How Obama Can Convince Congress to Enact a Larger Stimulus, and Why He Must

jobs-underwater

The Administration’s biggest economic mistake so far was to badly underestimate last January how bad the employment situation would become by Fall. As a result, it low-balled the stimulus — settling for a plan that, while avoiding even worse job losses, didn’t go nearly far enough.

Health Care Reform Is Critically Important, But Getting Americans Back to Work Is More So

Urinal-cake

If Obama and the Democrats lose one or both houses of Congress in the midterms, it will be because the president learned only the most superficial lesson of the Clinton years. Health-care reform is critically important. But when one out of six Americans is unemployed or underemployed, getting the nation back to work is more so.

Too Big to Fail: Why the White House and Congress Won’t Break up the Big Banks

Wizard

The right idea is to break up the giant banks. I don’t often agree with Alan Greenspan but he was right when he said last week that “[i]f they’re too big to fail, they’re too big.”

Why Wall Street Reform Is Stuck in Reverse

Geithner

Executives and traders on the Street have become the single biggest sources of money for Democrats as well as Republicans. And with mid-term elections looming next year, you can bet every member of Congress has a glint in his or her eye directed at the Street.

Like Letterman, Obama Needs to Refuse to Pay Hush Money

Letterman-color

But if Obama doesn’t weigh in forcefully and say “no” to the hush money for Big Pharma, big insurance, and the AMA, America’s middle class will get walloped. And if the walloping starts before 2012, Sarah Palin or some other right wing-nut populist will wallop Obama.

Why the Dow Broke 10,000, and Why You Should Still Watch Your Wallet

Fat CEO Cartoon Living in A Cardboard Box - The Recession is Over

Anyone who hasn’t learned by now that there’s almost no relationship between the Dow and the real economy deserves to lose his or her shirt in the Wall Street casino.

The Audacity of Greed: How Private Health Insurers Just Blew Their Cover

Health Care System Lock Out

So, insurance companies, we’ve got news for you. We’re going to make sure Americans have the freedom to choose a public insurance option that’s cheaper and better, and you’re going to have to work hard to keep them your customers.

Empty Hands on the Climate, and What Obama Needs to Do

global-warming

Why has so little been accomplished? Because coal, shale, oil, big manufacturers, and utilities — the big old polluters (BOPs) — have beaten back anything better.

Why Obama Should Not Have Received the Peace Prize — Yet

Barack Obama Cartoon wearing A Peace Sign Pendant

he Prize is really more of Booby Prize for Obama’s predecessor. Had the world not suffered eight years of George W. Bush, Obama would not be receiving the Prize. He’s prizeworthy and praiseworthy only by comparison.

So Much Happening in Washington and So Little to Show for It, So Far

Politics Elephant cartoon

The public doesn’t know what’s going on because the national media would rather report on the sexual escapades of famous people or social trends or high finance (a recent Pew study of economic reporting shows the vast majority of stories about the Great Recession have focused on Wall Street rather than Main Street).

Specifically, What Should Be Done for Jobs?

Alan Greenspan cartoon

It would be hard to get a new stimulus package through Congress, but no member who’s up for reelection next year when unemployment is likely to be in double digits wants to be accused by rivals of voting against steps to help small businesses, public schools, childrens’ health, and average working people who need a tax cut.

The Truth About Jobs That No One Wants to Tell You

Job-loss

In other words, ten percent unemployment really means twenty percent underemployment or anxious employment. All of which translates directly into late payments on mortgages, credit cards, auto and student loans, and loss of health insurance.

The Public Option Lives On

First-day

Big Pharma and Big Insurance hate the public insurance option even more than they hate big Medicare discounts. And although the President has sounded as if he would welcome it, political operatives in the White House have quietly reassured the industries that it won’t be included in the final bill.

Why the Dow is Hitting 10,000 Even When Consumers Can’t Buy And Business Cries “Socialism”

Greed

The Dow is up despite the biggest consumer retreat from the market since the Great Depression because of the very thing so many executives are complaining about, which is government’s expansion.

Why Olympia Snowe Should Vote Against the Baucus Plan

Olympia-color

How is it that a decision next week by a single Senator from Maine will almost certainly determine whether America’s future healthcare system is still in the hands of private for-profit insurance companies and Big Pharma or enables more Americans to get better health care at lower cost?

