Daily Digest - January 29: They Come Bearing Jobs

Jan 29, 2013Tim Price

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Four Important Ways Immigration Reform Could Benefit America's Economy (Think Progress)

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Four Important Ways Immigration Reform Could Benefit America's Economy (Think Progress)

As Congress hashes out a bipartisan immigration deal, Travis Waldron notes that comprehensive reform would bring benefits like economic growth and higher wages. You can hear the rallying cries now: "They took our jobs! ...And gave us better ones. Thanks, guys!"

Obama, FDR and the Second Bill of Rights (Bloomberg)

Cass Sunstein argues that President Obama and FDR share a committment to a basic foundation for prosperity, not to equalize outcomes but to ensure that the rich don't get a chauffeured trip across the finish line while everyone else struggles to locate the track.

The Uneven Progress of Equal Opportunity (NYT)

Nancy Folbre writes that the American workforce is still starkly divided by race and gender, and over half of private sector workers would have to change jobs to achieve true integration. Only then can white men finally be free from the burdens of middle management.

Employees? Consumers? Feh! (Prospect)

Harold Meyerson argues that striking down the president's recess appointments is about the balance of power, not just between the White House and Congress but between the two parties -- specifically, that Republicans get to have power and Democrats don't.

Britain's Economy Is a Disaster and Nobody Is Entirely Sure Why (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien notes that Britain is now worse off than it was at this point in the Great Depression, heading toward a triple-dip recession even though it's been adding a healthy number of jobs. Must be time for more austerity. Let's really beat this thing into shape.

Pay Still High at Bailed-Out Companies, Report Says (NYT)

Annie Lowrey flags a new report from Sigtarp that finds Treasury is still signing off on lavish compensation for execs at bailed out companies. But this year they totally didn't melt down and almost destroy the economy. Don't they deserve some kind of reward?

Timothy Geithner Saved Wall Street, Not the Economy (HuffPo)

While the media has been showering Tim Geithner in accolades for a job sort of done, Dean Baker argues that he doesn't deserve too much credit for extending the unnatural life of Frankenfinance when he should have been focused on reviving the real economy.

Making Them Pay (and Confess) (NYT)

Gretchen Morgenson writes that the first step Mary Jo White can take toward strengthening enforcement at the SEC is to stop the practice of settling cases without admissions of guilt, which is the financial sector equivalent of "I'm sorry if you're offended" apologies.

Back from the Brink (TNR)

David Dayen looks at how California's progressive Democrats managed to create a functioning government out of a hopeless morass and balance the state's budget by eliminating the tools the Republican minority used to create a perpetual crisis. Cc: Harry Reid

Hell Isle (The Nation)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a libertarian utopia, or barring that, a converted public park in Detroit? Rick Perlstein highlights one developer's plan to turn Bell Isle into an all-you-can eat freedom buffet with a cover charge of just $300,000.

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Daily Digest - January 28: Central Bankers Just Don't Understand

Jan 28, 2013Tim Price

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The Fed Is More Out of It Than You Thought It Was (Bloomberg)

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The Fed Is More Out of It Than You Thought It Was (Bloomberg)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal argues that transcripts show the Fed failed to grasp that the economy was (and is) weak because consumers are worried about how they're going to pay their bills, not about how the execs at Citigroup are holding up.

A New Housing Boom? Don't Count on It (NYT)

Robert Shiller writes that no matter how many times we hear that the housing market is finally, maybe, really turning around this time, there's still so much uncertainty that predicting a definite spike in prices is just blowing smoke -- or, in this case, bubbles.

The urgency of growth (WaPo)

E.J. Dionne looks at the emerging consensus that reducing the deficit, ending dependency, and strengthening capitalism depends on promoting economic growth, which means doing the opposite of Republicans who claim to want all of those things.

Makers, Takers, Fakers (NYT)

Paul Krugman writes that while Republicans like Bobby Jindal have begun to acknowledge that being identified as the party of the rich is a problem for them, their big rebranding plan is the equivalent of throwing on a pair of glasses and a fake mustache.

