Daily Digest - February 19: America Immobilized

Feb 19, 2013Tim Price

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Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth (NYT)

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Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz writes that the poor-but-economically-mobile girl described in President Obama's State of the Union address is as much an American icon as Uncle Sam, but they're both from the fictional side of the family.

Raise That Wage (NYT)

With a nudge from analysts like Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal, Paul Krugman concludes that raising the minimum wage is good economics, good politics, and a good thing for workers -- also known as the top three reasons the GOP will oppose it.

Pretty Words, Dismal Economics (Prospect)

Robert Kuttner argues that while the State of the Union laid out a strong progressive agenda, the Budget Control Act and the president's fretting about how much his plans will cost could undermine him. He's the guy who slows down the whole check-out line.

Scarborough and Friends Trying to Make 'Debt Deniers' Happen (NY Mag)

Jonathan Chait updates us on Joe Scarborough's ongoing crusade to prove he understands the economy better than Nobel-winning economists because he has strong morals and also a talk show and all his friends agree with him on his show so shut up.

Why aren't more countries run by economists? (WaPo)

Brad Plumer highlights a new paper that finds most countries don't put trained economists in charge unless they're in the middle of a crisis, though anyone familiar with economists probably understands why it's best not to leave them unsupervised for too long.

The Myth of the Rich Who Flee From Taxes (NYT)

James B. Stewart notes that the idea that raising taxes will cause a mass exodus of millionaires to more friendly climes just isn't supported by the evidence, much as we might be tempted to set fiscal policy according to how it makes random pro golfers feel.

Wall Street wins again? Not so fast. (WaPo)

The Residential Mortgage Backed Securities working group just celebrated one full year of accomplishing nothing. But Katrina vanden Heuvel argues that instead of congratulating ourselves for calling it, we should figure out how to make year two less of a farce.

The Second-Mortgage Shell Game (NYT)

Elizabeth M. Lynch notes that the terms of settlements with banks have allowed them to write off second mortgages while keeping troubled primary mortgages intact, which is about as helpful as pouring someone a glass of water while their house is burning down.

A Valuable U.S. Export: Banking Regulations (Bloomberg)

Simon Johnson writes that while Europe has begun to back down from promised reforms in the hope that happier banks will lend more, American policymakers are warming to the idea of tougher regulations, even if some just like to look at France and do the opposite.

Signed, Sealed, Deposited (Pacific Standard)

David Dayen argues that allowing the Postal Service to offer simple banking services again would help put it back in the black and give the unbanked access to the financial system. Probably still not a good idea to send around envelopes full of cash, though.

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Daily Digest - February 15: Don't Be Afraid of the Minimum Wage

Feb 15, 2013Tim Price

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Minimum Wage 101 (Prospect)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal talks to minimum wage scholar Arindrajit Dube about why President Obama's new proposal to set the federal minimum to $9 an hour will help raise wages and increase job stability -- except for minimum wage scholars.

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Minimum Wage 101 (Prospect)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal talks to minimum wage scholar Arindrajit Dube about why President Obama's new proposal to set the federal minimum to $9 an hour will help raise wages and increase job stability -- except for minimum wage scholars.

Why the Minimum Wage Is a Woman's Issue, in Three Charts (Think Progress)

Annie-Rose Strasser writes that a report shows women comprise 64 percent of minimum wage earners, and over 17 million -- and their families -- would benefit from an increase. Inform the generals leading the war on women that it's time for a strategic redeployment.

What Labor Can Learn from the Obama Campaign (The Nation)

Suresh Naidu and Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren argue labor should take a cue from the "big data" and microtargeting techniques that mobilized Obama supporters. Don't be freaked out if your union leader starts e-mailing you dinner invitations with subjects like "hey."

Rubio and the Zombies (NYT)

Paul Krugman notes that Marco Rubio's State of the Union response rehashed thoroughly discredited right-wing claims about the government causing the financial crisis and crowding out private investment. And those were actually the less embarrassing parts of the speech.

