Daily Digest - December 13: The Public Goods Value Pack

Dec 13, 2012Tim Price

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Citizen Coupon (Dissent)

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Citizen Coupon (Dissent)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal argues that the neoliberal and conservative push to voucherize the welfare state ensures we get the low-quality, off-brand version of public goods. Ten percent off your next doctor's visit with your purchase of a six-pack of Shasta!

How Many People Will Die if We Raise the Medicare Age to 67? (Naked Capitalism)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Matt Stoller notes that raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67, the new hotness among grand bargainistas, could cost 1,261 uninsured seniors their lives. Does "symbolically important compromise" count as an official cause of death?

Rein in the Rich: How Higher Taxes Could Lift the Economy (TNR)

John Judis writes that when it comes to taxing the rich, fairness and deficit reduction are beside the point. In our consumer-driven economy, the poor need more money and the rich are holding on to way too much of it. You don't need to be Robin Hood to figure this out.

Why Most Walmart and Fast Food Workers Didn't Strike (The Nation)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz writes that recent labor actions represent only a fraction of the people working low-wage, dead-end jobs, who have been taught that keeping their heads down is a lot better for job security than raising their voices.

The misleading framing of 'right-to-work' (WaPo)

Ezra Klein argues that calling union-busting laws "right-to-work" is one of those rhetorical sleights of hand, like the "death tax" or "job creators." Unless it's an abbreviation for something like "right to work against your own interests," which is a bit of a mouthful.

From Bernie Madoff to Steven Cohen, Enabling Suspiciously High Returns (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisinger notes that Wall Street firms don't seem to mind investing in hedge funds involved in obviously shady and potentially criminal activities as long as they keep generating high returns, though getting caught doing it is still considered very bad form.

Not Another Wall Street Puppet (Prospect)

Timothy Canova argues that President Obama needs to choose someone to be his next Treasury Secretary who wasn't sent over from central casting for the role of "white male banker," even if Tim Geithner was more of a method actor than the real deal.

Fed's big decision is victory for liberal economics (WaPo)

Jonathan Bernstein writes that the Fed's decision to target 6.5 percent unemployment shows that elections do have consequences: namely, Obama's appointment of Fed governors who don't think a "dual mandate" is two gay couples going to see The Hobbit.

Could You Survive on $2 a Day? (MoJo)

Gabriel Thompson reports on the experience of people living in extreme poverty in Fresno, California, just some of the millions of Americans who live on less than $2 a day. Which is pretty easy, as long as you don't want to do anything. Or go anywhere. Or eat.

I Can't Stop Looking at These Terrifying Long-Term Unemployment Charts (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien notes that the data show that the unemployment experience is basically normal, if typically miserable, for the recently unemployed, but the long-termed unemployed are on the verge of becoming the forever unemployed unless we take action.

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Daily Digest - December 12: The Manchurian Michiganders

Dec 12, 2012Tim Price

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The Lansing-Beijing connection (WaPo)

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The Lansing-Beijing connection (WaPo)

Harold Meyerson argues that Michigan Republicans share more in common with China's Communist Party than they might think: despite a growing gap between profits and wages, they both view unions as a threat to their political regime. Also, they wear a lot of gray.

Yank the Chain: Washington's Terrible New Social Security Fix (TNR)

Timothy Noah writes that a popular proposal to change the formula used to calculate increases in Social Security would amount to a benefit cut for seniors, for whom the rising cost of cheese doesn't carry quite the same weight as the rising cost of heart surgery.

When government does things better than private enterprise (LA Times)

Michael Hiltzik argues that government is the best answer when it's the cheapest answer, and Social Security and Medicare will remain the most affordable way to meet their recipients' needs unless entitlement reform includes a quest for the Fountain of Youth.

Loopholes to Some, Lifelines to Others (NYT)

Eduardo Porter notes that many tax credits and deductions are meant to subsidize things that Republicans wouldn't directly support, so their proposal to raise revenue by closing loopholes is really a generous offer to cut spending and then cut spending again.

Beyond the 'fiscal cliff,' America's kids need more -- not less -- government spending (CS Monitor)

Lane Kenworthy makes the case that we need universal childcare and pre-K to reduce the growing opportunity gap faced by low-income children. Unfortunately, it's hard for them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps when they're still wearing Velcro sneakers.

