February 19, 2009
Holbrooke: Af-pak Delegations To Dc
Fresh back from the region, Richard Holbrooke said on PBS last night that the foreign ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan are headed to Washington next week to meet with Hillary Clinton and interagency policy review officials, presumably including Bruce Riedel. He said an Indian delegation would be coming a couple of weeks later. Interestingly, Holbrooke strongly pushed back at the notion that Hamid Karzai is on the outs with the new administration. --Michael Crowley
Today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution carries an op-ed on health care that is positively infuriating--but also, in one sense, encouraging. First, the infuriating part.
Regulating Carbon Dioxide
Big news yesterday. The EPA is expected to follow the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in 2007 and begin regulating carbon-dioxide emissions in the coming months: The environmental agency is under order from the Supreme Court to make a determination whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant that endangers public health and welfare, an order that the Bush administration essentially ignored despite near-unanimous belief among agency experts that research points inexorably to such a finding. Lisa P. Jackson, the new E.P.A.
An Idea That Will Work
The GOP's insistence that its policy platform is perfectly appealing to young people and minorities, and all it has is a "messaging" problem, gets more entertaining by the week: Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S.
Shaun Donovan--rising Star
I have to say I found HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan very impressive during the background briefing he and Tim Geithner and FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair gave reporters yesterday. I didn't see it live, but reading over the transcript, it seemed like Donovan had pretty much every detail at his finger tips and was able to relate them with real fluency. (In fairness, Geithner and Bair both more than held their own, but I'd seen them in action before.) For what it's worth, this jibes with what I've heard from multiple White House sources.
Word that the Obama administration was planning a summit next week on entitlements and fiscal responsibility sent shudders through the progressive community. Didn't we just get rid of the guy who wanted to gut Social Security? But Obama has said consistently that the federal government doesn't have an entitlements problem. It has a health care problem. The cost of medical care is skyrocketing. This is turning Medicare and Medicaid into massive drains on the federal treasury. To bring those costs under control, the government needs to change the way we deliver and pay for medical care.
Sizing Up The Housing Plan
There are two key proposals at the center of Obama's housing plan: one for people still making payments; one for people who've stopped making payments or are about to. Obama would help the first group refinance at a lower interest rate. For the second group, he'd give lenders incentives to accept less money each month than they're currently owed. I can think of two plausible objections--one macro, the other micro. But there are reasonable responses to both.
February 18, 2009
In the brief weeks that Barack Obama has been president, the n-word has been heard with startling frequency in Washington. We're talking about “nationalization,” of course. The plight of the country's banks has become so severe that the GOP’s incessant cries of “socialism” during last year's campaign, so ridiculous then, suddenly seem too mild a description for the prospect we face.
Spare the Rod
I FULLY REALIZE that few complaints are more tiresome than “your party’s scandal is worse than my party’s scandal.” But indulge me for a moment. I can’t think of a good reason why Rod Blagojevich has become the most hated man in America while Norm Coleman still walks the streets with his head held high. What, you say—Norm Coleman? Yes, Norm Coleman! Let me explain. The soon-to- be-former senator’s scandal is pretty simple.
WASHINGTON--Hugo Chavez's victory in Sunday's constitutional referendum in Venezuela will allow him to run for re-election indefinitely, but it does not mean he will be able to establish a totalitarian state anytime soon.A decade after coming to power, Chavez commands strong support despite high inflation, food shortages, rampant crime and the toxic atmosphere stemming from his thuggish practices.