Daily Digest - August 10: Looking for Trouble in All the Wrong Places

Aug 10, 2012Tim Price

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Joseph Stiglitz: 'This Deficit Fetishism is Killing the Economy' (AP)

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Joseph Stiglitz: 'This Deficit Fetishism is Killing the Economy' (AP)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that soaring inequality is America's greatest challenge and that all the oxygen our policymakers are wasting on austerity debates is destroying brain cells they should be using to fix the economy.

The U.S. economy gets a dash of good news for a change (WaPo)

Brad Plumer notes that after a few months of economic news that was only upbeat for antidepressant manufacturers, improved labor and housing markets and a narrowing trade gap suggest the second half of 2012 may not be the end of the world after all.

It's the Economy, Not the Uncertainty, Stupid (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien points out that while uncertainy is indeed a bummer, the biggest factor holding back investment seems to be not that Barack Obama wants to give everyone health insurance but that the entire global economy is in shambles at the moment.

Obama Channels Reagan on Welfare (Jacobin)

Josh Eidelson writes that instead of arguing for a stronger safety net, the Obama campaign is engaging in a round of "who's tougher on those lazy welfare queens?" Certainly not Romney, who wants to give them free cars to go pick up their flat-screen TVs in.

Bill Keller and Third Way's misinformed and ironic baby boomer bashing (EPI)

Ethan Pollack agrees with Keller and Third Way's argument that America needs more public investment. All that's missing from their theory that entitlement spending is what's holding us back is evidence and a coherent plan to address the problem.

Americans need to face the harsh truth and pay more tax (FT)

Jared Bernstein notes that our tax debate now involves two parties that both want to cut taxes arguing about who should pay less. And while that may be what voters want to hear, it's not what they need to hear if we want to restore sane fiscal policy.

Obama, Not Reid, Should Be Taking on Mitt Romney's Tax Record (Rolling Stone)

Matt Taibbi argues that instead of taunting Romney about the returns he won't release, Obama should highlight how ridiculous it is that he got away with paying less than a 14 percent effective rate on the ones he has. But that would give Wall Street a sad.

Regulator Shines a Spotlight on a Bank, and on Himself (NYT)

Jessica Silver-Greenberg notes that Benjamin Lawsky's decision to go after Standard Chartered has drawn both praise and criticism, since any regulator cracking down on a bank for egregious violations of the law is now considered inherently suspicious.

Groups' Campaign Spending Scrutinized in New York (NYT)

Speaking of public officials who have very uncivilly opted to do their jobs, Nicholas Confessore reports that Eric Schneiderman is escalating his investigation into shady tax-exempt political groups while the IRS continues to act mildly interested.

250 Years of Campaigns, Cash, and Corruption (MoJo)

Asawin Suebsaeng, Andy Kroll, and Aaron Ross present a visual guide to the history of campaign finance to demonstrate that influence in American politics has been all about the Benjamins ever since the days when it was literally about Benjamin Franklin.

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Daily Digest - August 9: Running Against the Facts

Aug 9, 2012Tim Price

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The Romney campaign says stimulus doesn't work. Here are the studies they left out. (WaPo)

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The Romney campaign says stimulus doesn't work. Here are the studies they left out. (WaPo)

Mitt Romney's economic advisers claim that Barack Obama's stimulus policies have failed and hurt the economy, and after a thorough review of the literature, Dylan Matthews finds the evidence is on their side as long as you ignore pretty much all of it.

Romney and his fictional Obama (WaPo)

E.J. Dionne writes that instead of taking on the real president and his record on health care and welfare, Romney has created a stand-in using edited soundbytes and some stuff he just made up. Now he just has to hope he can beat his own practice dummy.

The Real Problem With Welfare: It Stopped Helping the Poor (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissman notes that instead of worrying that some states will be granted waivers to tinker with welfare, we should be concerned that what was once a safety net for struggling families has become an electrified fence built to keep them away.

August Isn't So Stupid This Year (Slate)

Dave Weigel argues that while talk of welfare waivers and Romney's tax returns may be tiresome, on some level we're debating real policy issues rather than such pressing summer 2008 questions as whether Obama was more popular than Paris Hilton.

