Paul Krugman: he managed (with a lot of help from Nancy Pelosi) to enact a health reform that, imperfect as it is, will greatly improve Americans’ lives — unless a Republican Congress manages to sabotage its implementation. But progressive disillusionment isn’t just a matter of sky-high expectations meeting prosaic reality. Threatened filibusters didn’t force Mr. Obama to waffle on torture; to escalate in Afghanistan; to choose, with exquisitely bad timing, to loosen the rules on offshore drilling early this year. Then there are the appointments.
Louis D. Brandeis: A Life By Melvin I. Urofsky (Pantheon, 955 pp., $40) I. In 1916, Herbert Croly, the founder and editor of The New Republic, wrote to Willard Straight, the owner of the magazine, about the Supreme Court nomination of Louis Brandeis. Croly enclosed a draft editorial called “The Motive of Class Consciousness,” and also a chart prepared by a lawyer in Brandeis’s office showing the overlapping financial interests, social and business connections, and directorships of fifty-two prominent Bostonians who had signed a petition opposing Brandeis’s nomination.
I've been writing for several months about the curious sense of disappointment afflicting liberals —the belief that they've been let down by a president who is, in fact, racking up historical achievements. Part of the reason for liberal dismay in an ahistorical understanding of how progress works. In the liberal memory, political success is bathed in golden-hued triumph. In reality, it is a grubby, stop-and-start process that looks pretty ugly up close.
Shortly after nine on a Monday morning in late April, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler filed into a meeting room with nine senior aides. The aesthetic was what you might call “bureaucratic drab”—fluorescent lights, beige carpeting, American flag—and the mostly middle-aged men did not seem out of place. Their suits ranged from gray to charcoal and the complexions were varying degrees of pasty.
On the first day of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Phil Angelides demonstrated a gift for powerful and memorable metaphor: accusing Goldman Sachs of essentially selling defective cars and then taking out insurance on the buyers. Lloyd Blankfein and the other CEOs looked mildly uncomfortable, and this image reinforces the case for a tax on big banks--details to be provided by the president later today. But the question is: How to keep up the pressure and move the debate forward? If we stop with a few verbal slaps on the wrist and a relatively minor new levy, then we have achieved basi
There's an interesting back-and-forth between Dan Gross and Tim Geithner in Newsweek's year-end interview issue: GROSS: There have been, and continue to be, calls for you to go. How do you deal with those? GEITHNER: I spent most of my professional life in this building. Watching the politics of the things we did in the past financial crises in Mexico and Asia had a powerful effect on me. The surveys were 9-to-1 against almost everything that helped contain the damage.
I've always had a soft spot for Robert Rubin and the moderate, fiscally-conservative wing of economic officials associated with the Clinton administration. That said, this Wall Street Journal op-ed, by former Clinton deputy Treasury secretary Roger Altman, reads like a left-winger's parody of a moderate Democrat. Altman offers prosaic advise -- propose a tax credit for businesses that create jobs, create a commission to address the deficit -- before uncorking this: A third step involves the party's deteriorating relations with industry.
Chris Hayes had a great column in The Nation last week about the totemic status of our debt to China: But if domestic Chinese concerns about the country's monetary codependence with the United States explain some of the statements of the country's leaders, they don't explain why the US media and commentators seem so intent on giving the story maximum play. The answer to that, I think, is politics. It's increasingly clear that China has replaced the bond market as the nebulous specter that fiscal hawks will use to justify domestic austerity.