Daily Digest - April 8: Draining the Secretarial Pool

Apr 8, 2013Tim Price

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How much money do you make? (WaPo)

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How much money do you make? (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal examines a question that complicates income inequality -- partly because no one wants to answer it, but also because when liberals and conservatives are asked to show their work, they don't even agree on the math.

Where Have All the Secretaries Gone? (Businessweek)

Sheelah Kolhatkar notes that Mad Men's return highlights changes in the workplace. Fewer bosses are getting soused in the middle of the day, and their assistants are disappearing entirely. Research by Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert explains the latter.

The Promise of Abenomics (Project Syndicate)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that Japanese PM Shinzo Abe's "three arrows" of economics, focused on monetary policy, fiscal stimulus, and growth, will get better results than U.S. and European policymakers' empty quivers.

Destroying the Economy and the Democrats (Prospect)

Robert Kuttner writes that while there was probably no good time for President Obama to leak that he was putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, the week we found out the economy added just 88,000 jobs in March definitely wasn't it.

Insurance and Freedom (NYT)

Paul Krugman notes that since "Poor people: gross!" is no longer a winning message for opponents of the safety net, the Republicans blocking Medicaid expansion are framing it as a blow to the soul-crushing tyranny of insurance and affordable health care.

This Week in Poverty: Sequestration, Housing, Homelessness (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann writes that sequestration is anything but abstract for the 140,000 low-income families who will have their housing vouchers cut off, which should generate at least 3 percent as much outrage as the canceled tours of the president's house.

Debtors' prisons are back: how heart-warmingly Dickensian! (Washington Monthly)

Kathleen Geier highlights a report from Ohio's ACLU on the state's new debtors' prisons and the various ways in which they violate local law, constitutional law, and plain old standards of human decency, all for the chance to claim that glorious $300 bounty.

The Fries-With-That Economy (NYT)

Catherine Rampell notes that employment in food services and drinking places accounted for one in 13 American jobs in March, with an average hourly wage of $11.98. And the more this news spreads, the more popular those "drinking places" get.

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Daily Digest - April 5: Obama Cuts to the Chase

Apr 5, 2013Tim Price

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Obama Budget Reviving Offer of Compromise With Cuts (NYT)

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Obama Budget Reviving Offer of Compromise With Cuts (NYT)

Jackie Calmes reports that the president plans to reissue his final offer to John Boehner from last year's deficit negotiations, including chained CPI and cuts to Medicare, though the GOP is still giving increased tax revenue the full Green Eggs and Ham treatment.

Abolish the 401(k) (Salon)

Michael Lind writes that Social Security was never meant to be the sole source of retirement income, as its critics love to point out, but that means we should be focused on expanding the one program that works, not breaking it so it matches all the other options.

The Urge to Purge (NYT)

Paul Krugman notes that Mellonites who saw the Great Depression as a necessary corrective, like medieval bloodletting, were once thought thoroughly discredited, but conservative commentators have rescued that philosophy from the garbage disposal of history.

The New Telecom Oligarchs (The Nation)

Michael J. Copps writes that Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford's Captive Audience offers insightful analysis of a trend that plagued him as FCC commissioner: the Katamari Damacy-like growth of merger-happy telecom giants that roll right over their customers.

Cancer clinics are turning away thousands of Medicare patients. Blame the sequester. (WaPo)

Sarah Kliff reports that cancer clinics are turning away patients whose chemotherapy has become too costly due to the sequester's Medicare cuts. But remember: Barack Obama was exaggerating about the sequester, just like Al Gore is a liar every time it snows.

The McJobs Strike Back: Will Fast-Food Workers Ever Get a Living Wage? (The Atlantic)

Sarah Jaffe looks at the second strike to hit New York's fast food industry in the last six months as workers build on the momentum of recent victories on the minimum wage and paid sick days. If they keep it up, they might even be able to afford to live in their own city.

Young Adults Make Up Nearly Half of America's Unemployed Workforce (Think Progress)

Travis Waldron highlights a new Demos report that finds 10.3 million Americans ages 18 to 34 are either out of work or underemployed, with minority youths and those without a college degree hit especially hard. Stay in school, kids. Forever, if at all possible.

Wages of young college graduates have failed to grow over the last decade (EPI)

Heidi Shierholz reports that instead of increasing by more than 19 percent like they did from 1995 to 2000, wages for young college grads did that other thing where they shrank by 7.6 percent between 2007 and 2012. Sorry about your future, class of 2013.