The Olympic-Sized Cost of Putting Kids Through Sports (Forbes)

NND Editor Bryce Covert writes that the financial struggles of some of America's Olympic champions show that with many families finding it harder to afford the basics, it's tough to fit swimming leotards or pommel horse lessons into a household budget.

How to Regulate High-Frequency Trading: Tiny Tax Would Make a Big Difference (NYT)

Dean Baker notes that in the panic over Knight Capital's rogue trading program, few have asked whether we'd even want it working properly. He suggests a speculation tax to slow things down and maybe help us puny flesh creatures make some money.

U.S. Needs to Be Much More Forgiving on Home Loans (Bloomberg)

Clive Crook argues that the housing market is where the Great Recession started and it's where we could finally end it, but only if officials like Ed DeMarco realize that tossing underwater homeowners a life line is better than letting them drown on principle.

With Rates Low, Banks Increase Mortgage Profit (NYT)

Peter Eavis writes that banks could be offering borrowers an even better deal than the one they're currently getting if they would settle for the profit margins of a few years ago, but it takes a lot of money coming in the door to feed a growing financial behemoth.

Making Bad Jobs Better: Lessons from Retail (Demos)

David Callahan highlights research that show retail employees who are treated well by their employers are likely to stick around and provide a better customer experience than the ones who feel like they're grinding their souls away until they can find better work.

How Secret Foreign Money Could Infiltrate US Elections (MoJo)

Shady millionaires and billionaires may be buying our elections, but at least they're our shady millionaires and billionaires, right? Well... As Andy Kroll notes, if they're donating their money through political nonprofits, that's not necessarily the case.

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Daily Digest - August 8: An Extremist in Sheep's Clothing

Aug 8, 2012Tim Price

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Romney's incredible extremes (WaPo)

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Romney's incredible extremes (WaPo)

Katrina vanden Heuvel argues that Romney has a key advantage despite his radical tax and spending plans: even if his critics' attacks are totally accurate, his proposals are so ridiculous that voters have a hard time believing they're not exaggerating.

Romney's Welfare Gambit (Washington Monthly)

Ed Kilgore notes that Romney's new effort to convince voters that President Obama is "gutting" welfare reform by issuing waivers that are built into the law is a bid to return the long-exiled dynasty of welfare queens to the throne of right-wing rhetoric.

How Mitt's Tax Returns Show His Character Defect (Daily Beast)

Michael Tomasky writes that Romney's refusal to quash Harry Reid's rumor-mongering by releasing more of his tax returns reflects his belief that rather than ask annoying questions, we should all just recognize his inherent superiority and vote for him.

If the economy's still weak, why are states cutting unemployment benefits? (WaPo)

Brad Plumer points out that extended unemployment benefits will end in all states by the end of this week thanks to a law designed to deal with a job market that was getting increasingly worse instead of one that merely remains consistently miserable.

Foreclosure Settlement Fails to Force Mortgage Companies to Improve (HuffPo)

Peter Goodman reports that although servicers agreed to clean up their act as part of the 50-state mortgage settlement, the whole system is still so chaotic that homeowners are being asked to produce documents to prove they can be foreclosed on.

In the Financial Industry, a Less Scrupulous Class of Lawbreaker (NYT)

Michael Powell notes that the concept of guilt doesn't apply on Wall Street the same way it does for petty criminals, since big banks seem to believe cooperation with authorities is only admirable when it lets them get back to skirting the law more quickly.

Accusations Against Bank on Iran Deals Surprised U.S. Regulators, Too (NYT)

Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Ben Protess write that other regulators feel Benjamin Lawsky jumped the gun with his order against a bank accused of laundering billions for Iran to support possible terrorist activities. After all, it might only have been millions.

Tax the Olympians (Slate)

Matthew Yglesias argues that it's a mistake for President Obama to support a special tax break for Olympic medalists, since income taxes are meant to collect revenue based on how much people earn rather than how awesome we think they are.

