Politics

February 11, 2009

Grading The Stimulus Compromise
12:00 AM

Okay, I was wrong--I'll be the first to admit it. The conference committee didn't end up moving nearly as far toward the House version of the stimulus bill as I thought it would. The compromise, from what we know of it, looks much more like the substantively inferior Senate version: the cuts to state aid and school construction and COBRA subsidies more or less stand. So does the $70 billion Alternative Minimum Tax relief measure, which may be a perfectly fine idea, but isn't stimulus under any reasonable definition of the term. This is disappointing, to say the least.

Grading The Stimulus Compromise
12:00 AM

Okay, I was wrong--I'll be the first to admit it. The conference committee didn't end up moving nearly as far toward the House version of the stimulus bill as I thought it would. The compromise, from what we know of it, looks much more like the substantively inferior Senate version: the cuts to state aid and school construction and COBRA subsidies more or less stand. So does the $70 billion Alternative Minimum Tax relief measure, which may be a perfectly fine idea, but isn't stimulus under any reasonable definition of the term. This is disappointing, to say the least.

No Direction Home
12:00 AM

As we all conduct the post-mortem on the administration's fumbled bank-rescue rollout, it's important to keep in mind what's so glaringly missing from the plan--or, rather, only given a placeholder: a plank addressing the mortgage crisis that sits at the center of the downturn.

What Liberal Hawks Got Wrong And Right
12:00 AM

Frequent TNR contributor Alan Wolfe has an interesting and worthwhile essay in World Affairs about liberal hawks. Wolfe dissects the way that liberal hawks (I'd put myself in that category) focused too much on the justice of going to war and failed to think carefully enough about occupation: Alas for liberal hawkishness, safeguarding the individual against the evil designs of tyrants all too often comes into conflict with the desire of nations to manage their own future.

February 10, 2009

Going Down
12:00 AM

A stroll through any large shopping mall will reveal that America is undergoing the sale of the century. Luxury men’s stores are offering three-for-one suit sales; airlines are dishing out record-low fares; there was even an auto dealer in Idaho who dreamed up a buy one new truck, get a new car free special.But what might seem like great news for bargain hunters is actually evidence of a worrisome phenomenon--deflation--that threatens to wreck the American economy for years.

Impressed Me Not
12:00 AM

Through most of his inaugural primetime press conference, Barack Obama seemed like he was channeling a particularly loquacious combination of Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, and the ghost of Hubert Humphrey. The president’s response to the first question from the Associated Press about the risks of sounding too apocalyptic about the economy ran (or, to be more accurate, crawled) for nearly 1,200 words--and ended with Obama saying “Okay” with an implicit question mark as if he were requesting permission to keep on talking.

Rating Geithner's Pitch
12:00 AM

A couple thoughts:* First, as a political speech, which this partly was, I think it was strong. Geithner's challenge was to restore the credibility the Bush administration pissed away with its overly credulous, seat-of-the-pants approach to the banks last fall.

Obama's Stimulus Rope-a-dope
12:00 AM

Barack Obama is nothing if not a master rope-a-doper. For months last year, anxious liberals pleaded with him to respond to John McCain's lacerating attacks. And, for months, Obama soared above the fray. Then, in early September, the McCain campaign squeezed out two ludicrously dishonest ads-accusing Obama of force-feeding sex education to kindergarteners and of calling Sarah Palin a pig.

Rating Geithner's Pitch
12:00 AM

A couple thoughts:* First, as a political speech, which this partly was, I think it was strong. Geithner's challenge was to restore the credibility the Bush administration pissed away with its overly credulous, seat-of-the-pants approach to the banks last fall.

Obama: Health Care Remains A Year One Priority
12:00 AM

For those still doubting that major health care reform can proceed this year, even without Tom Daschle and even with a growing federal deficit, here is what President Obama said in Fort Meyers, Florida, today: My hope is, over the course of the year, I’m going to be able to work with Congress to move forward a bill that gets us on track to every single person in America being able to get affordable, decent health care coverage. Phrasing is obviously important.

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