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Daily Digest - April 4: Undercooked Regulation is Hazardous to Our Economy

Apr 4, 2013Tim Price

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Bankers' Court Wins Could Come Back to Haunt Them (Bloomberg)

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Bankers' Court Wins Could Come Back to Haunt Them (Bloomberg)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal argues banks have figured out they don't need Congress if they can get judges to rewrite or throw out reform -- but even for Wall Street, there are some downsides to undermining the whole concept of the rule of law.

Democrats Are Undermining Wall Street Reform, Too (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger notes that a bipartisan group of House lawmakers is pushing bills that would roll back various parts of Dodd-Frank, but as Mike Konczal tells her, it's probably best if we at least let this cake finish baking before we start changing the recipe.

Fast food workers plan surprise strike (Salon)

Josh Eidelson reports that workers in 50 New York City fast food restaurants are striking to demand higher wages and their right to organize. Americans may be able to live with poor treatment of low-wage workers, but how long can we live without hash browns?

The case for expanding Social Security, not cutting it (WaPo)

Brad Plumer flags a report from the New America Foundation that argues Social Security should be made bigger and better with a Part B that provides a flat $11,699 a year on top of retirees' regular benefits. Not to be confused with plan B, which is to never retire.

Does Congress have the heart to avert disability crisis? (LA Times)

Michael Hiltzik notes that the trust fund for Social Security's disability insurance could run out by 2016, forcing a 20 percent benefit cut. Sadly, even mainstream media outlets are pushing the idea that "disabled" is a euphemism for "disinterested in working."

Fannie and Freddie Are Stronger Than Ever (TNR)

David Dayen writes that while the GSEs rank below financial disclosure on politicians' list of favorite things, they're currently the only name in the game in the secondary mortgage market -- at least until private players think up some new ways to rig it.

Blame Abounds Over a Failed Foreclosure Review (NYT)

Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg report that regulators and consultants for the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are under fire for botching the foreclosure review, which turned out so poorly it now requires its own review.

Why Risk Managers Should Be Spymasters (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisinger talks to a former Wall Street risk manager who explains why an elegant math formula is no substitute for flesh and blood people who can recognize when risk models and realities like the London Whale are divorced due to irreconcilable differences.

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Daily Digest - April 3: The Sick and the Sequestered

Apr 3, 2013Tim Price

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Lack of paid sick leave is unhealthy for America (WaPo)

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Lack of paid sick leave is unhealthy for America (WaPo)

Katrina vanden Heuvel writes that after the success of local paid sick leave laws that have shown it's easier to keep one's business healthy when one's employees aren't forced to shuffle through the office with walking pneumonia, national standards could follow.

Sequestration Effects: Cuts Sting Communities Nationwide (HuffPo)

Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel note that the conventional wisdom is that sequestration is a big dud, but for Americans who are losing their jobs, being kicked out of Head Start, or waiting longer for emergency services, the experience isn't quite so underwhleming.

Help shrinks as poverty spikes in the US (AP)

With 50 million Americans living below the poverty line, including 20 percent of the nation's children, we're worse off now than at any time since LBJ launched the federal government's War on Poverty, and sequestration cuts look a lot like a white flag of surrender.

Tennessee to poor students: Improve your grades, or else! (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff highlights a new measure working its way through Tennessee's state legislature that would cut TANF payments to families whose kids aren't keeping their grades up, though these lawmakers don't seem like a bunch of rocket scientists themselves.

Do Americans still not get Reaganomics? (Salon)

Tim Donovan notes that polls show Americans are nostalgic for the Reagan years and believe Republicans are good fiscal managers no matter how many economic crises they cause, which is like giving compliments to the chef for only poisoning half his diners.

What Immigration Reform Could Mean for American Workers, and Why the AFL-CIO Is Embracing It (Robert Reich)

Reich argues that union leaders support immigration reform because they recognize they won't be able to organize and improve conditions for fast-growing, low-wage jobs while employers have a steady supply of exploitable workers to replace the annoying talky ones.

What It's Like to Lose Your Job While Pregnant (Buzzfeed)

Anna North writes that despite existing legal protections, many pregnant women still face discrimination from employers who view them as liabilities. Always with the whining and complaining and "Can I sit down, I'm literally growing another human inside me."

Senses of Entitlement (New Yorker)

Hendrik Hertzberg argues that liberals have lost a major semantic battle by allowing "entitlements" to become the mainstream euphemism for social insurance programs, making them sound more like a rich kid's demand for a new car on his 16th birthday.

