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

Mar 27, 2013Tim Price

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The corporate 'predator state' (WaPo)

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The corporate 'predator state' (WaPo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Declining Wealth Brings a Rising Retirement Risk (NYT)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Daily Digest - March 26: How Millennials Make It Work

Mar 26, 2013Tim Price

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

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

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

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

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

Unlock Phones So People Can Use Public Airwaves (Bloomberg)

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

Controversy Over Contraception Misses the Economic Point (Forbes)

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

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

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

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

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

Battle of the Budgets (Prospect)

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

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

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

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Daily Digest - March 25: Banks Learned Their Lesson, Right?

Mar 25, 2013

Is it already time to weaken Dodd-Frank? (WaPo)

If you think that Wall Street doesn't do anything risky anymore and learned its lesson from the crisis, you might answer yes. But Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal has some evidence to convince you otherwise.

Cyprus: It’s not over yet (Reuters)

Is it already time to weaken Dodd-Frank? (WaPo)

If you think that Wall Street doesn't do anything risky anymore and learned its lesson from the crisis, you might answer yes. But Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal has some evidence to convince you otherwise.

Cyprus: It’s not over yet (Reuters)

Meanwhile, banks are still in need of bailouts across the pond. Felix Salmon argues that Cyprus's deal avoids some really bad problems like hitting uninsured depositors and exiting the euro, but the impact on the tiny country's GDP could still sink the whole thing.

Hot Money Blues (NYTimes)

Paul Krugman foresees not just a sea change in Cyprus's economy away from a safe haven for the wealthy avoiding taxes, but a global realization that letting rich people dump their money in certain countries and then pull it out at whim might make things a little unstable.

How Fed Policy Could Leave The Country At The Mercy Of Another Recession (ThinkProgress)

If you're only concerned with inflation, the Fed has been doing a great job, but if you think we have a slight problem with unemployment, the Fed could only get a B-. Worse, Jeff Spross writes that the obsession with inflation could depress job growth for years to come.

Good news for people who like bad news about inequality (WaPo)

The words "inequality" and "permanent" shouldn't be in the same sentence, but Ezra Klein highlights a new study that shows Americans have little ability to move up the economic ladder. I hear the cost of bootstraps has really skyrocketed.

Strike Debt Abolishes $1.1 Million of Medical Debt (The Nation)

Remember Occupy Wall Street, that group that wanted to do something about inequality? An offshoot has taken matters into its own hands by buying up cheap debt and... just forgiving it.

Tackling Concerns of Independent Workers (NYTimes)

In an era of declining unionism and increasing numbers of freelancers, Sara Horowitz has a new model for labor organizing that brings those workers together to support each other. If they can ever change out of their pajamas.

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Daily Digest - March 22: Wall Street Strikes Back

Mar 22, 2013Tim Price

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Financial Reform Is Being Dismantled. Why Doesn't President Obama Seem to Care? (TNR)

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Financial Reform Is Being Dismantled. Why Doesn't President Obama Seem to Care? (TNR)

Jeff Connaughton writes that while President Obama may want to put Dodd-Frank behind him and move on to other business, Dodd-Frank's opponents would also very much like to put it behind them, preferably inside the shallow grave they're busy digging for it.

Sneaky House Bill Would Gut Financial Reform (MoJo)

Case in point: Erika Eichelberger notes that the Swap Jurisdiction Certainty Act would let banks move their risky activities over to foreign subsidiaries to dodge U.S. regulations. Calling it the Wherever You Can Get Away With It Act was deemed too on-the-nose.

Millennial generation must play active role on HHS federal advisory committees (The Hill)

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow Rahul Rekhi makes the case for youth representation on the panels that will oversee implementation of Obamacare, especially since they may be nearing late middle age by the time it's all fully in place.

