Earlier this summer, when the Obama campaign announced that Jason Furman was joining its staff as director of economic policy, the storyline seemed to write itself: Centrist adviser will pull Obama to the right. Furman had first made a name for himself as a wonky twentysomething wunderkind in the later years of the Clinton administration--a period when, to the consternation of many liberals, Clinton emphasized balanced budgets, free trade, and welfare reform.
Let's say you want to criticize Nancy Pelosi from the left. That's right, the left--call her cohorts a bunch of squishy moderates; implore them not to be so damn timid. Where would you start? Iraq? Some antiwar types have attacked the Democrats for refusing to grow a pair and end the fiasco once and for all. But that's a tad unfair--congressional Dems are doing just about everything they can to wind down the war. What about impeachment? Pelosi has taken that off the table.
If there is one trend in American life that most irks economic conservatives, it is probably rising inequality. It’s not the inequality itself that bothers them, as most will happily admit. It is the perception of inequality and, worse, the constant discussion of inequality that is so irritating. It offends their view of capitalism, helps justify all sorts of nefarious government interventions, and makes the conservative economic agenda (most of which tends to increase inequality) appear unfair. They would very much like for it not to be true.
Few have ever accused Morgan Stanley, the white-shoe investment bank formed in 1935 by partners of the imperial J.P. Morgan & Co., of being solicitous toward the investing masses. And that hauteur was on full display last week. On April 29, appearing at the UBS Warburg Global Financial Services Conference, at Manhattan's gilded Pierre Hotel, Morgan Stanley CEO Philip Purcell was asked about the $1.4 billion "global settlement" that Morgan Stanley and nine other firms had just inked with state and federal regulators.
In its dollar magnitude, it's almost certainly the biggest case of financial mismanagement in U.S. history. While a final tally is years away, in part because of suspiciously lost or missing documents, there's good reason to think that the dollar figures will dwarf WorldCom's $9 billion. It's a scandal that crosses partisan lines and reaches into high levels of both the Clinton and the Bush administrations.
It's not hard to figure out why the Bush administration and the Republican congressional leadership are wooing the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. They want the union to lobby for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling. And they really want support and endorsements in states like Michigan and Ohio, where the union's members may hold the balance of power in key House and Senate races—and even in the 2004 presidential election. Less well understood is why Teamster President James P.