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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.