The GOP Crackup: How Obama is Unraveling Reagan Republicanism (Robert Reich)

Reich writes that Barack Obama has turned existing fractures in the Republican coalition into open fissures, and the party's demographic decline is accelerating as voters get a good look at what they're like when the businessmen with nice hair lose control.

How Democrats Will Win the Budget Debate (Slate)

Matthew Yglesias warns that Republicans who are trying to pressure Democrats into proposing a budget should be careful what they wish for when that budget's being written by Patty Murray, who's been known to leave the imprint of her tennis shoes on them.

A court struck down Obama's labor board. Here's why it matters. (WaPo)

Brad Plumer reviews the implications of the ruling that the president's NLRB appointments were unconstitutional: the NLRB would be defunct and a year's worth of decisions may be invalid. Time to delete all those tweets about what a jerk your boss is.

The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy (NYT)

Erin Hatton notes that the temp industry has added more jobs than any other in the U.S. in recent years, helping to strengthen many employers' belief that workers are just another office supply to be used and disposed of like the coffee filter in the break room.

Avoiding Wall St. shuffle's perils (Politico)

With Wall Street transplants preparing to give the revolving door another spin as Washington reorganizes for the president's second term, Senator Elizabeth Warren provides guidelines for finding candidates who aren't just looking to inflate their future asking price.

This Week in Poverty: Citizen Obama and the Anti-Poverty/Pro-Prosperity People (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann writes that President Obama's second inaugural was an inspiring call for citizen action to reshape the debate and address the challenges we face as a nation. As anti-poverty groups have learned all too well, it's not going to happen any other way.

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Daily Digest - January 25: Clipping the Deficit Hawks' Wings

Jan 25, 2013Tim Price

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Deficit Hawks Down (NYT)

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Deficit Hawks Down (NYT)

Paul Krugman argues that President Obama's second inaugural address gave the deficit exactly the weight it deserves by hardly mentioning it at all, in contrast to the hawks who have spent years trying to gin up a crisis through the power of negative thinking.

Congratulations, America: Austerity, Not Default, Is the Only Threat Now (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien notes that even with the debt ceiling showdown (mostly) behind us, Congress has only managed to defuse the first layer of booby traps it set for itself, and it's still not sure whether to cut the red wire or the green wire on the $1.2 trillion sequester.

How to Avoid Raising Taxes on the Middle Class or Cutting Programs the Middle and Poor Depend On (Robert Reich)

Reich writes that despite the drumbeat around slashing spending and demanding "shared sacrifice," America's problem isn't that the middle class and poor are living beyond their means, but that the rich have so very many means put to so few good ends.

Workers, Not Babysitters (Prospect)

NND Editor Bryce Covert looks at the progress being made in the fight to extend essential workplace protections like minimum wage and paid overtime to domestic workers, which would be an upgrade from "totally inadequate" to "only mostly inadequate."

A Signal to Wall Street in Obama's Pick for Regulators (NYT)

Ben Protess and Benjamin Weiser note that by appointing former prosecutor Mary Jo White to lead the SEC and renominating Richard Cordray to head the CFPB, the president is sending a message that financial crime doesn't pay. For more than five years.

Yes, the middle class really is falling behind (WaPo)

Jim Tankersley points out that you can only claim the middle class is doing better than ever because its members are spending less on "basics" if you classify things like health care to keep them alive and gasoline to get them to work as deluxe bonus features.

Older, but Not Yet Retired (NYT)

Catherine Rampell writes that a growing number of Americans are working past age 65, and while some of them are just feeling more spry, many find that, in the wake of the economic downturn, they can only make ends meet by pawning their golden years.

Davos Frets About Elites (TNR)

Timothy Noah notes that the great minds gathered in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum this year are concerned about the threat of rising inequality -- specifically, the way it threatens to put a damper on their otherwise pleasant and relaxing ski vacations.

Alan Blinder on the Lessons of the Financial Crisis (NYT)

Binyamin Appelbaum talks to former Fed vice chairman Alan Blinder about his new book on the financial meltdown and why the government's response to such crises should follow some basic guidelines, like informing the public what in the world is going on.

