There was a grim, understated hilarity to the Senate debate over extending unemployment benefits yesterday. Republicans piously insisted that any extension of unemployment benefits, whose cost to the government is both small and temporary, must be offset with spending cuts: The lift just got heavier for Senate Democrats with the swearing in this week of Illinois Republican Mark Kirk. Asked whether he would support extending the jobless benefits, Kirk took a stance most Republicans take: "If it's paid for by cutting other items in the budget, I will be a yes vote.
My colleague Noam Scheiber has parsed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony about the power of the Federal Reserve, but Bernanke also commented in hearings yesterday about government fiscal policy; and what he had to say was, to say the least, disturbing. Echoing the charges of economic conservatives and Wall Streeters like investment banker Peter Peterson, Bernanke took aim against what these folks call “entitlements,” but which are known popularly to be social security and Medicare. Republicans can be expected to cite his comments in the current debate over the Democratic health
No matter what you think of it, the kind of troop increase that President Obama announced tonight is going to be expensive. With an estimated $1 billion dollar price tag for each additional thousand troops deployed, the new strategy will drive costs well above the $130 billion originally budgeted by the administration for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal year 2010, likely requiring a supplemental spending bill to pass sometime early next year.
Yesterday, Anthony Swofford, a Marine Corps veteran and the author of Jarhead and Exit A, previewed the Democrats' plans to honor veterans at the convention. How'd the Dems do? Here's Swofford's response: I think they might have done it. With a post-Vietnam roster of veterans speaking from the dais, the Obama campaign presented a youthful, vigorous, and engaged voting block of former warriors last night at the DNC.
No, I don't have any new information. As far as I know, Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed may never have been a serious contender to join Barack Obama on the ticket--in no small part because Reed has said, repeatedly and with apparent sincerity, that he has no interest in the job. We certainly aren't hearing about Reed the way we are hearing about Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, and Tim Kaine.
On "Meet the Press" this morning Andrea Mitchell name-dropped Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island as a possible vice presidential contender for Barack Obama--observing, among other things, that Reed will be joining Obama on his upcoming trip to Iraq. Along with some colleagues and friends, I've been watching Reed for a while now. And, as recently as a week ago, I was on the verge of posting a long item touting him as a strong, if relatively unheralded, vice presidential possibility.
The idea of a Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton "unity ticket" has been floated quite a bit the last few days. But, seriously, is the idea any good? We asked a few friends of the magazine to weigh in. Here's Mark Schmitt, senior fellow at the New America Foundation. There are fights within the Democratic Party that reflect deep structural and ideological rifts that, in turn, are embodied by individual candidates: Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy vs. Hubert Humphrey in 1968, George McGovern vs. everyone else in 1972, Ted Kennedy vs. Jimmy Carter in 1980.