Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

Who's Afraid Of Deficits? Not Paul Krugman.
December 01, 2008

Today in the Times, Paul Krugman lends his Nobel-winning credibility to the argument for massive government spending in order to stimulate the economy. Yes, it will drive up the deficit in the short run. And, yes, fears of higher deficits led Bill Clinton to abandon his spending promises during the 1990s. But this is not the 1990s, Krugman reminds us. Back then, Clinton was worried that government borrowing would "crowd out" private investment, by driving up interest rates.

Obama's Health Care Team: They Mean Business
November 25, 2008

Today the Obama transition office will announce its health care policy team. As expected, Tom Daschle will be leading it. According to sources closes to the transition, he'll be joined by a set of analysts including Lauren Aronson, Mark Childress, Dora Hughes, and Jeanne Lambrew. Harvard economist David Cutler will be serving as a part-time, outside advisor, reprising a role he served during the campaign. Among the other outside advisers are Jonathan Blum, Rahul Rajkumar, Terrell McSweeny, and Jenny Backus.

Detroit Builds Good Cars? Actually, Yes. (sometimes.)
November 22, 2008

From the Detroit Free Press: Myth:  They build unreliable junk. Reality: The creaky, leaky vehicles of the 1980s and '90s are long gone. Consumer Reports recently found that "Ford's reliability is now on par with good Japanese automakers." The independent J.D. Power Initial Quality Study scored Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Mercury, Pontiac and Lincoln brands' overall quality as high or higher than that of Acura, Audi, BMW, Honda, Nissan, Scion, Volkswagen and Volvo. Power rated the Chevrolet Malibu the highest-quality midsize sedan.

Assembly Line
November 21, 2008

If you've been following the auto industry's crisis, then you've probably read or heard a lot about overpaid American autoworkers--in particular, the fact that the average hourly employee of the Big Three makes $70 per hour. That's an awful lot of money. Seventy dollars an hour in wages works out to almost $150,000 a year in gross income, if you assume a forty-hour work week. Is it any wonder the Big Three are in trouble?

Health Insurance Industry: We Can Play Nice (updated!)
November 20, 2008

Could the health insurance industry support universal health insurance? For a few months, industry representatives have been telling reformers both on and off Capitol Hill that they'd consider it, subject to certain conditions. On Wednesday, they said it publicly. Their position is pretty simple. They would be willing to change their business practices--and stop discriminating against people with pre-existing medical conditions--as long as the government required everybody to obtain health insurance.

Surgical Prep
November 19, 2008

If you believe what the pundits are saying, enacting universal health insurance in the next year won't be difficult: It will be impossible. As the argument goes, it would cost too much money, antagonize too many interest groups, and--given the difficulty of finding 60 votes in the Senate--require too much raw political muscle. Even before Barack Obama won the election, allies were advising him to stay far away from major health care legislation, lest he fail as miserably as Bill Clinton did when he famously tried for universal coverage back in 1994.

Daschle At Hhs = Good News For Health Reform
November 19, 2008

So much health care news, so little time to blog. But let me weigh in on the news, via, CNN, that Tom Daschle will be Secretary of Health and Human Services. He will also serve as the White House point person on health care reform. This is a perfect role for Daschle. Although he was always been interested in health care, in the last few years he's become a true wonk on the subject, publishing a book called Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.

Annals Of Stupidity, Auto Executive Edition
November 19, 2008

Riddle of the day: When three auto industry executives came to Washington on Tuesday, in order to make the case for a multi-billion-dollar taxpayer-backed rescue, did they fly coach or first class?  Ha! It's a trick question. They did neither. Instead, they took private jets. Three separate private jets.  ABC News has the goods (h/t Yglesias): While [GM executive Rick] Wagoner testified, his G4 private jet was parked at Dulles airport.

The Word From Rahm: We Will "throw Long And Deep"
November 19, 2008

There's been a lot of debate about how quickly the Obama Administration can move on its domestic policy agenda--and for how long it might have to shelve big-ticket items like fighting climate change and major health care reform. It appears we have an answer, via incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Last night, Emanuel addressed a group of business executives.

Quoth The Budget Director, "nevermore." (updated)
November 18, 2008

Word has it that Congressional Budget Office director Peter Orszag will be joining the Obama Administration as its budget director. This has potentially major implications for the future of Obama's agenda, for reasons I will explain tomorrow when I have the benefit of some more sleep. For now, though, I'd like to focus on a far less weighty, but no less intriguing, issue: What Orszag's move would mean for the literary quality of future Obama administration policy reports. Yes, that's right--literary quality.