Ezra Klein

IS TIM GEITHNER TOO BIG TO FAIL?

Tim Fernholz rounds up some evidence that Geithner's political acumen is, err, less than Emmanuel-esque, and quotes Politico's speculation that Tim Geithner is simply "too big to fail." That may be true. On the other hand, you could also say that Geithner is particularly well-placed to fail: He has been simultaneously presented as being somewhat hapless and yet somehow completely responsible for the whole of the Obama administration's response to the financial crisis.

THE 25 SUBPRIME KINGS SPENT $370 MILLION IN LOBBYING.

moneyhouse.jpgI've not seen it getting much play in the blogosphere, but the Center for Public Integrity unveiled a hefty new web site tracking the subprime efforts, lending standards, and lobbying dollars of the major banks. The point of the report is simple: They meant to do this. Not "this" insofar as it means getting their compensation capped and falling into insolvency.

IS CONGRESS TURNING TOWARDS SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM?

Steny Hoyer, it seems, is making some noises about Social Security reform. Good luck with that, I guess. The interesting nugget in the article, however, is that "House and Senate leaders have resisted the idea of naming a special commission to work on the problem, insisting that congressional committees can handle it." Hoyer is, of course, one of those leaders. And this makes Social Security reform much harder.

FORMING A UNION: THE VIDEO.

The folks over at the Center for American progress Action Center put together a nice video explaining the how the "election" process that unions have to go through makes it nearly impossible to form a union. Particularly important is that this election doesn't look anything like what people think of when they hear the word "election." Imagine if during the presidential campaign, your supervisor could pull you into a room and explain slowly and clearly why it was very important to the company that you supported John McCain. And then, if you said you didn't, you might mysteriously find that you were working bad shifts the next week, while your friend who attached the complimentary McCain/Palin sticker to her car is suddenly getting the prime slots.

EXCLUSIVE: MAX BAUCUS'S HEALTH CARE TEAM.

I mentioned yesterday that Chuck Schumer's public plan compromise wasn't a freelance effort: Max Baucus had deputized him to work through the options on the public plan. But he's not the only Finance Committee member that received some homework from Baucus. In fact, Baucus has given every Democrat on the committee a different piece of health reform to focus in on. Sources say that some are taking them more seriously than others, and obviously no single senators gets the last word. But the assignments have been a way for Baucus to delegate some of the work and involve all the Democrats on the Finance Committee. This is the list:

DOING NOTHING ON CLIMATE CHANGE IS EXPENSIVE.

My new employers sure seem to spend a lot of time publishing columnists who are critical of climate science and then publishing op-eds and arguments that essentially trash the take of the original columns. The latest example comes in response to a frustrating effort by Robert Samuelson that took issue with the uncertainty in the models climate scientists are using. Paul Krugman had a very elegant rejoinder to this over on his blog a few days ago.

REID GETS TOUGH ON SPECTER.

Arlen_Specter.jpgOn Meet the Press last weekend, David Gregory asked what "inducements" Arlen Specter had been given to switch parties. "None," replied Specter. "None?" asked, incredulously. "None," Specter replied. Gregory still didn't believe him. "You won't retain your seniority, as you move over, on, on key committees?"

Oh.

BANK OF AMERICA: PRETTY STRESSED OUT.

A couple days ago, we were hearing leaks from "people familiar with the matter" who said that the stress test's "preliminary findings have revealed that Citi, which has already been bailed out three times by the authorities, could need an extra $10bn or more if the economy worsens. BofA, which has had $45bn in government aid, was found to need well in excess of $10bn."

IN PRAISE OF SOTOMAYOR.

02180036.jpgI don't have a particular opinion on Sonia Sotomayor, the Second Circuit Court judge who has emerged as an early frontrunner -- and an early point of controversy -- for David Souter's replacement.

GOVERNMENT TO BANKS: NO FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS.

Tim Geithner is set to decree that if banks want to repay their TARP loans and slip out of the compensation caps and oversight rules that come with government backing, then they'll have to also sacrifice the sweet, sweet lending arrangements the Feds have been giving them through the FDIC. In other words, you can't only leave the government subsidies you don't like.

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