March 17, 2009

Private Insurers, Not So Efficient
12:00 AM

The rationale for letting Medicare recipients enroll in private plans has always been that the private plans offere innovation and efficiency not available in the traditional, government-run plan. But the numbers have always told a different story. It costs the government more, not less, every time a Medicare beneficiary enrolls in one of the private Medicare Advantage plans.

Obama Could Sell Cap-and-trade Better
12:00 AM

This is a tad dated, but I just went back and read over Obama's remarks to the Business Roundtable last Thursday. The portions dealing with climate policy are, if not newsworthy, at least nicely indicative of the administration's thinking on the subject. For starters, Obama isn't swayed by the argument that a recession is a horrible time to cap carbon emissions. As he points out, any cap-and-trade system passed this session wouldn't get chugging along until 2012 at the earliest, at which point we should be out of this economic crisis (if not, we've got even bigger problems).

Aig's Off-again, On-again Bonuses
12:00 AM

Looks like the AIG derivatives wizards are going to get their bonuses after all. Per the Journal: Treasury has determined there is no way the government can actually extract the money from the individuals who already received the bonus payments. The government would face lawsuits with the potential of significant damage payouts and lawyer fees that could easily exceed the cost of the bonuses.  Instead, the administration said it will use a $30 billion installment of bailout funds approved March 2, to bring some pressure to bear on AIG.

Today At Tnr (march 17, 2009)
12:00 AM

Shame The Bastards: A Feisty Proposal To Keep Executive Pay in Check, by Pepper D. Culpepper How Much Are Business Schools To Blame For The Current Financial Crisis? by Bradford Plumer Tax My Health Benefits. Please. (Or: How A Little Hypocrisy Could Make Health Reform Possible.) by Jonathan Cohn TNRtv: Is Europe Free-Riding On U.S. Stimulus Initiatives? by John Judis Don't Even Bother Trying To Separate Classical Music From Politics, by Alan Wolfe Free Larry Summers: Why The White House Needs To Unshackle Its Economic Oracle, by Noam Scheiber Killer Peanuts! Toxic Melons!

March 16, 2009

Service Industry
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- Every politician speaks glowingly about service to country, but few see national service as an important political issue.

When Idealism Meets Realism
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--Every politician speaks glowingly about service to country, but few see national service as an important political issue.

Food Fight
12:00 AM

The ongoing outbreak of salmonella in peanut products that officially began in early January has now killed at least nine people, put roughly 150 in the hospital, and sickened hundreds more. The FDA's list of recalled products has grown past 3,000--with dozens of new ones still being added, many of them with innocuous names like Zen Party Mix or Naughty but Nice Granola Bites. Asked for an estimate of how many packages and jars of potentially tainted products were distributed, an FDA spokesman tells me, "That information is not currently available.

Obama To Aig: Nuh-uh
12:00 AM

  The Times has his comments here, though it notes that: White House officials said that the administration is not looking to take A.I.G. to court to stop the company from paying out the bonuses. But they said the Treasury Department would be trying to figure out what they can do to block A.I.G. from making the payments within the legal confines of A.I.G.’s contractual obligations to the executives. Question: If we (i.e., the government) did take AIG to court, is there a way we could get out of paying their legal fees?

Can Democracies Deal With Economic Crisis?
12:00 AM

That's one of the questions I grapple with a bit in my profile of Larry Summers this week. In addition to some ongoing developments that make you wonder, there's evidence from the recent past that our political system isn't ideally suited to dealing with financial and economic crises. The example I cite in the piece is the successuful U.S.

Today At Tnr (march 16, 2009)
12:00 AM

Free Larry Summers: Why The White House Needs To Unleash Him, by Noam Scheiber Killer Peanuts! Toxic Melons! Deadly Tomatoes! Why Obama And Congress Are Not Doing Enough To Keep Our Food Safe, by Steve Nash This Weekend's Big Economic Summit: More Whistling Past The Graveyard, by Simon Johnson How Obama's Ethics Obsession Undercuts His Call To Service, by the Editors TNRtv: Eve Fairbanks's Farewell To TNR And Musical Tribute To The Dysfunctional Glory Of The GOP Where Idealism Should Meet Realism On Capitol Hill, by E.J. Dionne, Jr. Hey!