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Josef Ackermann, chief executive of Deutsche Bank and chairman of the Institute of International Finance (an influential group, reflecting the interests of global finance in Washington) is opposed to breaking up big banks. According to the FT, he said, “The idea that we could run modern, sophisticated, prosperous economies with a population of mid-sized savings banks is totally misguided.” This is clever rhetoric--aiming to portray proponents of reform as populists with no notion of how a modern economy operates. But the problem is that some leading voices for breaking up banks come from peop

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I don't usually re-publish emails straight from political parties, but this collection of quotes following the 2001 elections, emailed by the DNC, is pretty telling. NRCC Talking Point: “The 2001 Off-Year Elections Have No Bearing On Next Year’s Mid-Term Elections. These Races Revolved Around Local Issues And Local Candidates. There Were No Discernable National Trends.” NRCC Talking Points: “The 2001 off-year elections have no bearing on next year's mid-term elections. These races revolved around local issues and local candidates.

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Interesting thought experiment from Slate's Double X. Emily Bazelon says that much would have been the same substantively, but: One specific counter-prediction: If Hillary were president, we'd either have more troops on the way to Afghanistan by now or we wouldn't. She wouldn't have taken her time to ruminate the way Obama is doing, because the barbs about weakness and dithering would have sunk in deeper. I think we almost surely would have more troops on the way.

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While Congress slogs through the final months of the health reform debate, the American people remain focused on the economy. With good reason: We’re in a very deep hole, and it’s not clear how we’re going to get out.  As Christina Romer, chair of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors, pointed out in her recent testimony before the Joint Economic Committee, “The shocks that hit the U.S. economy last fall were, by almost any measure, larger than those that precipitated the Great Depression.” And despite unprecedented government action, the labor market has reflected these shocks.

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Ben Smith catches up with Chris Christie, who (not surprisingly) predicts victory and (somewhat surprisingly*) repeats what sound like White House talking points: He said he looks forward to "working with President Obama" and that Obama "is going to have a governor of New Jersey who's going to stand up for New Jersey." "What this is all about is me and Jon Corzine. You want to read something into this, that's for you to write," he said. Clearly Christie doesn't read The Corner. *--Okay, maybe not that surprising when you consider he is running in a Blue State.

With the House set to vote on a full health care reform bill as early as this week, Republican leader John Boehner has announced that the GOP leadership will introduce a formal alternative of their own. The proper response, I suppose, is "Are you kidding?" By my count, it's been more than eight months since President Obama announced that health reform would be his top domestic priority, signalling that it would be the dominant issue of 2009. Republican leaders had countless opportunities to step forward with a proposal to hold up against the Democratic approach.

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Abdullah vs. Karzai

Kabul, Afghanistan  The spectacle of Afghanistan’s presidential elections seems to be finally entering its final act. Pulling out of the runoff race at the last minute, Abdullah Abdullah has cleared the way for Hamed Karzai to be the winner by default.  Both men appear to have achieved many, if not all, of their original goals. Karzai, of course, has retained his seat for another five years. Abdullah, the underdog, has denied Karzai the much-needed legitimacy that a second round of voting was supposed to confer.

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From today's White House press briefing: Q:  President Obama, last month in Pittsburgh, said of the Afghan elections and the aftermath, "What's most important is that there's a sense of legitimacy in Afghanistan among the Afghan people for their government."  Is there a sense of legitimacy in Afghanistan among the Afghan people for the Karzai government? MR. GIBBS:  Well, I have no reason to believe there is not.

Obama Calls Karzai

He congratulates, admonishes the Afghan president.

I noticed over the weekend that the Economist is indignant that the West doesn't focus more on human rights atrocities in North Korea: At some point the West will need to address its shame of not facing up to the abuse sooner and more viscerally. In the meantime President Barack Obama hardly sent the right message by taking eight months to appoint his special representative for human rights in North Korea. Still, the question is what to do about the place. Regime change is out of the question.

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