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America Is Having the Wrong Fiscal Argument (Harper's)
Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick argues three groups have created a pointless deficit frenzy: Tea Partiers, centrists with an austerity fetish, and the CBO, whose conservative assumptions are mistaken for neutral because the law says they must be.
Battles of the Budget (NYT)
Paul Krugman writes that the fiscal cliff deal went better for progressives than it could have, but despite President Obama's assurances that he won't be blackmailed over the debt ceiling, some still worry he'll cave when he starts receiving the GOP's ransom notes.
The cliff deal is better than it looks (WaPo)
E.J. Dionne thinks liberals should quit their hand-wringing over a flawed deal that will nonetheless make the tax code more progressive, and ask barely-reelected House Speaker John Boehner if he thinks President Obama gave away too much to conservatives.
Obama's Biggest Blemish (Prospect)
Jamelle Bouie notes that while many serious, respectable people are now clucking their tongues and shaking their heads over the terrible shame of Obama's failure to address the national debt, 14 million people left unemployed is apparently a big whatever.
The Supreme Court and the Next Fiscal Cliff (NYT)
Simon Johnson writes that if House Republicans renew their threats to blow up the economy over the debt ceiling, the White House may be forced to break it and let the Supreme Court sort it out later. Somewhere in DC, John Roberts pours himself a stiff drink.
Republicans Have a Habit of Blocking Disaster Relief for Americans (MoJo)
Tim Murphy points out that although Chris Christie and Peter King might have just noticed that their party isn't big on coughing up cash for people in need, Republicans in Congress have a proven track record of being last responders in times of emergency.
What's Inside America's Banks? (The Atlantic)
Frank Partnoy and Jesse Eisinger argue that four years after the financial crisis, big banks remain "black boxes" and efforts to police them are like riddles wrapped in enigmas wrapped in regulations. If we want straightforward banking, we need straightforward rules.
Financial reform battle continues over Dodd-Frank law (WaPo)
Danielle Douglas writes that despite continued Republican efforts to whittle away key provisions of Dodd-Frank, there's some potential for a bipartisan consensus that as long as the law's not going anywhere, policymakers should try to make sure it actually works.
Families Shoulder Heftier Burdens as College Debt Swells (ProPublica)
Marian Wang reports that with total college debt in the U.S. now surpassing $1 trillion, students and their parents face a crushing stack of bills, an anemic job market, and an abusive private loan industry. And they say college doesn't prepare people for the real world.
Good Riddance to Rottenest Congress in History (Bloomberg)
Yesterday marked the official conclusion of the 112th Congress. In his eulogy, Ezra Klein notes just how little that august body accomplished, which might be for the best considering the economic policies it did implement were like Sideshow Bob stepping on a rake.