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Ezra Klein: February 6, 2011 - February 12, 2011

Weekend question

I've liked this feature over at Jon Bernstein's blog, so I'm going to, uh, steal it. So: Which of the potential candidates testing the waters at CPAC would you feel most comfortable seeing as president? If you need a list...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 7:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (46)
 
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Do Republicans really oppose making health-care insurance cheaper?

The health-care debate has a cyclical nature, and I don't want to keep writing the same posts over and over again. So rather than write a whole new piece on the GOP's rediscovery of the Congressional Budget Office's estimate that...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 6:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (91)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Who's buying more stuff from us in one graph

The Commerce Department says export growth was 14.9 percent in 2010. That's pretty good, though it's pretty good in large part because 2009 was pretty bad. Here's who got our goods: One way to read this graph is that we're...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 5:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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What's an elite education worth?

At the beginning? Quite a bit. Over time? Not as much. In this paper we compare the labor market performance of Israeli students who graduated from one of the leading universities, Hebrew University (HU), with those who graduated from a...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 5:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Education  
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How the administration will get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

I mentioned earlier that the administration plans to get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But I didn't say much about how they mean to go about doing it. Luckily, Daniel Indiviglio has a nice, clean summary: One change...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 5:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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I guess this was predictable

The Cato Institute invites you to a Policy Forum: Is Dodd-Frank Constitutional? featuring Mark Calabria Director of Financial Regulatory Studies, Cato Institute Hon. C. Boyden Gray Former White House Counsel Timothy R. McTaggart Partner, Pepper Hamilton LLP, and former Delaware...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 3:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Should we pay members of Congress for performance? Can we?

Can we pay members of Congress for being productive? That's what Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) wants to do. "The real trouble with Congress is that you get what you pay for, and we are paying for the wrong things," he...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 1:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Lunch Break

The greatest whistler in the world:...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 12:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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The submerged state in one graph

"The submerged state" is Cornell professor Suzanne Mettler's term for the slew of government policies that most Americans don't know exist or don't realize are government policies. As part of her paper -- gated, sadly -- exploring how these invisible...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 12:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs, Political Science  
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In praise of 'Planet Money'

I've become a recent convert to podcasts. Particularly after I found that the iPhone/iPod software allows you to listen to them at double speed. And so, in recent weeks, I've caught up with NPR's "Planet Money" show. And I want...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 11:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Mubarak steps down

I have zero insight to offer on the remarkable events in Egypt. But I did find this essay to be helpful in trying to think through what's happening there, and who's playing what role. An excerpt: Many international media commentators...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 11:29 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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The REINS Act

The REINS Act hasn't gotten a lot of attention, but it's a big favorite among the House GOP: The idea is that every major regulation would require a separate vote in Congress. That sounds reasonable enough, but in practice it...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 10:16 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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It's all about Dodd-Frank

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be wound down. The government will continue to use taxpayer money to make it cheaper and safer for Americans to take out mortgages on home purchases. The administration is offering a range of...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 8:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (69)
 
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Wonkbook: Tea Party wins their first budget fight

That went fast. Yesterday's Wonkbook lede was about the $32 billion in cuts that the House Republican leadership had previewed for the rest of 2011. Today lede is about the $100 billion of cuts they're now searching to find...

By Ezra Klein  | February 11, 2011; 6:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (88)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: What Karl Rove got right; how to read the GOP's budget cuts; and an interview with the man who might bring single-payer health care to Vermont. Elsewhere: 1) Climate science vs. climate economics. 2) A good Brookings paper (pdf)...

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 6:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Should the government fund the arts?

Jonathan Chait makes the case against public funding of the arts: The problem is that art is not like most of the public goods that liberals want government to subsidize. Art is not a giant project like a highway or...

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 5:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
 
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The GOP's budget cuts in one table

Remember that post I did today on the need to annualize the GOP's budget cuts? Turns out the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a table doing exactly that: That's a bit difficult to read, so here's what you're...

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 5:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
Categories:  Budget  
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Reminder: The nominations process is still broken

From the inbox: WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts: · Scott Gration, Ambassador to the Republic of Kenya, Department of State · Marilyn A. Quagliotti, Deputy Director for...

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 4:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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Annualization matters

I got at this a bit in today's Wonkbook, but it's important to remember that the debate in the House right now is not over how much to cut from the 2012 budget, but how much to cut from the...

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 3:06 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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What the federal government actually does

On Jan. 27, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) headed to Harvard University and delivered a pretty good speech (PDF) on why government is broken. In particular, I like this bit: The core business of federal government is insurance, namely the...

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 2:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Grouponing the government

"If not enough people express interest, the deal dies. No coupons are issued, and nobody’s out a cent. Groupon is, therefore, a huge win-win-win." That's David Pogue, explaining how the new generation of social-coupon Web sites work. But it's also...

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 2:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Lunch break

Using the architecture of the organic world to guide architecture outside it:...

