Sarah Palin’s Death Panels

death-panels

The “town meetings” that are now spewing such anger reflect deepseated fears that are welling up across America during this economic crisis. Healthcare reform may ease some of these fears. But the demagogues that are manipulating those fears for political gain don’t give a hoot.

Obamacare Warring with Itself Over Future Costs

Douglas Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Office

Now is the time for the President to begin twisting arms and knocking heads. To control long-term costs, he’ll also have to take away some of the goodies that have been promised to the health-industrial complex, and maybe even cross Big Labor.

Goldman’s Back, and Why We Should Be Worried

wall-street

So the fact that Goldman has reverted to its old ways in the market suggests it has every reason to believe it can revert to its old ways in politics, should its market strategies backfire once again — leaving the rest of us once again to pick up the pieces.

“What Can I Do?”

sticker-shock

Someone recently approached me at the cheese counter of a local supermarket, asking “what can I do?” At first I thought the person was seeking advice about a choice of cheese. But I soon realized the question was larger than that. It was: what can I do about the way things are going in Washington? [...]

Why the Critics of a Public Option for Health Care Are Wrong

health-menu

Without a public option, the other parties that comprise America’s non-system of health care — private insurers, doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and medical suppliers — have little or no incentive to supply high-quality care at a lower cost than they do now. Which is precisely why the public option has become such a lightening rod. [...]

Memo to the President: What You Must Do To Save Universal Health Care

lyndon johnson

Momentum for universal health care is slowing dramatically on Capitol Hill. Moderates are worried, Republicans are digging in, and the medical-industrial complex is firing up its lobbying and propaganda machine. But, as you know, the worst news came days ago when the Congressional Budget Office weighed in with awful projections about how much the leading [...]

Does the Obama Plan for Reforming Wall Street Measure Up?

evasive-money

In a word: No. The plan doesn’t stop stop bankers from making huge, risky bets with other peoples’ money. It does increase capital requirements and oversight, but it doesn’t require bankers to take their pay in long-term stock options or warrants, and it doesn’t even hint that banks should go back to being partnerships instead [...]

The Three Essentials of Financial Reform

dollar-hand

As the White House unveils its long-awaited proposals to prevent another Wall Street meltdown in the future, keep a lookout for three essentials. Without them the Street will revert to its old ways as soon as the coast clears. In fact, now that the government has bailed out the Street, the biggest banks will take [...]

The Healthcare War Is Now Official

The LBJ treatment

Last week, the American Medical Association came out against a public option for health care. And later in the week the President reaffirmed his support for it. The next weeks will show what Obama is made of — whether he’s willing and able to take on the most formidable lobbying coalition he has faced so [...]

The Latest Public Option Bamboozle, and How to Recognize the Real Thing

Senator Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images North America)

Here’s the latest contortion from Senate Dems trying to win over a few Republicans to a “public option:” Let nonprofits create health-care cooperatives, and call them the public option. Kent Conrad came up with this bamboozle. Finance chair Baucus is impressed, and some Republicans — even Grassley — seem interested. Watch your wallets. Nonprofit health-care [...]

The Great Debt Scare: Why Has It Returned?

broken economy

It’s the kind of thing I expect to hear from deficit hawks and chicken littles — from the self-described “fiscally responsible” right, from the scolds Ross Perot and Pete Peterson, from my former cabinet colleague Bob Rubin. But yesterday I was shown slides developed by the putatively liberal Center for American Progress intended to make [...]

The Future of Manufacturing, GM, and American Workers (Part III)

Buick assembly line, 1950 (Photos Philip Gendreau)

As president of General Motors when Eisenhower tapped him to become secretary of defense in 1953, “Engine Charlie” Wilson voiced at his Senate confirmation hearing what was then the conventional view. When asked whether he could make a decision in the interest of the US that was adverse to the interest of GM, he said [...]

The Future of Manufacturing, GM, and American Workers (Part II)

knowledge-worker

Symbolic analysts have been hit by the current downturn, just as everyone else has. But over the long term, symbolic analysts will do just fine – as long as they stay away from job functions that are becoming routinized. They will continue to benefit from economic change. Computer technology gives them more tools for thinking, [...]

The Future of Manufacturing, GM, and American Workers (Part I)

auto-plant

What’s the Administration’s specific aim in bailing out GM? I’ll give you my theory later. For now, though, some background. First and most broadly, it doesn’t make sense for America to try to maintain or enlarge manufacturing as a portion of the economy. Even if the U.S. were to seal its borders and bar any [...]

Sotomayor and the Republicans

sotomayor1

Put on your seatbelts. Many Republicans have been itching for this fight. They figure if they can make Sonia Sotomayor appear “too liberal,” “too activist,” or “intemperate” — and cause Obama to withdraw her nomination, or if they can defeat her outright — they can slow the Obamomentum that’s leading to universal health care, cap-and-trade, [...]

The Only Sure Way to Fund Universal Health Care

healthcare1

During the presidential campaign, I thought Obama made only one big policy mistake. He criticized John McCain for proposing to tax all employer-provided health benefits. McCain’s overall health plan was regressive – he would have turned the savings into tax credits for purchasing health care – but he was right about where the revenues should [...]

A Modest Plan for Paying College Costs

falon_williams

I’m just about to head off to a commencement here at University of Califonria,  Berkeley. The news that keeps banging around in my head is that the state has just announced a whopping 9% increase in fees for next academic year, the third fee increase in three years. The average young person now graduating from [...]

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