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Daily Digest - April 2: Pranked by the Recovery

Apr 2, 2013Tim Price

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The April Fool's economy (WaPo)

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The April Fool's economy (WaPo)

Ylan Q. Mui notes that while the economy seems to have picked up steam in the last few months, we've seen signs of strong early-year growth before only to be disappointed later. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, let's just wait for the jobs report.

Recession Redux (TNR)

John Judis is pessimistic given that we've opted not to pursue the New Deal-era approach to reform and investment that built a stronger, more stable economy, but are instead repeating the mistakes that led to the recession to see if we can really nail it this time.

Why the Euro is Doomed in 4 Steps (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien makes the case that the euro has become as constraining and counterproductive for EU members as the gold standard once was, though at least the latter was based on the sound logic that humans are driven by an intense desire for shinies.

Wages stink at America's most common jobs (CNNMoney)

There's a reason your food server or retail salesperson seems disgruntled, and it's not just because you're asking about gluten-free options or return policies. New BLS data shows that seven of the 10 most common occupations pay less than $30,000 a year.

Guest Workers as Bellwether (Dissent)

Josh Eidelson looks at the abusive conditions to which many guest workers are subject, the effort to organize those workers to fight for change, and why no workers can really take for granted that their supervisors don't want to beat them with a shovel.

Lean in, Dad (NYT)

Catherine Rampell argues that America needs better work-life balance policies to avoid squandering its college-educated female workers, but paid paternity leave is also a must to prevent the assumption that women are a leave of absence waiting to happen.

It's still a lovefest between Wall Street and regulators (Guardian)

Heidi Moore notes that recent copouts in an SEC investigation and the Libor manipulation case show banks are still allowed to get away with "neither admitting nor denying" their crimes, introducing an element of quantum physics into financial regulation.

The People's Bank (Prospect)

Abby Rapoport writes that the populist, state-owned Bank of North Dakota has helped America's Freest State weather financial storms and supported fair lending practices and small banks, so naturally other states are reluctant to imitate the model.

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Daily Digest - April 1: When the Rents Come Due

Apr 1, 2013Tim Price

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How an anti-rentier agenda might bring liberals, conservatives together (WaPo)

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How an anti-rentier agenda might bring liberals, conservatives together (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal writes that left and right could find common ground in their efforts to stop the rich from extracting unearned income from land, copyrights, and other resources. Or they could just have a big fight about taxes, as per usual.

Lessons From a Comeback (NYT)

Paul Krugman notes that as California has drifted left over the years, Republicans have consistently predicted it would crumble under the strain of liberalism and sink into the Pacific. Now it looks like GOP obsolescence may be the key to a brighter future.

What if Sherrod Brown, Battler Against 'Too-Big-to-Fail' Banks, Gets Banking Committee Chair? (The Nation)

John Nichols writes that with current chair Tim Johnson set to retire in 2014, Democrats' internal politics could allow the populist Brown to take the reins. From there it's a slippery slope to effective regulation and decades of financial sector stability. Be afraid.

Why there won't be any big new bank laws in the US, in three quotes (Quartz)

Taking the under on bets that ending "too big to fail" is a foregone conclusion, Tim Fernholz argues that the White House has its hands full with Dodd-Frank and that House Republicans will likely continue to behave like a bunch of House Republicans.

Everyone's a Queen (TNR)

Timothy Noah notes that Republicans are victims of their own success with welfare reform, which forced them to expand the scope of what they want to cut. There must be swarthy moochers hiding somewhere, and the GOP won't rest until it finds them.

Social Security, Present and Future (NYT)

The New York Times editorial board argues that cuts to already meager benefits are the wrong way to reform Social Security and shouldn't be bolted to the side of an unrelated deficit debate. Who let in all the Unserious People? Jeeves, show them out.

What New York's (Partial) Victory on Paid Sick Days Means (Prospect)

Amy Traub writes that New York City is finally getting guaranteed paid sick days, and all it took was overwhelming public support, five long years of advocacy work, and compromises that exclude thousands in order to get the proposal brought to a vote.

284,000 College Graduates Had Minimum-Wage Jobs Last Year (HuffPo)

Student debt is soaring, the number of college grads stuck in minimum wage jobs has increased 70 percent over the last decade, and 38 percent of the class of 2010 hold jobs that don't even require a high school diploma. Future status: not won.

