March 18, 2009

Making the Grade

Randi Weingarten, the notoriously feisty president of the second-largest national teachers’ union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), received a hero’s welcome at the National Press Club last November.

The TNR Roundtable Part 11: What Should Obama Do About Darfur?
12:00 AM

Click here to read Part 10: An on-the-ground reaction to the ICC arrest warrant.Click here for links to each part of the conversation.From: Eric ReevesTo: Alex de Waal, Richard Just, Andrew Natsios, Elizabeth Rubin, Alan WolfeAlex de Waal says in his most recent post that he wishes to "steer the debate back" to Obama administration policy; but despite declaring previously that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the Southern Sudanese self-determination referendum should be the administration's "single priority" for Sudan, he addresses none of the points I made in my first post about th

Negotiated Bonuses...not Bonuses At All
12:00 AM

The Oxford Encyclopedic English Dictionary defines "bonus" as "unsought or unexpected extra benefit."  This is the definition in the 1991 edition.  Well, it couldn't be further from reality today.  Bonuses are now negotiated like salaries and stock options.  On one corporate board on which I sit I found that senior executives were ripshit that they had gotten the lush premiums they'd received last year when they almost made the company's projected numbers.  But this year, like with nearly all public firms, they didn't come close.  Now, downgrades in profits and actual losses were altogether co

They Were Against It Before They Were For It
12:00 AM

This week, Republican leaders have leapt to join the populist outcry against the bonuses that ailing insurance giant AIG has awarded its executives. But such rants against executive earnings mark a remarkable about-face for the right flank of the party, which condemned President Obama's decision to set limits on executive pay just last month. "I really don't want the government to take over these businesses and start telling them everything about what they can do." Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told ABC News in February, when asked about Obama's proposed limits on executive compensation.

Revising Those Budget Numbers...
12:00 AM

Noteworthy scoop from The Wall Street Journal: Back in February, it turns out, White House economic adviser Jason Furman was telling Senate staffers that the administration's cap-and-trade proposal would probably a lot more revenue than was projected in the budget. Like, up to $1.9 trillion over ten years instead of $646 billion. That basically means the White House is expecting the cap to be a lot more stringent than the budget intimated.

Orszag: We (still) Won't Rule Out Reconciliation
12:00 AM

  Budget director Peter Orszag made clear on Tuesday that the administration still won't rule out the use of reconciliation to pass legislation, should Republicans in the Senate try to filibuster health care reform or any other major initiatives. Reconciliaton, for those not familiar with the term, is the process for deliberating the budget in the Senate. Time and amendments are limited, which means filibusters won't work. Instead of sixty votes, the requirement for overcoming a filibuster, legislation can pass with just fifty.

Your Morning Aig Roundup
12:00 AM

Two interesting nuggets today. First, in The Washington Post, a former AIG Financial Products official suggests the unit doesn't actually need to be so concerned with retaining personnel--because only a fraction of its employees are actually necessary now: AIG, which received more than $170 billion in emergency federal aid, has become the chief exhibit for both sides of the debate. Executives say they must pay retention bonuses to keep employees who are unwinding its Financial Products division, which nearly brought down the insurance giant with trading in exotic derivatives.

March 17, 2009

The TNR Roundtable Part 10: What Should Obama Do About Darfur?
12:00 AM

Click here to read Part 9: Is Darfur really genocide? That is the central question.Click here for links to each part of the conversation.From: Elizabeth RubinTo: Alex de Waal, Richard Just, Andrew Natsios, Eric Reeves, Alan WolfeShortly after the ICC announcement, I sent an email to an old friend in Darfur whom I've been out of touch with to see how he was handling the consequences of the indictment and whether he regretted it given Bashir's reaction. On March 8, he wrote back:     Iam really greatfull and happy to hear about you, after this very long time of      silence! How are you doing?

Tax My Health Benefits. Please.
12:00 AM

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama famously and effectively attacked John McCain for threatening to eliminate the tax exclusion for group health insurance. “For the first time in American history, he wants to tax your health benefits,” Obama said in a typical flourish. “Apparently, Senator McCain doesn’t think it’s enough that your health premiums have doubled.

How to Succeed in Regulating Business
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If you think executives who drive their companies to the brink of ruin don’t deserve lavish bonuses, you probably feel pretty good right now. After all, the current storm of public outrage against executive excess--whose signature moment was the tongue-lashing Representative Barney Frank bestowed on the titans of finance who appeared before his congressional committee last month--has finally resulted in real legislative action on pay-for-performance.