Art of War: How Republicans mastered voter suppression (TNR)

Timothy Noah looks at some of the tactics, ranging from voter ID laws and new registration requirements to plain old purging, that Republicans across the country are using in service of their belief that a win by disqualification is better than a loss.

Here a PAC, There a PAC -- Except Some Are Not So Super (WSJ)

Rachel Louise Ensign and Brody Mullins note that while Citizens United has led to a proliferation of powerful Super PACs, it's also given rise to many smaller groups that seek to address overlooked issues like the resale value of the Louisiana Purchase.

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Daily Digest - August 7: Thinking Small, From States to Soda

Aug 7, 2012Tim Price

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The massive policy gap between Obama and Romney (WaPo)

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The massive policy gap between Obama and Romney (WaPo)

Ezra Klein writes that it's tough to compare the candidates' plans when Obama has detailed proposals about all sorts of things while Romney insists that he'll fix everything, but like a birthday wish, he has to keep his policies secret for them to come true.

Cutbacks to Unemployment Insurance Came Long Before the Great Recession (The Nation)

NND Editor Bryce Covert argues that states claiming they've been forced to cut the safety net due to the hard choices imposed by the economic downturn could have avoided the problem by making some easy choices, like keeping it well-funded with taxes.

Measuring Mooching (NYT)

Nancy Folbre notes that the conservative definition of "moochers" has expanded to include even middle-class Americans who receive government benefits, but still conveniently leaves out freeloaders who make their fortune in the U.S. and shelter it overseas.

Beating Back the CEO Attack on Social Security and Medicare (HuffPo)

Dean Baker suggests that the best way to foil the plan to undermine America's most vital programs is to throw open the door to the smoke-filled back room where it's being crafted and let the people who are actually going to be affected by it have their say.

We Now Have Our Smallest Government in 45 Years (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissman notes that when compared to our population size, the American public sector has now shrunk to its smallest size since the waning days of LBJ's presidency. Start filling up that bathtub, boys, and don't worry about adding in the bubbles.

A Slowdown in Growth, an Increase in Income Inequality (NYT)

David Leonhardt looks at two reasons income has stagnated: a weak post-2001 recovery and the Great Recession beginning in 2007 have shrunk the size of the pie, and the richest households are devouring all but the crumbs at the bottom of the tin.

The Romney Tax Hike (Slate)

Matthew Yglesias argues that Romney has backed himself into a corner with a tax plan that would raise rates for the middle class, but in order to escape, he'd have to admit the GOP only cares about deficits when they can blame them on someone else.

In Weak Economy, an Opening to Court Votes of Single Women (NYT)

Shaila Dewan writes that traditionally Democratic single women are one of the most prized groups of potential swing voters this year, though the GOP is torn between appealing to their financial concerns and a burning desire to confiscate their birth control.

Emails Give Glimpse Into Deals That Fueled Financial Meltdown (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein look at e-mails that show how the banks and hedge fund Magnetar made $40 billion in deals that helped crash the economy. But what about context, like all the funny chain letters they were forwarding one another?

Downsizing Supersize (New Yorker)

James Surowiecki argues that while New Yorkers may not like being part of a social experiment with the large soda ban, we're already being tested by companies that expect us to buy a soda big enough to soak a baby in just because they're selling it.

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Daily Digest - August 6: This Time It's Impersonal

Aug 6, 2012Tim Price

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The Most Important Election Since 1932? (Commonweal)

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The Most Important Election Since 1932? (Commonweal)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick writes that after Obama's disappointments, Romney represents change you can believe in -- though with the recession, the shredded safety net, and the likely onset of war, you may wish you were dreaming.

Separate and Unequal (NYT)

Thomas Edsall writes that Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz's new book reinforces his status as the leading challenger to the economic orthodoxy and carries a hopeful-ish message: Everything is only terrible because we make it that way.

U.S. housing policy: "Absolutely insane" (Salon)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Matt Stoller notes that it's hard to tell if we're making progress with the mortgage crisis since we still don't have a single reliable measurement of foreclosures. Maybe officials just want it to be a surprise when they finally solve everything.

