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.

The Health Care Clock, and Why Obama Has to Act Quickly

healtcare

If bills aren’t passed in the House and Senate before August 7th, the fights in both chambers over the public option and money will carry over into the Fall, where they’ll become more intense and more prolonged.

When Will The Recovery Begin? Never.

debt

So instead of asking when the recovery will start, we should be asking when and how the new economy will begin.

“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 [...]

Watching Out for the Details in Healthcare, and How Hard the White House Pushes for Them

public-option

In an interesting piece in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, Matt Bai suggests that the White House has learned the main lesson of Bill Clinton’s failed attempt at universal health care, which is not to deliver a finished product to Congress but instead give Congress a set of goals and let it decide how to [...]

How Pharma and Insurance Intend to Kill the Public Option, and What Obama and the Rest of Us Must Do

Olympia Snowe

I’ve poked around Washington today, talking with friends on the Hill who confirm the worst: Big Pharma and Big Insurance are gaining ground in their campaign to kill the public option in the emerging health care bill. You know why, of course. They don’t want a public option that would compete with private insurers and [...]

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 [...]

The Health Care Cave-In

healthcare

“Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the better” is a favorite slogan in Washington because compromise is necessary to get anything done. But the way things are going with health care, a better admonition would be: “Don’t give away the store.” Single-Payer Plan Is Ideal Many experts have long agreed that a so-called “single-payer” [...]

The Truth Behind the Social Security and Medicare Alarm Bells

social-secuirty

What are we to make of yesterday’s report from the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds that Social Security will run out of assets in 2037, four years sooner than previously forecast, and Medicare’s hospital fund will be exhausted by 2017, two years earlier than predicted a year ago? Reports of these [...]

Obama and Pragmatism: Thinking Through Values

barack_obama2

I keep hearing the White House staff describe the President as a pragmatist. David Axelrod, one of his chief advisors whom I admire enormously, recently called him a “ruthless pragmatist.” Soon, I expect, he’ll be called a “take-no-prisoners pragmatist,” or perhaps a “remorseless, merciless, and unrelenting pragmatist.” I’m relieved the President is a pragmatist, but [...]

Why Obama is Taking on Corporate Tax Havens

loopholes

Why, one may ask, is Obama taking on yet another huge fight by taking aim at foreign tax havens? Yes, it’s unfair that multinationals pay an average tax rate of only 2 percent on their foreign revenues, and it’s unfair that some wealthy Americans are avoiding taxes altogether by parking their fortunes abroad. But, hey, [...]

The Auto Bailout Is Going Off the Road

chrysler

GM just announced it was laying of 21,000 more of its workers, as a means of assuring the Treasury Department the company is worthy of more bailout money. A Treasury official was quoted as saying approvingly that the goal is a “slimmed-down” GM. What? Having General Motors or Chrysler cut tens of thousands of jobs [...]

Will Ken Lewis Get Canned, and Will Americans Have a Say in the Corporations We Now Own?

ken-lewis

I don’t know whether Bank of America shareholders will oust Ken Lewis from his chairmanship this week. I don’t know if Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will eventually do it, either. What really worries me is I don’t know who would actually be responsible for doing the deed, or by what criteria. When it comes to [...]

How Obama Can Succeed in the Next Hundred Days and Beyond

first-stone

Before Inauguration Day, President-elect Barack Obama said he wanted to hit the ground running. Instead, he hit the ground sprinting and hasn’t stopped. Consider: A $787 billion stimulus package. A 10-year budget including universal health insurance and a cap-and-trade system to combat global warming. Subsidies to help distressed homeowners stay in their homes. Public-private partnerships [...]

The Great Credit Card Battle To Come

credit-card-sharks

The next front in the banking wars will be over credit cards. Some of the nation’s biggest bankers — including representatives of Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and other recipients of billions of taxpayer dollars — are meeting today with the President to ask him back off his move to reform credit-card lending practices. What’s happening [...]

Where Government Spending Should be Trimmed — And Why It’s Necessary to Fast-Track Universal Health Care

play-aig

It’s no accident that as Congress returns this week from its two-week recess and begins debate on the $3.5 trillion budget plans for the fiscal year starting in October — which may or may not include a provision that fast-tracks Obama’s health care proposal by allowing it to pass the Senate with a mere majority [...]

A Short Citizen’s Guide to Kooks, Demagogues, and Right-Wingers On Tax Day

what-are-we-protesting

No one likes to pay taxes, so tax day typically attracts a range of right-wing Republicans, kooks, and demagogues, all of whom tell us how awful we have it. Herewith a short citizen’s guide (that is, a citizen’s guide that’s short rather than a guide for short citizens) responding to the predictable charges: “Americans pay [...]

We Need More Stimulus, Not More Bailout

patching panks

With only $110 billion remaining in the TARP bailout fund, all signs are that Tim Geithner is preparing to return to Congress seeking more bailout money. He’ll bring along the results of his bank “stress tests,” which will probably show many that big banks are still technically insolvent, along with bankruptcy scenarios for General Motors [...]

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