Megan McArdle

Everybody agrees that healthcare.gov is working much better than before. Everybody also agrees that it’s not working as well as it should. So what’s a fair way to evaluate its progress? One way is to compare its performance to commercial websites. Two smart writers on the right, Philip Klein and Megan McArdle, have made that case in the last few days. Here’s Klein: 

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The "one percent"--that is, the people in the top percentile of U.S. incomes, or families currently pulling down more than about $350,000--have been gobbling up an ever-larger share of the nation's income for the past three decades. But during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 the one-percenters took a break from their meal. Some observers, including Megan McArdle of the Atlantic, took this to mean that the 33-year inequality trend might be reversing itself. Most everybody else, including me, pointed out that income share for the top one percent typically falters during recessions.

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Two days ago, I noted the element of nostalgia for the post-World War II era  in President Obama's State of the Union address and its precursor, his much-hyped speech last month in Kansas. In his call for restoring the public investment and middle-class stability of those years, I wrote, Obama seeks to "demonstrate that more broadly shared prosperity, with higher marginal tax rates, is not incompatible with strong economic growth, and is in fact inextricably linked with it.

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The Case for Solyndra

Ever since the Solyndra story broke, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. And … I’m still waiting. The Washington Post unearthed some e-mails suggesting that Obama Administration officials lobbied the Energy Department to expedite approve of a loan for the solar panel company, which eventually went bankrupt. Obviously that was a bad idea. But corruption? Impropriety? No signs of that yet. More damning information could still emerge.

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President Obama this week did exactly what he promised to do last week: He proposed a way to pay for his jobs bill. In particular, he suggested raising taxes on the wealthy and then using the money to offset the cost of school building, payroll tax breaks, and other expenditures designed to boost the economy. He also invited the congressional super-committee to come up with alternatives, as long as they generate the same amount in combined savings and revenue.  Republicans were quick to pounce: Obama wants to raise taxes! Instead of saving the economy, he's going to kill it!

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One of the most effective Republican themes of the last two years has been blaming President Obama for the explosive growth in the budget deficit since 2009. The accusation that "Obama's spending binge" has blown up the deficit has discredited any further fiscal stimulus, and helped encourage Republicans to use the debt ceiling as a hostage. The White House fought back with a chart showing that its policy changes contributed only a small fraction to the worsening deficit picture: Megan McArdle dismissively responds, "The duck starts here." Her rebuttals are extraordinarily weak.

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Megan McArdle writes about Wall Street's confidence that a debt ceiling deal will be reached: The core fact is that markets haven't sold off nearly as much as you'd expect if Wall Street were really freaking out.  This is not because Washington pols have told their Wall Street paymasters about a secret deal that just hasn't reached the ears of those of us reporting from down here.  Nor are they calm because they think that a failure to raise the debt ceiling will be no big deal.

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President Obama plans to make the auto industry rescue a major part of his reelection campaign, according to a new Politico story by Ben Smith and Byron Tau. As readers of this space know, I think he has a strong argument on the merits. The news from General Motors in particular has been extremely positive for the last year.

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Starting in the early 1980s, up through well into 2009, the individual mandate was an eminently respectable Republican position, embraced by conservative policy wonks and leading Republicans.

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