Obama Administration Essentially Admits That Some Banks Are Too Big to Jail (HuffPo)

Mark Gongloff writes that the decision to let HSBC off with just $1.9 billion in fines for fear of systemic risks sends a clear message to big banks involved in money laundering: if you're going to commit a crime, for God's sake, make sure you commit a lot of it.

Five things to look for out of the Fed today (WaPo)

Get hype, Bernanketeers! The FOMC will announce the results of its latest meeting today, followed by a press conference with the Fed chairman. Neil Irwin has the rundown on what to expect: more bond purchases. Yeah, that's pretty much it. Go about your business.

Walmart Workers Model 'Minority Unionism' (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson notes that while U.S. law only recognizes unions that can show majority support, Walmart strikers have demonstrated the advantage of being numerous enough to have a voice but spread out enough that it's difficult for corporate to play Whack-a-Mole.

The Billionaires' Long Game (Prospect)

Robert Reich writes that although the GOP's losses in 2012 suggest that the billionaires who supported them were flushing money down the toilet, sooner or later they'll spend enough to clog the pipes, and then the glorious overflow will wash away their enemies.

Deconstructing Dodd-Frank (NYT)

Just how complicated is Dodd-Frank? Complicated enough that even the infographic explaining the lobbying, rulemaking, and implementation involved is a little difficult to follow. But at least the gray and beige pallet helps bring out the excitement in the process.

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Daily Digest - December 11: A "Right" That's All Wrong

Dec 11, 2012Tim Price

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The Real Battle Over Inequality Is Happening in the Heartland (Robert Reich)

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The Real Battle Over Inequality Is Happening in the Heartland (Robert Reich)

Robert Reich argues that when we treat the political debate like a twist-filled soap opera about Barack Obama, John Boehner, and the fiscal cliff that drives them apart, we're missing a more important story about how the war on unions is crushing the middle class.

This Is Not Wisconsin. It's Worse. (Prospect)

Rich Yeselson writes that Michigan's right-to-work law stings worse than other labor losses because the union-busters have planted their flag in the home of the once-mighty UAW. Now there's little to keep them from churning out similar bills on the assembly line.

What do 'right-to-work' laws do to a state's economy? (WaPo)

Brad Plumer runs through the research, which suggests that right-to-work laws provide little obvious economic benefit but are very effective if the goal is to weaken unions and depress workers' wages. And since that definitely is the goal, they're working perfectly.

To Save His Second Term, Obama Must Go Over the Fiscal Cliff (TNR)

Noam Scheiber argues that President Obama can't afford to cut a deal with a Republican Party in which Ann Coulter represents the moderate perspective unless he wants them to believe that "pass these cuts or we'll shoot this dog" is an effective bargaining strategy.

Washington Doesn't Have a Spending Problem. It Has a Healthcare Problem. Period. (MoJo)

Kevin Drum notes that total federal spending has declined over the last few decades while Medicare costs have risen due to our third-world health care system. For best results, read "runaway government spending" as "spending on stuff Rush told us we don't like."

Dear Conservatives: Your Opposition to Family Planning Comes with a Huge Price Tag (The Nation)

NND Editor Bryce Covert writes that efforts to slash state support for family planning are backfiring as more low-income women give birth and wind up relying on state assistance. They were so busy defending the unborn, they just plain forgot about helping the born.

Job truthers' latest myth: Government doing all the hiring (Salon)

Alex Seitz-Wald notes that conservatives' latest justification for dismissing gains in the job market is that it's all due to government hiring (which doesn't count, because reasons). But there are some flaws with this theory, like how it is literally the opposite of the truth.

'Underemployed': The TV Show That Nails How the Recession Changed Sex (The Atlantic)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz looks at the MTV series' portrayal of how the economy drains the romance from sex and turns it into yet another complication to deal with while you're doing an unpaid internship and sleeping on your friend's couch.

Mortgage Crisis Presents a New Reckoning to Banks (NYT)

Jessica Silver-Greenberg reports that banks are facing a new wave of lawsuits that carry a potentially massive price tag, but like any good money-managing institution, their approach is to dodge their creditors and try not to think about how much it could cost.

