Daily Digest - December 17: You Never Forget Your First Trillion

Dec 17, 2012Tim Price

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That Terrible Trillion (NYT)

Paul Krugman notes that fiscal conservatives often emphasize our $1 trillion deficit, as if the number alone should make liberals recoil like vampires at high noon, but their arguments are shakier when you take a closer look at the numbers that add up to that number.

In Funds We Trust? (New Yorker)

James Surowiecki argues that the downside to making Social Security and Medicare self-sufficient through payroll taxes is that trust fund shortfalls enable the GOP to pretend they're defusing entitlements that are rigged to explode instead of demolishing pillars of society.

A Strange Time for a Deficit Deal (Slate)

Matthew Yglesias writes that President Obama should make cuts if he can get something better in return, but trading the Medicare age for more deficit reduction is like telling a car dealer that the number of tires is negotiable if he throws in a few extra air fresheners.

This Week in Poverty: Kristof's Swing and Miss (The Nation)

Last week, Nicholas Kristof oddly chose to argue that Supplementary Security Income reinforces poverty while admitting he didn't have the expertise to make that argument. This week, Greg Kaufmann provides the facts in case he wants to look them up next time.

Forecast is Sunnier, but Washington Casts a Big Shadow (NYT)

Catherine Rampell reports that economists see some underlying strengths, like a housing rebound and looser credit markets, that could leave the economy much healthier this time next year. Unless, you know, Congress decides to destroy it for some bizarre reason.

Over 'fiscal cliff,' fiscal pain to accelerate (WaPo)

Let's say fiscal cliff negotiators pull a classic "U.S. Congress" and fail to reach a timely deal. Zachary Goldfarb walks us through exactly how everything will be made terrible, beginning with declining take-home pay and ending with Treasury dipping into the petty cash.

For Women Executives, Still Lonely at the Top (Prospect)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal writes that after years of stagnation in corporate board seats held by women, we should consider a quota system like the one enacted in Norway. They might just have something of value to add, like a conscience. Or a pulse.

We'll All Miss Unions When They're Gone (TNR)

Michael Kazin recalls some of unions' greatest hits, like how they raised wages for everyone, or how they ended arbitrary firing practices, or how they generally failed to recognize the divine right of their employers. Too bad those may soon be considered golden oldies.

A New Job Description for Treasury Secretary (NYT)

Just as George W. Bush declared himself a "war president," Tim Geithner was evidently chosen to be a financial meltdown Treasury Secretary. Teresa Tritch argues his replacement should remember the client is the people, not the places where they keep their money.

The Man Who Occupied the Fed: How Charles Evans Saved the Recovery (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien notes that just a year ago, Chicago Fed president Charles Evans seemed to be a lone voice crying out in the wilderness for more action on unemployment. Now, it appears as though he's made it back to civilization and organized a rescue party.

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