The CBO Director Just Made Fiscal Policy Seem More Confusing. Yes, More Confusing.
September 01, 2010

Ben Bernanke's “unusually uncertain” may be for our times what Alan Greenspan’s “irrational exuberance” was to the late 1990s—a phrase that captures the dominant mood without providing much policy guidance. As dissent continued to rise in the ranks of the usually united Federal Reserve Board, unusual uncertainty reigned supreme at the annual Jackson Hole meeting.

Washington’s Power Grid
August 17, 2010

Late last month, Gallup released fresh state-by-state numbers on the electorate’s ideological and partisan identification. These numbers provide both an X-ray of the structure of political competition and a roadmap for November. To grasp the underlying story, I divided each list into a top and bottom 15 and a middle 20—from most to least conservative and from most to least Republican—and then arrayed them in a three by three grid.

The Start Treaty And Republican Path Dependency
August 10, 2010

Walter Pincus reports that Republicans overwhelmingly favored the previous Start Treaty before changing their tune on the current one: "This treaty is a masterstroke. . . . It is shorn of the tortured bench marks, sub-limits, arcane definitions and monitoring provisions that weighed down past arms control treaties," said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). "It assumes a degree of trust between nations that are no longer on the precipice of war." Those were words from Kyl's floor speech on March 6, 2003, in support of ratification of the Moscow Treaty, signed nine months earlier by President George W.

But Is Jesse Jackson *Interesting*?
July 15, 2010

Jesse Jackson has never interested me much. I’m a little late out of the gate in commenting about Jackson’s latest diversion, analogizing LeBron James to a runaway slave in light of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s sputtering about James’ departure to Miami. I’ve always been a little laggard in dogpiling on Jesse. When I first started writing about race, I quickly noted a certain cognitive dissonance: everybody expected the new cranky black “conservative” to have a Jesse obsession. I never did, and don’t now. He shouldn’t be news, really.

Country First
July 02, 2010

The Washington Post looks at the 11 Republican Senators who supported comprehensive immigration reform under George W. Bush but refuse to do so now: Some of the 11 senators whose support is critical to his plans signaled Thursday that they are not ready to back reform this time around. They also denied that they had changed their positions for political reasons. Laena Fallon, a spokeswoman for Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.), said the senator is interested in fixing the immigration system.

The Death Of Market Environmentalism
June 16, 2010

The market is a much more efficient tool to reduce carbon emissions than command-and-control regulations. The downside is that it's more transparent about the costs it imposes. Regulation attacks the problem less efficiently, but the costs are entirely hidden. So that's the direction policy is going, points out David Leonhardt, even among supposedly market-loving Republicans: Accepting higher costs is especially hard when the economy is weak. So Congressional Democrats have been repackaging their energy bills to make them look less and less market-oriented.

Is Lugar's "Plan B" For Energy Any Good?
June 09, 2010

Now that Lindsey Graham is bailing on the climate bill he helped write, does he have any other bright ideas? Sort of. Earlier today he appeared at a press conference in support of Indiana Republican Richard Lugar's new energy bill. Yes, this is exactly the sort of energy-only bill that Graham himself once derided as "half-assed." What's more, as Kate Sheppard reports, Graham seems to have backtracked so much from his old views that he's now spouting a lot of nonsense about climate science. But hey, Graham's confusions and self-contradictions are old news by now. What about the Lugar bill?

Mark Souder, You Broke My Heart
May 22, 2010

Washington—A fall from grace of the sort experienced recently by Indiana's Mark Souder typically brings smiles to the faces of liberals weary of moralistic religious types who preach one thing and do another.  But I took no pleasure in Souder's resignation from Congress last week after it was revealed that the conservative evangelical Republican had an affair with a part-time staff member. I always thought he was the real deal, both serious and thoughtful in his approach to religious and political questions.

Financial Excess Still Claiming Car Country Casualties
May 21, 2010

In Michael Lewis’ disturbing but illuminating book unearthing the machinations behind the global financial crisis, The Big Short, one of the Wall Street investors enmeshed in creating the web of sub-prime mortgage-backed securities and related derivatives reports on how he knew the bubble was going to burst.

The Son Also Rises
May 19, 2010

In a night of big political developments, the one that will echo for some time is the victory by Rand Paul in the Kentucky Republican Senate primary. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s not often that someone leapfrogs a still-active and very famous congressional father to get a short track to the U.S. Senate.