Big Money Still Had Destructive Role in 2012 Elections (Bloomberg)

Albert Hunt writes that while all that Super PAC spending progressives feared wasn't able to buy the White House or the Senate, it was more than enough to shape primaries and legislation and buy Anna Wintour a four-year trip back to the U.K. (specifically, its embassy).

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Daily Digest - December 10: The Mad Science of Austerity

Dec 10, 2012Tim Price

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It's Official: Austerity Economics Doesn't Work (New Yorker)

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It's Official: Austerity Economics Doesn't Work (New Yorker)

John Cassidy writes that Britain's Conservatives have experimented with austerity using the citizens of the UK as their lab rats, and the result has been economic disaster. All due respect to the scientific method, we don't need the GOP to try to reproduce their results.

Robots and Robber Barons (NYT)

How is it that corporate profits continue to reach new heights while workers' wages sink? Paul Krugman argues that it's due to the ongoing struggle between capital and labor and robots, as seen in Karl Marx's unpublished science fiction epic, Das Droid.

The Rooseveltian Precedent for Exploiting the Platinum Coin Loophole (Slate)

Paying off the national debt by minting trillion-dollar platinum coins sounds bizarre, but Matt Yglesias thinks it's similar to FDR's decision to end the gold standard: figure out what needs to be done, then find a legal precedent that looks right if you squint a bit.

In Obama's Plan to Tax Rich, $250,000 Figure May Mislead (NYT)

Catherine Rampell and Binyamin Appelbaum note that out of an abundance of caution and a desire to not create any new Fox News celebrities, the design of the president's tax plan will keep many families making $300,000 or more from paying higher taxes.

Keep Internet Free From Public and Private Meddling (Bloomberg)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford writes that UN members are considering online "tollgates" to monitor and charge for different types of online content. Health records may be outside your price range, but you can get a good deal on a My Little Pony Tumblr.

Five myths about the unemployed (WaPo)

Rick McGahey and Teresa Ghilarducci tackle some common misconceptions about the millions of Americans who are unemployed, like the idea that they're laughing it up at us poor working stiffs while lighting their cigars with their unemployment benefits.

This Week in Poverty: When Even Santa Can't Get a Job (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann writes that 2 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits by the end of the year unless Congress renews them. Some think they're entitled to more than six months of benefits just because they spent decades paying into the system.

The Mystery of Housing's Jobless Recovery (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien notes that housing is up, but construction jobs aren't. But that's not because there's a new trend of haunted houses being built by the spirits that inhabit them; it's because construction workers are finally getting enough work to put in longer hours.

GOP, Koch Brothers Sneak Attack Guts Labor Rights in Michigan (The Nation)

John Nichols reports that Michigan Republicans pulled the lamest of lame duck maneuvers by passing a "right-to-work" bill, which their right-wing allies are calling a victory for workplace freedom. And in fact, union and non-union labor will now be about $1,500 freer.

Home Is Where the Union Is (Prospect)

E. Tammy Kim looks at a new report on the miserable conditions faced by home-care workers and the national and state-level movements pushing for reform and recognition of the fact that if we want these workers to care for us, we'd better start caring for them.

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Daily Digest - December 7: Land of Hope and Dreams

Dec 7, 2012Tim Price

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America's Hope Against Hope (Project Syndicate)

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America's Hope Against Hope (Project Syndicate)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that progressives can hope the next four years will see real action on inequality, unemployment, corruption, and climate change, but it's more likely that "It could have been worse" will become our serenity prayer.

A dream SEC chief (Salon)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Matt Stoller talks to Neil Barofsky about how he'd change the way the SEC operates, like actually holding bankers accountable for committing crimes instead of requesting one of those non-apology "I'm sorry you were offended" apologies.

The Forgotten Millions (NYT)

Paul Krugman notes that despite all the closet Keynesianism on display, class divisions make it easy for politicians in Washington to focus on the fiscal cliff they've created rather the millions of unemployed Americans who have already been shoved into the abyss.

Obama to GOP: No More Debt Ceiling Blackmail (MoJo)

David Corn writes that, tax rates aside, the next big question is who will blink first on the debt ceiling, and President Obama is ready to break out the Visine if it means Republicans stop taking the economy hostage whenever they don't like the cafeteria lunch menu.

