Washington's Suicide Pact
The headlines out of Washington probably have most casual observers convinced we're embroiled in another of our annual slapfights over the budget, and maybe the deficit. That's not the case.
Ezra Klein: Why Unions Are Worth Fighting For
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's effort two weeks ago to end collective bargaining for public employees in his state was the worst thing to happen to the union movement in recent memory—until it unexpectedly became the best thing to happen to the union movement in recent memory.
Health-Care Reform May Be Up to Justice Kennedy
As of now, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is the most pivotal health-care policy thinker in America.
Klein: Why the Congressional Budget Office Matters
The GOP tries to discredit a voice of neutrality.
Klein: Unraveling the Tax-Cut Deal
In Washington last week the temperature dipped into the 20s, which is evidently the point when hell freezes over. President Obama reached an agreement with the Republican Senate leader, who said, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
Paying for Retirement Is Now Your Own Problem
Fewer employers now need to worry about pension costs, but more workers need to worry about retirement security.
Klein: The Do-Lots 111th Congress
Guess what—it accomplished big things.
Money, Politics, and the 2010 Midterms
The soul-crushing life of a senator increasingly revolves around fundraising.
Obama Needs New Voices
First Peter Orszag turned in his ID card. Then Christina Romer went. In short order, Larry Summers and Rahm Emanuel announced their exits. Jim Jones is gone, too. There are a lot of empty desks in the White House these days.
The Case for Investing in Infrastructure
There has never been a better moment for America to rebuild. An unlikely and unwelcome array of forces has converged to match our needs and the economy's bargains almost perfectly. The only question is if we'll run our government like a business, alert to good opportunities, or if we'll run it as we have been, squabbling among ourselves while things get worse.
A Nativist Argument for Immigration
Immigration helps the economy and most American workers. If we want to outcompete other nations, we should be recruiting highly skilled immigrants.
Klein: The Tea Party's Hypocrisy on Taxes
Remember the good old days, when Washington cared about deficits? I do. That's when President Obama signed an executive order forming a commission to consider spending cuts, tax hikes, and other reforms to balance the budget. Sen. Mitch McConnell opposed that commission, but he seemed equally concerned: "Most Americans would say the real emergency here is a $13 trillion debt."
A Republican Stimulus That Just Might Work
Our anti-business White House proposed hundreds of billions in tax cuts for businesses and reiterated support for $30 billion toward small businesses. House Minority Leader John Boehner released a "two-point plan for immediate, bipartisan action on jobs and spending." But Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels offered a plan that put to shame the proposals from both the administration and House Republicans.
We Should Leave Social Security Alone
If you put everything on the table to balance the budget—health care, the tax code, military spending, farm subsidies, etc.—then raising the retirement age or otherwise cutting Social Security stops looking so good.
Copycats vs. Copyrights
I pride myself on being a man of substance. A wonk. A nerd, even. And like most nerds, I don't have a great eye for fashion. So I ask this question seriously: what did you think of Chelsea Clinton's Vera Wang wedding dress? Want to buy it? What if I can sell it to you really, really cheap?
A Prescription for Ruin
I've got some good news for deficit hawks: earlier this year, Congress passed legislation reducing the deficit by about $125 billion over the next 10 years. But, as they say on the infomercials, that's not all! The bill cuts the deficit by $1.3 trillion in the second decade. That more than pays for every dollar we've spent on stimulus since 2008. The bill also sets up a new—and actually credible—system to keep Medicare's costs under control.
Obama Anti-Business? Think Again.
This White House has "vilified industries," complains the Chamber of Commerce. America is burdened with "an anti-business president," moans The Weekly Standard.
Poor Must Be Protected From Main Street Too
Businesses that thrive on people needing access to emergency funds boom when unemployment skyrockets, wages dip, and millions find themselves struggling to make rent each month. So what happens next? Who protects these people?
Five Problems Financial Reform Doesn't Fix
Many of the weaknesses and imbalances that led to the financial crisis will survive our regulatory response. Here are five big ones to watch for.
Ignore the Polls and Focus on Economic Stimulus
It's begun. With merely four months until the elections, we're starting to see the articles outlining the angry divisions between the president's counselors. The fight apparently pits the political team, which wants the president to turn his attention to the political problem of deficits, against the economic team, which wants him to keep focusing on economic stimulus.
How Not to Muck Everything Up
Now that health-care reform and financial-regulation change is inevitable, the question facing reformers is, how do you make sure your reforms survive construction and implementation, and then resist the relentless and inevitable efforts at erosion?
How to Talk About Debt
One of the reasons the idea of debt causes so much confusion is that we say things like "this issue of debt." When we talk about the debt, we need to talk in specifics, not vague generalities. First, there's the difference between accumulated debt (how much our country owes) and annual deficits (how much we're spending in a year compared with how much we're getting in tax revenues). People often use the two terms interchangeably. They shouldn't.
Peter Orszag's Legacy
Peter Orszag is reportedly stepping down as director of the Office of Management and Budget. His tenure may be remembered for tabloid headlines, but he also deserves credit for making health-care reform possible.
Why States Need Stimulus
The federal government has to step in with aid for the states. The Obama administration has asked for about $50 billion for 2011, but experts say they'd really need about twice that. The trick, however, is that you don't want to reward profligate spending under the cover of mitigating an economic disaster. And helping states solely on the size of their budget holes would do exactly that.
How Much Does a Gallon of Gas Cost?
Most of us would call the BP spill a tragedy. Ask an economist what it is, however, and you'll hear a different word: "externality." An externality is a cost that's not paid by the people using the good that creates the cost.
Congress Passes Laws, but It Still Doesn't Work
Whatever America's problems with the legislative branch—and given the institution's 21 percent favorable rating, there are clearly many—no one can call the 111th Congress a "do-nothing Congress." But is it working? Not really.
Klein: Why Elena Kagan Must Talk
With great supremacy comes great responsibility.
Goldman: It's About What's Legal
The problem for Tourre—and for Wall Street more broadly—is that they're so intent on proving that what they did was legal that they can't see that what they did was wrong. These are men (and they usually are men) of the market, and they played by the market's rules. And the market's rules are these: you make as much money as you can without actually going to jail.
Klein: The Tax Man Should Cometh
How I learned to stop worrying and love audits.