February 08, 2009

The Petition and Selected Signatories
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To: Interested Parties,The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides needed economic stimulus while laying the groundwork for many investments important to our nation’s future. The House of Representatives has passed its version, HR-1. The Senate is now debating its own bill.We, the undersigned group of 500 practitioners, analysts, and scholars come from virtually every state. We reflect many disciplines within public health, medical care, and policy research. We hold diverse political views, and have diverse ideas about how best to enact healthcare reform.

Obama Aide: Health Care To Be 'central Focus' In Budget
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The Obama administration’s health care czar may be gone, but here is one hint that its commitment to pursuing major health care legislation in 2009 remains in place. On Sunday, a senior administration official told me that health care would be a “central focus” of Obama’s first budget proposal. The official didn’t specify precisely what that meant: Would the administration be asking for funds to make sure every American has insurance, or just a portion? Would there be major reforms of the way medical care is delivered?

Did Bush Spin Woodward?
12:00 AM

Last September, when Bob Woodward's fourth book about the Bush administration, The War Within, was released, Derek Chollet argued in TNR that, despite the general perception that the book was harshly critical of Bush, the Bush White House had, in fact, expertly played Woodward. Chollet wrote: [B]eneath the surface, the core of Woodward's account actually seems to reinforce the narrative that Bush is trying to spin about Iraq--that against mighty resistance inside and outside the government, a small group made the gutsy decision to double-down with the surge.

Uncle Sam, Drug Scold
12:00 AM

Editor's Note: We held onto this item for a bit as all hell broke loose with Senator Daschle and then with the stimulus bill. Substance abuse policy often takes a back seat to more visible matters, but we don't want this little story to get less than its due. Harold Pollack--for those of you who don't know yet--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.

February 06, 2009

Why I'll Miss Bill Kristol's Column
12:00 AM

When word broke last week that William Kristol’s weekly New York Times op-ed column was ending its run, the reaction in left-blogospheric quarters was downright exultant. “An era of phoning in misrepresentation comes to an end,” announced Brad DeLong. “Like Bo crushing Bosworth, Bill Kristol has been exposed,” wrote Ta-Nehisi Coates. “He spent a year embarrassing the nation’s most prestigious news outlet, wasting space on the most valuable media real estate in the country,” concluded Steve Benen.

The Art of the Withdrawal
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I come to praise Nancy Killefer, not to bury her. Yes, it’s certainly ironic that the hotshot McKinsey consultant whom Barack Obama tapped to become our federal government’s first ever chief performance officer did such a bad job managing her own performance that she failed to pay employment taxes on her household help. Because of that, she made the right decision earlier this week to withdraw her nomination as Obama’s performance czar. But there was one performance in which Killefer did do a masterful job: the performance art of the withdrawal.

John Patrick Diggins (1935-2009)
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Since the founding of this journal nearly a century ago, its editors have tried to remain true to the vision of our nation’s founders: to be visionary without seeking utopia, to be progressive without succumbing to doctrine, to be pragmatic without eschewing a passion for ideals.

Measuring The Stimulus's Footprint
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Given that the country just lost 598,000 jobs in January, there are definitely bigger worries about the stimulus bill careering through Congress than how much pollution it will actually curb. Still, for anyone curious about the latter question, Greenpeace recently commissioned an analysis of the White House's original stimulus proposal by ICF International and found that the clean-energy, efficiency, and transit provisions would cut carbon emissions by roughly 61 million tons annually—equivalent to taking 13 million cars off the road.

Why It Won't Be Howard Dean; Why That's Too Bad
12:00 AM

Howard Dean is probably not going to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.* As best as I can tell, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is not about to let Dean in the same zip code, let alone the same branch of government. That is the political reality. Still, writers should do more than reflect the political reality. They should try to change it--or, at least, explain why it's flawed. With that in mind, here are two very key assets that Dean would bring to the job--the job, I know, he'll never have. The first is management ability.

February 05, 2009

12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--The irony of President Barack Obama's Blue Tuesday is that the wall-to-wall television interviews he granted were designed not to apologize for Tom Daschle's fall from grace but to fight back against the Republicans' success in tarnishing his stimulus package.Obama's network appearances were planned as a response to a wholly unanticipated development: Republicans--short on new ideas, low on votes, and deeply unpopular in the polls--have been winning the media wars over the president's central initiative.They have done so largely by focusing on minor bits of the stimulus that amount