Gene Sperling

Did the White House just open the door to some kind of short-term increase in the debt limit, perhaps to allow broader negotiations over fiscal priorities? Several media outlets are reporting as much. A senior administration official says that’s incorrect. I’m not sure who’s right or how much it actually matters. But, just in case, here’s the story.

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Bob Woodward: Thin Skin, Thinner Argument

What the newspaper scribe doesn't understand about the sequester

What The Washington Post scribe doesn't understand about the sequester.

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“The chief business of the American people is business,” Calvin Coolidge famously said. But not all business is the same: The policies that assist some may injure others, and the organizations that represent different kinds of business often work at cross-purposes. This reality, which the Republican mantra of “job creators” obscures, could be the key to determining the success of President Obama's second term.

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On Sunday, The Washington Post published a long, blow-by-blow of last summer’s negotiations between Barack Obama and John Boehner over a $4 trillion deficit deal. The take-away from the piece is that Obama had a chance at a deal involving $800 billion in tax increases and trillions in spending cuts (including cuts to sacred programs like Medicare and Social Security), but that he got cold feet and backed away.

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Obama’s Worst Year

Shortly after four o’clock on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 13, 2011, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner walked down the hallway near his office toward a large conference room facing the building’s interior. He was accompanied by a retinue of counselors and aides. When they arrived in the room—known around Treasury simply as “the large”—four people were seated at a long walnut table on the side near the door.

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Constitutional limits on power aren't trivial. They are important. And while I think President Obama was within his rights to use his recess appointment powers this week, I'd highly recommend the essay by Akhil Amar and my colleague Timothy Noah, laying out a truly elegant way that Obama and his allies could put the constitutional questions to rest. But in this case the constitutional questions are also a distraction from the substantive question, which is whether the federal government will be able to protect average Americans from predatory lenders.

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A week ago, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration was divided over its strategy between advisers who wanted to emphasize accomplishments and those who wanted to emphasize pragmatic accomplishments and those who wanted to confront Congressional Republicans: Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact.

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[Guest post by Kara Brandeisky] In The New York Times, Binyamin Appelbaum and Helene Cooper report that the Obama camp is split on how to move forward on economic issues: Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. These include free trade agreements and improved patent protections for inventors. But others, including Gene Sperling, Mr.

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There's a really strange fight brewing between the Obama administration and Republicans over which baseline the supercommittee should use to measure its deficit proposals. The baseline is the comparison the Congressional Budget Office uses to figure out how much a policy change saves. Republicans say the baseline needs to be "current law." Why does that matter? Current law says that the Bush tax cuts expire. All the bipartisan commissions that came up with deficit plans that lose tax revenue compared with current law.

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The emerging, if still tentative, conventional wisdom about the debt ceiling agreement is that Democrats may ultimately prefer the plan’s automatic spending cuts to whatever cuts the new super-committee proposes. As you probably know, the agreement calls for what’s basically a two-step process: A bipartisan, 12-member committee will consider ways of reducing the deficit.

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