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Daily Digest - March 29: Paradise, Thy Name is Fargo

Mar 29, 2013Tim Price

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Cheating Our Children (NYT)

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Cheating Our Children (NYT)

Paul Krugman writes that after repeatedly crying wolf about a looming economic disaster, deficit hawks instead claim we're cheating future generations by taking on debt. Their answer, of course, is to cheat them now so they're not so disappointed later.

This is What Happens When You Rip a Hole in the Safety Net (The Nation)

NND Editor Bryce Covert notes that despite the media's pearl clutching over rising dependence on disability and SNAP benefits, the explanation is simple: we've done little to halt the growth of poverty and plenty to ensure the poor have nowhere else to turn.

Let it Bleed? (Project Syndicate)

Brad DeLong writes that given the way the current U.S. economic crisis has dragged on and the amount of damage it's inflicted, calling it the Lesser Depression might be selling it short. What more could it do to earn its place among the all-time Greats?

Cyprus Is Doomed: Why the Country Must Leave the Euro Immediately (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien argues that the bailout/bail-in deal Cyprus and the Troika have negotiated is a fool-proof plan to crush the Cypriot economy with more austerity, hobble its financial sector, and saddle it with a universal currency that can't leave its borders.

The Debate on Bank Size Is Over (NYT)

Simon Johnson writes that while it may be in lobbyists' best interests to pretend the jury's still out on ending "too big to fail," watching Cyprus's banks trigger the country's self-destruct sequence should explain why most serious policymakers disagree.

Stop subsidizing Wall Street (WaPo)

FDIC vice chairman Thomas Hoenig argues that it's time for banks to stop relying on the American public as an all-purpose safety net and insurance policy. If they really believe in taking huge risks, there's no need for them to keep living vicariously through us.

The Weeklies (Prospect)

Monica Potts profiles a group of families in the suburbs of Denver who were left homeless by the Great Recession and forced to live week to week in a cheap hotel, trading in their dreams of white picket fences for mismatched bed sets and a mini-fridge.

Libertarians name North Dakota "most free" state (Salon)

Alex Pareene notes that the libertarian Mercatus Center has identified North Dakota as America's little slice of heaven. With its low tax rates and lax regulations, it's a wonder people choose to live anywhere else. But they do. They definitely, definitely do.

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Daily Digest - March 28: The Economy Rots from the Head Down

Mar 28, 2013Tim Price

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The Consequences of a Leaderless Economy (Yahoo! Finance)

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The Consequences of a Leaderless Economy (Yahoo! Finance)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Rob Johnson argues that America's failure to lead and China and Germany's resistance to change has left the global economy with a void at the top, though many in the financial sector consider themselves god-emperor.

Dissolving the Digital Divide (Impatient Optimists)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford writes that we need regulation and competition in the telecom industry to close the gap between Americans with fast and affordable Internet access and those stuck squinting at a download bar that will never fill up.

'Trickle-down consumption': How rising inequality can leave everyone worse off (WaPo)

Brad Plumer highlights a new paper from researchers at the University of Chicago that shows growing wealth at the top is driving everyone else deeper into debt in an attempt to keep up. Even jogging in place is tough when the treadmill keeps getting faster.

Wealthy Say Higher Taxes Haven't Hurt Spending, Investing (CNBC)

Many conservatives predicted the skies would tear open and rain cleansing fire on us all if taxes were raised for anyone making over $250K, but most top earners are reacting to higher rates with a shrug. And the Republican Party was never heard from again.

Is tax reform the new "repeal and replace"? (WaPo)

Jonathan Bernstein suspects that like the Republican alternative to health care reform that somehow failed to materialize despite 30-odd attempts to repeal the existing law, the GOP's promised version of comprehensive tax reform will turn out to be vaporware.

What Is the Fiscal Impact of Gay Marriage? (Bloomberg)

Josh Barro notes that research has shown legalizing same-sex marriage is likely to have a small but positive fiscal impact as spouses support each other financially, making it perhaps the one cost-cutting measure Republicans don't want to impose on the poor.

JPMorgan Chase Faces Full-Court Press of Federal Investigations (NYT)

Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Ben Protess report that regulators are devoting a lot of attention to JPMorgan, and in the wake of the London Whale, foreclosure fraud, and Bernie Madoff, those slots on their calendars aren't just being held for cocktails anymore.

It's dumb not to fill your company's board with women (Quartz)

Ritchie King notes that only one out of ten corporate board members are women, but their presence correlates with higher share prices, stronger returns, and less risk of bankruptcy. Maybe decision making is easier when you're not pretending it's 1950.

