January 31: The Self-Service Economy

Jan 31, 2012Tim Price

daily-digest-150 What you need to know to navigate today's most critical debates.

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Compiled with the help of Roosevelt Institute intern Elena Callahan.

The Biggest Risk to the Economy in 2012, and What’s the Economy For Anyway? (Robert Reich)
Despite concerns over the eurozone and Iran, Robert Reich argues the real sickness is inside us, and it involves an obsession with buying tons of crap for the best "deals" we can find, even if it undercuts the jobs and wages of American workers.

Freddie Mac Bets Against American Homeowners (ProPublica)
Jesse Eisinger and Chris Arnold report that Freddie Mac is placing multi-million dollar bets that homeowners will remain stuck with high-interest mortgages, making it the Pete Rose of refinancing efforts (though that may not be the whole story).

California’s Harris Seeks Edge in U.S. Foreclosure Standoff (Bloomberg)
California's AG is holding out for a more thorough investigation before she signs onto the nationwide foreclosure settlement, but critics question whether she's doing it for the benefit of her constituents or her own future political prospects.

Beyond the Buffett Rule (TAP)
Paul Waldman argues the president's plan to prevent billionaires from paying lower tax rates than their secretaries by adding more complexity to the tax code doesn't solve the problem, which is that we treat capital gains as Special Rich People Money.

European Leaders Agree to New Budget Discipline Measures (NYT)
All but two members of the EU have signed onto a compact to enforce stricter fiscal discipline, but many are frustrated that Germany's fixation on belt-tightening continues to cut off circulation to economies that are badly in need of investment.

Click here to buy Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch’s new book on the epic health care reform battle, Fighting for Our Health.

U.S. Gets Tougher on Debt Collecting (WSJ)
The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on the new wave of debt collection agencies that treat debtors like Wild West criminals with bounties on their heads, fining one $2.5 million for coercing borrowers to pay debts they didn't even owe.

Why New Birth Control Benefits are the Right Choice and Why Religious Conservatives Have it Wrong (AlterNet)
June Carbone and Naomi Cahn argue that if the U.S. wants to reduce its unplanned pregnancy rate, the beliefs of a small group of religious employers can't outweigh the needs of the low-income women who work for but don't agree with them.

How Newt Gingrich Crippled Congress (The Nation)
Alex Seitz-Wald writes that from extreme partisan gridlock to ridiculous pork barrel projects, pretty much everything we know and loathe about today's Congress can be traced back to Newt Gingrich's vision for the glorious Republican Revolution.

Super PACs Now Dominate GOP Primary Campaign Spending (MoJo)
Kevin Drum notes that most candidates probably don't mind having a few of their best millionaire friends drag their opponents through the mud while their hands stay clean, but it's not so much fun when you're getting outspent 60 to 1 like Gingrich.

Wall Street’s gilded frat party (Salon)
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship observe that Wall Street's induction ceremony to the Kappa Beta Phi fraternity of bankers might as well have ended with a girl dressed like Marie Antoinette popping out of a cake and then telling some poor people to eat it.

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