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The Nation

November 18, 2009
John Nichols
John Nichols

The Senate healthcare bill unveiled Wednesday night by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is not exactly the cure for all of what ails America.

But the 2,074-page document significantly expands access to medical care for Americans who currently lack coverage, contains a modest public option, bars discrimination by insurers against Americans with pre-existing medical conditions and gets remarkably good marks from the Congressional Budget Office.

In many respects, Reid's "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" is a better bill than the House measure.

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John Nichols
19860
November 18, 2009
Robert Dreyfuss
Bob Dreyfuss

I'm writing today from Chongqing, a vast city in central China that is China's gateway to its western regions. By some accounts, Chongqing is the largest city in the world, a muncipality of 32 million people, but that, I've learned, is misleading, since that number includes the population of a handful of satellite cities and a rural population of 20 million. A few years ago, however, China carved Chongqing and its 32 million people out of Szechuan province and made it a municipality of its own, and today the Chongqing is a pilot project for the most important thing happening in China, and perhaps the world: the urbanization of as many as half a billion people from rural farms and villages into newly constructed cities."Chongqinq," says Wen Tianping, the city's spokesman, "is a microcosm of China itself."

The scale of the enterprise is staggering. In Chongqing, each year for the indefinite future, the plan is to move 500,000 people from rural to urban life. That means that Chongqinq must plan, ready, and construct the equivalent of a city the size of Atlanta, Georgia, every year, providing jobs, roads, housing, infrastructure, schools, hospitals and more. It's a project that has been going on in China for the past 20 years, during which 200 million people have already been urbanized, and over the next generation another 200 to 300 million people will follow in their footsteps.

"We have plans, timetables, goals," says Qian Lee, the director of Chongqing's comprehensive business promotion project. "You can't have a plan for everything. But we don't make plans to be abandoned. We make plans to be accomplished. You do it scientifically, as we always say in China."

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Bob Dreyfuss
19859
November 18, 2009
Katrina vanden Heuvel

Chuck Collins, co-founder of United for a Fair Economy and a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, describes the difference between this financial crisis and those of the past.

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19858
November 18, 2009
John Nichols
John Nichols

The headlines declare that General Motors is http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/17/business/17auto.html ">"recovering."

Despite continuing to lose money at what historically would have been identified as an astronomical rate, the auto company is losing less money and doing so at a slower pace than was the case a year ago.

So Obama administration aides now say they are "encouraged" by what the New York Times refers to as "signs of life" on the part of a company that many thought had "problems (that) were too big and numerous to fix."

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John Nichols
19857
November 18, 2009
Peter Rothberg
Peter Rothberg

This post, which will appear in condensed form in this week's issue of The Nation, was co-written and researched by Andrea D'Cruz


As we approach the Copenhagen UN Climate Change Conference, December 7 to 18--the world's last chance to secure an emissions reductions agreement that will replace the Kyoto Protocol before it expires--activists racing against a ticking environmental bomb are channeling their energies at the UN talks and beyond. Join them.

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19856
November 17, 2009
Katrina vanden Heuvel

My good friend Michael Tomasky has a blog over at The Guardian...

I consider it what he called it in his subject line--an "affectionate joust." (Mike is an ace former Nation intern, a longtime friend, a brilliant writer and not-frequent-enough-in-my-view Nation contributor.) In his blog he takes on (some of) my comments on MSNBC's Ed Schultz show last night. 

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19855
November 17, 2009
Ari Melber
Ari Melber

See if you can follow this logic.

A recent article in Newsweek states that Democrats could have won a "very significant number of Republican votes in Congress" for the stimulus -- had there only been a "meaningful tax-cut component." Political journalism is often imaginative, but this verges on delusion. After all, Obama labored to add about $280 billion in tax cuts to the stimulus -- over objections from many Democrats -- and still netted zero Republican votes in the House. Then, the piece asserts that Obama has no "coattails," based on 2009 elections, and reports "early signs of Obama fatigue are emerging." (Again, another observer might note that Democrats have won all 5 special congressional elections this year.) The article also predicts that gubernatorial losses in Virginia and New Jersey "will" make some Democrats "very nervous" about health care reform, which is a "political risk" for the party.

"We appear to be witnessing the beginnings of a significant Republican revival," continues the piece, bringing home its quirky counter-narrative. Lucky for struggling Democrats, however, this Newsweek item closes with some free political advice. "Liberals in Washington would do well to let go of the Republican breakdown narrative," notes the final sentence, "and pull back to the center--or suffer the consequences."

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The Notion
19854
November 17, 2009
Robert Dreyfuss
Bob Dreyfuss

When Yiang Jiemian, president of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, gets together with his brother, Yang Jiechi, China's minister of foreign affairs, they don't talk strategy or politics. "We talk about our grandfather," he says, with a smile.

We're sitting in a conference room at SIIS, though, and Yang Jiemian is talking strategy with a few visiting journalists. I ask Dr. Yang about China's view of US policy in the Middle East and central Asia. What, exactly, is his opinion of the notion that the United States is seeking to control that crucial region, including its oil and natural gas reserves, as part of a strategy of containing China? President Obama has just left Shanghai, the sprawling city of 19 million people, and he told China that the United States does not want to contain or limit China's influence in Asia or the world. Yet the United States and China don't always agree on Iran, Afghanistan, and other questions.

"There might be a slight difference of understanding between our two cultures, our two languages," says Yang, who is flanked by a team of strategists and area specialists. ""When America talks about strategy, it implies military, security, confrontation. In China, we have a much broader view of the idea of 'strategy.' We mean something that is long-term and systematic."

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Bob Dreyfuss
19853
November 17, 2009
Laura Flanders
Laura Flanders

I just don't get it. When Congress approves gifts worth billions of dollars to people who don't deserve a dime, why isn't it front page news?

On Nov. 6, when President Obama signed the Worker, Home-ownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009, he extended unemployment benefits and renewed the first-time home-buyer tax credit for a while, but hidden deep inside the law was a tax break for businesses that did well in the boom years -- and the resulting refund-checks will be huge.

The tax break would help struggling businesses, Obama declared, but the act actually affects big companies as well as small. Businesses are allowed to offset losses incurred in the bad years of 2008 and 2009 against profits booked as far back as 2004. Those with the biggest boom followed by the biggest bust are exactly the companies like to benefit the most. Among them, you guessed it, home-builders, exactly the folks who overbuilt and over-lent us into a mortgage and credit meltdown.

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The Notion
19852