Ezra Klein

MY LAST POST AT TAP.

0605.jpg"It's not a goodbye post," a friend just said to me. "It's a 'see you later' post." And that's probably true. This will be my last real blog post at The American Prospect. This site will go dark for the rest of the week. On Monday, it will move to the Washington Post (the archives will remain at this address). The new URL will be http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/. I'll see all of you then. It'll go by quick.

IS THE ADMINISTRATION AT WAR WITH ITSELF?

This morning, some conservative groups expended a lot of energy hyping a document that seemed to show the Office of Management and Budget -- and hence the Obama administration -- opposes the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to classify carbon as a dangerous pollutant. That was a bad idea, because it's just given the OMB a high-profile opportunity to restate its support for the EPA's finding. Peter Orszag, the director of the OMB, explains. And he also links to this April 17th post where he calls the EPA's decision "important" and writes that "the proposed finding is carefully rooted in both law and science."

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.

THE OTHER INSOLVENCY PROBLEM.

actuaryreports.jpgThe 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.

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?

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.

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.

DO WE REALLY NEED TO DEFEND THE VERY CONCEPT OF "EVIDENCE?"

I don't really like writing defenses of "comparative effectiveness review." It makes me despair for our country. We're literally talking about the process of gathering evidence so we know how well various medical treatments work. It's worth saying, however, that there are two types of objections to gathering evidence, and they're being unfortunately conflated.

FUN WITH STRESS TESTS.

The Wall Street Journal has a very cool interactive graphic today allowing you to compare the stress test results for different banks. I'm not sure what you actually gain from the exercise -- all these banks seem certain to survive the downturn, and Feds insure individual deposits anyway -- but it's a good way to waste a few minutes.

JANET NAPOLITANO FOR SUPREME COURT?

I know that Janet Napolitano is floating around on the White House's short list. I don't really understand why: She's neither very liberal nor a great legal thinker nor armed with radically different life experiences than most members of the governmental elite. Rather, she was an effective moderate politician and, before that, an apparently skilled attorney general. But nevertheless, she'd be an enormously controversial nominee on the Court itself. Her early rise to prominence came as the attorney for...Anita Hill. So I guess what you can say about her is that there's probably no nominee in the country who would do more to piss off Clarence Thomas.

FINANCING HEALTH CARE REFORM.

I'm having an enjoyably wonky morning watching the Senate Finance Committee roundtable on options for funding health care reform. You can stream the meeting here. But for a clear and straightforward look at the ideas and issues involved, this bit of testimony from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities is as good an introduction as you'll find. I'm expecting the final compromise to look a lot like what they've offered. Note in particular their emphasis on "health-related excise taxes." Those discussions are happening in Congress and the administration, too.

A REAL LIFE CARBON TAX.

I've argued before that you can compare a perfect-world carbon tax to a perfect-world cap and trade proposal, or a realistic carbon tax to a realistic cap and trade proposal, but you can't compare a perfect-world carbon tax to a realistic cap and trade proposal. Today, Kevin Drum draws that argument out at length:

THE OPPONENTS OF HEALTH CARE REFORM.

It's good to be lucky in your friends, but it's better to be lucky in your enemies. And as Rachel Maddow argues, Obama seems increasingly lucky in his enemies:

IS CAP AND TRADE ENOUGH? (NO.)

This gets a bit wonky, but Dave Roberts has a good post explaining why cap and trade -- or a carbon tax -- may not be enough to really move us over to renewable energy. Simply slapping a price on carbon might be a sufficient answer if the only failure in the market was that carbon sat lonely and unpriced. But it's not. Roberts explains.

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