What We’re Reading – Jan. 8, 2013

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Rescued by a Bailout, A.I.G. May Sue Its Savior: “Behind the scenes, the restored insurance company is weighing whether to tell the government agencies that rescued it during the financial crisis: thanks, but you cheated our shareholders. The board of A.I.G. will meet on Wednesday to consider joining a $25 billion shareholder lawsuit against the government, court records show.”
[The New York Times]

Vice President Joe Biden, flanked by the President of the National Association of Police Organizations and Boston police officer, Thomas Nee, left, and President of the Police Executive Research Forum and Major Cities Chiefs Association and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, right, speaks during a meeting at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Washington. Biden is leading a task force that will look at ways of reducing gun violence. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Washington. Biden is leading a task force that will look at ways of reducing gun violence. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

White House Weighs Broad Gun-Control Agenda in Wake of Newtown Shootings: “A working group led by Vice President Biden is seriously considering measures backed by key law enforcement leaders that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors, the sources said.” [The Washington Post]

New Bank Rule: Sounds Boring, Actually a Big Deal: “[I]f you’re trying to figure out how safe banks are — and how willing they’ll be to make loans to ordinary people — liquidity is at least as important as other, more-dramatic-sounding corners of finance. So the new liquidity rules global banking regulators released yesterday are a big deal for the real economy.” [Planet Money]

In Chuck Hagel and John Kerry, a Wariness of War: Both Cabinet Picks Draw on Vietnam Experiences: “If Hagel survives a nomination fight, the former Republican senator from Nebraska would be working closely with Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, to carry out Obama’s foreign policy — with a vision rooted in lessons learned from Vietnam, where both of them served and were wounded.” [Boston Globe]

The Left Flank: “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has taken on the role of liberal gatekeeper — trying to goad Barack Obama and Andrew Cuomo away from the Democratic center.” [New York Magazine]

Dem Lawmakers Say Courts Should Resolve Debt-Limit Standoff: “They believe the Supreme Court will have to ultimately resolve the battle over spending now raging between Republicans and the president. But how the courts will rule is shrouded in uncertainty because little case law exists to serve as meaningful precedent, say legal scholars.” [The Hill]

Health Spending Grows at Half Pre-Recession Level in 2011: “Joseph Antos, who researches the economics of health policy at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, said changes in employer-sponsored insurance coverage has been a key factor in putting a damper on health-care costs… A shift in government expenditures also has contributed as states cut provider reimbursements and restricted eligibility for Medicaid, the roughly $450 billion federal and state health program for the poor. Spending there rose 2.5 percent in 2011, less than half the rate of 2010, according to the report.” [Bloomberg News]

Health Insurers Raise Some Rates by Double Digits: “Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers. Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own.” [The New York Times]

Advocates Cheer SEC Consideration of Corporate Disclosure Rule: “A decision by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to consider a new rule this year requiring companies to release information about their political spending has buoyed disclosure advocates, who say such a move could be a game-changer in their quest for more transparency. If approved by the SEC, the regulation could require all publicly traded corporations to detail how much money they give for political activities, including to tax-exempt advocacy groups and trade associations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But the move faces stiff opposition from many in the business community, including the Chamber.” [LA Times]

DISCLOSE Advocates Renew Fight: “The DISCLOSE Act’s lead Senate sponsor in the previous Congress was Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, who vowed last year to keep pressing ahead despite unanimous GOP Senate opposition. The bill’s backers on and off Capitol Hill have voiced optimism that some in the GOP may now come around to support the bill, following an election that saw outside groups outspend parties and candidates in some key congressional races.” [Roll Call]

California Man Says he can Drive in Carpool Lane with Corporation Papers: “When Jonathan Frieman of San Rafael, Calif., was pulled over for driving alone in the carpool lane, he argued to the officer that, actually, he did have a passenger. He waved his corporation papers at the officer, he told NBCBayArea.com, saying that corporations are people under California law.” [NBC News]

Casting Votes: “[N]ext month, the Supreme Court will take up a challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the most effective law of its kind in the history of the United States. A century after the Civil War, the act, in abolishing many forms of discrimination employed by the Southern states, such as poll taxes and literacy tests, finally turned the legal right for African-Americans in those states to vote into an actual right to vote. Bipartisan congressional majorities have reauthorized the law four times, most recently in 2006. (It passed the House overwhelmingly and the Senate unanimously, and was signed into law by George W. Bush.) The question now is whether the Supreme Court will strike down the Voting Rights Act as a violation of states’ rights.” [Jeff Toobin in The New Yorker]

Why I Am a Liberal: “A ‘liberal.’ Yes, I’ll own the designation, not, as many on the left do, preferring the identity ‘radical,’ disparaging ‘liberal’ as a synonym for all that is anodyne, weak-kneed, not really leftist at all (see the classic statement by Phil Ochs here). I own it in part for the reason that liberalism, done right in this all-too-reactionary nation, is always already radical; for the reason that what most of the people putting their lives on the line to make left-wing political change around rest of the world—in Iran, say, in India, in Greece—are fighting for is liberalism; because a politics not merely of tolerance but of recognition—radical recognition—of those ‘different’ from contingent cultural norms also is liberal, properly understood; and because frankly most of what I think is worth doing to create an economically just society is pretty damned liberal, too. If it was good enough for Franklin Delano Roosevelt to call himself a ‘liberal,’ saying stuff like this (start reading at the part about ‘our resplendent economic autocracy’ and ‘the individualism of which they prate”\’), it’s good enough for me.” [Rick Pearlstein in The Nation]

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