There are now four big plans to stop the sequester (WaPo)

Brad Plumer explains the details of the Senate Democrats' new plan, the House Republicans' old plan, the House Democrats' current plan, and President Obama's non-specific plan, all of which are still worse than if they'd never manufactured this debacle in the first place.

Clint Eastwood and Barney Frank Attack the Pentagon (Bloomberg)

It's not just the premise for the greatest buddy duo action-comedy of all time. Ezra Klein points out that both Frank and the Man with No Name are skeptical of defense spending, and if those two can find common ground, it shouldn't be that hard for everyone else.

Big Corporations Put Up Seed Funding for Republican Dark Money Group (ProPublica)

At some point we've all wondered, what exactly do corporations do with all that money they're not paying their workers? According to Justin Elliott, one thing they do is donate a million dollars to shady Republican nonprofits like the State Government Leadership Foundation.

Elizabeth Warren Embarrasses Hapless Bank Regulators at First Hearing (HuffPo)

Ryan Grim notes that Senator Warren posed some tough questions about why financial fraudsters have escaped prosecution at yesterday's Banking Committee hearing. But hey, a lot of people didn't want her leading the CFPB, and they got their wish. God help them.

Gangster Banksters: Too Big to Jail (Rolling Stone)

We've pretty firmly established at this point that no one's going to jail for causing the near-collapse of the global economy, but what other crimes can banks get away with? How about money-laundering for drug dealers and terrorists? As Matt Taibbi writes, that's a big yes.

Your New Landlord Works on Wall Street (TNR)

David Dayen writes that the latest housing recovery lookalike is largely the result of banks and hedge funds buying up properties and converting them into rentals for eventual resale. They must have gotten tips on some great real estate they helped kick the old owners out of.

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Daily Digest - February 14: How Rubio Got It All Wrong

Feb 13, 2013Tim Price

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No, Marco Rubio, government did not cause the housing crisis (WaPo)

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No, Marco Rubio, government did not cause the housing crisis (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal argues that Marco Rubio's State of the Union response had problems that even a bigger bottle of Poland Spring couldn't have fixed, like how it blamed the housing bubble on the government extending credit to poor people.

Yes, President Obama: Working Families Desperately Need Access to Preschool -- And Childcare (Forbes)

NND Editor Bryce Covert notes that while the president's surprising call for universal pre-K is great news for children who will benefit from early education, it would also help working parents whose office culture frowns on carrying their kids around in a papoose.

Details Emerge on Obama's Call to Extend Preschool (NYT)

Motoko Rich reports that the president's plan would expand the Head Start program and provide federal matching dollars to states to create more public preschool slots, though critics argue the money could be wasted. Hmm, better give it to a rich adult instead.

The Economics Behind Obama's Unapologetically Liberal Second-Term Agenda (The Atlantic)

Heather Boushey writes that President Obama's proposals for investing in the middle class might sound like blatant pandering to progressives, but the upside is that the research shows that the things progressives want are also just smart things to do.

Obama embraces the audacity of freedom (WaPo)

E.J. Dionne writes that the Obama who spoke on Tuesday night seems more confident in challenging conservative ideology now that he's been reelected, but he's obviously still interested in building a majority consensus, not seizing the means of production.

Raise the Minimum Wage! (TNR)

Timothy Noah is pleased to hear the words "minimum wage" escape President Obama's lips for the first time since 2008, but less enthused about the "$9 an hour" part. As long as we're raising the floor on wages, why not do the same for our ambitions?

Growth isn't enough to help the middle class (WaPo)

Jim Tankersley writes that proposals from both parties are grounded in the idea that economic growth will lead to broadly shared prosperity, but the last few recoveries haven't brought many good jobs with them. Maybe it's time for us to get that growth checked.

Small Businesses Still Struggle, and That's Impeding a Recovery (NYT)

Catherine Rampell writes that small businesses continue to struggle with weak sales and limited access to credit, although they're increasingly likely to complain about new taxes and regulations the White House would be surprised to learn it has passed.

Bushonomics Is Back (Slate)

Matthew Yglesias argues that Rubio, like Bobby Jindal, is trying to reposition the GOP to deemphasize Paul Ryan's relentless austerity and embrace the legacy of their prodigal president, George W. Bush, who just wanted to cut taxes and paint his feelings.

