Worth Reading
November 25, 2009

Luxury goods cause people to think more about themselves than others. The average senator is three times richer than the typical House member. Exiting BusinessWeek economist Michael Mandel has a new blog. Will ours be another investment-less recovery? Plunger Time: Thanksgiving is the busiest plumbing period of the year. Ezra Klein: The behavioral economics of Thanksgiving.

Pharma's Win, Your Loss
November 16, 2009

Will legislation that expands health insurance coverage also bring down the cost of medical care? That question has been driving the political conversation over reform in the last few days, as much as at an time before. And I'll have more to say on it shortly.

Anti-Statism in America
November 11, 2009

Anyone who has followed closely the debate over national health insurance has probably noticed some peculiar inconsistencies in Americans’ attitudes toward the legislation. A Pew Poll released on October 8 found “steady support” for specific elements of the health care plan, including the public alternative to private insurance, the employer mandate, and the requirement that everyone have insurance. Nonetheless, popular support for the plan itself was declining, with 34 percent “generally [in] favor” and 47 percent “generally opposed.” What accounts for this disparity?

Cap-And-Trade Politics: Carbon (Like Place) Matters!
November 06, 2009

Yesterday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted to report out climate legislation, with ten Democrats voting yes, one Democrat (Montana’s Sen. Baucus) voting no, and all of the Republicans boycotting. If you look at the vote tally (using Project Vulcan data), you find that the states of senators voting "no" emitted 29.4 tonnes of carbon per capita, and the states of "yes" voters emitted 13.3 tonnes per capita, compared with a national average of 20.9 tonnes per capita. What do you think?

Pssst. Finance Isn't the Only Relevant Committee.
September 18, 2009

So much has been said about Max Baucus and the Finance Committee for the last few days that it's easy to forget that four other committees are supposed to have a say in the matter. In the Senate, there is the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which passed its own version of reform way back in July. HELP's bill was, admittedly, only a partial measure. Because of its limited jurisdiction, it couldn't propose changes to taxes or to Medicare and Medicaid, huge swaths of the health care enterprise.

Charles in Charge
September 09, 2009

Tonight the GOP response to Obama’s prime-time health care speech will be delivered by Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany, Jr., a little-known former heart surgeon who has been serving the state’s 7th district since 2005. Boustany is an interesting choice for the GOP considering the hype surrounding the speech and that the last rebuttal to the president came from high-profile 2012 contender Bobby Jindal. So who is he? Boustany, 53, was born in Lafayette, Louisiana to Lebanese immigrant grandparents and a Democrat father who served as Lafayette Parish coroner for 16 years.

Mob Rule?
September 03, 2009

WASHINGTON -- Health care reform is said to be in trouble partly because of those raucous August town hall meetings in which Democratic members of Congress were besieged by shouters opposed to change. But what if our media-created impression of the meetings is wrong? What if the highly publicized screamers represented only a fraction of public opinion?

A Sweetheart Deal For Pharma--and Who Else?
August 06, 2009

Thanks to the New York Times, we now know the details of an agreement between the White House and the drug industry. And it's looking more like the sweetheart deal that cynics always said. Actually, it's thanks to Billy Tauzin--head of the drug industry lobby PhRMA--who spilled the bean during an on-the-record interview. Some quick background: Earlier in the summer, the White House made a big splash by announcing the drug industry had agreed to sign off on legislative changes that would cut its revenue stream by $80 billion.

Farm Lobbies Squabble Over Climate Details
July 23, 2009

It's common knowledge that most farmers oppose a cap-and-trade bill—or at least it was common knowledge until last month. That's when the National Farmers Union (NFU) issued a press release that urged House members to approve Rep. Collin Peterson's controversial and farm-friendly additions to the House climate bill.

Pimp My Rep
May 20, 2009

OMG! Have you seen Episode 7 of’s “Freshman Year”? Unbelievable. First, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (you know, the Utah Republican living out of his office) totally slams Nancy Pelosi at his birthday party, laughing about how he shares a birthday with “all the ugly people”: the speaker, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, comedian Martin Short, and that creepy old guy who played Spock in the original “Star Trek.” Meanwhile, crunchy Colorado Dem Jared Polis gets to meet Bono (!), and they bond over how much they hate wearing ties. (Funny.