Hard Truths About Obama’s Budget
June 02, 2009

According to the CBO, enacting President Obama's FY 2010 budget would yield annual budget deficits averaging 5.3 percent over the next decade, with a steadily rising trajectory after 2013 ("A Preliminary Analysis of the President's Budget, March 2009, Table 1-4, p.

How The Health Care System Is Like The Subprime Mess
May 29, 2009

Last night I finally had a chance to read Atul Gawande's terrific New Yorker piece about health care costs, which everyone is recommending. I'll leave most of the analysis to the healthcare wonks (though I don't want to sell it short--it's an engagingly written piece that any civilian will enjoy). But, from where I sit, Gawande's most interesting idea is an analogy he offers up: About fifteen years ago, it seems, something began to change in McAllen. A few leaders of local institutions took profit growth to be a legitimate ethic in the practice of medicine. Not all the doctors accepted this.

Wanted: Talmudic Scholar To Read Cbo Briefing
May 28, 2009

A new briefing from the Congressional Budget Office is full of serious political implications for health care reform. But you may need a Talmudic scholar to figure out what those implications are. The briefing isn't about how much health reform will cost. Rather, it's about how the CBO will describe those costs. In the reform schemes under consideration, most people will be getting health insurance from private sources.

Updated: Cbo's Preliminary Estimates
May 15, 2009

How much will health care reform cost? At this point, it's arguably the single most important question of the debate. And now, for the first time, we're getting some real answers. Or, at least, what counts for real answers in Washington. They come from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). As I explain in a new article for the print magazine:   When Congress writes a bill, the CBO is the agency that determines how much implementing it will likely cost. And that's no small matter.

How To Finance Reform? Keep An Open Mind.
May 12, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee is staging a hearing about the issue many observers, myself included, believe is the single biggest challenge in health care reform: Paying to expand coverage over the next few years, before efficiency improvements and other cost-cutting measures start to yield real savings. The purpose of this hearing is not to hash out a final deal.

Too Important To Compromise
May 11, 2009

One of President Obama's major priorities is making college more affordable, and he now has an historic chance to do that by reforming the way the federal government delivers student loans. Under the current student-loan program, the government essentially bribes banks to lend to students by offering them generous subsidies and promising to take on 97 percent of the risk. As Jon Chait and Kim Clark have written, the program is purely a sop to banking interests--absorbing money that could be used to increase the number and size of Pell Grants.

Tnrtv: How A Stimulus Could Torpedo Health Care Reform
May 11, 2009

Simon Johnson, professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and co-founder of, argues that if Obama continues to prioritize fiscal stimulus over recapitalizing the banks, he will put health care and other costly reforms at risk. --Ben Eisler Check out the latest on TNRtv: Cohn: A New Game Show--Why Republicans Can't Be Trusted On Health Care! Halevi: How to Stop Iran--"It's Now or Never" Scheiber: Why Inflation Fear Mongerers Don't Scare Me

The Stakeholders Letter On Cost Control
May 11, 2009

For those who want to read the actual text, here it is:  May 11, 2009  The President  The White House  Washington, D.C. 20500   Dear Mr. President:    We believe that all Americans should have access to affordable, high quality health care services. Thus, we applaud your strong commitment to reforming our nation’s health care system.

The Business Divide Over Climate Legislation
May 09, 2009

Via Marc Ambinder, this story from Bloomberg is worth flagging: Duke Energy Corp., the owner of utilities in the U.S. Southeast and Midwest, won't renew its membership in the National Association of Manufacturers partly because of differences over climate policy. "We are not renewing our membership in the NAM because in tough times, we want to invest in associations that are pulling in the same direction we are," Duke Chief Executive Officer Jim Rogers said last month in an interview. The association, the U.S.

Could Nyc Have Avoided Its Teacher-hiring Freeze?
May 07, 2009

Today, in light of this year's massive budget crisis, New York City's chancellor of education Joel Klein announced a hiring freeze on new teachers. This development dovetails with an article I wrote for this week's print issue about public school teachers in the Big Apple who get paid even though they don't have full-time jobs. They're part of what's known as the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR), a group of educators who've been displaced from their old positions by school closings, other structural decisions, or voluntary transfers.