Valentine's Day and the Economics of Love (Bloomberg)

Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers write that survey data shows that money does seem to buy a little more love for those who have it, but there's plenty to go around even in relatively impoverished parts of the world. And lucky for us, it's a renewable resource.

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Daily Digest - February 13: Opportunity's Knocking. It Wants Back In.

Feb 13, 2013Tim Price

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In State of the Union, Obama calls for new paths to the middle class (WaPo)

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In State of the Union, Obama calls for new paths to the middle class (WaPo)

Zachary Goldfarb writes that the focus of President Obama's economic proposals in last night's speech was on addressing inequality of opportunity, so that everyone who works hard has the ability to climb the ladder instead of rappelling downward on a frayed rope.

In an Age of Spending Cuts, Making the Case for Government (NYT)

Richard Stevenson notes that Obama broke with conventional wisdom by suggesting the government has responsibilities other than shrinking itself, though he doesn't want to spend an extra dime. How about two nickels? Can we get 10 pennies on the bargaining table?

The Most Important Chart About the Deficit You'll Ever See (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien argues that the people who actually care about bringing down the long-term deficit are the ones who want to make it bigger right now to create more jobs, since running out of money isn't nearly as big a concern as having no one making any.

Obama Urges Minimum Wage Increase and First-Ever Indexing (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson highlights one of the most ambitious policies advanced last night, Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour and tie it to the cost of living. It's welcome news to unions, who, according to the prepared text of the speech, do not exist.

The Complexities of Obama's Universal Pre-Kindergarten Plan (TNR)

Jonathan Cohn takes a closer look at last night's other big idea: making preschool available and affordable for all children, helping to develop their minds and implant the trigger words their liberal professors will one day use to indoctrinate them. Oh, I've said too much.

In Shovels, a Remedy for Jobs and Growth (NYT)

Eduardo Porter writes that failing to invest in our crumbling infrastructure is irresponsible and economically costly, even if merely whispering the word "stimulus" is enough to make some conservatives run and hide under their beds until the danger has passed.

The collateral damage of cutting postal service (WaPo)

Katrina vanden Heuvel argues that the USPS's current fiscal crisis is the result of the GOP once again "fixing" what wasn't broke by requiring it to prefund its retirement benefits. Can't have a vital public service operating in the black, so better tell it to bankrupt itself.

How to Include Domestic Workers in Immigration Reform (The Nation)

NND Editor Bryce Covert looks at a new report from IWPR that suggests ways to fully integrate domestic workers into immigration reform, since those who care for our homes and loved ones deserve as much recognition as people who are really good at calculus.

Fix the Debt and a Wall Street Sales Tax (HuffPo)

Dean Baker notes that for a bunch of guys who claim to be terribly concerned about America's fiscal health, it's odd that Fix the Debt doesn't support a financial transactions tax to help raise revenue and rein in speculation. Odd, and yet absolutely predictable.

Big Banks Are Told to Review Their Own Foreclosures (NYT)

Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Ben Protess report that after the failure of the independent foreclosure reviews, regulators have put banks in charge of distributing settlement money to homeowners. Well, there's no way this can end in a multi-part exposé.

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Daily Digest - February 12: The Return of Investment

Feb 11, 2013Tim Price

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For Obama, State of the Union Means State of the People (Fiscal Times)

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For Obama, State of the Union Means State of the People (Fiscal Times)

Mark Thoma notes that while Eric Cantor says the GOP should be "talking about helping folks," President Obama is the one who's actually going to be laying out a plan to do that tonight, and the Republican response is unlikely to be "Yeah, what he said!"

Why We Need an Investment Budget (Robert Reich)

Reich argues that federal budget-makers should treat public investments differently than current spending, since the short-term cost of rebuilding a bridge is outweighed by the value of not having to caulk our cars or ford the river like we're playing Oregon Trail.

Is Congress really going to miss its free lunch on infrastructure? (WaPo)

Neil Irwin writes that we may be nearing the end of a window in which private construction is dormant and investors are practically paying the government to build, but the current Republican leadership only seems to know how to knock over the other kids' blocks.

