Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

Jim Cooper Gets The Treatment: A Blue Dog Barks Back
April 02, 2009

It would be something of an understatement to say that liberals don’t trust Representative Jim Cooper, the Democrat from Tennessee. That’s particularly true for liberals (like me) who remember the fight over health care reform in 1993 and 1994, when Cooper championed a centrist alternative to the Clinton health care plan. One former Clinton staffer has said “no Democrat did more to destroy our chances in that fight than Jim Cooper”--a verdict many experts share.

I'd Pay For Orszag's Starbucks, Too.
April 02, 2009

Imagine opening the Washington Post to read this: OBAMA ADVISOR KILLS PEDESTRIANBudget Director Was Blackberrying and Reaching for Secure Phone While Driving Probably not a good thing, huh? But I have to wonder if that's what David Sirota had in mind when he decided to write an item about Budget Director Peter Orszag earlier this week. The occasion for the item was a profile of Orszag that ran in The New York Times. It was not a policy piece; rather, it was a color profile and a rather positive one at that.

Official State Business: Why Sebelius Makes Sense
April 02, 2009

Anthony Wright is executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. He blogs daily at the Health Access WeBlog and is a regular contributor to the Treatment. While Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius was a top contender to become Barack Obama's running mate during the campaign, she was not Obama's first choice to run the Department of Health and Human Services after the campaign was over. That distinction went to former Senator Tom Daschle.

Stayin' Alive
April 01, 2009

In early January, most of Barack Obama's senior staff assembled with the president-elect for a meeting inside a windowless, eighth-floor office at the transition headquarters in Washington. It was a pivotal moment in Obama's transformation from candidate to commander-in-chief. Obama's advisers had taken all of his campaign pledges, factored in his promise to reduce the deficit, and put together a provisional blueprint for governing.

Stayin' Alive
April 01, 2009

In early January, most of Barack Obama's senior staff assembled with the president-elect for a meeting inside a windowless, eighth-floor office at the transition headquarters in Washington. It was a pivotal moment in Obama's transformation from candidate to commander-in-chief. Obama's advisers had taken all of his campaign pledges, factored in his promise to reduce the deficit, and put together a provisional blueprint for governing.

No, The Democrats Aren't Against Cooperation
April 01, 2009

Chris Matthews first became famous as a top aide to legendary House Speaker Tip O'Neill. So it's not surprising he cares about congressional procedure. But Matthews' deepening interest in whether Democrats should use reconciliation rules to pass health care reform--he's been harping on this issue lately--suggests the debate is breaking out of wonkier precincts into the wider political discourse. And, thankfully, Matthews seems to get it.

The Single Biggest Issue That Could Undermine Reform
April 01, 2009

If you are following the debate over health care, you are now familiar with some of the major fault lines. Should there be a new public insurance plan, into which anybody can enroll? Should the government require that everybody carry insurance of some form? Should an independent but democratically accountable institute be setting criteria for what services insurers must cover? And so on. But in arguing about these questions, here and in other venues, we are also getting ahead of ourselves.

Another (mostly) Positive Verdict On The Plan For Detroit
March 31, 2009

John Paul MacDuffie is an associate professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and co-director of the International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP). We asked him for his thoughts on President Obama's plan for the auto industry. The new auto industry plan represents more aggressive action than we've seen before; government isn't just writing checks based on proposals from the automakers. But the new plan still stops well short of true nationalization; government won't be managing these companies. Obama, in other words, has found a middle path.

"reconciliation" = Bad. "majority Rule" = Good.
March 31, 2009

The debate over the budget has moved to the Senate floor. And, not surprisingly, a major source of contention is the possible use of reconciliation rules to pass climate change legislation, health care, or both. For those who haven't followed this debate, reconciliation allows the Senate to pass measures with just a simple majority, since time and amendments are limited with no possibility for filibuster. Many Democrats favor this approach; a few oppose it, as (to my knowledge) do all Republicans. The budget proposal under consideration in the Senate has no reconcliation instructions.

Planes, Trains, And Automobiles: Sometimes Bailouts Work
March 31, 2009

In today's New York Times, David Sanger analyzes President Obama's plan for the ailing domestic auto industry. And the historical precedents, Sanger suggests, are not encouraging: "In the past, the United States government had briefly nationalized steel makers and tried to run the railroads, with little success." I claim no particular expertise on either of those episodes. But Phillip Longman, a fellow at the New America Foundation, does.

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