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

DO WE REALLY NEED TO DEFEND THE VERY CONCEPT OF "EVIDENCE?"

I don't really like writing defenses of "comparative effectiveness review." It makes me despair for our country. We're literally talking about the process of gathering evidence so we know how well various medical treatments work. It's worth saying, however, that there are two types of objections to gathering evidence, and they're being unfortunately conflated. The first is the ideological objection. Some conservatives worry that the "the type of information collected by CER could eventually be used inappropriately if a 'Federal Health Board' was created to decide which types of treatment would be available to whom and when." It's worth parsing this for a moment: The apparent fear here is that the evidence from comparative effectiveness will be, well, used to make treatment decisions. But that can't be quite right. We use evidence all the time. Your insurer won't pay for a leg amputation when your symptom is a headache. Medicare doesn't cover a wheelchair if you're diagnosed with acute...

FUN WITH STRESS TESTS.

The Wall Street Journal has a very cool interactive graphic today allowing you to compare the stress test results for different banks. I'm not sure what you actually gain from the exercise -- all these banks seem certain to survive the downturn, and Feds insure individual deposits anyway -- but it's a good way to waste a few minutes. The attached article sheds some more light on the negotiations between bank presidents and the government's stress testers. Particularly worrying is the government's decision to switch from measuring tangible common equity to Tier 1 common capital. Tangible common equity is the more traditional measurement, but if it had been used, the banks would have had to raise an additional $68 billion. Aside from that, there's not been an explanation offered for the change. The article also suggests that some banks are rather more persuasive than others. Citigroup managed to knock the government's final judgment from $35 billion in needed capital to a paltry $5.5...

JANET NAPOLITANO FOR SUPREME COURT?

I know that Janet Napolitano is floating around on the White House's short list. I don't really understand why: She's neither very liberal nor a great legal thinker nor armed with radically different life experiences than most members of the governmental elite. Rather, she was an effective moderate politician and, before that, an apparently skilled attorney general. But nevertheless, she'd be an enormously controversial nominee on the Court itself. Her early rise to prominence came as the attorney for...Anita Hill. So I guess what you can say about her is that there's probably no nominee in the country who would do more to piss off Clarence Thomas.

FINANCING HEALTH CARE REFORM.

I'm having an enjoyably wonky morning watching the Senate Finance Committee roundtable on options for funding health care reform. You can stream the meeting here . But for a clear and straightforward look at the ideas and issues involved, this bit of testimony from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities is as good an introduction as you'll find. I'm expecting the final compromise to look a lot like what they've offered. Note in particular their emphasis on "health-related excise taxes." Those discussions are happening in Congress and the administration, too. It's really looking like tobacco, alcohol, and sugared sodas are likely to get a bit more expensive after health reform. Polling around these policies is proving them more popular than most wonks expected, and they have the secondary benefit of being dual-purpose: They raise money and make Americans healthier.

A REAL LIFE CARBON TAX.

I've argued before that you can compare a perfect-world carbon tax to a perfect-world cap and trade proposal, or a realistic carbon tax to a realistic cap and trade proposal, but you can't compare a perfect-world carbon tax to a realistic cap and trade proposal. Today, Kevin Drum draws that argument out at length: Cap-and-trade is a real-world program for reducing pollutants. We used it successfully with sulfur emissions in the 90s. Europe is already doing it with carbon. The northeastern states are doing it with RGGI. The Waxman-Markey bill is a real piece of legislation that's hundreds of pages long and festooned with a hundred different compromises that will (we hope) allow it to survive the legislative sausage grinder. And all of these variations of cap-and-trade are complicated. When you read about them, you're immediately bombarded with jargon: auctions vs. allocations; caps, floors, offsets, and banking; upstream vs. downstream; how the exchange should be set up; how often...

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