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Health Care Reform at Last

Yes, this is the year Congress will finally give every American access to health insurance. For the first time since the passage of Medicare in the 1960s, the forces favoring action on health care reform are stronger than the forces of cynicism and obstruction.

Posted on Apr 5, 2009 READ MORE


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The Nobelists vs. Obama and Geithner

The president’s plan to bail out the banks reveals a deference to the existing financial system that puts him at odds with Nobel Prize-winning economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz.

Posted on Apr 2, 2009 READ MORE


Putting the ‘Care’ in Health Care

Sadly, we have developed a system that rewards procedures over primary care. The incentives tip toward the kind of medicine that is performed with hands, tools and technology over the medicine that is practiced with eyes, ears and mind.

Posted on Apr 2, 2009 READ MORE


Close These Refuges for Scoundrels

The story of former AIG executive Joseph Cassano points up once more how tax and regulatory havens across the world encourage nefarious conduct, lack of transparency, evasion of taxes and corporate criminality.

Posted on Apr 2, 2009 READ MORE


Seattle’s Lessons for London

A former police chief of Seattle—who directed the harsh action there against 1999’s WTO protesters—has changed his views on protests, as well as on drugs. The G-20 leaders meeting in London should heed his words.

Posted on Mar 31, 2009 READ MORE


Cars, Banks and Confusion

The president is telling Detroit to shape up or die while at the same time politely asking Wall Street, whose recklessness and greed caused this economic crisis, if it would be so kind as to accept another heaping helping of taxpayer funds.

Posted on Mar 30, 2009 READ MORE


Change You Can Translate

If there is a trend in democratic nations now, it is toward younger politicians who express disenchantment with the status quo, more by questioning past approaches than by offering fully worked-out alternative systems.

Posted on Mar 30, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / Kevin Wolf

Obstruction of Justice

The facts surrounding the trial and imprisonment of Dr. Sami Al-Arian have severely tarnished the integrity of the American judicial system and made the government’s vaunted campaign against terrorism look capricious, inept and overtly racist.

Posted on Mar 30, 2009 READ MORE



What You Dig

Here are the five most-read stories of the last seven days, including Chris Hedges on America’s moral meltdown and Robert Scheer on the economic incompetents who find easy employment in the Obama administration. Full list after the jump.

Posted on Mar 27, 2009 READ MORE


Drugs, Guns and Reality

It’s an indictment of our fact-averse political culture that a statement of the blindingly obvious could sound so revolutionary. Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton deserves high praise for acknowledging that the U.S. bears “shared responsibility” for the drug-fueled violence sweeping Mexico.

Posted on Mar 26, 2009 READ MORE


Daring to Utter the T Word

The most significant moment of Obama’s news conference concerned taxes: his defense of proposed limits on the benefits that the well-off get for their charitable contributions and mortgage payments.

Posted on Mar 26, 2009 READ MORE


Kill AIG Bonuses With a Tax? It’s a Lousy Idea

Obama needs to stop straddling and to threaten to veto any cockamamie tax scheme that emerges from Congress as retribution for the repulsive bonuses handed out at American International Group.

Posted on Mar 23, 2009 READ MORE


A Repairman, Not a Revolutionary

Timothy Geithner has not been a good performer, but he does have a vision. He sees an improved Wall Street, though one not fundamentally different from what we have now.

Posted on Mar 23, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / M. Spencer Green

America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout

The methods used to attain what we want, we are told by reality television programs, business schools and self-help gurus, are irrelevant. Success, always defined in terms of money and power, is its own justification. Our moral collapse is as terrifying, and as dangerous, as our economic collapse.

Posted on Mar 23, 2009 READ MORE



White House

Idealism in Short Supply

President Obama has called on Americans to volunteer in their communities, but the economic meltdown makes civilian service a tough sell. In this interview, Russ Finkelstein, associate director of idealist.org, argues that “we all have something to give,” even those of us without much time and money.

Posted on Mar 20, 2009 READ MORE


A Government of Men, Not Laws

In the 21st century Gilded Age, the blue-collar shower-after-work crowd is given the tough, while the white-collar shower-before-work gang gets the love, and never before this week was that doctrine made so clear.

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 READ MORE


The Geithner Problem

The treasury secretary may indeed be the hardest-working man in Washington. But in order to survive, let alone succeed, he’s going to have to make a more convincing case that he’s part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 READ MORE


Sarah Palin
Flickr / geerlingguy

Sarah Palin Doesn’t Want Your Money

Sarah Palin is turning down about half of her state’s stimulus money, complaining that Washington is trying to engineer a bigger Alaskan government with funding for health care, energy programs and schools. Schools? How dare you, Washington?