Democrats watch in awe as McConnell filibusters himself (Raw Story)

Mitch McConnell introduced a bill to raise the debt ceiling yesterday in an attempt to call the Democrats' bluff, but when it turned out Harry Reid was holding a pair of aces, the world witnessed a rare case of self-filibustering. Please stop that, senator. You'll go blind.

What Kind of Party Votes Against Protection for People With Disabilities? (Slate)

Eliot Spitzer argues that the GOP's decision to block a treaty based on America's own laws and designed only to help the disabled is a bad sign for anyone hoping moderate Republicans would drop their disguises and emerge from hiding to strike a fiscal cliff deal.

The Republican Anti-Tax Maginot Line (NY Mag)

Jonathan Chait writes that Republicans who read Watchmen and decided that "Never compromise. even in the face of Armageddon" was a workable philosophy have painted themselves into a corner now that compromise is the only way to avoid a tax increase.

The Fall of 'Trickle-Down' and the Rise of 'Middle-Out' Economics (The Atlantic)

Heather Boushey notes that the speech President Obama gave in Osawatomie, Kansas last year outlined a new economic doctrine focused on growing the middle class instead of standing back and hoping they'll get trickled on. Now he has to follow through.

Raise the Economy's Speed Limit (NYT)

Jared Bernstein writes that the halving of America's economic growth rate since 2000 has contributed to soaring inequality, but policymakers can reverse the trend if they focus on spurring growth instead of the vast difference between 35 percent and 39 percent.

Ten ways to reduce inequality without raising tax rates (WaPo)

Dylan Matthews outlines policies like making it easier to form unions and making social insurance programs more generous that would help fight inequality without raising taxes. Better yet, let's do all that and raise taxes. Boom, he just got grand bargained.

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Daily Digest - December 6: "Destroy the Economy" is a Bad New Year's Resolution

Dec 6, 2012Tim Price

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Cliff Notes on the Three Real Perils Ahead (Robert Reich)

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Cliff Notes on the Three Real Perils Ahead (Robert Reich)

Reich argues that the fiscal cliff is more like a big pit Congress has dug for itself, but lawmakers are also marching blindly toward disaster on child poverty, rising health care costs, and climate change. Are the elephants and the donkeys really lemmings at heart?

The GOP's bizarre 'doomsday plan' (WaPo)

Ezra Klein notes that Republicans have a fall-back plan for the fiscal cliff: cut a deal on taxes, then trigger an immediate debt ceiling battle and a potential global financial crisis. As a pitch to voters, "If we're going down, we're taking all of you with us!" could use work.

Everything You Need to Know About the Fiscal Cliff Plans, in Charts (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien matches up Simpson-Bowles with the Obama administration's deficit-cutting plan and the GOP's proposal in pie chart form, illustrating that the first two recipes are heavy on revenue while the Republican pie contains a delicious filling of mysteries.

IMF: Budget cuts hurt growth a lot. But tax increases barely matter. (WaPo)

Howard Schneider highlights a new IMF study that predicts cutting $1 in spending under current economic conditions would cost the U.S. $1.80 in economic output while higher taxes would hardly make a dent. So, Obama's ACORN infiltrators got to them too, did they?

The Importance of Elizabeth Warren (Prospect)

Robert Kuttner argues that Elizabeth Warren's appointment to the Senate Banking Committee is a huge victory for progressives, and if anything, her deep background on these issues makes her almost overqualified, like Bill Gates applying for a job at an IT center.

The conservative learning curve (WaPo)

E.J. Dionne notes that in the wake of the shocking-to-them election results, GOP wunderkinds Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio seem to realize they must at least sound as if they care about poor people, and even George W. Bush is serving as an unlikely voice of reason.

Hurricane Sandy Victims Say Mortgage Companies Dismiss Pleas for Loan Help (HuffPo)

Ben Hallman reports that some New York and New Jersey residents affected by Hurricane Sandy are struggling to get lenders to offer forbearance on their mortgage payments, even though they've been converted from homeowners to muddy wreckage owners.

