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Tea Party Extremism and the 'Cliff' by Paul R. Pillar, consortiumnews.com | January 2, 2013It is irresponsible to help create a mess and then to walk away and expect someone else to clean it up. That’s true whether the mess is a spill in the kitchen or something comparably sticky, smelly or hazardous in deliberations in Congress. Multiple press reportsobserve that this is what the political tantrum known as the Tea Party has been doing. We haven’t heard much from the Tea Partiers recently because they opted out of participation in the fiscal cliff drama as the rest of the country counted down the time remaining until the New Year’s, and budgetary, ball drops. In this latest phase in the tantrum, Tea Partiers unhappy that the political game has not gone entirely their way (with the outcome of the presidential election being, of course, their principal setback) have decided to take their own ball and bat and go home. read more »
The Endless Cliff by Robert Kuttner, prospect.org | January 2, 2013The behavior of political elites on the subject of deficits, debts, and the economic recovery requires some combination of Buñuel and his contemporary John Maynard Keynes to do it justice. With the economy stuck at about $1.5 trillion below its potential and at least 15 million people unable to find full-time jobs, the debate is fixated on the question of how to cut the deficit instead of how to restore jobs, wages, and output. Until President Obama changes the subject to the real issue of economic recovery, he will be mired in an enervating form of retrench warfare where budget cuts are inevitable. He needs to isolate Republicans on the issue of how to produce a recovery, just as he did on taxes. Here again, public opinion is on his side if he will lead. Cutting Social Security and Medicare are no more popular than raising taxes on the middle class. read more »
Why President Obama took the fiscal cliff deal by Perry Bacon Jr., thegrio.com | January 2, 2013Moving off of his desired numbers on taxes allowed the president to get billions of dollars in programs for the working poor and unemployed Americans that Republicans would only agree to as part of a larger compromise. The deal includes $30 billion to help Americans who have been unemployed for longer than six months, as well about $120 billion spread over five years to keep in place increased child tax credits for low-income families with children and those paying for college that were in the 2009 stimulus and scheduled to expire. While cuts may come later, there are actually almost no new spending reductions in this agreement. Obama successfully fought a Republican push to include Medicare or Social Security reductions in this deal. Most importantly, almost every Republican senator and more than a third of House Republicans voted to raise taxes. read more »
What Did You Learn From the Cliff Debate, Dorothy? by Jared Bernstein, jaredbernsteinblog.com | January 2, 2013Well, I’m glad that’s over. Now that the House has passed the Senate compromise bill, the full spate of tax increases and spending cuts that went into effect yesterday will be shut off (though the sequester was just suspended for a couple of months). Still, I don’t mean to be a downer, but any relief you feel should be analogized to how much better you feel when you stop banging a hammer on your head. We’ve avoided, for the moment, a self-made trap. Now, of course, we’re on to the next one—the debt ceiling, which really is a cliff in that to go over it (can you “go over” a ceiling?) is to default. So, did we learn anything from the episode in reckless governing? Here’s my list, but these are more things we already knew than things we learned. read more »
The Lessons Of The Fiscal Cliff by Ezra Klein, The Washington Post | January 2, 2013The question of who “won” the fiscal cliff won’t be answered till we know what happens when Congress reaches the debt ceiling. The White House says that there’ll be no negotiations over the debt ceiling, and that if Republicans want further spending cuts, their only chance is to hand over more tax revenue. Republicans swear they are crazy enough to push the country into default, and they promise that the White House isn’t strong enough to stand by and let it happen. But both Republicans and Democrats can’t be right. If we take the lessons of this negotiation, here’s what will happen. read more »
Playing Taxes Hold ’Em by Paul Krugman, The New York Times | December 21, 2012A few years back, there was a boom in poker television — shows in which you got to watch the betting and bluffing of expert card players. Since then, however, viewers seem to have lost interest. But I have a suggestion: Instead of featuring poker experts, why not have a show featuring poker incompetents — people who fold when they have a strong hand or don’t know how to quit while they’re ahead? On second thought, that show already exists. It’s called budget negotiations, and it’s now in its second episode. read more »
We Can’t Fix Our Economy Without Confronting White Supremacy by Imara Jones, colorlines.com | December 21, 2012Regardless of when the president and Congress decide to end their current budget standoff, it is increasingly clear that the emerging deal will do very little to reverse the fiscal wrongs at the heart of the tax code. These wrongs have transformed America’s economy into the least equitable and most racially unfair it’s been in almost a half century. Our collective denial over the fundamental injustice at the heart of our economic system is a result of white supremacy. The words “white supremacy” are radioactive to be sure. It pains me to write them. However, as a trained economist I go where the facts lead me. Since I have written potentially inflammatory words, let me be clear about what I mean. read more »
