Paul Krugman in The New York Times on Obama's first-term successes The mood in Washington today might not be quite as hopeful as it was in 2009, but Paul Krugman argues that we need not be cynical going into Obama's second term. Looking back on the successes over the last four years, Krugman writes, "Consider, in particular, three areas: health care, inequality and financial reform." The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, and small but significant steps toward making the tax code more progressive are the defining elements of Obama's "Big Deal" achievements, Krugman argues. "The Big Deal agenda is, in fact, fairly popular—and will become more popular once Obamacare goes into effect and people see both its real benefits and the fact that it won’t send Grandma to the death panels."
Simon Johnson in Bloomberg View on Bernanke's successor Today is all about the executive branch, but Simon Johnson thinks we might want to spend some time thinking about the Federal Reserve, which "has become the most important branch of government." Chairman Ben Bernanke could step down early next year, and it's never too soon to start thinking about successors. Current Vice Chairman Janet Yellen and retiring Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner are both leading candidates. But the former may "continue to disregard the risks of inflation and understate the danger of too-big-to-fail banks" while the latter's "doctrine of 'overwhelming force' over the past four years can be translated into plain English as 'unconditional bailouts for big banks.'" Johnson wants to see a new Fed chairman who is "more concerned about the potential resurgence of inflation and pressing for tougher action on the dangerous megabanks."