Ezra Klein

WOULD THE OBAMA PLAN HAVE HELPED?

Reading Kate Michelman's story, Bob McManus asks a good question: "Please help me understand how Obama's cost-cutting and efficiency proposals would help in this specific case?"

Well, his cost-cutting and efficiency proposals wouldn't. The question is whether his access proposals would. What we basically know of Michelman's story is this: Her daughter worked with horses. Her daughter was uninsured. Her daughter suffered a terrible spinal cord injury. Her mother had to pay for treatment, and it's nearly bankrupted the family.

BAUCUS AND KENNEDY SET THE PACE.

In a letter to Obama today, Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and Ted Kennedy, chair of the health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, not only outlined a timeframe for health reform but also put forward a strategy for overcoming the turf warfare of years past. The key bit:

Since our committees share jurisdiction over health care reform legislation in the Senate, we have jointly laid out an aggressive schedule to accomplish our goal. Both committees plan to mark-up legislation in early June. Our intention is for that legislation to be very similar, and to reflect a shared approach to reform, so that the measures that our two committees report can be quickly merged into a single bill for consideration on the Senate floor.

ARE PLASTICS MAKING US FAT?

nm_teething_ring_080729_mn.jpgKevin Drum writes that, "Childhood obesity is far higher than it used to be, but it's not brand new: there have always been kids who were sedentary and ate lots of crappy food.

THE VIRTUES OF COMPLEXITY.

91260-004-c6572ac4.jpgRyan Avent notes that Ben Bernanke's rousing defense of financial innovation seems peculiarly retro.

MAKING CAP AND TRADE NORMAL.

Was at the gym this morning and caught this advocacy ad from "Repower America," Al Gore's climate change advocacy coalition. The framing caught my eye:

KATE MICHELMAN AND THE NEED FOR INSURANCE.

"We have literally fallen from the middle-class to potentially having nothing," says Kate Michelman. But she's lying. Michelman, the former president of NARAL, was not middle class. You don't run one of the largest advocacy organizations in the country and make $42,000 a year. Similarly, her husband was a retired college professor. Between the two of them, they were almost certainly wealthy.

Which makes her story all the worse.

In 2001, Michelman's daughter was horseback riding. The horse spooked and fell backward, crushing her spine and paralyzing her. She had no health insurance. The bills neared a million dollars. Michelman cashed out her 401(k) and her IRA.

MONDAY MORNING DISTRACTION.

The New Scientist has a list of 13 things that do not make sense. And they're right! Those things do not make much sense. But they're probably more interesting than whatever else you're doing at 10:30am on a Monday. So reading about them makes a certain amount of sense.

SHOULD ELIOT SPITZER GET A SECOND CHANCE?

spitzerdown.jpgReading Newsweek's profile of Eliot Spitzer's efforts to edge back into public life is a sort of dizzying experience: It is the thing it's about. On the one hand, Newsweek is talking to Spitzer about whether he can ever reenter the political conversation. On the other hand, by talking to Newsweek and getting a cover story, Spitzer is reentering the political conversation.

CAN THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY SAVE THE PLANET?

This was largely expected, but it's big news that the Environmental Protection Agency is readying to issue finally issue its finding that greenhouse-gas emissions endanger public health. Under the provisions of the Clean Air Act, this means that the EPA will be able to begin regulation carbon as a pollutant.

STANDING OVATIONS.

0074 Standing O 72.jpg

The Freakonomics blog wonders why standing ovations are so common amongst opera audiences. Are "classical music and theater are being diminished by a...scarcity of negative feedback?" They ask. "What if theater and orchestra audiences behaved more like blog commenters?"

TARP PROVING MORE EXPENSIVE THAN WE FIRST THOUGHT.

That's the takeaway from the CBO's new report on the Troubled Asset Relief Fund. You might wonder how a $700 billion program can return multiple cost estimates. The answer, basically, is that the TARP program's costs are not simply how much the government spends. They are how much the government spends minus how much they make when they sell the troubled assets. And CBO's new estimates suggest the troubled assets will be worth less than we thought:

BEST FRIENDS.

I don't normally post videos of elephants on this site. Nor videos of dogs. But I do post videos of elephants who are best friends with dogs.

Happy Friday.

YOUR WORLD IN CHARTS -- WELL, TABLES -- CONT'D.

Mere moments ago, I was complaining that the CBPP's chart showing percentile income gains for different income quintiles actually understated the situation, as 10 percent of a small salary and 10 percent of a huge salary are not the same amount of money. Turns out that the CBPP also tabulated the data in dollars. They've even got a fancy table:

cbpptable.jpg

Pages