Give the White House credit. Amid signs that the recession is ending, administration officials are resisting what must be an enormous temptation to gloat. “I think we’re certainly on track to, at least, stabilizing the patient,” said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis during a recent cnbc appearance. But “[t]he patient is still sick.” It’s hardly a triumphalist metaphor. To the extent that there’s a problem, it’s not what the administration is saying so much as what it is assuming: that the business cycle exerts an irresistible gravitational pull—that what goes down must eventually come up.
On Labor Day, President Obama appointed Ron Bloom, head of the administration’s auto industry task force, as his manufacturing “czar.” A former United Steelworkers staffer, Bloom recognizes the importance of high-wage manufacturing to the U.S. economy and to the well-being of the Great Lakes metropolitan areas that have been its center for more than half a century. But his experience is mainly in structuring financial deals. Does he understand the non-financial obstacles to reviving American manufacturing?
The plan Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus distributed to the Gang of Six is now available via various sources, including TNR.COM. And, generally speaking, it looks like the summaries that were circulating over the weekend. It's not as good as it could be, but better than it might have been, given earlier drafts. Off the bat, though, one section caught my attention--and not in a good way.
Even as I blogged yesterday about conservatives' uproar over Obama's planned back-to-school speech, I was unaware of the actual level of paranoid nuttiness we are looking at. Today's NYT helpfully clarifies the situation, with its front-pager on how some school districts are under growing pressure by parents to let kids sit out the speech for fear that one glimpse of Obama will transform their budding Dittoheads into miniature Hugo Chavezes.
According to Politico, the Right is up in arms about President Obama's plans to deliver a back-to-school address to students next Tuesday at noon (EST). It seems many are convinced that this is a not-so-secret plot by POTUS to, as the head of the Florida GOP put it, "indoctrinate America's children to his socialist agenda." Radio gasbagger Tammy Bruce has gone so far as to encourage parents to keep their kids home that day. "Make September 8 Parentally Approved Skip Day. You are your child's moral tutor, not that shady lawyer from Chicago," she tweeted. This is disgraceful.
A recurring source of anxiety among op-ed writers lately is the fear that China is winning some sort of clean-energy race. Earlier this month, venture capitalist John Doerr and GE head Jeffrey Immelt took to The Washington Post to fret that Chinese cars were 33 percent more efficient than U.S. cars, that China was investing ten times the fraction of its GDP on clean energy that the United States was, and that China was on track to generate five times as much wind power by 2020. "We are clearly not in the lead today," they concluded.
At a world economic summit in London this April, Barack Obama had his first encounter with the king of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. With TV cameras rolling, Obama strode up to the elderly Saudi monarch, extended his hand, and smiled broadly as he bent at the waist in a swift but unmistakable bow. As the image rocketed around the Internet, the White House was quick to insist that the move had not been one of supplication. "It wasn't a bow," one aide told Politico at the time.
In theory, the Census is a straightforward, if onerous, task: Every ten years, count everybody. In reality, it's rife with logistical snags and subject to partisan wrangling--and, with just eight months to go before the Big Count, you can already sense how nasty this is going to get. The first major volley was launched in April, when a pair of Republican senators stalled the confirmation of Obama's nominee for Census director, keeping him from conducting crucial preparatory work.
Do we need a technological breakthrough to avert the climate crisis?
This year, Nouriel Roubini, the economist known to the general public as Dr. Doom, Prophet of the Financial Apocalypse, spent the early hours of Mardi Gras on the floor of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. It was only 11 a.m., but the party was rollicking. Traders careened around the floor, hooting and honking, dressed as dragons and devils and convicts. Rock music roared overhead, and no one seemed to care that, by the bye, the market had tanked.