Selling the Store: Why Democrats Shouldn't Put Social Security and Medicare on the Table (Robert Reich)

Reich argues that if Democrats offer up the nation's most popular programs as a ritual sacrifice to the spirit of compromise, they'll be betraying one of the few things Americans still count on to make them more than just "Republicans, but apologetic about it."

Treasure Island Trauma (NYT)

Paul Krugman writes that what's unfolding in Cyprus is what happens when a tax shelter turns out to not be built up to code. But in order to avoid scaring off foreign money launderers, officials instead tried to punish domestic investors who fell for the ruse.

Is sequestration here to stay? (WaPo)

Suzy Khimm notes that the Continuing Resolution that passed both houses of Congress this week leaves the sequestration cuts in place, but it shifts funding around to make them less of a blow to the economy and more of a chloroform-soaked rag to its face.

Sequester threatens pile up of discrimination cases (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff writes that one consequence of sequestration is that labor regulators like the NLRB and the EEOC may have to furlough employees, adding to a backlog of cases. Still preferable to conservatives' desire to have them never show up for work again.

Report: Contraception is good for the economy, everything else (Salon)

Katie McDonough highlights a report that shows access to contraception helps women plan out their lives and careers better, since most people don't have a long enough lunch break to go bring a new life into the world and then pop back to the office.

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Daily Digest - March 21: The Farmer's Almanac of Financial Regulation

Mar 21, 2013Tim Price

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Day of Greed (Harper's)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick responds to critics who think it's an exaggeration for him to call the current era the Age of Greed by presenting a devastating collection of evidence: the morning business headlines from the Wall Street Journal.

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Day of Greed (Harper's)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick responds to critics who think it's an exaggeration for him to call the current era the Age of Greed by presenting a devastating collection of evidence: the morning business headlines from the Wall Street Journal.

Is JPMorgan a farmer? (Salon)

David Dayen explains how Wall Street wound up routing all its shadiest bits of business through the House Agriculture Committee, which most people probably wouldn't expect to have the power to gut Dodd-Frank's derivatives regulations. (Spoiler: It just did.)

A Tale of Two Economies (Colorlines)

Imara Jones writes that if you're not at the top of the economic ladder, above the altitude of little problems like wage stagnation, racial discrimination, or the complete breakdown of our governing institutions, recent news doesn't offer much cause for celebration.

What the looming debt ceiling fight (yes, another one) tells us (WaPo)

Jamelle Bouie notes that with the deadline for raising the debt limit approaching, House Republicans want entitlement cuts in exchange for their cooperation. They'll also want a helicopter fueled up and ready to go once the hostages are released unharmed.

Austerity for Everyone, Prosperity for None (U.S. News)

Pat Garofalo writes that George Osborne, Paul Ryan's counterpart in the U.K.'s Tory government, has presented another austerity budget to help put the "blight" back in Old Blighty. Plan B is to ask if they can maybe do the Olympics there again next year.

Women in Healthcare Suffer Abuse Inside and Outside the Home (The Nation)

NND Editor Bryce Covert writes that while women are dominating the growing domestic work and health care industries, workers in those fields also tend to suffer high rates of physical and emotional abuse and injury. Who nurses the nurses back to health?

Why the Trader Joe's Model Benefits Workers -- And the Bottom-Line (National Journal)

Sophie Quinton writes that low-cost retailers like Trader Joe's and Costco have found that paying their workers well results in increased profits, since customers have a better shopping experience when store employees aren't stone-faced and grunting.

Witness the GOP's Vanishing SKILLS Act (In These Times)

Mike Elk reports that Eric Cantor's grand plan to redefine the GOP as the party of jobs with his "Make Life Work" agenda got off to a great start as a bill to mush all federal jobs training programs into an undifferentiated lump barely cleared the House.

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Daily Digest - March 20: As Equal as We Want to Be

Mar 20, 2013Tim Price

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Singapore's Lessons for an Unequal America (NYT)

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Singapore's Lessons for an Unequal America (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz writes that despite a growing class divide in the U.S., other comparable nations have demonstrated that it's possible to combine social equity with strong economic growth. The key seems to be that you have to try.