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 12:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Gov. Peter Shumlin: The man who'd bring single-payer health care to Vermont

Peter Shumlin, the newly elected governor of Vermont, has a plan for health-care reform: Rather than repeal it, he wants to supercharge it. His state will set up an exchange, and then, as soon as possible, apply for a...

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 11:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (53)
Categories:  Interviews  
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Let's talk about us

The name "Mitch Daniels" does not appear in Kathleen Sebelius's op-ed this morning. But the whole piece is a response to Daniels's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal demanding that states get more flexibility to set the standards governing the...

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 10:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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What Karl Rove gets right

I don't agree with Karl Rove on much, but he's right that if the GOP takes control of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2012, they can kill the Affordable Care Act even if they...

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 9:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
 
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No apology -- unless you'd like me to apologize for something, of course

The paperback edition of "No Apology," Mitt Romney's second book, is being released, and Romney -- or his team -- has made a few changes. I'm sorry, did I say changes? I meant a few panders: The first rewrite excises...

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 9:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Wonkbook: So many budget proposals

There are two budget debates going on in Washington right now. One is about the budget for next year, fiscal year 2012. That's the debate that the Obama administration will kick off when they release their budget on Monday....

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 6:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: The states have cut spending pretty deeply, the White House has made some serious mistakes in Senate recruitment, and people in government like to gossip. Elsewhere: 1) Former Democratic Leadership Council Policy Director Ed Kilgore on the DLC. 2)...

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 6:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Heads taxpayers win, tails they don't lose

There are basically two models for encouraging the private sector to do things the public sector wants done. You can pay them to try, or you can pay them to succeed. It's subsidies vs. prizes. According to David Leonhardt, the...

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 5:49 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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What happens to the unemployed, in one graph

If you ask people how an unemployed person stops being unemployed, they'll probably say that the person gets a job. But that's not the only answer: A person can stop being counted as unemployed if she gives up looking for...

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 4:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Reporters aren't the only ones who like to gossip

This is a very good post by Brad DeLong on the substance of the debates between Peter Orszag and others in the Obama administration. I'm a bit more sympathetic to Orszag's position than Brad is, primarily because I think...

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 4:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Obama administration  
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PPACA? Seriously?

I don't care if people refer to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as ObamaCare or health-care reform or the ACA or the BaucusBill or anything else. This is the sort of thing that keeps political professionals busy, but...

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 3:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Does not dessert by any other name still taste as sweet?

I liked this exchange between the New Yorker's Adam Gopnik and El Bulli's Ferran Adria on where dessert is going: Were we, I asked, on the verge of entirely breaking down the line between sweet and savory? He looked...

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 2:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Tim Kaine for Senate?

James Webb will not run for reelection in 2010. That means, I'd think, that some members of the Obama administration had better be on the phone telling Tim Kaine to get in the race. Kaine is a former governor...

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 2:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  2012 Presidential  
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Lunch Break

A debate of "The Spirit Level," a book that marshals an impressive amount of data to suggest that high levels of inequality do enormous damage to the social structure of countries....

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 1:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Bernanke tries to reassure the GOP

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is testifying for the first time before Rep. Paul Ryan's Budget Committee today, and his prepared remarks are worth a read. Message? Nothing much to see here. Inflation is low, employment is depressed, and...

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 11:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Do Hoosiers have worse dentists than Californians?

I doubt it. And so does Adam Ozimek: State by state variation also provides a useful rebuttal to occupational licensing defenses that appeal to our desire to have quality services. Do you really think of Indiana as a laissez-faire, low...

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 10:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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How much more should the states cut?

Over the next few days, the Obama administration is going to propose some financial help for the states. Congressional Republicans, who've adopted a tough-love attitude to the states that found their fiscal position rocked after Congress and federal regulators...

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 9:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Budget  
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AOL HuffPo AIL HufPo Huffintgon AOK

Farhad Manjoo's got the lede of the week: Are you wondering, "will AOL's acquisition of the Huffington Post be successful?" I bet you are, as that's been a common search engine query since the announcement earlier this week that AOL...

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Wonkbook: White House throws states a lifeline. But will the GOP let them catch it?

Next week's budget will include a complicated, two-pronged proposal to forgive the states some debt and give them access to more tax revenues after 2014. It's evidence that the White House s pretty worried about both the long and...

By Ezra Klein  | February 9, 2011; 6:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: Mitch Daniels's health-care proposal (and an update); why Democrats should welcome reform of their reforms; and the Obama administration should stop being so terrified of taxes. 1) This is true, but boy is it a low bar to clear....

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 6:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
 
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More on Mitch Daniels's health-care deal

Earlier today, I asked what exactly Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels meant when he said "all the [Affordable Care Act's] expensive benefit mandates [should be] waived, so that our citizens aren't forced to buy benefits they don't need and have a...

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 5:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Health Reform, Health reform implementation  
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The Obama administration has raised some taxes and cut many others. They should admit that.