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Daily Digest - March 27: The Predator State Becomes the Prey

Mar 27, 2013Tim Price

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The corporate 'predator state' (WaPo)

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The corporate 'predator state' (WaPo)

Katrina vanden Heuvel argues that bipartisan agreement in Washington often means corporate interests have successfully bought off lawmakers on both sides, but there's a real left-right alliance to be forged between workers and small business owners.

For 'Faster Growth,' Soak the Poor? (Bloomberg)

Josh Barro writes that conservative economists are once again trotting out the argument that we need to cut government spending on poor people in order to fix the economy, which makes sense if you ignore everything about the economy and the poor.

Why the federal budget can't be managed like a household budget (Guardian)

Helaine Olen takes on the notion that governments and families must both maintain a balanced budget at all times, a dead horse that has been thoroughly beaten, dismembered, and restored by the finest taxidermists so the beatings may continue.

More Proof That America Doesn't Have a Spending Problem (Think Progress)

Travis Waldron notes that a new CBO report shows that government spending under Comrade Obama is so hopelessly out of control that discretionary spending now makes up a smaller share of the economy than it did in 2007, before the recession.

Declining Wealth Brings a Rising Retirement Risk (NYT)

Bruce Bartlett writes that as workers are shifted out of defined-benefit pension plans and into defined-contribution plans, it's become clear they're not as good at generating a return as corporate money managers. Now let's try it with their fall-back plans!

How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing (ProPublica)

As April 15 approaches, Liz Day notes that tax filing could be less ulcer-producing if the IRS prepared the returns. But that doesn't appeal to the tax prep software industry or conservatives who want the government to keep its hands off our payments to it.

The GOP Needs a New Product, Not a New Brand (HBR)

Justin Fox writes that while the GOP's current focus is on finding a spokesman who seems less old, white, and curmudgeonly, the key to success is creating and selling a product customers actually want, not just finding new ways to trick them into buying it.

Texas wants its gold back! Wait, what? (WaPo)

Channeling his inner leprechaun, Rick Perry is demanding the return of $1 billion worth of his state's gold from the New York Federal Reserve. Neil Irwin explains why that could be a hedge against Texas seceding from the Union -- Perry's other favorite idea.

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Daily Digest - March 26: How Millennials Make It Work

Mar 26, 2013Tim Price

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How to Create a Workplace That Fits Millennial America (Chief Learning Officer)

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How to Create a Workplace That Fits Millennial America (Chief Learning Officer)

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network National Director Taylor Jo Isenberg explains why Millennials work best in settings that emphasize individual participation and agency and reward loyalty rather than treating them like the office's latest coffee delivery system.

Do Millennials Stand a Chance in the Real World? (NYT)

Annie Lowrey notes that while the Millennial generation seems to have developed a fixation on money, that's because coming of age during a major economic downturn and suffering its consequences has made them acutely aware of how hard it is to make any.

Unlock Phones So People Can Use Public Airwaves (Bloomberg)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford argues that we shouldn't let telecom giants like Verizon and AT&T make products that lock consumers into their own network when the public is providing both the spectrum and the policy knives used to carve it up.

Controversy Over Contraception Misses the Economic Point (Forbes)

NND Editor Bryce Covert writes that the most controversial part of Obamacare requires insurers to cover contraception without a co-pay, but critics may not appreciate the economic benefits of ensuring women can be in the labor force instead of just being in labor.

The London Whale and the Real Link Between the US economy and Cyprus (Guardian)

Dean Baker argues that for all the dire warnings we've heard about how government deficits will doom us all, Cyprus shows that the far bigger danger is in allowing banks to run amok until they make a mess and need to bring the public in as their clean-up crew.

As Obama signs sequestration cuts, his economic goals are at risk (WaPo)

Zachary Goldfarb writes that President Obama will sign a short-term resolution that keeps the admittedly "dumb" sequester in place, while his own priorities, like funding early education, are mere stretch goals compared to keeping things from getting any dumber.

Battle of the Budgets (Prospect)

Jamelle Bouie notes that Senate Democrats have passed a budget for the first time in years, and it's more mainstream and less ambitious than the GOP's ideological salvo or House progressives' alternative. In other news, none of these will become the actual budget.

Austerity's Cruelest Cut: Democracy Denied in Detroit (The Nation)

John Nichols writes that the 5 percent of the vote Detroit cast for Rick Snyder in the 2010 gubernatorial race and the 82 percent of the vote it cast against his emergency manager law last year have been thrown out in favor of the only vote that counts: Rick Snyder's.

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