Judith Shulevitz's article in the print magazine about salt is well worth reading on its own. But I was struck by this passage, about the difficulty of making consumers understand the drawbacks of excessive salt without putting them off salt altogether: Reeducation programs focused on a single ingredient almost always confuse people. No matter how careful education campaigns are to stress that salt is essential to life in small doses, some Americans will demonize the condiment, rather than its industrial overuse.
Recently we have noted here and here that the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act--one of the nation's key vehicles for keeping the nation competitive--seemed to be proceeding well, with the addition of several important updates, including language embracing the Department of Energy’s Energy Innovation Hubs, a related pilot for clean energy regional consortia, and a new regional innovation clusters title. Well, we spoke too soon.
So… anyone who's fretting about the fate of the climate bill will just have to wait and see whether John Kerry and Joe Lieberman can drag Lindsey Graham back into negotiations—they're all meeting this afternoon. But if anyone needs a wonky way to pass the time, Harvard economist Robert Stavins has a nice post on an issue that's likely to be particularly contentious if/when the climate bill ever hits. Namely, state preemption.
Jacob Levy marvels at the way conservatives have portrayed President Obama's student loan reform as a "Soviet-style takeover": Notice that banks would be free to continue to make student loans. And they're not having their existing assets taken. All they're losing is the ability to make publicly subsidized student loans in the future. A comparison with Soviet nationalization is just nuts. The old system consisted of guaranteed loans -- the government would pay private banks to lend money to students for tuition, and guarantee their losses if the students defaulted.
From the opening seconds of the final vote on HR 3590, all you had to do was watch the House leaders of both parties to know what the outcome would be. On the Democratic side, Speaker Pelosi, radiant in lilac suit and matching pumps, was handing out hugs and kisses and posing for pics with groups of her House sisters. Across the aisle, meanwhile, Republican whip Eric Cantor looked even edgier and more vibratory than usual as a handful of his members huddled close, all eyes on the giant illuminated list of member votes projected on the wall above the press gallery.
News on health care reform will increasingly be about individual members, as President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi try to accumulate the 216--er, now 217--votes House Democrats need to pass the Senate bill. The widely held assumption among insiders is that the Democrats can count upon about 200 "yes" votes right now, or maybe a few more. There are, meanwhile, somewhere between 30 and 40 House Democratic votes up for grabs. Thursday brought several developments.
Lloyd Grove reports that, after the 2004 election, Harold Ford Jr. requested and received an audience with Karl Rove: [S]hortly after the 2004 election, no less a Democrat than Rep. Harold Ford Jr.—back then a four-term congressman from Memphis—requested a meeting to discuss his political future in Tennessee.
The political media remains obsessed with the propriety of using budget reconciliation to pass health care reform. Unfortunately, many of them continue to not understand what they're talking about. Let me explain again. Last year, some Democrats considered using the reconciliation process – an expedited procedure that can't be filibustered -- to pass health care reform. They decided against it, in part because reconciliation only lets you make changes that mainly affect the budget.
"Southern voters are interested in solutions,” said Harold Ford Jr. in 2003. “They can spot a fake.” Perhaps this explains Ford’s subsequent decision to decamp from the South in search of a more gullible electorate. Having lost a 2006 Senate race in Tennessee, Ford is now all but officially running in New York. His efforts to date offer a fascinating character study. All politicians, to varying degrees, have pliable beliefs that must bend and twist to mesh with political surroundings that change over time.