The Continuing Disaster of Wall Street, One Year Later

Zombie-Bankers

Let’s be clear: Wall Street today is up to the same tricks it was playing before its near-death experience: Derivatives, derivatives of derivatives, fancy-dance trading schemes, high-risk bets. “Our model really never changed, we’ve said very consistently that our business model remained the same,” says Goldman Sach’s chief financial officer.

The Final Sprint for Health Care Has Now Begun, and Where the White House Is Placing Its Bets

house-call

Obama’s Wednesday night speech reassured the Democratic base that the President is deeply committed to getting universal coverage. But the speech also made clear that the White House has decided to side with the Senate Finance Committee and against the Democratic base on the details.

The Snowe Job, and Why a “Trigger” for a Public Option is Nonsense

Olympia_Snowe

The best way to give Blue Dogs cover is for the President to explain clearly and boldly why the public option is essential to health care reform, and why he’s ready to veto any bill that doesn’t include it.

The Lessons from History on Health Care Reform

free-market

The ideal of universal care has revolved around two poles. In the 1930s, liberals imagined a universal right to health care tied to compulsory insurance, like Social Security. Johnson based Medicare on this idea, and it survives today as the “single-payer model” of universal health care, or “Medicare for all.” The alternative proposal, starting with Eisenhower, was to create a market for health care based on private insurers and employers.

The Real News About Jobs and Wages: An Ode to Labor Day

woot

If we’ve learned anything from the Great Recession-Mini Depression of the last 18 months, it’s that the skewing of income and wealth to the top has made our economy far less stable.

What Obama Must Demand from Congress on Health Care

werewolves

In order to get anything meaningful through this session of Congress, then, the President will have to give Congressional Democrats far more leadership and more cover. Doing so is harder now than before the recess, when he was still basking in the afterglow of a honeymoon and 60% favorabilities.

The Guns of August, and Why the Republican Right Was So Adept at Using Them on Health Care

private-insurance

What we learned in August is something we’ve long known but keep forgetting: The most important difference between America’s Democratic Left and Republican Right is that the left has ideas and the right has discipline.

Beware Authoritative “Inside Washington” Sources Who Say The Public Option is Dead

Lorry

Sometimes reform has to occur in a big way, everything or nothing, if it’s to happen at all. That’s the way it is with health care reform at this stage. Every moving piece is related to every other one. That’s also why a public option is necessary.

Don’t Succumb to Deficit Hysteria

red-ink

The only item worth looking at is the part of the report that predicts the government will have nearly a $1.6 trillion deficit in the fiscal year that ends this September 30 — but not because that number is alarmingly large. It strikes me as alarmingly small.

Why the Gang of Six is Deciding Health Care for Three Hundred Million of Us

Senate Finance "Gang of Six," clockwise from upper left: Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota;Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming., Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico; and Olympia Snowe R-Maine.

Why has it come down to these six? Who anointed them? Apparently, the White House. At least that’s what I’m repeatedly being told by sources both on the Hill and in the Administration.

How Tough Is Our President?

President Barack Obama jogs in to speak at a town hall meeting on health care in Belgrade, Mont. Friday, Aug. 14, 2009.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The President’s centeredness, calm, and dignity inspire trust but also suggest a certain lack of combativeness, a reluctance to express indignation, and an unwillingness to identify enemies — resulting in a tendency toward compromise even at the early stages of controversy.

The Public Option’s Last Stand, and the Public’s

obama-crisis

Without a public, Medicare-like option, health care reform is a bandaid for a system in critical condition. There’s no way to push private insurers to become more efficient and provide better value to Americans without being forced to compete with a public option.

Obama’s Second Biggest Test: Reforming Wall Street, and Why Early Indications Aren’t Hopeful

finger

itigroup — the giant Wall Street bank still on life-support courtesy of $45 billion from American taxpayers — wants to pay its 25 top executives an average of $10 million each this year, and award its best trader $100 million. Whaaaaaat?

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.

How To Fight Heathcare Fearmongers and Demagogues

change-u-wanted

The President needs to be very specific about two things in particular: (1) Who will pay? and (2) Why the public option is so important — and why it’s not a Trojan Horse to a government takeover.

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