A Bad Idea Returns: The Balanced-Budget Amendment (New Yorker)

John Cassidy writes that Republicans are once again lining up behind a constitutional amendment that would require the federal government to balance its budget every year, which might be a little less popular if it were called the Annual Recession Amendment.

Austerity's Unintended Consequences (Prospect)

Yannis Palaiologos notes that austerity seems to have stabilized the Eurozone for the moment, but there's economic turmoil and political upheaval ahead as leaders try to put the crisis behind them and get back to the business of comically corrupt government.

Increasing Social Security Benefits: An Idea Whose Time Has Come (Our Future)

Richard Eskow argues that with retirement security becoming an oxymoron as private benefit plans and investments fail to pay off, it's time to beef up the one program proven to work for everyone, not carve it up on the butcher's block of bipartisan compromise.

Regulation Not Holding Back Hiring (WSJ)

Michael Derby highlights new research from the San Francisco Federal Reserve that finds businesses are reluctant to hire because of lack of demand, not phantom government regulations. The Job Creators have spoken; let no mere mortal contradict them.

SEC Revolving Door Fuels Wall Street's Too Big To Fail Problem (HuffPo)

Zach Carter flags a report from the Project on Government Oversight that argues the steady migration of SEC officials into top corporate jobs is weaking enforcement and encouraging special treatment, kind of like if the mafia had recruiters at FBI headquarters.

The Government Whiffs, Again, on Mortgage Servicer Abuse (Washington Monthly)

David Dayen notes that the CFPB's new mortgage rules are a serious step toward preventing future abuses by loan originators, but it's the middlemen you really need to watch out for, and they're still getting paid in proportion to the human misery they create.

The Underpopulation Bomb (NYT)

Nancy Folbre writes that fearmongering about declining fertility rates and the graying of the population has become popular, but for all the concern about how having fewer babies will hurt the economy, there's little talk about incentivizing more baby production.

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Daily Digest - February 11: Speaking of Jobs

Feb 11, 2013Tim Price

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In State of the Union, Obama to return to jobs and the economy (WaPo)

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In State of the Union, Obama to return to jobs and the economy (WaPo)

Scott Wilson reports that the president's speech on Tuesday night will address the elephant in the room along with the several hundred smaller elephants who will sit in stony silence as he proposes measures to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

On the sequester, the only way to win is not to play (WaPo)

Jamelle Bouie notes that the Democrats' party line is that the sequester should be replaced with a smaller, more balanced package of spending cuts and tax increases, but the best answer is to release the hostages, not to agree to rough them up a little less.

Is the Fever Breaking? (TNR)

Jonathan Cohn writes that cracks are forming in the GOP's united front of opposition as they have second thoughts about slashing defense spending and turning down Medicaid funds. Though in some cases, it might be more accurate to call them "first thoughts."

Quietly Killing a Consumer Watchdog (NYT)

An editorial argues that the changes to the CFPB that Republicans are demanding before they'll allow Richard Cordray's nomination to go through are just another excuse for them to water down financial reform like they're tending bar at the worst dive in town.

Good news! The economy probably didn't shrink last quarter, after all (WaPo)

Brad Plumer notes that the Commerce Department's report that the U.S. trade deficit fell 21 percent in December suggests the economy is doing better than projected, which is to say it may be crawling forward on all fours rather than lying face-down in a ditch.

By Gender and by Age, an Unequal Recovery (NYT)

Floyd Norris writes that women, especially middle-aged women, have experienced a much weaker recovery than men, actually losing ground in their share of jobs for the first time in decades. If the so-called "End of Men" is upon us, we're really going out with a bang.

Liberal Arts Majors Didn't Kill the Economy (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien argues that there's no correlation between higher unemployment among college grads and the number of college students who are studying liberal arts, dad. So take pride in that English degree and don't give up hope for a close-reading boom.

A Growing Trend: Young, Liberal and Open to Big Government (NYT)

Sheryl Gay Stolberg visits Montana and profiles the young voters and activists who have been shaped by the Great Recession and the sheer diversity of their peers. For progressives wondering how to win the argument about government, the answer may be: wait.