"I didn't raise taxes once," Barack Obama told Bill O'Reilly on Sunday. "I lowered taxes over the last two years." That's, well, half true. The Obama administration has raised taxes. The excise tax on high-value health-care insurance, for instance, is...

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 4:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Taxes  
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Democrats should welcome reform of the reform

Responding to the moderate Democrats who are proposing alternatives to the individual mandate, Greg Sargent says "all they're succeeding in doing is undermining one of the Democratic Party's signature domestic accomplishments." I disagree. I think they're separating politicians engaged...

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (22)
 
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Lunch Break

The rise of personal robots:...

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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What happens if governors ignore health-care reform?

It's worth noting that the threat in Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels's op-ed is that governors such as he won't lift a finger to implement the health-insurance exchanges. But it's important to note, as Sam Stein does, that if governors walk...

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 12:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The 111th Congress was the most polarized ever -- in graphs

That's from this post by political scientist Keith Poole. A bit later in the piece, he breaks the numbers down further and finds that the high level of polarization was primarily a result of Republicans being more polarized than...

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 10:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs  
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Mitch Daniels proposes a deal on health care

This op-ed by Gov. Mitch Daniels includes an introductory critique of the Affordable Care Act that's so overstated that it borders on comedy. (I mean, "all claims made for it were false"? Really? Every single one?) But once you get...

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 10:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (38)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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I'd read it

That's from the Malcolm Gladwell book generator....

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 10:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Books  
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Department of Corrections

Austin Frakt had some trouble finding the Medicare cut I mentioned that would hold the growth of a certain class of payments to medical providers to GDP plus one percentage point. That's because I made a mistake. The class of...

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
 
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Wonkbook: The best story you'll read on earmarks

If you want to see why holding the line on deficit reduction is going to be so difficult, read Jennifer Steinhauer's report on how members of Congress and the communities they represent are reacting to a world without earmarks....

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 6:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Reconciliation

Recap: What Paul Ryan's Roadmap and the Affordable Care Act have in common; why Obama and the Chamber of Commerce are getting friendlier; and the triumphant death of the DLC. 1) David Leonhardt on corporate taxes. 2) "In light of...

By Ezra Klein  | February 7, 2011; 6:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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One man's loophole is another man's R&D tax credit

"So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years -- without adding...

By Ezra Klein  | February 7, 2011; 5:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Taxes  
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The death of the DLC?

Ben Smith is reporting the Democratic Leadership Council could fold as early as tomorrow. I've noticed a bit of Nelsoning running through the response to this news, but it looks to me like the DLC is a victim of its...

By Ezra Klein  | February 7, 2011; 5:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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The last 30 years in the labor market in one graph

From the latest edition of the Economic Policy Institute's "State of Working America": Note that the numbers stop in 2007, so the lines representing the Aughts are reflecting pre-recession trends. If you add in 2008-2011, of course, everything looks much,...

By Ezra Klein  | February 7, 2011; 3:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs  
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Why Obama and the chamber are getting friendlier

There was a lot of hype surrounding Barack Obama's speech at the Chamber of Commerce today, but not much reason for it. The speech was an articulation of the agenda that the White House has already laid out. Indeed,...

By Ezra Klein  | February 7, 2011; 2:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (65)
 
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Lunch Break

I loved Chrysler's Superbowl ad last night: The buzzkill take on this is that Chrysler might be owned by an Italian company come the end of this year. But as James Fallows says, "the factories and much of the supply...

By Ezra Klein  | February 7, 2011; 1:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Arianna Huffington: 'Empress of the Internet'

That's Felix Salmon's take on AOL's acquisition of the Huffington Post, anyway: My feeling, then, is that this deal is a good one for both sides. AOL gets something it desperately needs: a voice and a clear editorial vision....

By Ezra Klein  | February 7, 2011; 11:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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'Nothing in the Constitution even remotely guarantees a right to be a free rider'

Georgetown's David Cole has a nice essay on the legal challenges to the individual mandate: Near the end of his decision, Judge Hudson writes: “At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance — or...

By Ezra Klein  | February 7, 2011; 10:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (34)
 
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What makes Paul Ryan confident in his Medicare plan?

Here's a question for Paul Ryan, or anyone who supports Paul Ryan's plan: Why are the cost savings in his bill possible, while the cost savings in the Affordable Care Act aren't? Ryan has been warning that one of the...

By Ezra Klein  | February 7, 2011; 10:03 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Health Reform, Medicare  
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Can 'The Box' get smaller?

I spent some of my weekend reading Marc Levinson's "The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger." The book is trying to answer the question of how we got to a world where,...

By Ezra Klein  | February 7, 2011; 9:19 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Books  
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Wonkbook: Truce on Senate rules is holding; WH starts announcing budget cuts; Obama heads to the Chamber

If you were watching the Superbowl in the DC area last night, one of the ads you saw came from the No Food Taxes coalition (which includes 7-Eleven, Alcoa, the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributers Association, American Airlines, McDonald's, and many...

By Ezra Klein  | February 7, 2011; 6:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (31)
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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