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How Fares the Dream? (NYT)
49 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. called for an end to America's racial caste system. Now, Paul Krugman writes that we've torn it down and replaced it with a shiny new class-based version.
New Year, New Government Showdown Brewing (TPM)
Congress has deigned to return to work after a month-long vacation, ready to rejoin the battle over the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. Republicans continue to argue that no one should be getting paid to laze about except for lawmakers.
Who will get the ‘Recovery Presidency’? (WaPo)
Ezra Klein writes that with the conditions in place for a modest but real recovery to take off in the coming months, the 2012 presidential election will determine which party gets to take all the credit for being in the right place at the right time.
The Straits of America (Project Syndicate)
Nouriel Roubini warns that before our leaders start patting themselves on the back for a job well done (or not done), America still has a lot of glaring vulnerabilities and a long way to go before the air quotes can be taken off the recovery.
Scarcity Came to Town (TAP)
Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick talks to Age of Austerity author Thomas Edsall about the political and cultural context that has made it so difficult for policymakers to make the right economic choices and so easy to do their worst.
How's That Austerity Working? (Fed Watch)
Tim Duy writes that even with the Greek debt talks in shambles and France taking a hit to its credit rating, the architects of European austerity remain convinced that's a light they see at the end of the tunnel rather than a train headed toward them.
Republicans keep moving Obama to Europe (WaPo)
EJ Dionne notes that, having given up on painting him as a native Kenyan or Indonesian spy, the president's critics have taken to emphasizing how terribly European he is. The bad, helping-poor-people kind, not the austerity-loving kind.
Time Is on Our Side: The Survival of Social Security (HuffPo)
Dean Baker points out that Social Security's defenders haven't just thwarted 20 years of fear-mongering and phony reform proposals -- they've also given a growing pool of beneficiaries time to realize they like the program just fine the way it is.
A selection of comments from Federal Open Market Committee meetings which resulted in laughter (The Economist)
Did you hear the one about the central banker who said the economic situation Alan Greenspan was handing off to Ben Bernanke in 2006 was like "a tennis racquet with a gigantic sweet spot?" It was a real knee-slapper. Maybe you had to be there.
Among the Wealthiest 1 Percent, Many Variations (NYT)
Shaila Dewan and Robert Gebeloff report that the very rich really don't appreciate being painted with a broad brush. They put their pants on just like everyone else: One pair of servants holds the pants open and another pair lowers them in.