Ezra Klein

CARD CHECK AGONISTES.

A lot of labor-types will be unhappy that Andy Stern told the Washington Post editorial board that card check might not pass and unions might need to find an acceptable compromise. But I find it heartening. Card check almost certainly won't pass this Congress. You can't do it through reconciliation, Specter was the likeliest Republican supporter and he defected, and conservative Democrats like Webb and Lincoln are now talking the legislation down. Making card check the only bill that labor will support -- denying, in other words, the possibility of compromise -- might slightly increase its chances of passage, but only from extremely unlikely to very unlikely.

GEITHNER DODGES CONGRESS AGAIN.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the government is likely to begin converting the government’s existing loans to the nation’s 19 biggest banks into common stock. Paul Krugman is not a fan of this strategy, and he makes that clear by analogizing it to yo' momma (you think I'm kidding. I don't kid.). Felix Salmon is more positive.

CAN GEITHNER CONTROL GOLDMAN?

According to The Wall Street Journal, Timothy Geithner has indicated that the health of individual banks won't be the sole criterion for whether financial firms will be allowed to repay bailout funds. But as Felix Salmon writes, it's not clear that he has the authority to impose new conditions on TARP participants. The relevant line in the law isn't too hard to parse:

WEBB WILL NOT SUPPORT THE EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT.

James Webb, it seems, will not be supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, and won't even say if he'd support efforts to break a filibuster and let it get to the floor for a vote. That's a significant blow to EFCA, and something of a surprise given Webb's carefully cultivated image as an economic populist.

PRESENTING YOUR CBO HEALTH ADVISORS!

Over at the Congressional Budget Office, they've announced the composition of this year's Health Advisory Panel. "We host periodic meetings of the advisers at our office and solicit their views between meetings via e-mail exchanges and conference calls. Through these interactions, we benefit from the advisers’ understanding of cutting-edge research and the latest developments in health care delivery and financing. As a result, the quality of CBO’s analysis of health policy is greatly enhanced." It's a good group -- sort of a who's who of heath wonks. Notable participants include David Cutler, the architect of Obama's health care plan in the primary, and Jonathan Gruber, one of the key contributors to the Massachusetts reforms.

CASS SUNSTEIN NUDGES HIS WAY INTO THE OMB.

sunsteinsmiles.jpgOver at the OMB's Blog, Peter Orszag gives a warm welcome to Cass Sunstein, who's nomination as head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is now official. Over the course of his career, Sunstein has done a lot of work, some of it mildly controversial, in the area of cost-benefit analysis. That's a pretty natural intersection with the duties of OIRA. But that's not where Orszag focuses:

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY YOU DO HERE?

Tangentially-related to the question of whether Wall Street types deserve their compensation packages is the yearly phenomenon in which actively managed mutual funds underperform the market. Between 2004 and 2008, 66.21% of domestic funds did worse than the S&P Composite 1500. In 2008, 64.23% underperformed. In other words, if you had a fund manager and his employees bringing their skill and knowledge to bear on your portfolio, you probably lost money as compared to the market as a whole. That's not to say you lost money in all cases. Just in most.

Full numbers here.

THIS? THIS IS THE EASY PART.

I'm less enthused than Jon Cohn by Carrie Budoff Brown's Politico story suggesting Republicans are in disarray on health reform. Brown's argument is that Republicans are in desperate need of a plan. I agree with that. But Budoff thinks they need a Republican plan. I think that's backwards. What they need is a Democratic plan. And soon enough, they'll get one.

Jon, I think, indirectly makes the point, drawing the contrast to 1994:

STORY TIME.

I'm probably going to do another post on Gabe Sherman's exploration of Wall Street's rage. But this story is worth quoting on its own:

PAUL KRUGMAN ON WASTE AND EFFICIENCIES.

PK does the math:

Let’s say the administration finds $100 million in efficiencies every working day for the rest of the Obama administration’s first term. That’s still around $80 billion, or around 2% of one year’s federal spending.

PULITZER PRIZES.

The Pulitzers are out. Verdict: The New York Times is a good newspaper. Question: When will there be a blog Pulitzer? Or at least an online Pulitzer? If newspapers with a particularly sharp editorial cartoonists can win the prize, surely newspapers with particularly innovative online operations should be in contention. This stuff matters!

YOUR WORLD IN CHARTS: SUNSPOTS AND RECESSIONS EDITION.

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Correlation, as they say, is not causation. But the two sure do go together an awful lot. Which is why this chart makes the rounds in certain circles:

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