Cory Booker's food stamp challenge: Stunt or learning experience? (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff asks the experts whether the Newark mayor's decision to live on food stamps for a week will impart any valuable lessons or if it's just a way to grab headlines until he finds another burning building to run into. The answer? A resounding "Ehhh, maybe?"

The Decadence of Procreation (NY Mag)

Ann Friedman argues that given the high costs of raising a child and all the sacrifices that entails in the U.S., conservatives like Ross Douthat shouldn't be blaming women for being too selfish to have babies but asking why so many are priced out of the market.

America's 'actually existing' worker-owned capitalism (Guardian)

Moira Herbst notes that while some employers in the U.S. might regard their employees as those annoying people who are always hanging around begging for money, companies that give their workers a real stake in the business have had great success.

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Daily Digest - December 5: Panetta-Burns is the Answer. And the Question.

Dec 5, 2012Tim Price

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Resistance (on Tax Rates) Is Futile (Prospect)

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Resistance (on Tax Rates) Is Futile (Prospect)

Jamelle Bouie writes that Republicans have begun to realize that holding out to the bitter end on tax cuts for the rich will get them nothing but bad P.R., but even a grand bargain on President Obama's terms wouldn't be as grand as focusing on a real problem.

The Rich Have Plenty to Give, but Forget Deficits (NYT)

James K. Galbraith argues that big deficits are no big deal, especially compared to mass unemployment, but neither is raising taxes on the rich if it lowers the hawks' blood pressure. Just don't ask for shared sacrifice from people who actually need all their money.

GOP needs to choose between business community and Tea Party (WaPo)

Jonathan Bernstein notes that Republicans' hard-line stance on taxes may help in their next primary, but if they threaten to push the country into recession over it, the business leaders who have come to the party will start making their excuses and collecting their coats.

Conservative Birthrate Panic: Our Hope for Better Work/Family Policies? (The Nation

NND Editor Bryce Covert writes that if conservatives believe the U.S. needs to pump out more babies to win the global fertility war, they can support pro-family policies like cheap daycare and universal pre-K. But they can't have their cake and force women to bake it, too.

The Recession's Toll: How Middle Class Wealth Collapsed to a 40-Year Low (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissmann highlights a study that shows half the net worth of the median U.S. household was washed away like a sand castle when the housing bubble burst, plunging many Americans back into the 1960s but without all the good music and day-drinking.

Unionizing the Bottom of the Pay Scale (NYT)

Eduardo Porter writes that unorthodox efforts like the Walmart protests and New York's fast food strikes point toward a new message from labor unions: You've tried keeping your head down and working hard; now how about doing that and living above the poverty line?

Report: Elizabeth Warren Gets a Banking Committee Seat (MoJo)

According to sources on Capitol Hill, Democrats have decided to give Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren a seat on the Banking Committee, where she will be lulled to sleep each night by the mournful wailing of bankers and slake her thirst with their tears upon waking.

Makers beat takers (WaPo)

Harold Meyerson notes that while Wall Street placed its bets on Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, Barack Obama claimed support from the techies of Silicon Valley, which suggests there's a political divide between the creative class and the creative accounting class.

The Hidden Cost of Boring Banking (NY Mag)

Kevin Roose writes that Dodd-Frank is forcing Wall Street banks to back off of trading activities that generated insane profits at the risk of blowing up the economy and get back to good old-fashioned money managing. The only problem is they're kind of terrible at it.

One in four Americans has an opinion about an imaginary debt plan (WaPo)

Sarah Kliff flags a new poll that shows an impressive 25 percent of Americans have taken a position on the Panetta-Burns deficit reduction plan. Now they just need to get Panetta and Burns to draft a plan so they can find out what it is that they support or oppose.

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Daily Digest - December 4: The GOP Gets Nostalgic for Last Year

Dec 4, 2012Tim Price

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Boehner tries to call a mulligan (WaPo)

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Boehner tries to call a mulligan (WaPo)

Ezra Klein notes that John Boehner's fiscal cliff proposal is essentially what he offered in 2011 before Republicans bet they could do better and scrapped the deal. But they didn't like what was behind door number two, so they'd rather pretend they never opened it.

