Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein is a staff reporter at The Washington Post. You can read his blogging here. His work has appeared in the LA Times, The Guardian, The Washington Monthly, The New Republic, Slate, and The Columbia Journalism Review. He's been a commentator on MSNBC, CNN, NPR, and more.

Recent Articles

THEORY VS. PRACTICE.

When you're arguing policy, you have to decide whether you're arguing in the perfect world or the real world, and then you have to hold that constant. There's no use arguing a textbook policy against a piece of legislation, or vice-versa. You see this pretty clearly in debates between supporters of cap-and-trade and supporters of a carbon tax. If you're interested in determining the elegance of the policy, you can compare a textbook cap-and-trade program to a textbook carbon tax. If you're interested in determining the likely real-world shape of a policy, you can try and game out the likely compromises and horsetrades that would allow cap-and-trade legislation and carbon tax legislation to pass through through Congress. But what you can't do is compare the cap-and-trade legislation to carbon tax theory. These things are not alike. But that's the argument you tend to get. Which gets at the problem with Andrew Sullivan arguing that a carbon tax is superior to cap-and-trade because it "...

TAB DUMP.

• The financial crisis hits Portugal. Portugal hits back. • "[A]lthough the Austrian School was at the forefront of business cycle theory in the 1920s, it hasn’t developed in any positive way since then." • The parochialism of ignoring Karl Marx. • I forgot to link to this very good Brad DeLong column arguing that our future is as a large colony that's been occupied by the financial capital of other country's. • Is the EPA about to crack down on ethanol? Sort of!

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. Peter Orszag tells Jon Stewart that “I have to be more constrained, because [the bailout] really is Geithner’s." People around Summers say that "when it comes to the bank bailout, the consensus is that Summers has scrupulously respected Geithner's turf." If the day ever comes, in other words, that the administration needs to radically change course, they can jettison Geithner and lay the whole thing in his lap.

THE 25 SUBPRIME KINGS SPENT $370 MILLION IN LOBBYING.

I'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. But "this" insofar as it means popularizing subprime loans. As CPI writes, "These big institutions were not only unwitting victims of an unforeseen financial collapse, as they have sometimes portrayed themselves, but enablers that bankrolled the type of lending that has threatened the financial system." There's even a widget. (The widget broke the blog. The widget is evil. The widget hates you. Beware!) It's a convincing presentation. But the piece that got front page play in The Financial Times is the lobbying bit: "The top 25 US originators of subprime mortgages -- the risky assets that sparked the global financial crisis --...

IS CHUCK GRASSLEY A PLOTTING, CONNIVING, BACK-STABBING TWO-TIMER? OR JUST A SENATOR?

I don't really understand the framing of this Hill story . "Grassley plots backup healthcare plan?" Plots? Seriously? The basic story is that Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, is working with Max Baucus on a bipartisan bill. He's also working with the Republicans on their alternative bill. Is he -- gasp! -- double-crossing his buddy Max Baucus? Are they now in a fight? I doubt it. Baucus is presumably helping the Democrats craft whatever bill they'll use if they need to go through reconciliation. He didn't block the inclusion of reconciliation in the budget. There are no surprises here. People want bipartisan agreement but aren't banking on it. The relevant senators in both parties are participating in negotiations even as they review plans for war. The interesting piece of the article quotes Grassley as saying that "budget reconciliation changed everything." But as a smart staffer argued to me recently, it turns out that budget reconciliation changed...

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