Lyme Disease Heads North: Watch Out, Canada
June 24, 2011

It’s summertime, and the living is easy—at least for Ixodes scapularis, the species of ticks now out in droves spreading Lyme disease throughout the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic, the West Coast, and the upper Midwest. Cases of Lyme disease have increased sharply over the last 15 years: Between 1995 and 2009, the number of infections jumped from 15,000 to 40,000.

September 24, 2010

This fall, construction is set to begin on a $4 million pop-up floodwall near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It’s designed to be assembled quickly in the event that torrential rains cause the nearby Potomac River to spill into the city. (Four years ago, heavy storms led to the flooding of buildings like the National Archives and the offices of the IRS.) The ten-foot wall is high enough that it should be able to stop even monster floods like the one in 1942 that caused millions of dollars in damage. But the new barrier will have one glaring flaw.

Gaming Housing Prices: Boise Bulls vs. Boston Bears
September 15, 2010

Which way are housing markets going? The recent national-level indicators have looked pretty bleak for housing bulls. Sales of new homes hit a record low in July. House prices in June topped their levels of a year ago but only, it seems, because of the now-expired federal homebuyer tax credits.  There’s a lively debate about whether housing prices will continue to fall, and David Leonhardt summarized the controversy nicely in his New York Times column last week. But this debate misses an important part of the story. Because housing markets are regional, not national, there may not be a single

Was Obama's Drilling Move Aimed At... Iran?
April 16, 2010

Many observers were puzzled last week when President Obama announced his support for expanded offshore oil drilling. Was he trying to win over Republican swing votes for a climate bill? Head off the inevitable anger over summer gas prices? Perhaps. But here's another possibility: The move could have been intended to bolster international support for sanctions on Iran.

On Wings Of Eagles
April 07, 2010

Politico the other day ran a story about the "Young Eagles," a wing of the Republican Party that seems to have been created in order to fulfill every cultural stereotype of the GOP. It's a fundraising program for young, rich Republicans. The problem is, the cost of becoming an Eagle is very low, and the cost of entertaining an Eagle is very high. So the Young Eagles program, much like the Republican Party's economic agenda, has largely devolved into a subsidy for lavish consumption by the rich: The Young Eagles are “a fun group,” the former member said.

Local Government Fiscal Woes Hit Home
March 22, 2010

We’ve been warning about the coming local government fiscal crisis for months now (see this paper and  event we did with the National League of Cities (NLC) last fall). Now, the crisis is no longer coming. It’s here.

What The Snowpocalypse Tells Us About Global Warming
February 10, 2010

Washington D.C.'s getting slammed by record snowfall right now, which means that in addition to unplowed roads and Mad Max-style scenes at Safeway, we also have to suffer through a flurry of Al Gore jokes and Republicans snorting about how this proves global warming is all fake. I guess the prim, boring response is that a single weather event, even an extreme one, simply doesn't tell us much about long-term climate trends. But blah, blah, everyone's heard that line before.

Economic Recovery? Not So Fast!
September 10, 2009

The Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book, released yesterday, painted a cautiously optimistic portrait of the state of the nation’s economy. The New York Times, reporting on the Beige Book, heralded a “slow and still fragile recovery” that is “taking hold across the country.” But even if the data bear out this anecdotal assessment, don’t think that a robust recovery is going to appear in your metro area anytime soon. Here’s why: In many parts of the country there are few signs of recovery. Of the 12 Federal Reserve districts, only Dallas (covering Texas and parts of Louisiana and New Mexico) re