'Job Piracy': Why States Paying for Corporations to Move Is Bad for the Economy (Think Progress)

Pat Garofalo highlights a new report that finds that state lawmakers who try to use tax incentives to attract companies and jobs across their borders are playing a shell game in which the companies pocket the money and leave local workers holding the empty cups.

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Daily Digest - January 24: Broadband or Bust

Jan 24, 2013Tim Price

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How to Get America Online (NYT)

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How to Get America Online (NYT)

They stopped mailing out all those CDs/complimentary coasters, so... Wait, wrong AOL. Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford explains how the FCC could expand high-speed Internet access and let us all leave that little running man in the dust.

Here are all the budget deadlines we're facing in the next 3 months (WaPo)

If you're feeling blue now that the holidays and the fiscal cliff negotiations are over, Suzy Khimm notes that there are still plenty of red letter days ahead for the budget process, ranging from the symbolic to the stock-up-on-canned-beans-and-batteries serious.

Why Balance the Budget? (Prospect)

Jamelle Bouie writes that balancing the budget scores political points for the GOP, but in terms of what purpose the federal budget is supposed to serve, getting Republicans elected ranks pretty low on the list after, you know, paying for all the stuff we need.

No US peace dividend after Afghanistan (FT)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz and co-author Linda Bilmes write that the legacy costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may exceed even their own estimates. But maybe it will all seem worth it once we figure out what we were doing there.

Dear President Obama: Want Equal Pay for Equal Work? Here's Where to Start. (Forbes)

President Obama gave a shout-out to equal pay in his second inaugural, but NND Editor Bryce Covert notes that if he wants to close the gender wage gap, there are some concrete policies he can pursue. Otherwise he's just taking Lilly Ledbetter's name in vain.

Obama to America: Work Harder (Jacobin)

Josh Eidelson points out that while Obama has been praised for giving a liberal speech focused on the struggle for equal rights, labor unions and their own struggles seem to have slipped his mind while he was calling for workers to really put their backs into it.

Share of the Work Force in a Union Falls to a 97-Year Low, 11.3% (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse reports that union membership fell sharply last year, reaching its lowest ebb in almost a century, due to job growth in nonunion states and sectors and the ongoing effort by brave leaders like Scott Walker to grind their opposition into dust.

Backing Obama but still hungry for change (MSNBC)

Trymaine Lee writes that the residents of impoverished urban communities turned out heavily for Barack Obama in the last election, but while he's made a lot of lofty promises to restore the middle class, the poor would still settle for some food and shelter.

Obama's First Term Was Shaped by Clashes With Big-Business Interests (The Nation)

Lee Fang argues that accounts of the hurdles President Obama has faced in the last four years pay too much attention to the antics of his congressional opponents and too little to the powerful interests dropping money in their hats with each new performance.

Explosive Charge: Morgan Stanley Peddled Security Its Own Employee Called 'Nuclear Holocaust' (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisinger highlights e-mail exchanges exposed by a lawsuit against Morgan Stanley, which suggest that the bankers involved were fully aware they were selling hot garbage but couldn't unload it fast enough to avoid getting buried in their own landfill.

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Daily Digest - January 23: Imagine There's No Ceiling. It's Easy if You Try.

Jan 23, 2013Tim Price

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The brilliantly stupid new plan to raise the debt ceiling without raising it (Salon)

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The brilliantly stupid new plan to raise the debt ceiling without raising it (Salon)

Alex Pareene examines the logic behind the House Republicans' new plan to "suspend" the debt ceiling until May instead of voting to raise it, which allows them to fulfill the bare minimum requirements of a grown-up party without actually behaving like one.

How the GOP Debt Limit Bill Will Put Them on the Hook for Killing Tax Reform (TPM)

Brian Beutler notes that part of the debt ceiling deal requires Senate Democrats to pass a budget by May 19, but unfortunately for Republicans who are opposed to raising any new revenue through tax reform, they forgot to specify that they have to like what's in it.

How will Congress fix the sequester? Nobody knows! (WaPo)

Remember the budget-shredding sequester that was going to destroy the economy if Congress hadn't delayed it until March? It doesn't seem like our distracted lawmakers do, but Suzy Khimm writes that they figure they'll just wing it when the next apocalypse is nigh.