Why Washington Accepts Mass Unemployment (New York)

Jonathan Chait argues that it's easy for policymakers to downplay the jobs crisis because for them and their socioeconomic peers, it has about as much visceral impact as that first Star Wars prequel about tense trade negotiations between alien planets.

Five myths about the middle class (WaPo)

Rediscovering Government contributor Lane Kenworthy suggests that if we're going to have an election about the middle class, it would help if we all understood a few basic things about it, like the fact that not every single person in the country is part of it.

Police Protection, Please, for Municipal Bonds (NYT)

Gretchen Morgenson writes that with local governments' finances in tatters thanks to the muni market, the SEC should be treating the bond underwriters like pharmacists who neglected to tell their customers that they were buying poison instead of aspirin.

Cordray Goes to Congress (TAP)

Patrick Caldwell notes that Richard Cordray's congressional testimony about the CFPB's new regulation on mortgage forms turned into another opportunity for Republicans to express their anger that he has a job and, worse yet, the audacity to be doing it.

Frankenstein Takes Over Wall Street (NYT)

Joe Nocera worries that last week's Knight Capital robo-trading fiasco is more evidence that Wall Street has created a monster it can't control, and once it's taken vengeance on its creator, what chance do we puny humans have of standing up to it?

As Libor Fault-Finding Grows, It Is Now Every Bank for Itself (NYT)

Azam Ahmed and Ben Protess report that as regulators continue to ask tough questions about LIBOR, the banks are pointing fingers at each other for bad behavior. There may be no honor among thieves, but even they're like "Guys, have some dignity."

This Week in Poverty: 'Respect the Worker' (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann looks at a growing labor dispute in Milwaukee between Palermo's Pizza, purveyors of frozen cheese and tomato paste, and its employees, who are making all sorts of unreasonable demands, like being able to keep all 10 of their fingers.

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Daily Digest - August 3: Olympic Feats of Misdirection

Aug 3, 2012Tim Price

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Debt, Depression, DeMarco (NYT)

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Debt, Depression, DeMarco (NYT)

Paul Krugman writes that Edward DeMarco's refusal to implement the Obama administration's HAMP plan is another example of Republicans' commitment to the reverse-Rooseveltian economic policy of "try nothing" and "bold, persistent exasperation."

Nine takeaways on Romney's tax plan (WaPo)

Ezra Klein argues that Mitt Romney's clever plan to win over voters by refusing to tell them what he actually plans to do has hit a major stumbling block now that independent analysts are finding that what he plans to do is mathematically impossible.

Romney's "Recovery Plan" Could Bring On Another Recession (New Yorker)

John Cassidy notes that Romney's recovery plan would bring austerity to America's shores, but he'd have us believe it will succeed here despite failing everywhere else it's been tried. Maybe economists have failed to model the power of positive thinking.

Americans Want to Live in a Much More Equal Country (They Just Don't Realize It) (The Atlantic)

Dan Ariely shows that Americans of all stripes vastly underestimate U.S. inequality but would prefer a more equal distribution of wealth than exists in the real world or their imaginations. Sorry, Republicans; you're just a bunch of self-loathing hippies.

Special interests win in Senate panel's attempt at tax reform (WaPo)

Lori Montgomery reports that in an attempt to end superfluous tax breaks, the Senate couldn't resist preserving a few (or 55) of the bare essentials, like credits for electric bikes and Samoan StarKist. Pork-barrel spending, meet tuna can tax breaks.

Under Pressure, Biggest Banks Rely on 3 Myths (NYT)

Simon Johnson notes that in the midst of a cruel summer, banks are trying to take the heat off by claiming the costs of regulation outweigh the benefits and that their critics are the kind of wild-eyed populists who are always getting appointed to the Fed or FDIC.

No Big Boy Pants for Banks That Whine Over Rules (Bloomberg)

Susan Antilla writes that banks are attempting to slow the rule-making process to a halt by urging officials to consider whether the flutter of their regulatory butterfly wings could lead to an economic tornado. They'd prefer to skip straight to the tornado.

How the Poor, the Middle Class and the Rich Spend Their Money (NPR)

Jacob Goldstein and Lam Vo chart Americans' spending habits and find that everyone spends a lot on staples like housing and clothing, but while the rich save for college or retirement, the poor are busy making sure they don't starve in the dark.

