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Paul Ryan's make-believe budget (WaPo)
Were you worried the Romney-Ryan ticket's decisive loss to Obama meant Paul Ryan would no longer get to shape our fiscal debate? No need to fear; Ryan's out with a new budget this week, and as Eugene Robinson writes, this one's more Ryan-y than ever.
We Tried Austerity, and It Didn't Work (Prospect)
Jamelle Bouie notes the inconvenient fact that the U.S. has already had austerity in the form of hundreds of thousands of laid off public sector workers, and all it's given us is one long mathematical proof that taking people's jobs away increases unemployment.
The Global Austerity Resistance Continues (The Nation)
Allison Kilkenny highlights videos of the thousands of anti-austerity protesters who have taken to the streets of Spain, Greece, and other countries to remind policymakers that winning a pat on the back from the troika may be easier than winning the next election.
The undead, unnecessary, unhelpful Grand Bargain (Salon)
Alex Pareene writes that the Serious Men of Washington remain convinced that we need to make "tough choices" about entitlements and do the unpopular thing, never pausing to consider that the unpopularity of a policy might be correlated with how dumb it is.
Cash-strapped cities seized by new management (MSNBC)
Ned Resnikoff looks at the phenomenon of emergency managers appointed to take control of the finances (read: destroy the public sector) of insolvent cities in Michigan, a prospect Detroit now faces. Who knew there were repo men for the concept of self-government?
Facing the Facts Doesn't Always Change Minds (TNR)
Timothy Noah notes that a new study shows it's pretty easy to open Americans' eyes to the extent of inequality, but they're set in their ways when it comes to a policy response -- except with the "death" tax, which it turns out is not really as certain as death or taxes.
In major shift, scores of FDIC settlements go unannounced (LA Times)
E. Scott Reckard reports that the FDIC has lately begun moonlighting as a PR firm in addition to its normal role as a regulator, offering banks multimillion-dollar settlement deals with public disclosure agreements that boil down to "We won't tell if you don't."
Graph of the day: Who benefits from a stock-market boom? (WaPo)
Brad Plumer points out that while a soaring Dow is theoretically good for everyone who has a little money in the markets, there's a much higher buy-in for those who want a piece of the real action, even though they're the ones with the least use for the jackpot.