April 06, 2009
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.
April 02, 2009
Harold Pollack is a public health policy researcher at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, where he is faculty chair of the Center for Health Administration Studies. He is a regular contributor to The Treatment. For years, the medical profession has lagged only the insurers as a designated bogeyman for many who favor health reform.
A week before Germany’s invasion of Poland, Hitler reportedly urged his generals to slaughter civilians--Slavs and Jews, the two most hated groups in Nazi ideology--without mercy. “After all,” he flippantly asked, “who remembers the Armenians?” In fact, the attempted genocide of the Armenians by the Turks during the First World War was very well documented, at the time and ever since. Henry Morgenthau, the American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during the massacres, wrote at length in his memoirs about this attempt to wipe an entire population off the face of the earth.
It would be something of an understatement to say that liberals don’t trust Representative Jim Cooper, the Democrat from Tennessee. That’s particularly true for liberals (like me) who remember the fight over health care reform in 1993 and 1994, when Cooper championed a centrist alternative to the Clinton health care plan. One former Clinton staffer has said “no Democrat did more to destroy our chances in that fight than Jim Cooper”--a verdict many experts share.
Here, There, Everywhere
WASHINGTON--The great mystery of the Obama administration's economic agenda is whether its signature marriage of boldness and caution will prove to be a Goldilocks recipe that gets things just right, or a Rube Goldberg approach of unimaginable complexity and uncertain purpose. Without question, President Obama's tax and budget proposals are daring, and his unwavering commitment to passing health care reform this year is both honorable and gutsy. But his plan to bail out the banks reveals a deference to the existing financial system, deep worry about further unsettling an already troubled mar