In Cyprus, Europe Sets a New Standard for Stupidity (Bloomberg)

Clive Crook tries to decipher the logic behind the European Union's decision to work toward a unified banking system only to turn around and prove that it can't be trusted to insure anyone's bank deposits without taking the liberty of making its own withdrawals.

Lesson of JPMorgan's Whale Trade: Nothing Was Learned (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisinger argues that the Senate report on JPMorgan's London Whale fiasco and the subsequent cover-up shows that bankers are still up to the same old tricks that led to the financial crisis, and regulators are still happy to play the magician's assistant.

Progressives' budget merits a closer look (WaPo)

Katrina vanden Heuvel writes that the Congressional Progressive Caucus's budget, which contains ideas with strong popular support that could actually help the economy, deserves more media attention than a new edition of Paul Ryan's plan to avenge the makers.

Republicans Redefine "Left-Wing" as "Not Balancing the Budget Fast Enough" (Slate)

Dave Weigel notes that as part of the GOP's ongoing effort to message its way out of nonsensical policy positions, it's now claiming that proposing a budget with a slightly higher debt-to-GDP ratio is the start of a slippery slope toward seizing the means of production.

The economic plan to rob grandma's bread basket (Guardian)

Helaine Olen argues that switching Social Security to chained CPI would hurt retirees in general, who can't exactly shop around for a cheaper generic for hip surgery, and older women in particular, who'd be forced to go on a low-carb, low-everything-else-too diet.

This Week in Poverty: SEIU Hospital Workers Strike for Affordable Healthcare (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann highlights a strike by 700 hospital workers in Washington whose own health insurance has become so expensive that they can no longer afford care, which is kind of like working as a cook or a waiter in a restaurant while suffering from starvation.

Forty Years Behind on Sick-Leave Policy, But Catching Up (Prospect)

Sharon Lerner notes that there's mounting pressure for the U.S. to join most of the rest of the world by guaranteeing paid sick time, but the idea still faces powerful opposition, like business owners who must enjoy having employees cough on their lunch.

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Daily Digest - March 19: The Balancing Act

Mar 19, 2013Tim Price

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The Missing Right: A Constitutional Right to Vote (Democracy Journal)

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The Missing Right: A Constitutional Right to Vote (Democracy Journal)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellows Jonathan Soros and Mark Schmitt argue that we need a Right to Vote Amendment to focus the activist movement and help ensure that you can participate in our political system even if you don't have an "Inc." after your name.

Still true after 40 years: Voters prefer cuts in theory, spending in practice (WaPo)

Ezra Klein highlights a poll that shows Americans would like to balance the budget as long as it doesn't involve increasing taxes or making any specific spending cuts -- especially if those cuts affect critical government personnel like White House tour guides.

The Ryan Budget's Nearly $6 Trillion Revenue Hole (CBPP)

An analysis of the latest Ryan budget finds that it would slash taxes by $6 trillion with only a vague promise of "tax reform" to offset the cost, which means either he's lying about balancing the budget or anyone making under $200,000 is about to get mugged.

The Most Radical Proposals in the House Conservative Budget (Think Progress)

Aviva Shen notes that the Republican Study Committee has wedged itself into the narrow space to the right of Paul Ryan with a plan to balance the budget in just four years by going after the real drivers of our deficit: poor people, tax increases, and PBS.

The Worst Victims of the Education Sequester: Special-Needs Students and Poor Kids (The Atlantic)

Laura McKenna writes that sequestration's 5.1 percent cut to federal education funding means states will lose millions for programs ranging from Head Start and special ed to school lunches. If you're not even going to teach them, feeding them is right out.

