April 07, 2009
The latest New York Times poll is loaded with good news for the Obama administration and news that would be devastating for the GOP if it were ever able to penetrate the conservative-media echo chamber. While the public is still pretty pessimistic about the future, it's considerably less so than it was before Barack Obama took office. Thirty-nine percent of respondents in the Times poll think the country is going in the right direction and 53 percent say the wrong direction, a substantial improvement from January, when the numbers were 15 and 79, respectively.
Is Axelrod A P.r. Liability?
If Alex Conant can help it, yes, as this piece the former RNC press secretary wrote for Politico makes clear. But the weird thing about Conant's article attacking David Axelrod is its strained use of the passive voice. To wit: Axelrod is now a pillar for Barack Obama, but he will likely become a lightning rod for public concern. The public is naturally leery of Machiavellian advisers inside the White House, yet that’s exactly Axelrod’s function.
April 06, 2009
WASHINGTON--Yes, this is the year Congress will finally give every American access to health insurance. Getting there won't be pretty. But for the first time since the passage of Medicare in the 1960s, the forces favoring action on health care reform are stronger than the forces of cynicism and obstruction.Feel free to be skeptical. Since Bill and Hillary Clinton's reform efforts foundered in 1994, predicting the death of any comparable venture has been the safest bet in Washington.But this misses almost everything that has been happening.
What's The Impediment?
I hold no brief for Avigdor Lieberman, not at all. I have already characterized him as a neo-fascist, and a neo-fascist he is. What's more he is an utterly reckless person, and the weird parliamentary system -too democratic by half- encourages the recklessness of Israeli politicians for many of whom it is by now habitual, perhaps even by now almost generic or genetic.Today, another loudmouth, Gilad Erdan, minister of the environment, about which he knows roughly nothing, also took to the bullhorn and proclaimed that Israel is not America's 51st state. Believe me, that is not the issue in Am
Since the White House disclosed details of Larry Summers's compensation from the hedge fund D.E. Shaw last week, a couple of readers have wondered if I still stand behind the following line from my recent Summers profile: "His exposure to Wall Street over the years has been limited." The answer is yes, I do. Summers was obviously compensated incredibly generously. But, according to the front-page story in today's Times, he typically worked at the hedge fund one day a week, and that arrangement lasted from 2006 until 2008.
April 03, 2009
The G20 Wish List
President Obama certainly cut a dashing figure while in London. But did he achieve what he went there to do? Here’s a look at what he asked for, and what he got, starting with his G20 aspirations: Fiscal Stimulus. Obama initially wanted developed nations to commit to a coordinated Keynesian "global stimulus" in order to boost demand.
Eamon Javers did some more reporting about that meeting at the White House last week between Obama and top bank CEOs and turned up this exchange: [T]he CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the world offered several explanations for paying high salaries to their employees — and, by extension, to themselves. “These are complicated companies,” one CEO said. Offered another: “We’re competing for talent on an international market.” But President Barack Obama wasn’t in a mood to hear them out.
Time's Mike Grunwald has a great piece out about Obama's use of behavioral economics to implement change. I knew the administration was sympathetic to this way of thinking but hadn't realized quite how deep its ties with the behavioral community ran.
Gay Marriage In Iowa
A few quick reactions to today's excellent news from Iowa: 1. Obviously, the shadow of Prop 8 hovers over this decision. Many observers will question the wisdom of another state supreme court enacting gay marriage, given the rebuke voters delivered to the California Supreme Court in November. But one of the reasons gay marriage didn't stick in California was because it is so easy to pass a constitutional amendment in that state (all that is required is a simple majority of voters).
If you believe in majority rule, health care reform, or both, I have some good news. Some well-placed sources on Capitol Hill* are saying it's likely that the final budget resolution will include "reconciliation instructions" for health care, effectively making it impossible for Republicans to filibuster reform. As you probably know by now, the House and Senate passed their respective budget resolutions on Thursday. And one of the few key differences was a proposal that would allow use of the reconciliation to pass health care reform, thereby limiting the time of debate and amendments.