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 READ MORE


The Geezer Gang Is Staying on the Job

Amid the talk of generational conflict in these depressed times, there’s a chance for the boomer generation to make a virtue—or a revolution—out of the necessity of working longer.

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 READ MORE


Push Back Against AIG’s ‘Best and Brightest’

Having long flattered themselves as “masters of the universe,” the creative financiers of Wall Street and London are today exposed as grifters rather than geniuses, yet their arrogance remains intact.

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 READ MORE


Our Justified Populist Rage

We are at the beginning of a great popular rebellion against those who showed no self-restraint when it came to lining their own pockets.

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 READ MORE


If You’re a ‘Little Guy,’ a Contract Means Nothing

If only the contracts entered into by shop-floor workers at auto plants were as inviolate as those secured by the incompetent pirates of the American International Group.

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 READ MORE



Geithner image from Presidencia de la Nación Argentina

Geithner’s Bonus Plan as Perplexing as His Other Proposals

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has sent Congress an explanation of his plan to deal with the AIG bonus fiasco. Essentially, Treasury will dock the $165 million in bonuses from AIG’s next bailout payment. Here’s a question: If AIG can do without that $165 million, why were we giving it to the company in the first place?

Posted on Mar 17, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / Mark Lennihan

N.Y. Attorney General Investigates AIG’s ‘Staggering’ Bonus Mess

In a letter to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, reprinted here, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo shares what his office has discovered so far about AIG’s scandalous bonuses, which “made more than 73 millionaires in the unit which lost so much money that it brought the firm to its knees, forcing a taxpayer bailout.”

Posted on Mar 17, 2009 READ MORE


Those Hit Hardest Get No Bailout

Taxpayers’ bailout money for AIG bonuses has rightfully provoked a massive backlash against AIG, Wall Street, President Barack Obama and his economic advisers, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers.

Posted on Mar 17, 2009 READ MORE


It’s Time to Put the Clamps on Tobacco

An idea that has been around for years now has reached that rarest of moments: There is a political environment that should, if reason prevails, produce legislation to require the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products.

Posted on Mar 16, 2009 READ MORE



Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn

The False Idol of Unfettered Capitalism

The Ten Commandments were for the ancients, and are for us, the core rules that, when honored, hold us together, and when dishonored lead to alienation, discord and violence. The worship of the free market has turned out to be an idol, and like all idols it has now demanded its human sacrifice.

Posted on Mar 16, 2009 READ MORE



Collage from Flickr / mobilestreetlife

OK—So Where Did the Other Billions Go?

In the face of mounting public outrage, AIG has revealed how it spent $75 billion of taxpayer money, a sum that amounts to less than half of the government’s $170 billion bailout of the firm. AIG says it gave a sizable chunk of the money to banks, including foreign institutions, and spent a pretty penny to cover junk investments.

Posted on Mar 15, 2009 READ MORE


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Tony Platt on Wall Street Terror Attack

Beverly Gage’s new book exhumes a nearly forgotten tale of class warfare—call it 9/16.

Posted on Mar 13, 2009 READ MORE


A Bad Fix Would Be No Fix

Advice to solve the financial crisis before even thinking about health care, energy or education is either misguided or disingenuous. Fortunately, Obama seems to be ignoring all the chatter.

Posted on Mar 12, 2009 READ MORE


The Point of Pointing Fingers

Obama speaks disdainfully of “ideology,” but there comes a time when first principles need to be articulated. Conservatives have entered this fight with guns blazing while progressives have hidden behind a Maginot Line armed only with the word pragmatism.

Posted on Mar 11, 2009 READ MORE


Population Boom in the Freezer

Since the 1980s, more than a half-million children have been created through in vitro fertilization. There are also about a half-million leftover embryos.

Posted on Mar 11, 2009 READ MORE


If Only Obama Were as Radical as They Say

While conservatives cry socialism, the president is trying to steer a moderate course. Moderation, however, may be the wrong recipe. There is something deeply disturbing about the drip, drip, drip of billions into the banking system with no apparent impact.

