Politics

February 19, 2009

Shaun Donovan--rising Star
12:00 AM

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.

This Is How You Define Fiscal Responsibility
12:00 AM

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
12:00 AM

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

The N-Word
12:00 AM

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
12:00 AM

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.

Silver Lining
12:00 AM

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.

Conservatism Is Dead
12:00 AM

An intellectual autopsy of the movement.

Politico's Brushback Pitch To The New York Times
12:00 AM

Greg Sargent has the response from Politico editor John Harris to some of the comments NYT boss Bill Keller made to Gabe Sherman in his recent story for TNR. (Could you fit any more proper nouns in a sentence without a comma? I think not...) The whole statement is kind of interesting, but this line stood out to me: We are not a general-interest site but one focused on an audience that is intensely, even obsessively, interested in subjects we dominate--Congress, the White House, national politics.

What The Hold-up At Treasury Means For Energy
12:00 AM

Last week, I wondered if the Department of Energy was up to the task of doling out all those funds for clean-energy projects that are authorized in the big stimulus bill quickly enough. After all, the department still has a backlog of grants and contracts left over from older legislation. So that's definitely a story to follow, but as a small tangent, it seems there could be a related concern with the Treasury Department, too.

Politico's Brushback Pitch To The New York Times
12:00 AM

Greg Sargent has the response from Politico editor John Harris to some of the comments NYT boss Bill Keller made to Gabe Sherman in his recent story for TNR. (Could you fit any more proper nouns in a sentence without a comma? I think not...) The whole statement is kind of interesting, but this line stood out to me: We are not a general-interest site but one focused on an audience that is intensely, even obsessively, interested in subjects we dominate--Congress, the White House, national politics.

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