Union address until later tonight, but in an important way, the speech has already worked. For the past week or so, news report after news report has dutifully relayed the argument...

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 10:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Column: The problem with competitiveness -- and with Canada

Imagine if President Obama took the podium Tuesday night and said: "Technology has made competition easier and fiercer than ever before. Countries around the world are upping their game and giving their workers and companies every advantage possible. But that...

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 9:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Articles  
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Wonkbook: Social Security safe in SOTU; GOP skeptical of infrastructure spending; Cantor opposes state bankruptcy

There are a fair number of speeches that Barack Obama has given that I can recall quite clearly. But the 2010 State of the Union isn't one of them. Looking back, I seem to have liked it well enough....

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 6:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Why Obama's poll numbers might matter; when "competitiveness" is a bad thing; and the people who will -- or won't -- save American health care. Elsewhere: 1) Filibuster reform dead? 2) Why sensible people worry about deflation. 3) Atul...

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 6:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Should the Affordable Care Act have bipartisan oversight?

The New York Times asked Tom Daschle to weigh in on what Barack Obama should say about health-care reform at the State of the Union. Daschle offered up some boilerplate, and then this: I propose that we create a bipartisan...

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 5:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The people who will really decide whether health-care reform succeeds or fails

The New Yorker isn't allowing Atul Gawande's latest article out from behind the paywall, but you can read the abstract here. The basic point is well worth keeping in mind amid all the arguments over the Affordable Care Act:...

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 2:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Evan Bayh walks through the revolving door

In 2010, Sen. Evan Bayh retired. Part of the reason, he told me, was that the corrosive effect of money in politics had left his profession looking corrupt. "You want to be engaged in an honorable line of work," Bayh...

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 1:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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Should America be competitive?

Over the weekend, President Obama sent an e-mail to his Organizing for America list previewing the State of the Union. “My No. 1 focus,” he said, “is going to be making sure that we are competitive. ... I will...

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 12:57 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Economic Policy  
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Lunch Break

Garry Kasparov talks to Google:...

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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High-deductible health care in the Affordable Care Act

One of the problems many conservatives have, or think they have, with the Affordable Care Act is that it doesn't make enough space for high-deductible options. But I've not heard many explain exactly how much more space they'd like to...

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 12:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Will Obama's poll numbers scare off some challengers?

I don't tend to take poll numbers very seriously until an election is right around the corner. A poll in January is just not sufficiently predictive enough of a poll in November for me to care about it. So the...

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 11:04 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  2012 Presidential  
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Two things you may not know about the French economy

They're good globalizers: It's true that French corporations are leading globalizers and do very well abroad. It's not noted enough in the United States because these corporations often aren't in the US. Carrefour is the world's biggest retailer after Wal-Mart,...

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 10:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Are we done talking about big government?

Jon Chait and Matt Yglesias are kicking around the idea that the passage of the Affordable Care Act fills the final major hole in the American safety net and means, as Matt says, that "the era of big government...

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 9:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Government  
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GOP looks to make Affordable Care Act less fiscally responsible

Over at Kaiser Health News, Lexie Verdon, Bara Vaida and Jordan Rau report on the next phase of the GOP's assault on the Affordable Care Act, which involves, as Rep. Dave Camp put it, an effort to "prune it branch...

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 9:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Wonkbook: Previewing the SOTU; inside the White House's reinvention; will the Senate cut the # of confirmable appointees?

If you're looking for a preview of Tuesday's State of the Union, you can do better than the short video President Obama sent to supporters over the weekend. As John Heilemann noted in his (must-read) look at the White...

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 6:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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