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Mass Appeal

Polls show that Americans are confused about what health care reform means. And, if you listen to members of Congress on television, you get the impression that some of them aren’t certain, either. But figuring out what health care reform entails isn’t hard. All you have to do is look at Massachusetts. Almost three years ago, the state introduced an ambitious initiative designed to make sure nearly all residents have health insurance. Under this scheme, the state requires employers to contribute toward the cost of covering workers, while requiring individuals to get insurance.

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Via Think Progress, Joe Liebeman was on Fox News Sunday this weekend, making filibuster threats again. LIEBERMAN: A public option plan is unnecessary. It has been put forward, I’m convinced, by people who really want the government to take over all of health insurance.

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Well, that was anti-climactic. The Environment and Public Works Committee just voted 11-1 to approve a cap-and-trade bill and report it out to the Senate floor. Since Republicans were still boycotting the mark-up, creating a stalemate, EPW Democrats just decided to get around them by skipping the usual amendment process—instead, they'll offer their changes later, on the floor. Max Baucus was the only senator who voted "no," saying that he wants the climate bill to proceed, but thinks EPW should mark the bill up in committee.

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Ben Smith catches up with Chris Christie, who (not surprisingly) predicts victory and (somewhat surprisingly*) repeats what sound like White House talking points: He said he looks forward to "working with President Obama" and that Obama "is going to have a governor of New Jersey who's going to stand up for New Jersey." "What this is all about is me and Jon Corzine. You want to read something into this, that's for you to write," he said. Clearly Christie doesn't read The Corner. *--Okay, maybe not that surprising when you consider he is running in a Blue State.

With the House set to vote on a full health care reform bill as early as this week, Republican leader John Boehner has announced that the GOP leadership will introduce a formal alternative of their own. The proper response, I suppose, is "Are you kidding?" By my count, it's been more than eight months since President Obama announced that health reform would be his top domestic priority, signalling that it would be the dominant issue of 2009. Republican leaders had countless opportunities to step forward with a proposal to hold up against the Democratic approach.

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Nuclear Option

Nukes, nukes, and … nukes. These days, when it comes to energy and climate change, that seems to be all Republicans want to talk about. Throughout last week's hearings on the Senate climate bill, Lamar Alexander kept interjecting that a massive ramp-up of nuclear power was the only real solution to global warming, bringing up the subject at every turn. For many of his colleagues, it's one of the few energy ideas that piques any interest at all.

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Could Evan Bayh be backing off his threat to join the Republican filibuster of the health care reform bill?

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On my previous beat, I felt an obligation to talk down any good piece of polling data, so I figured I'd extend the tradition to my economics coverage... Here's my concern with the impressive-looking GDP growth number of 3.5 percent: It reflects a lot of one-off boosts to growth and masks trends that are likely to get worse.

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How Did Obama’s Unprecedented Grassroots Operation Fall Quiet So Quickly? by Lydia DePillis In Defense of Shrinkage: The Problem with Obama’s Plan to Fix Our Banking System by Noam Scheiber Are Our Options in Afghanistan as Limited as They Seem? A Debate on the Way Forward by Andrew J. Bacevich and Michael A. Cohen A Pre-Election Day Memo To Both Democrats and Republicans by E.J. Dionne Jr. J Street’s Biggest Enemies Are Its Own Supporters by Jonathan Chait Was Rudolf Kasztner a Hero or a Traitor? by Marty Peretz Is Going to an Ivy League School Worth It?

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Washington Diarist: The Trouble With Common Ground by Leon Wieseltier Why Russia Won’t Cooperate On Iranian Sanctions by Seth Robinson Are Democrats Taking Money From the Poor to Help the Middle Class?! by Jonathan Cohn TNR Q&A: John Kerry on Afghanistan, Karzai, and the Way Forward by Jason Zengerle Just How Ambitious Is the Senate’s Climate Bill?

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