Can Obama's Second Term Unleash Power of His First? (Bloomberg)

Ezra Klein writes that many of President Obama's first-term policy achievements still aren't fully implemented, but having claimed that ground, he'll spend the next four years trying to keep Republicans from capturing the flag and running it back to their goal.

America's fiscal policy is not in crisis (FT)

Martin Wolf argues that while the U.S. faces many challenges, like rising health care costs, there's only one strategy we should pursue when it comes to the national debt: calm the hell down. Take a nap. Eat some cookie dough. Catch a matinee of Les Miz. Just relax.

Unimpeded by Setbacks, the CEO Debt Fixers March On (NY Mag)

Kevin Roose notes that the executives behind "Fix the Debt" are frustrated that the White House and Congress are ignoring them, but they're not going to let their complete irrelevance stop them from supporting the painful choices other people need to make.

'Roe' at 40: The Economic Divide That Denies Low-Income Women Their Right to an Abortion (The Nation)

40 years after Roe v. Wade, NND Editor Bryce Covert writes that low-income women seek more abortions but have a harder time paying for or even finding them. Freedom really isn't free, and it may require a 50-mile road trip to a licensed freedom provider.

The Force: How much military is enough? (New Yorker)

Jill Lepore looks at the forces driving the growth of our $700 billion defense budget and at the proponents of increased military spending who imagine themselves to be the last ones with their shoulders pressed against the gates as the barbarian hordes advance.

Leverage is Back! But This Time It's Different. (MoJo)

Kevin Drum notes that hedge funds are back to advising pension funds to maximize their returns by taking on more risk in the bond market. Sure, that advice turned out to be an epic disaster last time around, but they've worked out the kinks. Where's the faith?

When Tax Cuts Were a Tough Sell (NYT)

Bruce Bartlett takes us back to January 1963, a time when John F. Kennedy was president, gas was 30 cents a gallon, Steve Lawrence's "Go Away Little Girl" topped the charts, and fiscal conservatives thought it was important for the government to pay for things.

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Daily Digest - January 22: Second Verse, New Tune

Jan 22, 2013Tim Price

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Obama's unapologetic inaugural address (WaPo)

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Obama's unapologetic inaugural address (WaPo)

E.J. Dionne writes that like FDR, President Obama used his inaugural address to make a positive case for the role of government and collective action in America, and it revealed him to be what his opponents most feared -- not a secret Muslim Kenyan, but a liberal.

Obama Takes Aim at Paul Ryan in Inaugural Address (HuffPo)

Ryan Grim notes that the president's speech rejected the Randian view that programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid divide makers from takers. It was probably the second most awkward moment in Paul Ryan's life after the one pictured here.

The Equality Inaugural (TNR)

Timothy Noah writes that Obama's second inaugural was a promise that he'll do a better job of fighting back against lopsided growth and concentrated economic power during his second term, and thanks to a mix of new taxes he may at least get his gloves up.

Inequality Is Holding Back the Recovery (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that without a comprehensive plan to address rising inequality, the economic recovery will remain stuck in a rut somewhere down in the fathomless gorge separating America's haves and have-nots.

The Big Deal (NYT)

Paul Krugman writes that Obama's three-pronged focus on reforming health care, tackling inequality, and re-regulating Wall Street can be seen as his answer to FDR's New Deal, though skeptical progressives worry this Big Deal comes with a lot of fine print.

In the next four years, we'll see if Wall Street can be reformed (WaPo)

Suzy Khimm notes that although Dodd-Frank has been on the books for two and half years, more than half of it still hasn't been implemented. Now comes the really tricky part, in which regulators must fill in all the "insert sensible rule here" sections of the law.

U.N. Agency Warns of Rising Unemployment (NYT)

In a serious byline/subject matter mismatch, David Jolly reports that the International Labor Organization expects the worldwide number of unemployed to top 202 million people this year, and advocates of austerity seem to be taking the over on that bet.

