A Mini Policy Briefing

We've seen two days worth of major policy initiatives from Democrats timed for the year's first economic themed Republican debate.

Yesterday, Obama explained how he would cut emissions by 80 percent over the next 40 years. There are plenty of retread features -- investment in new technology, at the like, but some fairly interesting innovations.

The highlight, as pointed out by a reader, is Obama's approach to a cap-and-trade regime. Obama would create a carbon auction, where companies that can't meet the mandatory emissions cap would purchase credits from other companies or buy permits from the government. Obama would require the entire lot of tradable permits to be purchased.

So -- by paying for the credits upfront, Obama is, in effect, taxing the polluter. Remember, Sen. Chris Dodd proposed a carbon tax with an emissions cap, hoping to create disincentives for consumption.

Today, as part of her campaign's Middle Class economy month, Hillary Clinton unveils what her campaign is calling her most significant policy proposal after health care. It has a catchy -- or kitchsy -- name -- American retirement accounts. Under Clinton's plan, the government would match contributions to a tax-free retirement fund administered like a 401K. Depending on income level, participants could get between $500 and $1000 added to the account per year from the government. A version of Clinton's plan -- in fact, versions of lots of Clinton plans -- were first floated by Democratic economist Gene Sperling in Democracy.

A side note: per today's Wall Street Journal, the $5000 baby bond idea so gleefully McGovernized by Rudy Giuliani, is dead.