From A.Q. Khan to … DSK?
May 27, 2011
One of the most striking changes to Newsweek in recent months has been the influx of celebrity authors. The current issue alone contains contributions from Gordon Brown, Cindy McCain, Betty White, and A.Q.
This seems pretty significant -- Joe Biden is laying down a marker of $1 trillion in cuts (over a decade, presumably) in order to raise the debt ceiling: Vice President Biden and congressional leaders left a meeting on the debt limit saying they were on track to find $1 trillion in deficit cuts. “We are confident that if we keep on this pace we can get to a relatively large number,” Biden told reporters as he exited the meeting in the Capitol that lasted more than two-and-a-half hours.
What NY-26 Means
May 24, 2011
With polls showing Democrats Kathy Hochul surging and likely to win today, the spin about what the race means is going to supercede the election itself. Republicans say the race tells you nothing about the Republican budget, which became its central issue, or the state of public opinion. (Here’s some spin from Eric Cantor and American Crossroads.) Mainstream analysts are taking a very cautious approach to interpreting the race. (Here’s a cautious Nate Silver, and an even more cautious Charlie Cook.) I’m not so cautious. I think the race is quite significant.
The notion that House Republicans might risk financial chaos by flirting with a failure to raise the debt ceiling strikes many people, including people who buy Treasury bonds, as too irrational to happen. But leaders can act irrationally, and it's worth thinking about the kinds of circumstances that cause them to do so. When Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, he had a devious scheme for rooting out potential dissidents. Members of his government would be startled by a small team of officials bursting in to announce they were undertaking a coup against Saddam -- were you with them?
I'm Getting Scared About The Debt Ceiling
May 19, 2011
I had been assuming that somehow we'd figure out a way to muddle through the debt ceiling without imposing much harm on the economy, in part because the markets haven't yet assigned any weight to the risk of default. But I'm starting to think about the problem differently. Here is how Alan Blinder puts it: [M]arkets now assign essentially zero probability to the U.S. losing its fiscal mind. They'd be caught flat-footed if the threat of default suddenly started to look real, possibly triggering a world-wide financial panic. Remember how markets reacted to the Lehman Brothers surprise? As Mr.
Are Republicans Retreating on the Budget?
May 05, 2011
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wants to make clear that the Republican Party leadership isn't preparing to give up on Paul Ryan's budget and its proposal to end Medicare as we know it. "Our position is the Ryan budget," a Cantor spokesperson told Politico last night. But reading between the lines of various media accounts in the last 24 hours, it seems like the Republicans are ready to back off. And it's not really surprising. Senate Democrats have said they would not pass such a proposal. President Obama has said he would not sign one.
The Budget Deal Emerges
May 05, 2011
Two reports out this morning suggest a budget deal is coming into focus -- not a long-term grand bargain, but something that Republicans can agree to in return for lifting the debt ceiling.
GOP Nihilists Slice Off Bond Market's Toe
April 21, 2011
Republicans are escalating their demands in return for a debt ceiling vote: One day after being named to a presidential task force to negotiate deficit reduction, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor fired off a stark warning to Democrats that the GOP “will not grant their request for a debt limit increase” without major spending cuts or budget process reforms. The Virginia Republican’s missive is a clear escalation in the long-running Washington spending war, with no less than the full faith and credit of the United States hanging in the balance. In the most recent budget battle — over a six-mon
'Hide/Seek' And The Problem With Funding Controversial Art
February 10, 2011
NPR today had what strikes me as a wildly slanted report on the controversial National Portrait Gallery exhibit 'Hide/Seek,' which honors the contribution of gay and lesbian artists. The exhibit created controversy because, under political pressure from conservatives, it removed a video depicting ants crawling on a crucifix. The unchallenged point of view conveyed by the report was that opponents of the exhibit claimed they were offended on religious grounds but actually were anti-gay bigots: The show had been open for a month, and hadn't received a single complaint.
Mindlessness On Public Investment
January 26, 2011
I suspect that President Obama's emphasis on public investment reflects less a desire to increase spending on infrastructure, R&D and the like than a platform from which to oppose anticipated Republican cuts. He's attempting to distinguish federal spending that subsidizes consumption (like Medicaid or farm subsidies) from that which actually increases productivity and raises future living standards (such as air traffic controllers.) Thus far, as Steven Pearlstein points out, the GOP refuses to recognize any such distinction: Asked about investment on the television talk shows Sunday, House