Sarah Babbage

Sarah Babbage is a fall 2010 intern at the Prospect.

Recent Articles

This Is Why Dems Are Losing on the Budget

Thursday, the Senate fell just short of passing a balanced budget amendment, a radical provision that shows just how far to the right the current discourse on fiscal matters has moved. The amendment picks up the oft-repeated right-wing comparison of the federal budget to the family purse: you have to make sure what your household spends on the mortgage, car payments and food doesn’t exceed your pay check. For the government, this means it would be prohibited from spending more than it makes off taxes. The trouble is that the government is so much more than a making-and-spending machine. It’s a complex body that can offset swings in the economy, and those offsets are needed now more than ever. Consider 2009: at a time when the economy was grinding to a halt and unemployment rolls were swelling, the CBO says the government’s Recovery Act was able to create as many as 3.3 million jobs and raise the GDP by up to 4.5%. Instead of the Great Recession, it would be called the Great Depression...

There is no debate: Federal budget cuts will hurt the economy

This week progressives opposed to the GOP austerity agenda cut proposal gained some great talking points, first from a leaked Goldman Sachs study that projected the plan would decrease the GDP by 2 percent and raise unemployment by 1 percent, and then from a Moody’s Analytics report from Mark Zandi that projected it would destroy 700,000 jobs. Yesterday, Republicans hit back with testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke that job losses would be “much less than 700,000” and the GDP would only fall by 0.7%. But as Kevin Drum points out , “That's the big news from Bernanke's testimony: not that he thinks other estimates of job losses are too high, but the fact that he agrees the Republican budget plan will cost jobs and slow growth. That's coming from a Republican Fed chair!” The majority of economists seem to agree. Yesterday former Fed Vice Chairman Alan Blinder, Nobel Prize winners Kenneth Arrow and Eric Maskin, and a host of other economists and budget experts sent Congress...

There's more to waste than spending

Yesterday the GAO issued a report commissioned by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn detailing areas where government programs are redundant, wasteful or otherwise inefficient. In total it projects the government could save between $100 and $200 billion by cutting these programs, a figure Republicans seized on as proof that government is bloated, wasteful and in need of trimming. While some areas do indeed sound duplicitous -- like 20 different programs to deal with homelessness -- the idea of a single uber-program tackling homelessness among veterans, the mentally ill and runaway youth, in everywhere from rural Alaska to inner-city Baltimore…well, it sounds like a setup for more government-bashing against “one-size-fits-all” solutions. What every Republican who seized upon the report conveniently overlooked was the report’s mention of the $1 trillion in tax expenditures the government gives out each year. The GAO estimates that streamlined, better-targeted tax expenditures would also...

Government Shutdown? Don't Count on It

Given the seemingly insurmountable divide between House Republicans and the Obama administration on the budget, Jamelle sees a government shutdown as inevitable when funding runs out on March 4. It’s not unrealistic to draw this conclusion when you consider that the radical budget containing $60 billion in cuts passed by House Republicans last week was already a compromise for the strident first-term Tea Party caucus, which wanted even larger cuts and says it is unwilling to compromise further. But a government shutdown plays to the Democrats, and both sides know it. Last week, a Nancy Pelosi aide declared a shutdown “more likely than not” and began crafting the narrative of Republicans as the heartless stalwarts willing to lock the doors on important federal services for the sake of an argument while Democrats fight to maintain popular programs like Planned Parenthood and NPR. Paul Ryan and John Boehner countered by issuing firm statements over the weekend against a shutdown, aware...

Border Insecurity

TAP talks with Ed Vulliamy about the crackdown on immigration enforcement and its effect on life on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The international border in Nogales, Arizona (Flickr/Ryan Bavetta)
In the last two years, President Barack Obama has introduced border-enforcement policies that are stricter than those of his predecessors, leading to record numbers of deportations and massive spending on security resources. In this month's issue of The American Prospect , Adam Serwer recounts the crackdown's effects on the Democrats' support among Hispanic voters. The stricter policies are also having a tremendous impact on life along the U.S.-Mexico border, where drug- and human-trafficking networks are evolving in new and violent ways. To get a better picture of the changing nature of life along the border, TAP talked to Ed Vulliamy , author of Amexica: War Along the Borderline , which recounts his experiences traveling the length of the U.S.' Southern border in 2009. America can step up security, he says, but crime will only increase if underlying social problems in Mexico aren't addressed. Your book talks about how Obama's election has changed U.S.-Mexico relations significantly...

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