Rings of Unemployment (NYT)

Catherine Rampell highlights research showing that four out of five Americans were either laid off themselves or have friends and relatives who were laid off during the last few years. The other one out of five don't have very many friends, for obvious reasons.

This Week in Poverty: Revealing the Real TANF (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann argues that the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program can only be counted as a bipartisan success if the goal was to minimize the amount of assistance those needy families get rather than the amount of assistance that they need.

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Daily Digest - February 8: The Vision Thing

Feb 7, 2013Tim Price

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A Millennial Vision for a Millennial America (The Nation)

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A Millennial Vision for a Millennial America (The Nation)

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network member Erik Lampmann explains how 1,000 young people came together to envision the government they want and the policies needed to create it. Now maybe they can give everyone else some pointers on how to do that.

Obama Channeling Reagan to Break Credo Government Is the Problem (Bloomberg)

Mike Dorning writes that President Obama, who's acknowledged Ronald Reagan as a transformative figure, may be presiding over another major shift in American politics, ushering in an era in which calling oneself a liberal is no longer treated like a criminal confession.

Kick That Can (NYT)

Paul Krugman argues that, contrary to what the Boehner Republicans would have us believe about the supposed fiscal crisis, the most responsible thing we can do about the debt right now is nothing at all -- at least if their idea of "something" is the alternative.

How Republicans Flipped on Sequestration (NY Mag)

Jonathan Chait notes that the GOP has made a remarkable turnaround, deciding that the defense cuts that would leave us exposed to the ravening hordes are no big deal and that the tax reforms that were the only acceptable revenue source won't raise any money.

U.K. Lesson: Austerity Leads to More Debt (New Yorker)

John Cassidy examines the painful slog that is the British economy under Chancellor George Osborne, who's implemented deep spending cuts that drove up unemployment and lowered tax revenues. Easily the worst idea to cross the Atlantic since Spice World.

Higher Payroll Tax Pinches Those With the Least to Spare (NYT)

Nelson Schwartz writes that the expiration of the payroll tax cut has forced consumers of limited means to cut back, even though the people whose taxes everyone in Washington was worried about raising would consider $20 out of their paycheck a rounding error.

Invisible Women: The Real History of Domestic Workers in America (MoJo)

Maggie Caldwell constructs a timeline to demonstrate that overlooking domestic workers in the current immigration talks is part of a long tradition of pretending our homes and loved ones are cared for by magic pixies who accept our happiness as their only reward.

More states consider welfare drug testing bills (MSNBC)

Morgan Whitaker notes that Republicans in Ohio, Virginia, and Kansas have now taken up the banner of mandatory drug testing for their states' welfare recipients, because you don't really deserve a basic standard of living unless you can prove it in a plastic cup. 

Bad credit ratings sinking job hunters (MoneyWatch)

Kathy Kristof writes that many people looking for work have to overcome not just the weak economy but their own bad (and possibly fictional) credit history, even though the best way for a potential employer to make sure they pay their bills on time is to offer them a job.

Want to be an ambassador in Paris? That'll be $1.1 million. (WaPo)

Brad Plumer notes that the more prestigious, low-stress ambassadorships tend to go to some of the president's richest friends, perhaps so that they don't accidentally start a war with France by using the wrong fork in the middle of an especially fancy state dinner.

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Daily Digest - February 7: When Will Washington Learn What We Already Know?

Feb 6, 2013Tim Price

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The Economic Challenge Ahead: More Jobs and Growth, Not Deficit Reduction (Robert Reich)

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The Economic Challenge Ahead: More Jobs and Growth, Not Deficit Reduction (Robert Reich)

Reich writes that deficit hawks are still getting to frame the debate in Washington, and they aren't interested in using that power to push for solutions to real problems like unemployment or even fake problems like the deficit they're supposed to be hawking.

CBO: Turns out austerity is bad for the economy (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff notes that a new report from the CBO shows that recent efforts to cut government spending and reduce the deficit have resulted in slower growth, an outcome that could only have been predicted by anyone who understands the concept of subtraction.