The 6 Most Illuminating Quotes from the Fed's Pre-Crisis Meetings (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien highlights moments from the transcripts of the Fed's 2007 meetings that show the central bankers were mildly concerned but not yet at breathing-into-a-paper-bag levels of anxiety, except when it came to the rising price of their Fritos.

The Fed Drives Best at Higher Speeds (NYT)

Christina Romer argues that the Federal Reserve needs to get over its insecurities and commit more swiftly and decisively to aggressive monetary policy rather than trying to spot shark fins on the horizon every time it begins to dip its toe in the water.

This Week in Poverty: An Anti-Poverty Contract for 2013? (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann writes that the anti-poverty movement can make the biggest impact by coalescing around a simple, unified policy agenda, including a higher minimum wage and increased support for families. Progressives love unified agendas.

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Daily Digest - January 18: The Future is Not Now

Jan 18, 2013Tim Price

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The Dwindling Deficit (NYT)

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The Dwindling Deficit (NYT)

Paul Krugman argues that in the medium term, there is no deficit crisis to speak of, and in the long term, the future is just too unpredictable for us to solve our problems by having 2040's budget debates today, unless Marty McFly makes a run for Congress.

Republicans: Okay, Maybe We Can't Shoot the Hostage, But Maybe We Can Slap Him Around or Something (New York)

Jonathan Chait notes that as House Republicans gather for a retreat to talk debt ceiling strategy, they seem to be caught between their realization that threats to force the U.S. to default are a bad idea and their overwhelming desire to give the president agita.

Congressional Progressives: Abolish the Debt Ceiling (The Nation)

Anna Simonton writes that the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are introducing a bill to eliminate the debt ceiling. But then how would Congress decide how much the government can spend? Just vote on it? Oh, they already do that? ...Oh.

Markets to Washington: You know nothing of our work. (WaPo)

Even though the Beltway consensus seems to be that the markets demand immediate deficit reduction and that the government's incompetence will drive interest rates higher, Neil Irwin notes that there are some prominent dissenters, such as actual investors.

The Legacy of Timothy Geithner (NYT)

Simon Johnson writes that Geithner's support for keeping too-big-to-fail banks super-sized casts a deep shadow over his legacy, which will forever be that of the guy who somehow made the GOP look like champions of Main Street in comparison.

Obama's Second Act (HuffPo)

Robert Borosage argues that President Obama must seize his second term as an opportunity to develop a new vision of shared prosperity, which would if nothing else help to keep him too busy to get involved in anything Fox News can add a "-gate" after.

Can These New Federal Rules Rein in Foreclosure-Frenzied Banks? (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger looks at the CFPB's new rules for loan servicers, which include burdensome requirements like "make sure borrowers know what the hell they're agreeing to" or "don't foreclose on people while telling them how to avoid foreclosure."

JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon Offers Illusion of Transparency (Bloomberg)

Jonathan Weil notes that the official report on the London Whale debacle omits a few key details, like who was involved and why they were allowed so much leeway, due to the restrictions posed by UK law and by total disinterest in answering those questions.

JPMorgan's Board Uses a Pay Cut as a Message (NYT)

Jessica Silver-Greenberg writes that the board of JPMorgan intends to show the world who's boss by cutting Jamie Dimon's compensation to a mere $11.5 million for 2012. If he doesn't shape up, he might even lose his weekend pass to the unicorn stables.

Elected by 32 Donors, for 32 Donors (Prospect)

A new report from Demos and U.S. PIRG finds that the top 32 donors in the 2012 election cycle matched all donations made by the 3.7 million small donors who were silly enough to think $200 was actually a useful contribution without a few zeroes tacked on.

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Daily Digest - January 17: Save and Save Often

Jan 17, 2013Tim Price

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New Purpose of Government is Better Government (Bloomberg)

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New Purpose of Government is Better Government (Bloomberg)

Ezra Klein writes that when Republicans get tired of beating their heads against the walls of the welfare state, the scope of government's responsibilities will finally be settled. But don't worry; there will still be plenty of pointlessly convoluted methodology to argue about.

Here's What Happened the Last Time the U.S. Defaulted on Its Debt (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien notes that the market reacted badly in 1979 when the Treasury temporarily defaulted due to a word processor glitch. So how willing are we to stake the health of the economy on the chance that Microsoft Word won't crash? Clippy can't help us now.

