Noam Scheiber

Senior Editor

On Sunday, The Washington Post published a long, blow-by-blow of last summer’s negotiations between Barack Obama and John Boehner over a $4 trillion deficit deal. The take-away from the piece is that Obama had a chance at a deal involving $800 billion in tax increases and trillions in spending cuts (including cuts to sacred programs like Medicare and Social Security), but that he got cold feet and backed away.

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A week ago, after Rick Santorum swept the GOP contests in Mississippi and Alabama, Mitt Romney faced a choice: He could shake up his campaign following the unexpected setback, or double down on the strategy he’d been deploying for weeks, which meant touting his large delegate-lead, portraying himself as inevitable, and exploiting his enormous financial advantage.  Romney chose the latter, and the decision paid off in Illinois last night.

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It’s very hard to watch “The Road We’ve Traveled,” 17-minute documentary the Obama campaign released Thursday night, and not be impressed by its underlying premise, which is that the president inherited a terrible set of crises, and that we’re in far better shape thanks to his efforts. The video succeeds in recreating the clammy terror of the financial crisis, and in calling up the sense of relief you felt when this obviously serious and composed young president spoke so fluently about how we’d get out of it.

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Last week Nate Silver wondered how much better Rick Santorum would be doing in the GOP primaries if Newt Gingrich had been on the sidelines the whole time. Using data from the polling firm PPP, Silver assumed Santorum would have received about 57 percent of Gingrich’s votes, Mitt Romney 27 percent, and Ron Paul 16. The punchline:  It would undoubtedly still help Mr. Santorum if Mr. Gingrich dropped out--especially if Mr. Gingrich endorsed Mr. Santorum and asked his delegates to vote for him.

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Lucky Run

Since launching his second campaign for the White House, Mitt Romney has resolutely insisted he favored a health care requirement only for Massachusetts residents, not as a matter of national policy.

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I’m hardly the first to seize on the new Washington Post poll showing Obama’s continued struggles with independents. Heck, I’m not even the  first writer at this magazine to weigh in. But there’s a wrinkle of the story that’s received less attention, and so I think it’s worth piling on a bit more.  According to the Post’s write-up, and to many of the commentators who’ve kibitzed about it, Obama’s sudden retreat among independents—57 percent now disapprove of his handling of the economy—is mostly a function of rising gas prices.

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Today is finally the day you can walk into a Barnes & Noble and pick up your copy of The Escape Artists—or, for that matter, simply order it on Amazon, no “pre-ordering” involved. On the off-chance you’d like to know what you’re getting into beforehand, The New York Times has a review of the book in today’s paper, and The Huffington Post has written about it here and here.

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Really enjoyed answering everyone's questions on my reddit "Ask Me Anything" Q&A yesterday. So much so that I'm coming back for more today at 11am. Hit me with your best shot! 

Jon Chait asks the key question in response to the internal administration memo I uncovered while researching my book--the one in which Christy Romer wrote that it would take $1.7-to-$1.8 trillion to fully revive the economy by 2011. Chait writes: It’s important to keep in mind, though, that this still does not resolve the question of whether or not Obama could have gotten a larger stimulus. ... [T]he ultimate decision-making power here was where it always was: with Ben Nelson, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter, the senators who stood at the decision-making point.

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For the past three years, Washington journalists and politicos have obsessed over a 57-page memo that Barack Obama’s incoming economic team prepared for him in late 2008. The document has achieved such totemic status for good reason: It decisively shaped the Obama administration’s initial response to the economic crisis. The memo outlined the president-elect’s options for dealing with the teetering banks, the cash-strapped automakers, and the country’s tidal wave of foreclosures.

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