The Fiscal Cliff Is Better Than Boehner's Lousy Offer (TNR)

Jonathan Cohn argues that Boehner's letter at least puts House Republicans on the record with an offer, but since it's still worse than what Obama could get by doing nothing, they're not really meeting him halfway so much as waving to him from across the field.

Washington's Serious People Are on the War Path (Truthout)

Dean Baker writes that groups like Fix the Debt don't have time for liberal nonsense about the recession; they know our real economic problem is the social safety net because the market told them so, possibly after appearing to them in the form of a burning bush.

Greedy Geezers, Reconsidered (Prospect)

Robert Kuttner argues that Petersonian rhetoric about the old robbing the young to pay for their lifestyle obscures the fact that the economy and austerity have been bad for the poor regardless of age, and that your grandma's plastic-covered sofa isn't the lap of luxury.

Citizens Protest Looming 'Fiscal Cliff' Buget Cuts (The Nation)

Allison Kilkenny highlights demonstrations that have taken place across the country to remind lawmakers that there are real people on the other end of those budget numbers, and they're not all wearing three-piece suits. In fact, some are wearing a lot less than that.

The Debt Limit Is the Real Fiscal Cliff (NYT)

Bruce Bartlett argues that the sky won't fall because of the fiscal cliff, but we should still be worried about banging our heads against the debt ceiling if Republicans take hostages and force Obama to choose between breaking his constitutional oath a little bit or a lot.

Forget the Cliff, Fix the U.S. Tax System (Bloomberg)

Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers predict someone will blink just in time to reach a deal on the fiscal cliff, but the question is whether they'll take the opportunity to streamline the tax code into something that looks like it was designed by a rational human mind.

Corporate Profits Hit Record High While Worker Wages Hit Record Low (Think Progress)

Pat Garofalo notes that corporate earnings grew to $1.75 trillion last quarter, but workers' wages now account for just 43 percent of GDP when they used to be at least half. Either execs are pocketing the rest or someone's ordering way too many office supplies.

The Ambition Myth: Debunking a Common Excuse for the Gender Wage Gap (The Atlantic)

NND Editor Bryce Covert writes that one theory about what's holding women back is women themselves, who'd rather play with Barbies or braid hair than pursue career goals, but research shows that women do ask for more. The answer just tends to be "no."

Ladies, Uncle Sam needs your uterus! (Salon)

Irin Carmon examines the claim that what's really responsible for America's falling birth rate is the loose European morals of its women rather than, say, their increased ability to control their own lives or the total lack of basic support for parents in this country.

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Daily Digest - December 3: There Aren't Enough Seats at the Table

Dec 3, 2012Tim Price

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Organizing McDonalds and Walmart, and Why Austerity Economics Hurts Low-Wage Workers the Most (Robert Reich)

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Organizing McDonalds and Walmart, and Why Austerity Economics Hurts Low-Wage Workers the Most (Robert Reich)

Reich writes that high unemployment makes unionizing to fight rising inequality more difficult, and focusing on deficit reduction over job creation only compounds the problem. It's nothing personal, though -- that would require Congress to think of workers at all.

Poor Women and Children Faced With Fiscal Cliff Threat (NYT)

NND Editor Bryce Covert notes that "cutting nondefense discretionary spending" roughly translates to English as "leaving poor women and their hungry, uneducated children to huddle together for warmth in the dark." It sounds a lot better in the original wonk-ese.

This Week in Poverty: A Wake-Up Call on Housing and Homelessness (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann writes that while policymakers meet behind closed doors to debate what should be on or off the table in a fiscal cliff deal, Americans who depend on federal housing assistance are left to wonder how long they'll have a home to put a table in.

A New, Tougher Obama? (Prospect)

Robert Kuttner is pleased to see that President Obama is keeping renewal of the Bush tax cuts and cuts to entitlement programs off the grown-ups' table to make room for some good ideas, even if Republicans have opted to sit at the kids' table in response.

The Big Budget Mumble (NYT)

Paul Krugman argues that Republicans are mad at Obama for offering a deal that describes what he wants instead of describing what they want so they don't have to. And while they're at it, why does Santa always have to ask? Isn't he supposed to be magic?