Postal Cuts Are Austerity on Steroids (The Nation)

John Nichols argues that forcing the U.S. Postal Service into a death spiral of spending and service cuts is both an assault on public services and a breach of constitutional responsibility. Rain and snow can't stop the mail from getting through, but Congress might.

How Effective Is the Safety Net? (CBPP)

Robert Greenstein writes, contra Kristof, that government assistance like food stamps and Medicaid has kept tens of millions of Americans out of poverty, but even with those programs to keep us from falling, we need a less rickety ladder to help us climb upward.

Wonder Warren (Prospect)

David Dayen notes that by helping to launch an investigation of the very inaccurately named Independent Foreclosure Reviews, Elizabeth Warren is turning the bright new spotlight that's been shined on her right back onto the darker corners of finance and regulation.

The .03% Solution (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisinger writes that as Europe presses ahead with a financial transaction tax, the U.S. should embrace it as a way to raise some much-needed revenue and dial high-frequency trading back down from its current "just mainlined a can of Four Loko" setting.

Emperors of Banking Have No Clothes (Bloomberg)

Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig argue that banks don't have much of a leg to stand on when they complain that tougher regulation would be too costly for them, especially when their alternative is for taxpayers to act as a combination trust fund and bail bondsmen.

Why the Government's Lawsuit Against Standard & Poor's Matters (Our Future)

Richard Eskow writes that taking S&P to court for its mortgage practices is a good idea not just because there's a mountain of evidence that the agency committed serious fraud, but because their overall job performance is barely worthy of a junk rating.

E-Mails Imply JPMorgan Knew Some Mortgage Deals Were Bad (NYT)

Jessica Silver-Greenberg notes that court documents from a suit against JPMorgan show that the bank and the firms it acquired during the financial crisis treated critical appraisals of their products as a rough first draft of the glowing reviews investors would read.

Stupid things traders say: The five most incriminating exchanges in the new Libor case (WaPo)

Danielle Douglas rounds up some choice quotes from the e-mail dump from the CTFC's Libor investigation, and look, guys, I don't want to tell you your business, but there must be a darkened parking garage somewhere you could be having these chats in person.

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Daily Digest - February 6: Cutting the Sequester Down to Size

Feb 5, 2013Tim Price

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Obama Urges Congress to Act to Stave Off Cuts (NYT)

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Obama Urges Congress to Act to Stave Off Cuts (NYT)

Michael Shear and Jackie Calmes report that the president wants Congress to pass a smaller package of cuts and tax increases to replace the sequester, hoping to take the edge off their desire to do something pointless and unproductive without going overboard.

Memo to Congress: To bring down the deficit, focus on jobs (WaPo)

Greg Sargent highlights a plan by the Congressional Progressive Caucus that would achieve over $3 trillion in balanced deficit reduction while investing in infrastructure and other stimulus. They're those nerds who got all their homework in on time and did the extra credit.

Susan Crawford for FCC chairman (WaPo)

With FCC chair Julius Genachowski expected to step down soon, Katrina vanden Heuvel writes that Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford would be the best pick to promote freedom of information and a competitive marketplace. No fair; we saw her first.

Twenty Years After the FMLA, Our Family Leave Policies Are Dragging Us Down (The Nation)

On the anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, NND Editor Bryce Covert looks at how many Americans still lack paid or unpaid leave and why it's hurting our standing relative to countries where employers don't just ride workers until the wheels fall off.

Are Immigrants Taking Your Job? A Primer (NYT)

Catherine Rampell notes that research shows immigrant and native-born workers are largely complementary rather than competitive, with immigrants taking jobs no one else wants or is qualified for. So the short answer is: No, but they might just give you one.

Grin and Abhor It: The Truth Behind 'Service with a Smile' (In These Times)

Sarah Jaffe expands on recent analyses of the rise of "emotional labor," pointing out that this kind of service industry performance art is also highly gendered, with women expected to serve as both a customer's waitress and his fake girlfriend for the evening.