States Gave Gunmakers $49 Million in Tax Breaks Over the Last Five Years (Think Progress)

Pat Garofalo writes that as the president begins his push for tougher federal gun control laws, states are reexamining their own support for the industry given the futility of trading tax cuts for jobs and the dubious honor of being the bullet-making capital of the U.S.

Banker pay is (finally) falling (WaPo)

Neil Irwin examines the trend toward reduced compensation on Wall Street, where banks may be twigging to the fact that recruiting the best and the brightest and handing them the keys to the universe is no guarantee that they won't just run it into a ditch.

The U.S. Gets Left Behind When It Comes to Working Women (Forbes)

NND Editor Bryce Covert notes that women's participation in the workforce has flatlined in the U.S. while other countries have jumped ahead thanks to policies that recognize having kids isn't some annoying employee habit like playing music too loud at your desk.

Are Walmart's Jobs for Vets Any Good? (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson writes that Walmart has gotten a lot of good press for pledging to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years, but given the low wages and poor working conditions such jobs entail, it's not entirely clear whether that's a promise or a threat.

As manufacturing bounces back from recession, unions are left behind (WaPo)

Jim Tankersley notes that while manufacturing jobs have indeed started coming back from the grave since 2009, these zombified positions lack the good pay and benefits that they carried with them in a past life, and that's one reason the recovery's still shambling.

Proposals to drug-test the unemployed gain momentum (Salon)

Natasha Lennard reports that ALEC-backed laws requiring drug testing for the recipients of unemployment benefits and even food stamps are gaining traction in many statehouses. Republicans get what they want, and they really want to get their hands on some urine.

Vacation Homes for the Rich, Courtesy of Uncle Sam (Prospect)

Abby Rapoport looks at a study that shows the U.S. spends $450 billion a year on real estate programs like the Mortgage Interest Deduction, which provides sorely needed relief to those on the market for a second house to visit when they get bored with their first.

Wall Street Journal Deeply Concerned About the Fate of Rich Single Moms (Slate)

Matthew Yglesias highlights an infographic that explains how the Obama tax increases will affect Americans from all walks of life, from a single mom struggling to keep herself in blazers on $260,000 a year to a family of six bringing in only $100,000 per capita.

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Daily Digest - January 16: I am Jack's Bad Budget Metaphor

Jan 16, 2013Tim Price

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Does America Need Jack Lew? (Harper's)

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Does America Need Jack Lew? (Harper's)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick explains his concerns about Lew at Treasury: he's hazy on what caused the financial crisis and overly concerned about budget deficits. In other words, he fits right in with the rest of the president's economic team.

Ruth Porat, Rumored Treasury No. 2, Lobbied Regulators for Morgan Stanley, a Lot (HuffPo)

Perhaps acknowledging Lew's admitted lack of experience in the world of finance, Mark Gongloff notes that President Obama may name him a deputy with a deep background in regulatory negotations. Only problem? She's usually on the wrong side of the table.

JPMorgan Chase Gambles Away $6B, Gets "Slap on the Wrist" (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger writes that after investigating the London Whale fiasco, the OCC and the Fed have issued their tough verdict: it's bad for banks to lose money and/or launder it for drug dealers and terrorists, so they should knock it off or else [consequences].

All the President's Resolve (Prospect)

Robert Kuttner argues that it's a good sign that President Obama appears to be stiffening his spine for the debt ceiling fight instead of bending over backwards to please the GOP, but if he wants to correct his posture, he should lean a little more toward the left.

Millennials and Guns (The Nation)

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network members Ryan Dahrouge and Jamira Burley write that Millennials are determined to end gun violence, but unlike some culture critics, they won't do it by erasing the word "gun" from that sentence. Read the full report here.

Race, Gun Control and Unintended Consequences (The Nation)

NND Editor Bryce Covert writes that fast action on gun control is better than the inertia we're all used to, but like guns themselves, we should focus on how the laws will be used, not just the possibly false sense of security that they provide.

