HKS in the News May 10, 2012

1. The Hollande effect (Burns) Boston Globe

2. Michele Bachmann’s new Swiss political world Washington Post

3. Mass. Senate Health Cost Bill: Mostly ‘Darn Similar’ To House Plan (Cutler) WBUR

4. A plot foiled, but a US agency rift exposed (Kayyem) Boston Globe

The Hollande effect
Boston Globe

May 10
Commentary by: Nicholas Burns, Belfer Center
Topic: Francois Hollande

Francois Hollande’s dramatic victory in Sunday’s French presidential election could turn out to be one of this year’s most significant turning points for both Europe and the United States. France matters in the world, especially on some of the most important international challenges — the euro zone crisis, Afghanistan, Iran, and Syria. It belongs to all the right clubs as a UN Security Council permanent member, a nuclear weapons power, owner of one of the world’s most capable militaries, and an influential force in Africa and the Middle East. Only the second Socialist to gain the French presidency since World War II, Hollande managed a brilliant electoral victory that may not amount to an earthquake but has global leaders wondering how he may redirect French policy on critical issues.

The impact will be most profound in Europe, where France and Germany have co-directed the affairs of the continent for decades. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, formed an unlikely but effective duo who forced the European Union to accept a bitter regimen of austerity as the Greek debt drama evolved into a full-blown European economic crisis during the past two years.

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Michele Bachmann’s new Swiss political world
Washington Post

May 9
Topic: Women and politics in the U.S. and Switzerland

Today we learned that Michele Bachmann has applied for and been granted Swiss citizenship.

That’s a surprising development, given her general view of European-style welfare states. …

On Tuesday morning, just about the time that news was breaking about Bachmann’s new claim to dual citizenship, there was an interesting discussion going on on the subject of how women politicians fare in Switzerland the United States. It was at a forum on Capitol Hill devoted to strengthening political participation by women, sponsored by Harvard’s Kennedy School, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Embassy of Switzerland.

The panelists included two U.S. senators — Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — and Christa Markwalder, a former member of the Swiss national parliament. In Markwalder’s first election, to the Bern canton council in 2002, one of the incumbents she knocked out of office was her own father.

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Mass. Senate Health Cost Bill: Mostly ‘Darn Similar’ To House Plan

May 9
Quoted: David Cutler
Topic: Healthcare policy in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Senate today released its version of a sweeping plan to control health care costs. And guess what? It’s pretty close to the sweeping plan the House released last week. Both emphasize preventive care and wellness. Both place a specific cap on the growth of health spending linked to the growth of the state economy. And both envision shifting more care into systems that put doctors on a budget instead of paying per procedure. …

David Cutler , a professor of economics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government agreed that based on the summaries, the bills seem fairly similar. But he noted a few key differences including the higher cost growth target in the Senate bill and that the House bill “goes further on transition to alternative payment systems.”

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A plot foiled, but a US agency rift exposed
Boston Globe

May 10
Commentary by: Juliette Kayyem, Belfer Center
Topic: Thwarted Al Qaeda attack

The news that Al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen sought to detonate a sophisticated explosive on a passenger flight is disturbing, though not entirely surprising. It reinforces what we already know: The remnants of Al Qaeda are still trying to kill Americans. US agents stopped this second underwear bomb attack by using an informant who managed to infiltrate Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, volunteer for a suicide mission, and then turn on the terrorists. It was almost perfect counterterrorism. But there was a fatal flaw: Someone in government decided this all made for a fabulous story.

In the fight against Al Qaeda since 9/11, there has never been such a reckless and detailed disclosure of an ongoing covert operation. The stakes are high enough that the Associated Press was willing, after learning of the thwarted attack, to hold the story while events were unfolding. There is much to commend about transparency in counterterrorism efforts, but the level of detail revealed about this mission was jarringly at odds with what’s been released about almost every similar undertaking.

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This selection of media appearances is compiled by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

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