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Holding the Debt Limit Hostage is Unconstitutional, So Why Not Get Around it by Minting a Trillion-Dollar Platinum Coin? by Joshua Holland, alternet.org | January 4, 2013It's bizarre how people distinguish between serious and unserious proposals. With another debt-ceiling show-down looming, talk of the 'platinum coin option' – declared deeply unserious in 2011 – is once again gaining some traction. I say: do it, and let the chips fall where they may. Who knows where the courts land, or even if the GOP has the chutzpah to take the case to court at that point in the game? Courts certainly can and do rule on narrow technicalities, and the threat of a global economic meltdown is a pretty strong incentive. But it should also be on the table because there is nothing more ridiculous than a congressional minority threatening the economy by trying to extract unpopular concessions in exchange for paying the bills that Congress itself already ran up. Let's not pretend this is normal behavior we're dealing with. In fact, let's not pretend it's Constitutional. read more »
Leave Social Security Alone; It’s Irrelevant to the Deficit by Dean Baker, cepr.net | January 3, 2013Millions of people are rightly outraged to hear that Social Security is in the gun-sights of both Speaker Boehner and President Obama in their budget negotiations. There is no reason that our political leaders should be discussing cuts to the country’s most successful social program. While the promotion of budget hysteria is one of the largest industries in Washington, the most important and widely ignored fact about the budget situation is that we have large deficits today because the collapse of the housing bubble sank the economy. This is not a debatable point. read more »
We’re Tumbling Over an Inequity Cliff by Imara Jones, colorlines.com | January 3, 2013By shifting the definition of who is rich, the “fiscal cliff” deal passed by the Congress this week extends many of the notions that have made the United States the most economically unfair it has been in almost 50 years. At first blush, the American Taxpayer Relief Act, as it’s officially known, makes a lot of progress on the changes required to bring racial and economic fairness to America’s tax code. For the first time in almost 20 years, tax rates on the wealthy will rise. The estate tax on inheritances over $5 million will go up. The capital gains tax, which is the cornerstone of preserving the wealth of the super rich, will edge upward. These are all all positive developments. But the trouble is not in the top line of the deal, it’s in the details. read more »
Tear Down Those Tax "Shrines" by Ed Kilgore, Washington Monthly | January 3, 2013In the web-wide effort to identify winners and losers in the “fiscal cliff” battle, one of the arguments we’ve heard cited most often is that George W. Bush was the big “winner” because his signature tax cuts finally became part of permanent law, not some temporary budget measure. This conceit, in fact, has become a big part of the progressive case that Obama got rolled. Like Republicans rationalizing votes for the tax bill, these progressives are pretending most Americans got the Bush tax cuts all over again, shiny new and fiscally lethal as they were the first time around. And both sides are using the word “enshrined” to refer to the magical effect the vote had on the tax cuts first enacted in 2001. Sorry, I don’t buy it. read more »
Families Shoulder Heftier Burdens as College Debt Swells by Marian Wang, propublica.org | January 3, 2013It's been a year of eye-popping records for student debt. Outstanding student loan debt surpassed credit card debt, with one government estimate pegging total student loan debt at more than $1 trillion. Such staggering figures drew renewed attention to the fact that rising higher education costs and falling government support for state colleges and universities has burdened individual students and their families with immense debt — all at a time when new graduates face anemic prospects for getting a decent job. Increasingly, the debt burden falls on parents, not just students. read more »
Cliff After Cliff by Charles M. Blow, The New York Times | January 3, 2013We have a deal. But please hold your applause, indefinitely. We momentarily went over the fiscal cliff but clawed our way back up the rock face. Unfortunately, we are most likely in store for a never-ending series of cliffs for our economy, our government and indeed our country. Soon we’ll have to deal with the sequester, a debt-ceiling extension and possibly a budget, all of which hold the specter of revisiting the unresolvable conflicts and intransigence of the fiscal cliff. Imagine an M. C. Escher drawing of cliffs. Be clear: there is no reason to celebrate. This is a mournful moment. We — and by we I mean Congress, and by Congress I mean the Republicans in Congress — have again demonstrated just how broken and paralyzed our government has become, how beholden to hostage-takers, how vulnerable to extremism. read more »
The Cliff Deal Is Better Than It Looks by E.J. Dionne, The Washington Post | January 3, 2013To be deemed a serious analyst at the moment seems to require a lot of hand-wringing and sneering over how awful Congress looked the past few days as it rushed a “fiscal cliff” deal into law. So permit me to burn my membership card in the League of Commentators and Pundits. Of course, there was much wrong about how Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, dealt with the best-known deadline in recent political history. A better deal was available weeks ago. But in the end, some very important and positive things happened. Democracy, in its messy way, worked. An election had a real impact on public policy, moving it in a more progressive direction. Thus, for the first time since 1990, a significant number of Republicans voted to raise taxes — and they raised them most on the very rich. read more »