Posted on Mar 8, 2009 READ MORE


The A Word

Recently, I’ve been groping for the precise word to characterize the zeitgeist of this (unfortunately) historic moment—a word I finally found during a visit last week to central Mexico.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / Smith

GM Is Europe’s Headache, Too

If GM strikes out in Washington, the automaker could take its troubles to Europe, the second continent where it has asked for a bailout. That’s because GM operates plants in six European countries, to the tune of 300,000 jobs. The company is hoping for good news, especially since its auditors announced it may not survive much longer.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 READ MORE


Jon Stewart Is Mad as Hell

What’s more offensive than CNBC reporter Rick Santelli’s rant against Barack Obama’s supposed intention to throw only a table scrap of bailout money to foreclosed homeowners? His network’s laughable coverage of the biggest economic news story since the Great Depression.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 WATCH & LISTEN


Finding Peace in the Culture Wars

If President Obama’s primary task is to restore economic growth, he has also been waging a quiet, long-term campaign to ease the nation’s divisions around religious and moral questions.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 READ MORE


Bernie Sanders
senate.gov

Bernie Sanders Wants Answers, Writes Legislation to Get Them

Fed chief Ben Bernanke may be able to dole out trillions in the blink of an eye, but on Tuesday he ran headlong into Congress’ only independent democratic socialist. Sen. Bernie Sanders demanded to know where all the Fed’s money was going. Bernanke said “no.” Sanders fired back by introducing a bill that would require such information to be posted to the Fed’s Web site.

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 READ MORE


Medicare (Dis-)Advantage

Obama’s bid to reduce the taxpayer-funded slush fund that flows to the managed-care insurance industry through Medicare is an emphatic, if overdue, effort to turn Washington around.

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 READ MORE



White House / Pete Souza

America’s New Trajectory

Just six weeks into his term, Obama has opened his bid to redraw the boundaries of our politics and expand the realm of the possible.

Posted on Mar 3, 2009 READ MORE



Wikimedia Commons / Marcello Casal Jr / ABr

Islamic Banks Presented as an Economic Model

The United States spent much of the 20th century lecturing the world about how to run an economy. Clearly, we’ve lost some credibility in that area. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono wants Islamic banks, with their abhorrence of interest and gambling, to fill the void.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 READ MORE


Robin-Hood Republicanism?

Only months after the 2008 primaries, most Americans probably don’t remember Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul. But that doesn’t mean the conservative populism they championed during their campaigns is as fleeting as their dark-horse candidacies.

Posted on Feb 26, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / Foraggio Fotographic

At Last, Accepting Some Clues From Across the Pond

We suddenly seem willing to consider sensible ideas that were always deemed unthinkable. Soon we may be mature enough to observe how other developed countries address problems that have baffled us for generations.

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 READ MORE


Government’s Long Night May Be Ending

Obama’s message was plain: The era of bashing government is over. So, too, is the folklore of a marketplace capable of producing abundance without regulation, oversight or public intervention.

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 READ MORE



White House

The President’s Address to Congress

In his first speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama acknowledged the dire state of the economy, but struck a hopeful tone as he expanded on his vision for recovery. Investments in energy, education and health care will be key, he said, as will an expanded bailout of the financial sector. (Summary, video and full text after the jump)

Posted on Feb 24, 2009 READ MORE


Toxins ’R’ Us

The American Chemistry Council assures us that “we make the products that help keep you safe and healthy.” But U.S. consumers are actually exposed to a vast array of harmful chemicals and additives embedded in toys, cosmetics, plastic water bottles and countless other products.

Posted on Feb 24, 2009 READ MORE


Turn a Harsh Light Onto the Banks

It’s reaching the point where desperate measures—brutal honesty and complete transparency—may be the only way to bring the economy out of its kamikaze dive. If so, this won’t be pretty.

Posted on Feb 23, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / stan

Citigroup Wants a Bigger Bailout

Uncle Sam already gave Citigroup $45 billion and promised to limit the bank’s losses on $300 billion in troubled loans, but executives at the ailing bank are now reportedly asking the federal government to sweeten the deal. One scheme has Washington exchanging preferred stock for common stock.

Posted on Feb 22, 2009 READ MORE


Sarah Palin
Flickr / geerlingguy

Some Governors May Tell Obama to Stuff It

While just about every state in the Union is starving for funds, a small band of Republican governors is debating whether or not to reject the stimulus bill’s cash infusion, citing concerns over future taxes. This California editor says good. Give their stimulus money to my state. It’s broke.

Posted on Feb 22, 2009 READ MORE


book cover

Zachary Karabell on ‘The Case for Big Government’

Jeff Madrick’s new book insists that the anti-government ethos that is a treasured American prejudice is not grounded in the new economic reality. But is he fighting the last war?

Posted on Feb 20, 2009 READ MORE


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