The Eurozone Crisis Is Over, but the Eurozone Economy Is Worse Than Ever (Slate)

Matthew Yglesias notes that while many observers, including the European Central Bank itself, have decided that they can safely stop caring about the eurozone, things probably aren't going great if they're now judging their success relative to Latvia.

When Public Outperforms Private in Services (NYT)

Using BP as a particularly disastrous case study, Eduardo Porter argues that when deciding which services are best provided by the private sector, we should remember that "do this profitably" and "do this correctly" are two very different mission statements.

The troubling state of America's health (WaPo)

Katrina vanden Heuvel highlights a report that shows America is one sick country, and one of the leading causes of our illness is an inadequate safety net. So Congress wants to cut government health care, prolonging the bleeding until our humors are rebalanced.

For 'Party of Business,' Allegiances Are Shifting (NYT)

The GOP and big business used to be joined at the hip, but Jackie Calmes reports on a growing tension caused by up-and-coming Republicans who answer to no one but themselves and maybe their neighbor's talking dog who tells them not to raise the debt ceiling.

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Daily Digest - January 15: The Default Option

Jan 15, 2013Tim Price

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Obama to Republicans: You Have No Choice but to Raise the Debt Ceiling (Prospect)

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Obama to Republicans: You Have No Choice but to Raise the Debt Ceiling (Prospect)

Jamelle Bouie writes that President Obama used the final press conference of his first term to remind voters that he's the one who's just trying to pay the country's bills while Republicans are setting the checkbook on fire and giggling at the pretty colors.

Half of Republicans in Congress Are Apparently Cool With America Defaulting (MoJo)

Andy Kroll notes that reports suggest GOP leaders know a debt ceiling standoff is a bad idea, but they feel they need to let the rank and file have a go at it and find out for themselves, like when a child insists he wants spaghetti and chocolate syrup for dinner.

The President's Priorities Are Not in Order (Esquire)

Charles Pierce argues that while the president has polished up the pitch for his "balanced" approach to budgeting, voters have never bought what lawmakers are selling about deficits being the top economic priority. You can't buy groceries with deficit reduction.

The Debt Ceiling Is Scarier Than the Fiscal Cliff (WSJ)

Alan Blinder warns that allowing the U.S. to default would be unprecedented, but even tumbling over the fiscal cliff would be preferable to letting the economy be smashed against the debt ceiling. Only Congress could make going up worse than falling down.

If we hit the debt ceiling, can Obama choose which bills to pay? (WaPo)

Brad Plumer notes that Republicans insist that if we hit the debt ceiling, the Treasury can avoid default by prioritizing payments, like when you pay your rent before the cable bill. Except instead of missing an episode of Girls, you could tank global financial markets.

The 3 Percent Cut to Social Security: aka the Chained CPI (HuffPo)

Dean Baker writes that cutting Social Security benefits is a bad way to achieve deficit reduction, is so politically toxic that no one would actually campaign on it, and directly contradicts promises that were made to voters, so naturally, it's almost inevitable.

401(k) breaches undermining retirement security for millions (WaPo)

Michael Fletcher reports that while lawmakers whittle away at the public retirement programs all Americans rely on, workers are raiding their other savings to make ends meet. But now that they can never retire they'll never need those savings, so it's win-win, right?

The Foreclosure Fiasco (NYT)

Joe Nocera argues that the latest $8.5 billion foreclosure settlement is another pointless P.R. exercise that solves nothing and helps no one, which seems a bit counterproductive given that all these settlements tend to do is generate terrible P.R. for everyone involved.

Foreclosure Review Insiders Portray Massive Failure, Doomed From The Start (HuffPo)

Ben Hallman and Eleazar David Melendez go behind the scenes of the Independent Foreclosure Review, which turned out to be not very independent and less of a review than a guessing game for which bank managers got to create their own answer key.

Bold new conservative ideas still mostly involve screwing the poor (Salon)

Alex Pareene checks in on the GOP's efforts to rebrand itself as the party of fresh thinking and innovative policy solutions, which so far involves raising sales taxes and advocating for missile defense systems. Keep at it, guys. Please don't let us disturb you.

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