Will Boehner's Speakership Survive Until Plan C? by Ezra Klein, The Washington Post | December 21, 2012Has there been a House speaker in modern American history with less control over his members than John Boehner? A significant number of Boehner’s members clearly don’t trust his strategic instincts, they don’t feel personally bound to support him, they clearly disagree with his belief that tax rates must rise as part of a deal, and they, along with many other Republicans, must be humiliated after the shenanigans on the House floor this evening. Worse, they know that Boehner knows he’ll need Democratic support to get a budget deal done. That means “a cave,” at least from the perspective of the conservative bloc, is certain. That, too, will make a change of leadership appealing. If a conservative spoiler runs, he or she could very possibly deny Boehner the 218 votes he needs to become speaker. It’s hard to say exactly how likely that is. But it’s likelier than it was, say, this morning. read more »
Fiscal Cliff Vote Fails Due to Republican Theology on Taxes by Daniel Gross, thedailybeast.com | December 21, 2012People in our world too frequently fail to take professionals at their words. The modern Republican Party doesn’t believe in raising taxes. Full stop. In fact, as a rule, its members believes that taxes are too high. When they get in power, Republicans try to cut taxes, regardless of the economic or fiscal situation. George W. Bush may have had a failed presidency in many ways, but you can’t deny his success at reducing taxes on income, capital gains, dividends, and estates. When they are out of power Republicans agitate to cut taxes and oppose tax increases. When they run for office, they promise to cut taxes and oppose tax increases. And when confronted with the prospect of massive tax increases that will result from mere inaction, they have proven, thus far, unwilling to take evasive action if it means raising taxes on anybody. read more »
Republicans Crush Boehner’s Plan B by Brian Beutler, tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com | December 21, 2012So what happens now? Boehner has two problems: one with President Obama and another with his conference. And to the extent that he meliorates one he exacerbates the other. He can return to fiscal cliff negotiations with an empowered Obama, and try to eke out the sort of deal he just rejected, then pass it through the House next week, on a bipartisan basis at but a huge risk to his Speakership. That’s the course he told members he’d pursue in the conference meeting Thursday night. And the White House is open to it. It sets up a scenario where Boehner’s old nemesis Nancy Pelosi is suddenly back in the driver’s seat, controlling the votes necessary to pass a deal. But if a last ditch effort fails, or he chooses to rebuff Obama, he’ll set one of two unpredictable chains of events into motion. read more »
Stiglitz Says U.S. Faces `Anemic Recovery,' Needs More Stimulus, bloomberg.com | August 6, 2010
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz said the U.S. economy faces an “anemic recovery” and the government will need to enact another round of “better designed” stimulus measures. read more »
CEO Pay Has `Catch' as Executive Performance Targets Prevail, Hewitt Says, bloomberg.com | August 5, 2010
More companies are linking future stock and cash bonuses to specific targets, according to a study of 157 companies in the Fortune 250 released today by Hewitt Associates Inc., a Lincolnshire, Illinois-based human resources consultant. Thirty- five percent of companies in the Fortune 250 had performance plans in place in 2009 compared with 18 percent in 2003.
Senate Debate Looms on Tax Cuts for Rich, The New York Times | August 5, 2010
Reid Plans September Showdown on Extension of Tax Cuts , thehill.com | August 5, 2010
Senate Democrats will hold a September showdown over trillions of dollars in expiring tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush.
Senior Democrats had expected the controversial issue to be postponed until after the election, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring it up when lawmakers return from a five-week August recess.
Small Business Bill Appears to Be Stuck in Senate, mcclatchydc.com | August 5, 2010
Foreclosed On—By the U.S. , The Wall Street Journal | August 4, 2010
James Currell is struggling to prevent his Minnesota home from being foreclosed. But his lender isn't a bank. It is the U.S. government.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is facing the prospect of foreclosing on a number of properties in the coming months, from homes to commercial buildings, a result of a souring mortgage portfolio it took over when it helped bail out Bear Stearns in 2008.
U.S. Consumer Bankruptcies May Exceed 1.6 Million, Report Says, bloomberg.com | August 4, 2010
U.S. consumer bankruptcies, after rising 9 percent last month from June, might exceed 1.6 million this year, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.
The 137,698 bankruptcy filings in July also represent a 9 percent increase from a year earlier, the institute said yesterday in a statement posted on its website, citing data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center.
New Democratic Strategy for Creating Jobs Focuses on a Boost in Manufacturing, The Washington Post | August 4, 2010
Maine, Pain Drive Senate Vote Today, Politico | August 4, 2010
Tax Cuts and Tanks Require Real Money, voices.washingtonpost.com | August 3, 2010
The issue isn't that conservatives don't care about the deficit. We don't really know whether Republicans care about the deficit. They say they do, and they would certainly prefer to reduce the deficit than give people health-care coverage or keep states from firing 500,000 employees. The issue is that they care about tax cuts and defense spending more. read more »