Dissecting the Deficit (CBPP)

A CBPP analysis shows that the biggest drivers of the deficit are the Bush tax cuts, the wars in the Middle East, and the economic downturn. So obviously the fiscally responsible party is the one that started all of these and plans to continue them.

Romney's Olympic tax myth (Salon)

Alex Seitz-Wald notes the latest GOP attack on Obama: he wants to tax our Olympians up to $9,000 for their medals and prize money when they return home! How could he do that to poor Gabby Douglas? Luckily, the story is completely made up.

With additional research by Danielle Bella Ellison.

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Daily Digest - August 2: First They Came for My Putter

Aug 2, 2012Tim Price

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Who Would Gain in a Romney Tax Overhaul (NYT)

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Who Would Gain in a Romney Tax Overhaul (NYT)

Catherine Rampell highlights a new study that shows Mitt Romney's tax plan would close loopholes but cut taxes for anyone making over $200,000 while asking more from the 95 percent of us who have never written off a dressage horse on our 1040.

Top two percenters to Congress: Raise our taxes. Please. (WaPo)

Greg Sargent notes that a group of about 100 wealthy Americans have written to congressional leaders to demand fiscal sanity and a fairer tax deal, but since they're progressives, they're not trying to invent creative new definitions for "sane" and "fair."

The Federal Reserve Doesn't Want the Economy to Grow Faster (Slate)

Matthew Yglesias recaps the report from the latest FOMC meeting: Everything is terrible, worse than expected even, and their current policy response is failing even by their own criteria, so they're going to stick with it and see what happens. The end.

The Dinged-Up, Broken Down, Fender-Bended Economic Recovery Plan (NYT)

Adam Davidson notes that the nature of the auto industry means it has to base its current plans on its expectations for 2015, and the bet it's making is that the recovery won't stall by then, but the clunker you've been driving for the last 11 years will.

Memo to Corporate America: More Women Leaders Means a Better Bottom Line (Forbes)

NND Editor Bryce Covert writes that research shows that letting more women into the clubhouse improves corporate performance, but we should remember that's because it helps to have a deeper pool of talent, not because they have magic lady powers.

Flood of Errant Trades Is a Black Eye for Wall Street (NYT)

Nathaniel Popper notes that a rogue stock trading program sent a shock through the market yesterday morning by making millions of trades, renewing fears that existing regulations may not cut it when HAL 9000 snaps and starts singing "Daisy Bell."

Underwater homeowners face a tax time bomb (Salon)

David Dayen warns that if the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act is allowed to expire on December 31st, it will leave struggling homeowners owing billions to the IRS and bring principal reductions and other relief to a screeching halt. Happy New Year.

Jobless generation puts brakes on US (FT)

Shannon Bond writes that the future of the economy depends on a generation of young Americans who have been taught that if you work hard and get good grades, one day you can have hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and no way to pay it off.

Goldman to Invest in City Jail Program, Profiting if Recidivism Falls Sharply (NYT)

David Chen reports that Goldman Sachs is contributing $10 million to New York's new test case for social impact bonds, which will pay out if Rikers Island produces fewer repeat offenders. Why not volunteer some colleagues as test subjects while they're at it?

Paul Krugman, Ted Cruz, and the Rage of the Golfing Class (TNR)

It might seem a little crazy that the Texas GOP has a Senate candidate who thinks the UN and George Soros are plotting to destroy golf courses, but Timothy Noah notes that it's a hot-button issue among those who have nothing better to worry about.

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Daily Digest - August 1: He's a 21st Century Man, But He Don't Want to Be Here

Aug 1, 2012Tim Price

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Mitt Romney's 20th-century worldview (WaPo)

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Mitt Romney's 20th-century worldview (WaPo)

Katrina vanden Heuvel argues that in addition to his retrograde domestic policies, Romney's gaffetastic world tour shows that, like George W. Bush, he's of the mindset that America can be judged not just by the quality but the quantity of its enemies.

