Battle Of The Budgetary Nerds
July 09, 2008

As the presidential campaign wears on--particularly if it continues to look like Barack Obama is headed for victory--it will be interesting to see whether the tension between centrist deficit hawks and more liberal fiscal types that bubbled up in the wake of Jason Furman's hiring becomes more pronounced.

Mccain's Fuzzy Math Health Care Plan
July 02, 2008

If there's one thing we all know about John McCain, it's that he's not the candidate who's going to raise taxes. But is that really so? A new paper out this morning, from the Center for American Progress, suggests otherwise.  I haven't had a lot of time to look at it--or to vet it with other sources or get a response from the McCain campaign. (Hope to do so in the coming hours and days.) So what follows should be taken as a very tentative reading, until I learn more.

Inside Mccain's Ipod
June 26, 2008

Now that we've peeked at Obama's iPod, how about McCain's? Here's an imagined playlist for those long and tedious Baghdad airport landing spirals: "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" -- Glenn Miller Orchestra "Over There" -- George M.

Call It The Xx Markup
June 26, 2008

As if it weren't bad enough that women still end up getting stuck with more of the housework, now it turns out they're also getting stuck with higher health insurance bills. That's the news out of California, where the state's Blue Shield insurance plan recently announced new rates for people purchasing coverage individually, rather than through an employer or other large group. Blue Shield unveiled the new rates in a recent letter that contained a chart. And if you examined the chart closely--as David Lazarus did for his Sunday Los Angeles Times column--a gender differential comes into view.

Flashback: When Bill Clinton Was A Populist
June 25, 2008

While I was hunting down video links for my item about vice presidential candidates and their great moments in campaign debates, I stumbled across the clip below, which is from the 1992 campaign. It doesn't feature the veep candidates, though. It showcases Bill Clinton going up against George H.W. Bush in what would become an iconic moment of that campaign. For those who don't remember, this was second of the three presidential debates that year. It was a town hall-style event, with audience members asking questions.

About That Education Crisis
May 20, 2008

This email just in from a reader education analyst Sara Mead*: I just saw your Plank post on the new AAUW study; since you had questions about its objectivity (which is fair, given the documented problems with their 1992 "how schools shortchange girls" report), I wanted to direct you to a report I wrote for Education Sector, a nonpartisan education policy think tank, two years ago.

I'll Take Helen Suzman Over Nadine Gordimer Any Day
April 29, 2008

Nadine Gordimer is, at 84 years, still an elegant lady. She is also a Nobel Laureate in Literature and so some people hope that she does and others hope that she doesn't come to a writers's conference or not. Especially if the conference is in Israel and coincides with the 60th anniversary of its independence.  Frankly, I couldn't care less whether she chose to attend the conclave. Israel's literary reputation does not hang on her participation. It has enough moral spirits who write with incandescent words to do without her.

Is Bush The Worst President Ever?
April 07, 2008

According to this poll, 61% of professional historians think George W. Bush is the worst president of all time. Matt Yglesias adds: More interestingly, I also take the view that Bush is probably correct to think that history will remember him kindly. American presidents associated with big dramatic events tend to wind up with good reputations whether they deserve them or not.

What Should Come First?
April 07, 2008

A few days ago, Obama again told reporters that he'd like to give Al Gore a "major role" in his administration—something climate-related. Yes, Obama's angling for an endorsement, etc. etc. but I wonder… Every so often, like at last December's NPR debate, Obama sends off signals that he wants to make energy and climate change the centerpiece of his domestic-policy agenda if he gets elected. By contrast, it seems likely that Clinton would make health care her top priority. I'm sifting through tea leaves here, but that's my best guess.

Poll On The Economy (bad!) And Liberalism (not So Bad!)
April 03, 2008

The latest CBS/New York Times poll is out and its full of provocative results. The headline (literally) is "Weak Economy Sours Public's View of Future." Among the findings: 48 percent of Americans say the economy is "fairly bad" while another 30 percent say it's "very bad." The last time the CBS/Times poll captured such pessimism was January of 1992, while the country was deep in recession. Not surprisingly, the economy is also voters' top concern: 32 percent say it's the most important problem facing the country today.