Eric Cantor's Bold New Vision for America: No Medical Device Tax (TNR)

The House Majority Leader's big speech at AEI yesterday was supposed to unveil his new recipe for rebranding the Republican Party, but Alec MacGillis writes that most of the policy ideas it contained were either warmed over or undercooked and cold in the middle.

GOP Senators Obstructing the Consumer Protection Bureau Receive Loads of Wall Street Donations (Think Progress)

Pat Garofalo notes that the financial industry has donated a combined $143 million to the 43 Republicans who signed a letter promising to filibuster any CFPB director who'd be presiding over a functional agency. It's their own consumption they want to protect.

Tangle of Ties Binds SEC's Top Ranks (WSJ)

Jean Eaglesham and Jessica Holzer write that the SEC has trouble pursuing enforcement cases because its commissioners are so frequently forced to recuse themselves due to conflicts of interest. Sometimes you get your sleeve caught in the revolving door.

Currency Wars, What Are They Good For? Absolutely Ending Depressions (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien explains why a cascade of countries devaluing their currency would be good for the economy in the midst of a global depression, and what exactly that has to do with one senior Federal Reserve official hinting he enjoys wetting the bed.

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Daily Digest - February 5: FinReg's Blank Slate

Feb 4, 2013Tim Price

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What Would Jack Lew Do? (Prospect)

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What Would Jack Lew Do? (Prospect)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal writes that the next Treasury Secretary will be responsible for implementing financial reform and guiding it forward, but Obama's pick has no record on these issues, so we'll all get to experience the thrill of discovery together.

U.S. Accuses S.&P. of Fraud in Suit on Loan Bundles (NYT)

Andrew Ross Sorkin and Mary Williams Walsh report on the charges that S&P inflated its ratings for the mortgage bundles that sparked the financial crisis, which it denies. "We should have downgraded your credit more when we had the chance," S&P did not say.

Too Fast to Fail: Is High-Speed Trading the Next Wall Street Disaster? (MoJo)

Pundits have warned that the average American worker should fear the robot uprising, but the real danger might be on Wall Street, where Nick Baumann notes that computer algorithms could generate crises even more quickly and efficiently than their human counterparts.

The Trouble with Wall Street (TNR)

Michael Lewis argues that Greg Smith's account of life as a disgruntled Goldman Sachs employee accidentally gets at the truth about the culture of greed at oversized banks, and while we can't ask a tree to change its leaves, we can chop it up into firewood.

Fresh Questions Over a Bank of America Settlement (NYT)

Gretchen Morgenson writes that new documents suggest BofA's griping about its acquisition of Countrywide and the billions it set aside to settle mortage abuse claims hasn't stopped it from adopting some of Countrywide's best (read: worst) practices.

A Few Good (and Fair) Tax Hikes (The Nation)

Katrina vanden Heuvel writes that while congressional Republicans would rather hide under the table than put any more tax increases on it, the right mix of changes could provide better incentives, reduce inequality, and, you know, help pay for stuff we want.

Totally Unexpected Outrage Over the White House's Tardy Budget (Slate)

Dave Weigel notes that President Obama received his obligatory scolding from John "Brisk" Boehner and "Punctual" Paul Ryan for failing to submit a budget by yesterday's deadline, because the Do-Nothing Congress always makes sure nothing gets done on time.

Everybody's working for the... health care benefits (WaPo)

Sarah Kliff highlights a new survey that finds that most current workers base their retirement plans at least partly on their desire to keep the health insurance they receive through their employers, even if it doesn't cover the chronic condition of being sick of work.

Student loans: The next housing bubble (Salon)

Paul Campos warns that students are taking on as much debt as the average mortgage without even the bare minimum of safeguards built into the subprime mortgage fiasco, which mostly involved lenders taking off their rings before the mugging commenced.

'The Blackout Bowl,' or 'The Most Depressing Super Bowl Column You'll Read' (The Nation)

Dave Zirin writes that Sunday wasn't just a sad night for 49ers fans and anyone who had to go to work nursing a hangover the next day. The half-lit Superdome was also a perfect illustration of the unequal economy we've built in New Orleans and throughout the U.S.

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