Obama: Not Like You or Me (TAP)

Paul Waldman writes that directly emphasizing race would be far too uncouth for Romney, but basing his campaign around "you didn't build that" allows him to imply that Obama is some sort of foreign infiltrator without hissing the name "Hussein."

Leaders Reach Tentative Deal on Spending to Avoid Fight Before Election Day (NYT)

Not wanting to let a budget showdown interfere with an election that's mostly been about out-of-context quotes, leaders have struck a deal to keep the government running through March. But that doesn't mean the GOP won't vote against it anyway.

Why is Ed DeMarco stopping mortgage refinancing? (WaPo)

In light of the news that the Acting Director of FHFA has rejected the administration's plan to let Fannie and Freddie borrowers take part in HAMP, Dylan Matthews explains how a civil servant got quite so big for his britches and why it's tough to get him out of them.

Hopeless Unemployment (Project Syndicate)

Brad DeLong warns that if we don't learn from the Great Depression, in which the economy entered a suicidal demand-side spiral that led to major structural unemployment, the long-term unemployed will take all the hints they're getting and give up.

How Our 'Growth' Obsession Drives Inequity, and May Kill Us All (ColorLines)

Imara Jones writes that basing our vision of prosperity on Gross Domestic Product leads us to treat natural and human resources as endless and therefore disposible. But sooner rather than later, we're going to run out of planet and people to exploit.

Feel the Burn: Making the 2012 Heat Wave Matter (The Nation)

Mark Hertsgaard argues that although both presidential candidates have been silent on the issue of climate change, little issues like the fact that 97 percent of Greenland just melted should motivate us to declare that it is, in fact, hot enough for us.

The Fed Should Stop Paying Banks Not to Lend (NYT)

Bruce Bartlett writes that as the Fed debates yet another round of quantitative easing, it should consider more inventive approaches, like giving banks a penalty rather than a bonus for sitting on $1.5 trillion in reserves like it's an egg that's going to hatch.

Companies With Women on Their Boards Perform Better (Slate)

Matthew Yglesias notes that while there's no clear definition of what makes for an effective corporate board, it's traditionally been assumed that a gentleman's frat party is the way to go. As in most cases, the available evidence suggests otherwise.

The Larger Question About Romney's Taxes: Why? (TNR)

As new rumors emerge about Romney's dodgy tax history, Alec MacGillis writes that one question that confounds liberals is why he didn't cover his tracks better. But the answer may be staring us in the face: this guy really, really likes making money.

With additional research by Danielle Bella Ellison.

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Daily Digest - July 31: Heads They Win, Tails We Lose

Jul 31, 2012Tim Price

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Fussbudget: How Paul Ryan captured the G.O.P. (New Yorker)

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Fussbudget: How Paul Ryan captured the G.O.P. (New Yorker)

Ryan Lizza profiles the young Wisconsite on the House Budget Committee who became the de facto leader of the Republican Party by convincing them they had to lay out their own vision, no matter how scary it looks when you actually write it all down.

The Republicans' Medicaid Cruelty (NYRB)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick argues that Republican governors' rejection of a Medicaid expansion in states where low-income Americans are most in need shows that America has developed a mean streak to go with its stars and stripes.

As 'fiscal cliff' looms, debate over pre-Election Day layoff notices heats up (WaPo)

While budget negotiations remain stalled, President Obama and congressional Republicans are already arguing over who's most responsible for tens of thousands of potential layoffs by government contractors. Guys, there's no need to fight. You all win.

Will Women Get Pushed Off the Fiscal Cliff? (The Nation)

NND Editor Bryce Covert notes that although defense cuts have received the most attention, automatic cuts to programs like Head Start and family assistance mean that women may face the steepest dive from the looming peaks of Mt. Sequestration.

The CEO Plan to Steal Your Social Security and Medicare (HuffPo)

Do you ever get tired of living in a democracy and wish there was a cabal of wealthy business executives devising a plan to slash the social safety net no matter what kind of policy voters endorse in this election? If so, Dean Baker has some good news for you.