Cyprus Bailout Incites Turmoil as Blame Flies (NYT)

James Kanter, Nicholas Kulish, and Andrew Higgins report that negotiators who planned to have Cyprus's bank depositors pay for part of its bailout have learned a hard lesson about the quality of ideas that you come up with because you want to go to bed.

Obama's Nominee for Labor Department Head Has Championed Domestic Workers' Rights (The Nation)

NND Editor Bryce Covert notes that Thomas Perez's record suggests domestic workers will have an ally at the Labor Department as they face key battles for equality and inclusion. Yet more damning evidence that the would-be Labor Secretary is pro-labor.

White House Urged to Fire a Housing Regulator (NYT)

Annie Lowrey writes that a group of state attorneys general led by Eric Schneiderman and Martha Coakley is calling on the president to finally replace acting FHFA director Edward DeMarco with someone who might actually want to improve housing policy.

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Daily Digest - March 18: Our Fiscal War of Choice

Mar 18, 2013Tim Price

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America's Latest Phony Fiscal Crisis (Bloomberg)

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America's Latest Phony Fiscal Crisis (Bloomberg)

Simon Johnson writes that America really is exceptional. Unsatisified with run-of-the-mill fiscal crises driven by factors like high interest rates and rampant inflation, we went out and invented our own model based primarily on obstinance and spite.

Grover Norquist's Last Laugh (Prospect)

Robert Kuttner argues President Obama shouldn't have settled for a tax increase on the top 1 percent instead of holding out for the repeal of the sequester, especially since anti-tax advocates are so upset by the deal that they can hardly stop smiling.

Do female bosses lead to better treatment for all women? (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal highlights research that shows women executives do help the rank and file, but once they make it, the usual response isn't "How do we get more women at the top?" but "Don't we already have one of those?"

More Work and No Play Puts Today's Moms in a Tough Bind (Forbes)

NND Editor Bryce Covert notes that a study finds men have stepped up their presence at home since the '60s (in that they no longer behave like visitors from out of town), but women still shoulder the burden of work whether they're at home or, well, work.

Marches of Folly (NYT)

Ten years after the invasion of Iraq, Paul Krugman looks back on how the U.S. was persuaded to act against its best interests by a deceitful and manipulative political elite and a compliant media. Thank goodness we all learned our lesson that time.

Conservatives' contradictions on American power (WaPo)

E.J. Dionne argues that while right-wingers like Rand Paul show some consistency in opposing government intervention at home and abroad, others seem to think the government is worthless unless it's all up in some other country's business.

A Labor Secretary Pick Progressives Will Love -- and Republicans Will Hate (MoJo)

Adam Serwer writes that Thomas Perez, Obama's choice for the next Secretary of Labor, is a progressive who's fought hard for civil rights and against the exploitation of workers. And if that doesn't disqualify him, then Chuck Grassley is simply at a loss.

Why Conservatives Want to Break Up the Banks, Too (TNR)

Timothy Noah notes that ending "too big to fail" is the rare policy that's gaining traction on both sides of the aisle. When you combine economic distortion and inequality with the specter of regulatory capture, there's something for everyone to hate.

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Daily Digest - March 15: No One Wants What Ryan's Selling

Mar 15, 2013Tim Price

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Paul Ryan vs. the Middle Class (Bloomberg)

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Paul Ryan vs. the Middle Class (Bloomberg)

Josh Barro writes that no matter how much soul-searching Republicans do, they won't win over the American people if they keep pushing an economic agenda that would ruin their lives -- especially not if the only rationale for doing so is "because Republicans."

The 2 Most Magical Numbers in Paul Ryan's Magical Budget (The Atlantic)

Derek Thompson notes that Ryan's the kind of visionary who won't compromise just because his goals seem politically and mathematically impossible, whether it's sequestering discretionary spending twice or achieving a revenue-neutral $6.7 trillion revenue cut.

