Clinton

CBO Numbers Or Fight!

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget is criticizing the Obama administration's budget for, among other things, using economic estimates from the Office of management and Budget that are more optimistic than those put forth by the Congressional Budget Office.

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The Reality of Revolution

In both the euphoria and the apprehension that have accompanied the popular uprisings in the Arab Middle East that, no matter who succeeds them, have already resulted in the fall of two tyrants and the first credible threats to several more, there has been much talk about freedom and democracy and about secularism versus Islamism. Predictably, if also dishearteningly, there has been an avalanche of the usual cyber-utopian techno-babble about the emancipatory potential of the Bluetooth devices and Twitter feeds for which authoritarian tyrannies are said to be no match.

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Democrats are attacking House Republicans for slashing funds for research, education and science: In the first major media salvo of its effort to reclaim the House in 2012, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching an advertising campaign against 19 targeted Republican incumbents. The radio ads, web ads, phone calls and e-mails are aimed squarely at Republicans in mostly Democratic-leaning districts.

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Tuesday, the president issued a new executive order on cost-benefit analysis and regulation. Already, the right has denounced it as a paean to collectivism and the left has declared that Obama has sold out to business groups. In fact, both sides are incorrect. The surprising reality is that cost-benefit analysis, as it will likely be practiced under the Obama administration, is not nearly as threatening as its detractors suggest. Then again, neither is it as revolutionary as its supporters like to imagine. Long ago, cost-benefit analysis was a rallying cry for conservatives.

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Multiple media outlets are reporting that President Obama today will name William Daley as his new chief of staff, which means I've missed my chance to weigh in on him. Both Jon Chait and Ezra Klein have expressed misgivings about Daley and I share them.

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Holbrooke

What can you say about a problem like Richard Holbrooke? You either loved him or hated him or both. Myself, I loved him. Most of the press did. There is no embarrassment in this. He took us seriously and we took him seriously. We knew how much he valued the platform that we gave to him, but we were not fools and he was not a knave: He plainly wanted the platform just as much, or most of all, not for himself but for his mission.

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Ryan Grim has some pretty shocking statistics on the GOP's success in blocking President Obama's judicial nominees, along with Obama's complicity in the problem: As the first congressional session of Obama's presidency draws to a close, what began as a slow process of confirmation has ballooned into a full-blown judicial crisis. The Senate has overseen the slowest pace of judicial staffing in at least a generation, with a paltry 39.8 percent of Obama's judges having been confirmed, according to numbers compiled by Senate Democrats.

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The childish panic that has swept the policy establishment over the past few weeks over the Wikileaks revelations themselves will soon subside.

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Loose Change

Of all the historical analogies urged on Obama following November’s drubbing—Truman in ’48, Reagan after ’82, Clinton after ’94—the one the White House has opted for is easily the most obscure. That would be Patrick in ’10—as in Deval Patrick, the recently re-elected governor of Massachusetts. Months after Patrick signed the state’s first sales-tax hike in 33 years, political chatterers gave him little chance of surviving to a second term.

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It appears that President Obama got more out of Republicans, in return for extending all the Bush tax cuts, than I expected he would. Of course he also gave up more, agreeing to an extension of a low estate tax rate, which is apparently crucial as an incentive for rich people to, uh, die. Why were Republicans so flexible? They are willing to deal away a lot if they're getting tax cuts for the rich. President Clinton got Republicans to establish a Childrens' Health Insurance Program in 1997 in return for a capital gains tax cut.

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