Municipal bankruptcy: The lessons of California (LA Times)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellows Tom Ferguson and Rob Johnson write that California is hardly the only state facing a fiscal crunch, but it is the most thoroughly rigged for disaster, and banks were more than happy to light the fuse by toying with muni bonds.

An Intriguing Idea to Encourage Bank Lending (WSJ)

Alan Blinder looks at the Bank of England's new plan to encourage lending by lowering banks' funding costs and how, with a few Fed-specific tweaks, it could be the biggest thing to cross the pond since... hmm, let's say The Office, before it got stupid.

It's D-Day for the Post Office (NYT)

Joe Nocera notes that the Postal Service is set to default tomorrow on a scheduled payment of $5.5 billion to pre-fund benefits for future retirees, a problem entirely of Congress's own making despite legislators' "stop hitting yourself!" approach to solving it.

Those Guys? Never Seen 'Em Before. (TNR)

Alec MacGillis unravels the narrative thread that says Republicans are the party of the little guy (who just so happens to have a really huge bank account) while Democrats are simultaneously champions of socialism and proponents of crony capitalism.

America Has the World's Luckiest Billionaires (MoJo)

Josh Harkinson presents a series of charts that illustrate why, despite their griping, America's uber-rich get the sweetest deal of any country where they're highly concentrated, plus the added convenience of not having to hide in Singapore to shelter their money.

With additional research by Danielle Bella Ellison.

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Daily Digest - July 30: Oh, Now You're Sorry

Jul 30, 2012Tim Price

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A Big Banker's Belated Apology (NYT)

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A Big Banker's Belated Apology (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick notes that while Sandy Weill says big banks should be broken up now that he's out of the game, he still insists deregulation was a good idea at the time. And it was, but only for the Sandy Weill Retirement Fund.

The Terrible Economy and the Anti-Election of 2012 (Robert Reich)

Reich writes that instead of laying out the bold economic agenda we need, both candidates are tearing each other down. But can the president claim a policy mandate if he wins reelection with the slogan "Obama '12: Because You Have to Vote for One of Us"?

Mitt Romney and the go-for-broke election (WaPo)

E.J. Dionne argues that Republicans are hammering Obama's out-of-context quote about small businesses because redefining moderate liberalism as radical socialism is the only way to make the far right's extreme ideas look like The New Reasonable.

Obama's Second-Term Agenda: Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and/or Medicaid (Naked Capitalism)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Matt Stoller warns that defeating Mitt Romney won't be enough to protect the social safety net if the reelected Barack Obama follows the grand Democratic tradition of trying to undermine the Democratic Party's greatest achievements.

Crash of the Bumblebee (NYT)

Paul Krugman notes that Mario Draghi's commitment to saving the euro and crafting dubious analogies has reassured investors for now, but acknowledging that the euro zone is a weird freak of nature that shouldn't work is a lot easier than explaining how it can.

Poverty in America: Why Can't We End It? (NYT)

Peter Edelman writes that we aren't going to make headway in the war on poverty until the middle class recognizes that the top 1 percent aren't waiting at the top of the economic ladder to congratulate them, but to grease the rungs and laugh when they fall.

TANF, VAWA and Playing Politics with the Lives of Low-Income People (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann notes that Republicans have suddenly become skeptics of turning more power over to the states when it involves allowing them to administer welfare benefits in a way that values effectiveness over making poor people's lives more difficult.

‘Big Government’ Isn’t So Big by Historical Standards. It’s Also Shrinking. (NYT)

Catherine Rampell points out that while Republicans are convinced that the growth of the federal government is out of control under Obama, he's actually been shrinking it down to a nice, bathtubbable size for them compared to socialists like Ronald Reagan.

Killing a Fly With a Bazooka (NYT)

Thomas Edsall argues that Republicans who don't care about the "collateral damage" of voting restrictions that prevent fraud that doesn't exist must also be unconcerned about damaging their credibility by winning elections only they get to participate in.

Olympinomics (Slate)

Matthew Yglesias writes that despite David Cameron's attempts to justify spending billions on the Olympics, the results have historically been a mixed bag. And once the games end, you're going to be staring at that International Horse Arena for a while.

With additional research by Danielle Bella Ellison.

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