June 03, 2009
What the banks still won't tell us.
Everywhere you look, health care reform seems to be chugging along. Insurers and drug companies are visiting the White House to show solidarity with President Obama. House Democrats are promising to pass a bill by July 31. But, if you talk to senior staff in the administration or on Capitol Hill, you'll detect anxiety over one tiny agency--an agency that helped kill health care reform in 1994 and has the power to do so again. That agency is the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is just now weighing in on the debate.
If there's one political blemish on Barack Obama's first four months in office, it's that he's losing the budget debate. Democrats are openly worrying about the red ink. Republicans have taunted Obama as less fiscally responsible than his predecessor. (House Republican John Campbell compared George W. Bush's deficits to a "couple of drinks," and Obama's to "falling down, throwing up and wasted.") The administration's hasty budget-cut announcements (first $100 million, then $17 billion) show signs of panic. But Obama's budget is actually ... pretty responsible.
Chinese Dissidents Of The Day
Last year, during the Beijing Olympics, we profiled nine Chinese citizens who had been incarcerated for their political beliefs. Today, the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, seems like a good time to remember their stories. Click on each name for more details. Liu Jie Ironically, her likely transgression was writing a public letter that urged the 17th CCP Congress to abolish the type of labor camps in which she's currently detained. Liu Shaokun After China's devastating earthquake in May, Liu, a teacher, posted online photographs of collapsed schools in the city of Deyang.
The Genius of Rush and Newt
WASHINGTON--A media environment that tilts to the right is obscuring what President Obama stands for and closing off political options that should be part of the public discussion.Yes, you read that correctly: If you doubt that there is a conservative inclination in the media, consider which arguments you hear regularly and which you don't. When Rush Limbaugh sneezes or Newt Gingrich tweets, their views ricochet from the Internet to cable television and into the traditional media.
This year, Nouriel Roubini, the economist known to the general public as Dr. Doom, Prophet of the Financial Apocalypse, spent the early hours of Mardi Gras on the floor of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. It was only 11 a.m., but the party was rollicking. Traders careened around the floor, hooting and honking, dressed as dragons and devils and convicts. Rock music roared overhead, and no one seemed to care that, by the bye, the market had tanked.
Showdown in Caracas
CARACAS, Venezuela--A group of foreign writers, academics and politicians was invited here to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cedice, a Venezuelan think tank that promotes liberal democracy and the market economy, both of which President Hugo Chavez wants to destroy. The government's thuggish reaction turned the visit into a public showdown that helped expose what Venezuelans are going through these days.Although there were visitors from three continents, the authorities took aim particularly at those from Latin America.
The father, the son, and a Connecticut dynasty in peril.
Earlier this spring, Nawaz Sharif threatened to topple Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's government. Since taking power in September, Zardari had been promising to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry, the chief justice of the supreme court, whom Pervez Musharraf had sacked on March 9, 2007. But Zardari, who feared that Chaudhry would try to either curb executive power or dredge up corruption cases, balked repeatedly. This annoyed Sharif--and many of his fellow countrymen--to no end.
Daily Affirmations 6/3
1. Ezra Klein breaks some news on, and explains, part of a possible administration plan to hold down health care costs. You should real read both of these two posts. An excerpt of the first: There are, I'm told, two policies under consideration. The first is a version of Senator Jay Rockefeller's MedPAC Reform Act. This legislation would move MedPAC into the executive branch. The commissioners would be approved by Congress and appointed for six-year terms.