Obama administration

Update: Whether the U.S. is going to turn up the heat in a global war over solar energy is a question that will have to wait for another day. The Commerce Department announced this morning that it would delay until Thursday the announcement of whether it will launch an international trade investigation that could culminate in Washington imposing additional tariffs on Chinese solar-panel makers.

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Twenty-four hours later, the conservative reaction to a devastating report about Mitt Romney’s tax plan is proving almost as interesting as the report itself. The report, published by the Brookings-Urban Tax Policy Center, demonstrated that Romney’s plan, if implemented, would reduce taxes for the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans but increase taxes for everybody else.

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Judge Roger Vison, the federal judge in Florida who ruled the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, has just granted the Obama Administration's request to clarify his ruling. And he's done so in a way that will, apparently, allow the Administration to keep implementing the law. His singular requirement: That the administration file its appeal, to the Circuit Court, within the next seven days. I've only skimmed the ruling and, again, I'm not a lawyer. But it appears that Vinson granted what amounts to a stay of his ruling primarily on two grounds.

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Forget Massachusetts. Obama's problem is nationwide.

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Barack Obama has been compared to almost every American President of the last hundred years--favorably to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan; and unfavorably to Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.

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COIN Toss

On the night of December 1, shortly after Barack Obama announced plans to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, retired Lt. Colonel John Nagl appeared on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Maddow was dismayed by Obama’s new plan, which she called “massive escalation,” but, when she introduced Nagl, a counterinsurgency expert who has long called for a greater U.S. commitment to Afghanistan--even if it means raising taxes and expanding the military--she was surprisingly friendly.

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BIGGEST TACTICAL BLUNDER: Pushing the Israeli-Arab peace process too hard. Obama took office looking for bold strokes at a time when peace seemed as far away as ever: Israel had just finished its punishing military campaign in Gaza last winter, and the Arab world was inflamed, and deeply uninterested in making offerings to Israel. Obama's squeeze on Israeli settlements, meanwhile, managed to a) tick off a backlash in Israel that enabled the Netanyahu government to stand its ground, without b) shaking loose meaningful Arab support.

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Does the Republican Party have any ideas? The query may have a familiar ring. Five years ago, the question of substance was demanded incessantly of the Democrats. Indeed, in one of those intellectual fads that periodically sweep through Washington, the political class became obsessed with the notion that conservatives had unambiguously won what everybody was calling “the war of ideas.”  The notion was everywhere. The right gloated.

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In a post yesterday, I argued that some intra-progressive fights reflect ideological differences, particularly over the role of private-sector entities in pursuing progressive policy goals, that need to be taken more seriously, in part because failing to acknowledge them often makes such fights nasty exercises in name-calling and character attacks. There's another broad area where differences of opinion often originate, and that must be understood as well: differing political strategies. Two Examples of Strategic Disconnect Consider two examples: Democratic political operatives and progressive

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Manufacturing Bloom

A few weeks after the 2008 presidential election, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard got a call from an Obama transition aide frantic for advice on the collapsing auto industry. Gerard put his numbers guy on the call, a former investment banker named Ron Bloom, who proceeded to offer a detailed disquisition on the financial situations of GM and Chrysler. Unlike other experts the transition team had consulted, Bloom was refreshingly blunt about the companies’ prospects, which he deemed grim.

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