Ezra Klein

COVERAGE OPTIONS.

I'm not sure why official Washington is insisting on releasing so much health care news today, but here's the Finance Committee's paper on policy options to expand coverage. This is, in theory, the guidebook that the Committee will use when building its bill. The whole thing is worth reading, but for those interested, the public plan options begin on the 13th page.

WHAT IS THIS "CAP AND TRADE" OF WHICH YOU SPEAK?

Via Dave Weigel and Matt Yglesias comes the depressing news that the vast majority of the public doesn't know what cap and trade" is. And I don't mean in the sense that they don't understand the auctions. They have no idea what problem the policy actually refers to. "Given a choice of three options, just 24 percent of voters can correctly identify the cap-and-trade proposal as something that deals with environmental issues.

YOUR WORLD IN CHARTS: FINANCIAL INNOVATION EDITION.

The Peterson Institute's Adam S. Posen and Marc Hinterschweiger have a couple neat graphs making the case against financial innovation. They did not begin as skeptics. They liked the idea of financial innovation. They believed the promises "that expansion in the use of newer derivatives and the like would lead to an expansion in the country’s capital stock, and that these financial products would be useful to nonfinancial companies, not just to banks." But that didn't happen. Their first graph plots the growth of derivatives against the growth of capital stock. It basically shows a massive rise in fake money that's unconnected to any similar increase in real money.

DEPARTMENT OF SHOCK, HORROR.

This isn't really my beat, but Wanda Sykes' comedy routine at last weekend's White House Correspondent's Dinner was really shockingly offensive.

THE PROBLEM WITH CORPORATE TAX CODES.

The administration's proposals to close some corporate tax loopholes didn't get much attention last week. In part, that's because the actual issues being addressed are extremely complicated. But that doesn't mean they're not important. This sort of thing, for instance, is really galling, and insofar as we need to raise $60 billion from somewhere, stopping corporations from playing a game of international tax arbitrage is probably a good idea.

ARLEN SPECTER NOW OPEN TO A PUBLIC PLAN.

Lot of health reform posts on the blog today. That's because there's a lot of health reform policy news today. For instance, Arlen Specter, who recently gave a one word "no" when asked if he supported a public plan on Meet the Press, is now proclaiming himself open to a public plan:

In a letter to the progressive group Health Care for America Now, Specter said he looks forward to ``discussing and considering'' the issue. He said a starting point could be a proposal by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that seeks to maintain a level playing field between the private and public sector.

ANDY STERN: "EVERYONE HAS EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS."

I just got off the phone with Andy Stern, head of SEIU. For the past few years, Stern has been manically building coalitions. This, it seems, was the payoff: The ultimate health care coalition. Every major industry group. And SEIU was at the table with them.

Stern acknowledged that the early release is light on specifics. But that, he argued, was a function of it being early. "We set a deadline of June 1st to try to provide real proposals that can be costed. It'll be complicated to decide what goes in the legislation. But we'll have competent people providing verifiable savings." That deadline is important. June is when the Finance Committee's first bill drops. So if these stakeholders want to see their proposals in that bill, then they need to move quickly.

OBAMA: NO ONE CAN DO THIS ON THEIR OWN.

Obama just left the meeting with the stakeholders and gave some quick remarks. The key bit:

[N]one of these steps can be taken by our federal government or our health care community acting alone. They'll require all of us coming together, as we are today, around a common purpose -- workers, executives, hospitals, nurses, doctors, drug companies, insurance companies, members of Congress. It's the kind of broad coalition, everybody with a seat at the table that I talked about during the campaign, that is required to achieve meaningful health care reform and that is the kind of coalition which -- to which I am committed.

IS THIS ALL ABOUT CBO?

There's an emergent argument that the real import of today's letter is that it serves as a club against the Congressional Budget Office. As Igor Volsky writes:

DOCUMENT DUMP: THE BIG HEALTH CARE LETTER.

All this fuss over one little letter. I've got the full document for download here. And the early reports are true. It's signed by the presidents of Pharma, Advamed (device manufacturers), the American Medical Association (doctors), the American Hospital Association, America's Health Insurance Plans, and SEIU's Health Care project.

EXTREMELY TRUE STOCK MARKET COMMENTARY.

Ryan Avent -- demonstrating once again that some enterprising publication should hire him immediately -- offers the smartest commentary you'll read on the stock market today:

Today’s conventional wisdom seems to be that the recent market rally has hit an apex. My assessment is that it has either hit an apex or hasn’t, in which case it will go up or down.

This is 100 percent true. By contrast, analyses of today's stock market drop that do not say this are not 100 percent true.

IT'S BAD TO NOT BE THE KING.

I've been thinking a lot about James Surowiecki's argument that the administration's critics have developed "a fetishization of boldness."

UNADULTERATED GOOD NEWS ON HEALTH REFORM.

To counterbalance the crankiness of the previous post, Peter Orszag's announcement that the administration is not only continuing to support is $635 billion health care fund, but actually adding pieces to it, is important news. The key issue in health care reform is, quite simply, financing. Right now, the policy exists. The money doesn't. In fact, when the Senate passed its version of the budget, the specific financing provisions in the administration's health care reserve fund were deleted entirely.

IS THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY ON OBAMA'S SIDE? IS OBAMA ON THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY'S SIDE?

Jon Cohn is enthused. Paul Krugman is excited. Maybe I'm just churlish. Maybe I'm getting cranky as I age. But I can't shake my skepticism about today's big health care announcement.

SNL DOES THE STRESS TESTS.

Minutes two through five of this skit sort of read like an old Celebrity Jeopardy script that they dusted off and applied to Tim Geithner and Citibank. But minute one is very good.

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