Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein is a staff reporter at The Washington Post. You can read his blogging here. His work has appeared in the LA Times, The Guardian, The Washington Monthly, The New Republic, Slate, and The Columbia Journalism Review. He's been a commentator on MSNBC, CNN, NPR, and more.

Recent Articles

HAS THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY BOXED ITSELF INTO A CORNER ON LABOR LAW?

I've written often on the strategic mistake the unions made uniting behind the specific solution of card check rather than the general problem of unfair barriers to workers who want to organize. But I'm starting to wonder if the business community hasn't made the same mistake in reverse. They've done a damn good job burying card check. But they haven't convinced anyone that unfair elections aren't a problem. Last week, a massive coalition of business groups sent a "Dear Senator" letter that stated, "let us be clear and frank on this matter; there can be no acceptable 'compromise' on any issue of labor law reform due to the very real threat posed by EFCA." Huh. "That hardly sounds like bargaining in good faith," sighed the Washington Post . And the increasing perception of employer stubbornness is lending life to compromise proposals. One such idea is being floated by Arlen Specter, who desperately wants SEIU's help in his next election. He's backing a set of fixes that would speed...

THE OTHER INSOLVENCY PROBLEM.

The Annual Trustees Report is out today, telling us something akin to what we already knew: Medicare and Social Security are in bad shape, and getting worse. The headlines will emphasize the dates of insolvency. Medicare runs out of money in 2017, two years earlier than anticipated by last year's report. Social Security falls in 2037, four years earlier than predicted in last year's report. But as the WaPo graph to your right shows, these estimates change year-to-year. The exact year might make the headlines, but it's the least reliable piece of the report. But even so, both programs face challenges. What probably won't make it into many stories, however, is the relative severity of the problems. The crude fix for Social Security actually sounds quite manageable: "Social Security could be brought into actuarial balance over the next 75 years with changes equivalent to an immediate 16 percent increase in the payroll tax (from a rate of 12.4 percent to 14.4 percent) or an immediate...

BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE $92,000?

The White House released some new numbers on the stimulus today. The one that's getting the most attention is $92,000. That's how much it will cost to create or preserve each stimulus-related job. Do I even need to relay the snarky rejoinder to this? But the number is more complicated than it seems. Building a bridge creates a certain number of jobs. But it also requires you to buy a lot of cement. Cutting taxes for small businesses helps preserve jobs. But it does that by helping them pay the rent. Pumping billions into Pell grants helps kids secure better jobs because they can graduate from college. But it really just replaces tuition that would otherwise be paid by richer families. The stimulus was primarily, but not only, a job creation package. It also spread broadband and strengthened universities and built trains and helped schools. Much of the fear in a recession is that investments important to tomorrow's economy stop happening. Fewer students go to college and fewer roads...

THE POWER OF POPULARITY.

One of the reasons I like reading Patrick Ruffini is he has a tendency to grapple with, rather than downplay, troublesome evidence. Here he is , for instance, on Obama's personal popularity: Obama's personal popularity stayed remarkably stable throughout the course of the campaign, and the average unfavorable rating barely ever cracked 35%. Obama the campaigner looks downright polarizing compared to Obama the President, who now sports a 65/25 fav/unfav in the Pollster.com average. Why is this important? Republicans right now haven't the slightest idea of how to reduce the President's appeal because they've never actually done it before. It would be one thing if Obama had become a controversial figure during the campaign, like Bill Clinton did in 1992, providing fodder for a comeback once he did get into office, but that possibility scarcely exists today. While personality may not be everything, and real-world policy outcomes provide opportunities for inflection points, it rarely ever...

THE CASE FOR BORROWING BIG, AND QUICK.

There's some evidence that demand for Treasury debt might be waning. That makes sense on a number of levels: Deficits look bad and so the risk of default -- though quite small -- inevitably inches upwards. There are signals that other markets are stabilizing and their products may once again be worth investing in -- and may even be extremely good deals. International investors aren't quite so terrified and so aren't essentially trying to hide their money beneath the United States' mattress. We're probably at the beginning of the period when it becomes more expensive for the government to borrow. Since the recession began, it's been uncommonly cheap. As the recession ends, it'll normalize. So if the government is planning to borrow a whole bunch of money in the near future, it might be a good idea to lock it in now, while 30-year rates are low, rather than later, when they rise again.

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