The Great Recession and Inequality
November 06, 2009

Amid the dark clouds of the Great Recession, more than a few people have identified a possible silver lining--reduced inequality in America. Job losses on Wall Street, and talk of reining in executive pay and raising taxes on the wealthy, suggest at least a temporary end to rapid growth of salaries at the highest end of the market--a trend which produced the highest share of income on record for the nation’s top 10 percent of families in 2007. But this is short-term thinking at best.

Mixed Messages
November 04, 2009

Republicans are proclaiming victory after their candidates won statehouses in New Jersey and Virginia. And well they should. These were both states that went for Barack Obama in 2008. But how much do these elections really say about Obama and the prospects of the national Democratic Party? Some network commentators, citing suspiciously high approval ratings for Obama in New Jersey and Virginia, claim the elections say nothing at all about the president and his party.

On the Job
November 04, 2009

Anthony Wright is executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. He blogs daily at the Health Access Weblog and is a regular contributor to the Treatment. When Senate Majority Leader Reid held a press conference announcing the inclusion of a version of a public health insurance option in the merged Senate health reform bill, he didn’t mention the outcome of another major difference between the two Senate committee proposals--what would be responsibility of employers with regard to on-the-job coverage.

Britain To Break Up Biggest Banks
November 02, 2009

The WSJ reports (online): “The U.K.’s top treasury official Sunday said the government is starting a process to rebuild the country’s banking system, likely pressing major divestments from institutions and trying to attract new retail banks to the market.” The British style is typically understated and policymakers always like to play down radical departures, but this is huge news. Pressure from the EU has apparently had major impact--worries about unfair competition through subsidizing “too big to fail” banks are very real within the European market place. Also, strong voices from within the

Could A Boycott Bog Down The Senate Climate Bill?
October 30, 2009

There are all sorts of lingering questions about the timing of the Senate climate bill. It's not just a matter of whether something will pass. What are the odds something will pass before the Copenhagen talks? Earlier this week, John Kerry told a group of activists that he was "confident" his bill could win a floor vote before international negotiations pick up again in mid-December, but that seems awfully ambitious.

Hillary Gets Tough; Will it Work?
October 30, 2009

This is pretty great. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed doubt Thursday over Pakistan's failure to locate top al-Qaeda leaders in the eight years since they escaped over the border from Afghanistan, telling a group of Pakistani journalists that she found "it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to." "So far as we know," she said, "they're in Pakistan." It's interesting to see Hillary finally getting her "hands dirty," so to speak, in a front-line crisis zone; until now her priority has seemed to be majo

O Brother
October 30, 2009

Something wonderful, or terrible, is taking place in Philadelphia. The city's sports fans, whose only consistent love has been for an inanimate object--the statue of Rocky--are becoming warm and fuzzy. Sort of. Kind of. Well, about as nice as they are ever going to get in Philly, where fans have made their national mark with nastiness, boos, and a perverse fondness for losing. But now the city is confronted with a success story greater than any since the signing of the Constitution (which wasn't so pretty, either). It's the Philadelphia Phillies, of course.

Is the Public Ready for Bold Action?
October 29, 2009

It’s a mistake to put too much weight on the results of any single public opinion survey. That said, Peter Hart and Bill McInturff are an unusually experienced and fair-minded bipartisan team, and I’m inclined to take their work for NBC and the Wall Street Journal seriously. Their latest results offer little encouragement for the president, either political party, or the political system as a whole. Let’s begin with the political system. Trust in government now stands at 23 percent—the lowest level in at least twelve years.

Energy Innovation: The Senate Starting Point
October 27, 2009

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding hearings this week on the new chairman’s “mark” of the draft Senate climate and energy legislation released Friday night by committee chairman Barbara Boxer and Sen. John Kerry.

Urine-Powered Cars: The Pros and Cons
October 23, 2009

For reasons explained before, we'll likely all be driving electric cars long before we ever see mass-market vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which was once the great clean-car hope. Still, the fuel-cell approach is obviously worth researching, and now researchers have lit upon a particularly promising fuel source. Oh yes, urine: Using hydrogen to power cars has become an increasingly attractive transportation fuel, as the only emission produced is water - but a major stumbling block is the lack of a cheap, renewable source of the fuel.