July 22, 2009
Late in tonight's press conference, President Obama got a question that just begged for an easy, evasive answer.
I feel like this episode isn't getting the attention it deserves: The recent aborted voyage of a North Korean ship, photographs of massive tunnels and a secret meeting have raised concern that one of the world's poorest nations may be aspiring to join the nuclear club — with help from its friends in Pyongyang. It's one thing for North Korea to stomp its feet like a child by means of missile and nuclear tests. It's another for them to try and export their nuclear program under our noses.
There's a lot of confusion over whether the House health reform bill, which two committees have passed and a third is considering, will deal with the issue of costs. And a big reason is that there are really three separate questions here.
July 21, 2009
Make Them Pay!
House Democrats have proposed to pay for their national health insurance by imposing a one percent surtax on the income tax bill of couples making more than $350,000--that’s the top 1.2 percent of households. The surtax would rise to 5.4 percent for households making more than a million dollars.
What Bernanke said in his congressional testimony today, according to the Journal: Tuesday, the Fed chairman said lawmakers now need to focus on reining in government budget deficits over the long run. A deficit-reduction plan, he said, could yield immediate benefits in the form of lower long-term interest rates and improved business confidence. If the White House and Congress failed to produce a credible plan to reduce the deficit in the long-run, he warned, "we risk having neither financial stability nor durable economic growth" [emphasis added].
When Greener Means Healthier
Since controlling health care costs is the topic du jour in Washington right now, it's worth pointing out two environmental policies that could have some ancillary health benefits. First, it's true that gasoline taxes tend to be the ultimate political no-fly zone. But new research suggests that higher gas prices wouldn't just cut back on our carbon emissions—they might also cut back on our waistlines (and, accordingly, our medical bills).
John Kerry On The F-22
The senior senator from Massachusetts, who was one of the more interesting players in the Obama/Gates-Senate showdown over the fighter jet program, released a statement today explaining his decision to side with the White House and against parochial interests: Months ago, the Massachusetts Air National Guard conveyed to me their concerns that their aging aircraft will compromise their ability to complete their mission in the future and I've also had a longstanding concern about our industrial capacity in Massachusetts in the event that funding for important technologies is interrupted.
Fun For Fiscal Hawks In California
Ed Kilgore is managing editor of The Democratic Strategist, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and a frequent contributor to a variety of political journals. One of the odder political phenomena of 2009 has been the strength of the neo-Hooverite argument that the most appropriate response to the deepest recession since the 1930s is radical retrenchment of public spending policies to mitigate (or, at the state and local level, avoid) deficits.
That's Ezra Klein's hand you see up in the air right now. He writes: There is nothing about this moment in the legislative process that was not predictable. Nothing. Zero. Not one statement by one player. I'm not sure I agree entirely. I, for one, didn't expect the Blue Dogs to flex quite this much muscle in the House.
July 20, 2009
Far and Away
Compared to the destruction of six million European Jews in the Holocaust, the fate of the few hundred thousand Jews who fled Germany in the years before World War II can seem like a footnote. In the introduction to Flight From the Reich: Refugee Jews, 1933-1946 (W.W.