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When Other Countries Have the Money...

links for 2009-07-21

  • here are the three key issues we're going to be following in every public comment 1) Timeline. Who's controlling the timeline? Do the White House and the reformers press for bills before the August break or give way to the opponents pushing the agenda of delay? 2) Public option. Particularly, is the White House making it a line in the sand, as Obama seemed for the first time to suggest over the weekend? Or do they continue to play for intentional ambiguity? 3) Aggregate Cost. In many respects, right now this is even more a political issue than a substantive one because of last week's CBO chief's comments, which seemed to push all before it late last week. To be clear, there are numerous complex and very important policy questions not covered here. But that's not the point of this exercise. We trying to understand the terms of the political debate. And I think if you can get clarity on these three points you'll have a very good read on what kind of bill, if any, is going to end up o
  • The antediluvian political culture of Coburn and his peers, for all its roots in the race-baiting “Southern strategy” of the Nixon era, is actually of a more recent vintage. It dates back just 15 years, to what my Times colleague Sam Tanenhaus calls conservatism’s “most decadent phase” in his coming book “The Death of Conservatism.” This was the Newt Gingrich revolution, swept into Congress by the midterms of 1994. Its troops came armed with a reform agenda titled the “Contract With America” and a mother lode of piety. Their promises included an end to federal deficits, the restoration of national security, transparent (and fewer) House committees, and “a Congress that respects the values and shares the faith of the American family.” That the class of ’94 failed on almost every count is a matter of history, no matter how hard it has retroactively tried to blame its disastrous record on George W. Bush. Its incompetence may even have been greater than its world-class hypocrisy. Its only
  • In his new book... Tyler Cowen writes: "Placebo effects can be very powerful and many supposedly effective medicines do not in fact outperform the placebo. The sorry truth is that no one has compared modern education to a placebo. What if we just gave people lots of face-to-face contact and told them they were being educated?" He reluctantly provides the terrifying conclusion: Maybe that's what current methods of education already consist of.
  • Tom Raum offers up a provocative AP story about the fact that we won’t be getting a Mid-Session Review on the budget from OMB for a little while yet.... Now it’s true that this “usually” happens in mid-July. But it’s also “usually” the case that the President in any given July is the same President you had the previous July. In transition years, it’s normal for the budget process to be pushed back in time.... There’s no conspiracy here. Meanwhile, note the annoying tendency of important media actors to “go meta” rather than acknowledging their own role in the process. Tom Raum of the Associated Press is doing the speculating here. But instead of admitting that.... Raum is pretending.... In the current version of the story, graf twenty-two finally gives us “[t]hey blame the delay on the fact that this is a transition year between presidencies” with no acknowledgement that Obama’s schedule is, in fact, identical to the schedules involved in the past two transition years.