The Best Idea for the Debt Ceiling? Abolish It Forever (The Atlantic)

Derek Thompson writes that opposition to raising the debt ceiling used to be empty congressional theater until the House GOP forgot it was just pretend. Luckily, Tim Geithner's proposal would return Congress to its comfort zone of complaint without consequence.

Fiscal Cliff Fictions: Let's All Agree to Pretend the GOP Isn't Full of It (Time)

Michael Grunwald argues that when Republicans spend one day claiming President Obama is gutting Medicare and the next complaining that he refuses to cut entitlements, a responsible press should feel compelled to do more than write both things down.

Can Wall Street Tame Elizabeth Warren? (NY Mag)

Kevin Roose writes that many bankers consider the election of Elizabeth Warren a capital-p Problem, but they're hoping that once she settles into her new post in the Senate she'll realize that it's not really a place where someone goes to "accomplish" stuff.

As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price (NYT)

Louise Story reports that state and local governments are giving up over $80 billion a year in business incentives, though they don't really keep track of how much they're spending or whether it creates any jobs. The companies seem happy; isn't that what counts?

2012's Least Horrible Super PACs (MoJo)

Andy Kroll highlights three anti-Super PAC Super PACs that used the current campaign finance system to try to accomplish something more worthwhile and progressive than helping a couple of cranky, eccentric billionaires purchase a vanity president.

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Daily Digest - November 30: Would You Like a Living Wage With That?

Nov 29, 2012Tim Price

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McJobs Should Pay, Too (The Atlantic)

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McJobs Should Pay, Too (The Atlantic)

Sarah Jaffe looks at New York's fast food chain strike and writes that while burger-flippers have always been at the bottom of the economic totem pole, the growth of low-wage service jobs (and the ever-present threat of hamburglary) demands a new approach.

The Country (and Economy) Needs a Woman to Replace Tim Geithner (Forbes)

NND Editor Bryce Covert argues that a woman Treasury Secretary would help break up the boy's club that dominates finance and expand the pool of talent. And even if she comes from Wall Street, chances are sadly pretty good that she's an outsider on the inside.

G.O.P. Balks at White House Plan on Fiscal Crisis (NYT)

Jonathan Weisman reports that the president's opening bid contains $50 billion in stimulus, a new mortgage refi program, and an end to the debt ceiling. Electronic copies will be prefaced with several "DEAL WITH IT" gifs and the opening credits of CSI:Miami.

Against the Grand Bargain (Slate)

Matthew Yglesias points out that any grand bargain on deficits is impossible to enforce in the long run, since Congress doesn't operate by "no backsies" rules. But imagine what its proponents could achieve if they devoted their attention to a problem we actually have.

Class Wars of 2012 (NYT)

Paul Krugman writes that this year's presidential election was part of an ongoing class war, and the rich guys lost pretty decisively. But drawing on their many years of experience on the putting green, they're taking a mulligan with the fiscal cliff negotiations.

America's Political Recession (Project Syndicate)

Brad DeLong pegs the odds of another U.S. recession next year at 36 percent thanks to the likelihood that fiscal cliff negotiations will fall through and political polarization so extreme that President Obama can't even convince Republicans to agree with themselves.

Dropping the Ball on Financial Regulation (NYT)

Simon Johnson writes that the victory of populists like Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown and a growing acceptance of the need for tougher regulation mean that we need a Treasury Secretary and an SEC that will lead the charge instead of being dragged forward.

Why Conservatives Must Surrender on 'Redistribution' (Bloomberg)

Josh Barro argues that it's possible for Republicans to offer compelling proposals to address economic inequality, but not while they continue to define "conservatism" as "not giving poor people any money" and "poverty" as "the state of being a greedy loser."

Why Raising the Medicare Eligiblity Age is the 'Single Worst Idea' for Medicare Reform (The Nation)

George Zornick writes that among the stupid entitlement cuts being considered as part of a grand bargain, the stupidest may be raising the eligibility age for Medicare, which is based on the premise that costs would be lower if beneficiaries were older and sicklier.

Study: ALEC Is Bad for the Economy (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger highlights a study of the correlation between state-level economic growth and fealty to ALEC, the legislative equivalent of microwave dinners, that shows ALEC's policies are a blueprint for economic stagnation, fiscal ruin, and increased inequality.

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