The Press Has Turned on Paul Ryan (TNR)

Paul Ryan achieved his wonderboy status with the help of a press corps that fawned over his supposed wonkiness, but Noam Scheiber writes that they've fallen out of love now that they see he's just like all the other guys who only want them for their headlines.

After the Flimflam (NYT)

Paul Krugman notes that while Ryan is taking his snake oil salesman routine back on the road, the Senate Democrats and the Congressional Progressive Caucus have put forward two new alternative budget plans that are actually serious and not just "Serious."

Liberals to Dem leaders: Don't even think about touching Social Security benefits (WaPo)

Speaking of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Greg Sargent writes that they're not pleased that both Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid seem to be open to Chained CPI as part of a Grand Bargain. In exchange for what, exactly? Taxes? A first-round draft pick?

Younger Generations Lag Parents in Wealth-Building (NYT)

Annie Lowrey writes that retirement insecurity isn't just for retirees anymore. With younger workers earning little now and unable to save, they're worried they may wind up with nothing but burning stacks of student loan bills to keep them warm in their old age.

Senate investigation finds JP Morgan hid mistakes as trade losses grew (Guardian)

Heidi Moore reports that investigators say JP Morgan's attempts to cover up the London Whale fiasco were pretty much that scene in a sitcom where it looks like someone's cleaned up the apartment until a mountain of junk comes spilling out of the closet.

Hidden Numbers Make Big Banks Even Bigger (NYT)

Floyd Norris notes that as the "too big to fail" debate heats up, it's hard to tell how big banks actually are because so many of their assets are kept off the books -- even with the fool-proof requirement that they disclose how much stuff they're not disclosing.

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Daily Digest - March 14: Papal Economics 101

Mar 14, 2013Tim Price

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The World Has Its First Jesuit Pope. Will He Really Help the Poor? (MoJo)

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The World Has Its First Jesuit Pope. Will He Really Help the Poor? (MoJo)

Erik Kain writes that despite Pope Francis's unsurprising social conservatism, he does come from the wing of the Church that cares for the poor and opposes austerity -- though he has something in common with its proponents, who consider themselves infallible.

The new pope will be one of America's biggest employers (WaPo)

Brad Plumer notes that besides serving as a spiritual leader, the new pope is also a kind of CEO for a network of institutions that employ more than 1 million Americans. That puts it behind only Walmart, which offers customers a totally different type of savings.

Who Is Poor? (NYT)

Thomas Edsall explains the ongoing debate about how poverty can be measured most accurately, the policy solutions each approach entails, and the somewhat disturbing implications of treating the needs of human beings as an item in a budget spreadsheet.

We Shouldn't Blame Teen Mothers. We Should Blame Ourselves. (Forbes)

NND Editor Bryce Covert examines a new ad campaign in New York City that apparently aims to prevent teen pregnancy by being really nasty to potential teen mothers, since shame is so cheap and easily mass-produced compared to a real safety net for them.

Paul Ryan's cruelly radical vision (WaPo)

E.J. Dionne argues that while Ryan's budget may not be useful for the purpose of, you know, budgeting our country's finances, it does help to map the boundaries of our political debate so we can see who's wandering out there in "Here there be dragons" territory.

Republican deficit insincerity will save Social Security (Salon)

Alex Pareene writes that President Obama seems to be the only person in Washington who genuinely wants a Grand Bargain, while everyone else just wants to be seen as wanting one so they have an excuse to complain about what a big phony that Obama is.

Big Banks Have a Big Problem (NYT)

Simon Johnson notes that there's been a recent groundswell of support for breaking up the big banks and putting an end to "too big to fail," finally bringing key policymakers and influencers in line with where everyone else in the world was about five years ago.

Why Big Banks Are Right to Fear Elizabeth Warren (Businessweek)

Joshua Green writes that while Elizabeth Warren might just be a junior senator three months into her first term, lacking the power to pass any significant legislation, she's already demonstrating that you don't need a new law when a few humiliating Q&As will do.

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