Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

Will The House Kill Health Care Reform?
January 26, 2009

Historians will tell you that the Senate is where health care reform, like most sweeping pieces of liberal legislation, goes to die. But will this year's health care graveyard be in the House?

Your Hospital Shouldn't Make You Sick
January 22, 2009

When you go into the hospital, you probably worry most about whether your treatment is going to work. Will the medicine cure my disease? Will the surgery repair my broken body? But few people ever consider another kind of threat--the threat of hospital-born infection. According to some estimates, about two million people get preventable hospital infections every year. That's not only costly. It's also tragic, since nearly half of those people die. But there's now some good news to report.

Obama, Just As Advertised
January 21, 2009

Did you know President Obama's advisers seriously proposed establishing a national sales tax holiday to boost the economy--and that Obama rejected it, thinking it was a feel-good move that wouldn't make a long-term difference in the economy? Here's the full story, via Joe Klein's terrific new Time article about the transition, the Inauguration, and what lies ahead: In the midst of the transition, President Obama was faced with a telling policy choice: whether to declare a temporary sales-tax holiday. His economic advisers loved the idea.

Wsj: Health Care Reform Is On Deck
January 21, 2009

Amid the hoopla over the Inauguration Tuesday, a lot of people probably missed the Wall Street Journal story about Barack Obama's presidency and the fiscal challenges he'll face. And, in many ways, it was a fairly straightforward primer on the challenges of fulfilling Obama's ambitious spending proposals at a time of rising deficits. But the article also included this genuinely newsworthy item: The incoming administration plans to move fast on his proposal to overhaul the health-care system, with a major event at the White House, likely in March, two Obama officials said.

Non-believers Are Americans, Too.
January 20, 2009

Using inclusive language about religion is pretty much ritual now. If you're a politician giving a speech and you're going to cite one faith, you have to cite many--i.e., not just Christians, but Jews, Muslims, and Hindus as well. And that's a good thing. But if the standards of polite political discourse now require accepting people who pray to god in different ways, it doesn't require recognizing those who choose not to pray at all. At least not yet.

A Striking Rebuke Of Bush Foreign Policy
January 20, 2009

Reponsibility was the theme of President Obama's address--and I hope to unpack its meaning a little later. But, for me, the most striking part of the speech was the direct rebuke of former President Bush's foreign policy. Note, in particular, the initial passage (which I've bolded) about the need to live by the rule of law, even in matters of national security: As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

Speech Preview: "a New Era Of Responsibility"
January 20, 2009

Mike Allen at Politico has a fuller preview, based on a conference call held on background for reporters held Monday: Calling for America to show a new maturity that will bridge old squabbles, President-elect Obama plans “a sober speech” for bleak times, leavened with assurance that he believes better times are coming, aides said.

Speech Preview: Obama Still Thinking Big
January 20, 2009

Via Mark Ambinder, Obama transition aides say he will address critics who think he needs to scale down his amibitions:  The fundamental question of our time ... is not whether government is too big or two small, it will be whether it works.   The address will not have policy specifics, nor should it. It will instead make broad statements about Obama's vision for the country. And it sounds like that vision is entirely consistent with what we've heard from Obama for the last few months: He's thinking big. --Jonathan Cohn

Fixing Health Insurance--in The Industry's Backyard
January 19, 2009

Hartford, Connecticut, has been called the "insurance captial of the world." Could it be the insurance reform captial of the world, too? Last week, a coalition of unions and liberal advocacy groups unveiled a new proposal to give every state resident affordable insurance coverage. This account in the New York Times has the details: The plan ... would create an extensive health insurance purchasing pool that would include state employees, retirees, people covered by state assistance and the public.

Entitlement Reform? (cringe)
January 16, 2009

Word that President-Elect Obama vowed, during a meeting with Washington Post editors, to pursue "entitlement reform" set off all sorts of alarm bells among progressives on Thursday.  And rightly so. The last time a president talked about reforming entitlement programs and "saving" Social Security was a few years ago, when President Bush proposed to privatize the program. Nobody thinks Obama wants to transform Social Security into a system that includes private retirement accounts.

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