The Stash

White House budget director Peter Orszag had an interesting blog item over the weekend responding to critics who noted that the GDP numbers underlying Obama's budget were far more optimistic than the GDP numbers the Congressional Budget Office recently used. The source of the discrepency, explains Orszag, is that the CBO numbers in question didn't account for the effects of the stimulus package--the whole point of which, after all, is to "stimulate" GDP growth.

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I have a piece in the print magazine this week about the treacherous politics of the bank bailout, and why they're seriously limiting what Geithner can do about the financial crisis. Though, as I noted last week, I think nationalization could actually solve some of these problems. --Noam Scheiber

I'm not sure I entirely understand Jon's defense of Limbaugh. Or I guess I understand it; I'm just not sure why it's a defense. Jon says Limbaugh's point was just the flip side of the point he (correctly) made several years ago, which is that Democrats didn't need new ideas to regain political power. But, as Jon points out, Democratic ideas were already pretty popular. Republican ideas, by contrast, are deeply unpopular, at least once you get below the level of sloganeering.

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The Times ran a--if not exactly interesting, then very worthy op-ed on Saturday about the Canadian banking system, which the World Economic Forum apparently considers the sturdiest in the world. (The American banking system weighs in at number 40.) Canada's secret to avoiding a financial crisis? Being boring. Well, that and heavy regulation. As the op-ed notes: The five major chartered banks, the few regional banks and handful of large insurance companies are all regulated by the federal government. Canadian banks are relatively constrained in the amounts they can lend.

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El Rushbo at CPAC this weekend: "One thing we can all do is stop assuming that the way to beat [the Democrats] is with better policy ideas." It's really remarkable stuff (via Andrew): What does one say in response?   --Noam Scheiber

Here's an interesting tidbit I turned up reading Larry Summers' Financial Times columns this weekend. It's from June 29 of last year: [I]t needs to be recognised that in the months ahead there is the real possibility that significant financial institutions will encounter not just liquidity but solvency problems as the economy deteriorates and further writedowns prove necessary. Markets are anticipating further cuts in financial institution dividends; regulators should encourage this to happen sooner rather than later and more broadly to reduce stigma.

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From one of Andrew's readers: I work as a credit analyst for a big bank.

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So I happened to take in the Washington-Chicago game tonight only to find the president seated about 20 rows in front of me. (First clue something was up: lines to see the 13-44 Wizards take on the 26-32 Bulls.) Now, don't get me wrong, it was an absolute thrill to have Obama in the house. I haven't felt that much energy in the Verizon Center all year. But, I have to say, it was also kind of ... stressful. A bit like having the cool kid in high school come over for dinner. Maybe it was where I sat, but I noticed I wasn't so much watching the game as watching Obama watch the game.

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Kinsley's WaPo column today: It's interesting to compare Obama's first big presidential speech with Roosevelt's. On the all-important Reassure-o-Meter, I'd call it a tie. Roosevelt wins points for venturing into dangerous areas. For example, he talked at length about "the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success." Can you imagine what Fox News could do with a line like that if a Democratic president (let alone a rich Democratic president) uttered it today?

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In my latest Bloggingheads appearance, The Atlantic's Reihan Salam (a TNR alum) and I debate my recent post about Lindsey Graham, whom Democrats' fear is talking down bank shares to force Democrats into nationalizing them: Other topics include this week's Obama and Jindal speeches, the stimulus package, and Eric Holder's comments about racial cowardice. You can watch the whole thing here. --Noam Scheiber

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