How Obama Could Have Avoided His Mandate Quagmire
March 29, 2012
Reid Cherlin, a former Obama White House spokesman whose portfolio included health care, had an interesting post up at GQ.com yesterday about why the Affordable Care Act is so damn hard to sell. The gist: It would have been easy for Verrilli—or any of us—to explain single-payer health care. "Look," we could have said, "the government is paying for everyone to have coverage." End of story. But single-payer is not what our brilliant, world-leading political system gave us.
Jim Kim and the Problem of Excess Humility
March 28, 2012
After reading this Rolling Stone piece about Dartmouth (via Felix Salmon), I now see why the school's president, Jim Yong Kim, who Obama just tapped to head the World Bank, made such a good impression on Tim Geithner: They have very similar views on cultural humility--by which I mean how much you can impose your own values on a foreign culture.
Matt Bai's Excellent Piece...Shows 2011 Was Pointless
March 28, 2012
Matt Bai’s long-awaited, 10,000-word opus on the rise and fall of last summer’s deficit grand-bargain is finally out and very much worth a read. Bai adds a lot of new detail affirming what we thought we knew—which is that Obama was ready to do a deal and Boehner wasn’t—but which got much hazier in recent weeks amid Team Boehner’s furious spin. Still, for my money, Bai puts too little emphasis on the much deeper problem looming over the whole exercise, which is that it didn’t actually matter whether Boehner was willing to strike a deal.
Your Must-Read of the Day, Wall St. Edition
March 26, 2012
Bloomberg has an absolutely terrific piece of reporting out today about how the big banks have mobilized to water down the Volcker Rule—the reform measure designed to prevent federally-backed banks from placing bets for their own bottom line. Here’s the gist: To make their case in Washington, banks and trade associations have been pressing a coordinated campaign to get regulators from five federal agencies to scale back the draft of the proprietary-trading rule issued in October, according to public and internal documents and interviews.
Obama Plainly Disagrees with His World Bank Nominee
March 23, 2012
Over at The Washington Post, Jonathan Bernstein argues that the Jim Yong Kim nomination for World Bank president is (for liberals at least) a pleasant byproduct of having a Democratic president: It’s very difficult for me to imagine John McCain, had he won the presidency — or a President Mitt Romney, for that matter — reaching out beyond the usual bankers and recycled government officials to choose someone like Kim. But it’s not at all hard to picture Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden or Chris Dodd picking him. Presidents don’t make these types of picks on their own.
Meet Your New World Bank President
March 23, 2012
Lots of people can (and will) tell you about the views of Jim Yong Kim, the administration's nominee to be World Bank president, on fighting poverty and improving global health over the next few days. But the Wall Street Journal has unearthed what's sure to be the most compelling character testimonial you're going to find (fast forward till about two minutes in to get to the good stuff): A bit painful to watch, I know, but it convinced me the guy is going to be pretty terrific in this job. I love him already.
The Washington Post's Overly-Credulous Take on Boehner
March 21, 2012
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.
The Hitch in the New Obama Documentary
March 16, 2012
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.
Gas Prices and the White House Confusion Over Independents
March 13, 2012
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.
My Book Is Out Today—And Other Ads for Self
February 28, 2012
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.