Fixing The Economy, A New Focus For Congress by Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Washington Post | January 3, 2013The Perils of Pauline melodrama over the “fiscal cliff” will drag on as Washington heads toward another “debt ceiling” faceoff that will climax over the next eight weeks or so. This farce captivates the media, but no one should be fooled. This is largely a debate about how much damage will be done to the economic recovery and who will bear the pain. There is bipartisan consensus that the tax hikes and spending cuts that Congress and the White House piled up to build the so-called fiscal cliff are too painful and will drive the economy into a recession. So the folderol is about what mix of taxes and spending cuts they can agree on that won’t be as harsh. Largely missing is any discussion of how to fix the economy, to make it work for working people once more. Just sustaining the faltering recovery won’t get it done. read more »
Who Won in the Fiscal Cliff Deal? by Salvatore Babones, inequality.org | January 3, 2013Who won in the fiscal cliff deal? The lawyers won. Well, not just the lawyers. The lawyers, the doctors, the dentists, the middle managers, the advertising executives, the whole MBA crowd. Who won in the fiscal cliff deal were all those individuals making between $113,700 and $400,000 per year. For couples the numbers will be slightly higher, but still in the lower six figures. They’re the ones who will pay the least in new taxes. The fiscal cliff deal is not a bad deal. But it’s not a progressive deal. It’s a deal for the comfortable, not a deal for the struggling and the poor. Those of us with good jobs and advanced degrees can be satisfied. For the 80% of Americans who don’t, it’s just more bad news. read more »
‘Cliff’ Deal is a Decent Start for Low-Income Americans by Greg Kaufmann, The Nation | January 3, 2013If you had told me in recent months that on January 2, 2013, we would have unemployment insurance extended for a year, an improved child tax credit and earned income tax credit extended for five years and no cuts to food stamps (SNAP), Medicaid or Social Security—I would have told you that you were out of your mind. I understand that the criticism coming from the left about this deal is based largely on where things stand for the next round of negotiations, and also a concern that the deal didn’t raise sufficient revenues to avert substantial cuts down the road. But I’m troubled by the lack of attention being paid to how this deal benefits the more than one in three Americans living below twice the poverty line. So let’s look at some of the particulars of this deal and how they affect low-income Americans. read more »
White House's Late Push for $26B State Aid Bill, Politico | August 2, 2010
With a Senate vote slated for Monday evening, the White House shows signs of a late-breaking push behind a $26.1 billion aid package to help state and local governments cope with revenue shortfalls due to the continuing housing crisis and slow economic recovery. read more »
More Spending Is Needed on Weapons Systems, Panel Says, The New York Times | July 30, 2010
Even as political pressure grows to reduce the federal budget deficit, a blue-ribbon board led by former top national security officials called on Thursday for more spending on weapons systems. read more »
Too Big Not To Organize, inthesetimes.com | July 30, 2010
Through the blare of screeching feedback from portable translation headsets and microphones, unionized bank workers from Brazil, England, Chile, Germany, and Uruguay are encouraging American workers to undertake an unprecedented campaign against a common enemy: Grupo Santander, the global banking giant which last year took control of Sovereign Bank.
Citigroup Agrees to $75 Million SEC Settlement on Subprime Mortgage Investments, The Washington Post | July 30, 2010
Citigroup, one of the nation's largest banks, agreed Thursday to pay $75 million to settle a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint that it misled investors about $40 billion of its holdings in subprime mortgage investments. read more »
Small, Midsize U.S. Banks Need to Raise More Capital, IMF Financial Study Finds, The Washington Post | July 30, 2010
The U.S. financial system remains under stress, with small and midsize banks in particular potentially needing to raise more capital, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund that shows the continuing strains facing the U.S. economy. read more »
Obama Making Sales Pitch for Auto Bailouts to Skeptical Voters, bloomberg.com | July 30, 2010
President Barack Obama flies to the heart of the U.S. auto industry today on a mission to convince taxpayers that their investment in the bailouts of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC will bring a return. read more »
President to Promote Auto Bailout as a Success, The New York Times | July 30, 2010
When President Obama steps into a General Motors plant on Friday morning — as the majority shareholder surveying the government’s investment in a company the White House called “moribund” just 18 months ago — he will be doing more than just examining the first models of the all-electric Volt that began rolling off the production line this week.
Federal Reserve's James Bullard: Long-term Deflation is a Possibility, The Washington Post | July 30, 2010
A top Federal Reserve official warned Thursday that the nation faces the risk of an extended period of falling prices known as deflation, such as that experienced by Japan over the past two decades. read more »
Within the Fed, Worries of Deflation, The New York Times | July 30, 2010
A subtle but significant shift appears to be occurring within the Federal Reserve over the course of monetary policy as the economic recovery is weakening. read more »
Homes Keep Falling Into Foreclosure as Programs Fail to Help, mcclatchydc.com | July 30, 2010
More than three years into the housing crisis that helped trigger a worldwide recession, the torrid pace of home foreclosures continues to tear at the core of the American dream.
New figures Thursday from Realty-Trac showed that foreclosure activity declined over the first six months of the year in nine of the 10 large metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates.