June 29, 2009

Rising Costs
12:00 AM

Bill and Hillary Clinton are off saving the world, he through his global foundation and she via the State Department. But their presence looms over the health care debate as surely as if they were running the White House. Their epic failure to pass reform in 1994 has become the defining object lesson in how to botch health care legislation--a lesson President Obama has obviously taken to heart. Push for reform right away; let Congress hash out the details; and, above all, don’t threaten people’s current insurance arrangements.

Is Ppip Still Necessary? An Update From Inside Treasury
12:00 AM

The Journal has a story today about how and why the PPIP--the government's plan to partner with private investors in order to buy up "toxic" assets--appears to be losing steam, something I've commented on before. On the one hand are the reasons you'd group under the heading "execution"--that is, the big banks are worried about having to accept too low a price, while investors are worried about possible political fallout from doing business with the government (and, more specifically, of appearing to get too good a deal from the government).

The Supreme Court Finally Gets Real On "disparate Impact"
12:00 AM

The Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the New Haven firefighters whose test results were discounted is welcome news indeed for making our discussions of race and racism clearer and more honest. It’s high time the Title VII stipulation on “disparate impact,” based on a 1971 codicil gloss on the Civil Rights Act’s banning of intentional discrimination in 1964, was revised.

What Ricci Says About The Court’s View Of Sotomayor
12:00 AM

Tom Goldstein is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and lecturer at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools. His is the founder of SCOTUSblog. Justice Kennedy's opinion in Ricci will inevitably be put under the microscope for what it tells us about the Justices' views of how the Second Circuit panel that included Judge Sotomayor handled the case.

Sheila Bair--not Doing It After All...
12:00 AM

A few weeks ago I wondered how FDIC chairman Sheila Bair managed to retain/grab so much authority for her agency amid Obama's regulatory overhaul despite the fact that so many of her fellow regulators and senior members of Obama's economic team seemed to dislike her: The item was based on early reports about the administration's then-unreleased proposal--particularly the part about "resolution authority," which it looked like the FDIC was largely going to get. The Wall Street Journal ran a typical account here: The goal is to avoid repeating a situation akin to the collapse of Lehman Brothers

Can House Protectionists Strengthen Obama's Hand?
12:00 AM

John Broder of The New York Times has a story today about a provision in the House climate and energy bill that was tucked in at the last minute, requiring the White House, starting in 2020, to impose a carbon tariff on China or any other country that doesn't adopt its own limits on greenhouse-gas emissions. (The White House would have to get explicit congressional approval to waive these tariffs.) This comes on the heels of a new WTO ruling giving tentative approval to these sorts of border-adjustment taxes.

In Defense Of Dana Milbank
12:00 AM

As I've written before, I disagree with Dana Milbank's criticism of Nico Pitney and the process by which he got to ask a question at last week's White House presser. That said, the attacks on Dana* from other Pitney defenders (and Pitney himself in this CNN clip) are getting kind of ridiculous. In their telling, Dana is pretty much unworthy of the title of journalist. A. Serwer, for instance, writes: What strikes me though, is that Milbank is actually probably the least likely champion of traditional print journalism.

Targeting Munich Re
12:00 AM

Munich Re is an insurance and reinsurance colossus. A part of its business is selling coverage for oil tankers ferrying petroleum in and out of Iran. An article by Benjamin Weinthal, an American journalist working out of Berlin, was posted in Slate on Friday. It recommended six measures that President Obama could take to influence Iran 1. from continuing its frantic quest for nukes and 2. stopping its rulers' war against the Persian people.

June 28, 2009

He Hit Me And It Felt Like A Kiss
12:00 AM

I know that many of you are not nearly old enough to remember Carole King's early 60's hit lyrics for The Crystals--no, not those Kristols--called "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss"), arranged by Phil Spector who has just received 19 years to life in a California penitentiary for murdering his girlfriend. The lyrics are still oddly and ironically relevant. Certainly against the abuse of women which is what the punch was about ... and, for that matter, also the kiss.

Jamie Dimon--too Slippery For His Own Good?
12:00 AM

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Jamie Dimon took a crack at something that's rapidly becoming a bona fide genre: the bank CEO op-ed that appears to support tighter regulation but doesn't really, at least not where it counts.