Tim Fernholz is a former staff writer for the Prospect. His work has been published by Newsweek, The New Republic, The Nation, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast. He is also a Research Fellow at the New America Foundation.
Basically, in exchange for temporary extension of all the Bush tax cuts and a capitulation to the conservative Democrat-Republican consensus on the estate tax, President Obamawill get 13 months of unemployment benefits, a yearlong pay-roll tax cut, extensions of tax credits in the stimulus, and some business-focused tax breaks. Basically, it's a tax-focused stimulus package -- if Congress votes on it.
Greg Mankiw, claiming agnosticism about whether or not unemployment insurance should be renewed, offers some bad arguments against it:
[W]hen I hear economists advocate the extension of UI to 99 weeks, I am tempted to ask, would you also favor a further extension to 199 weeks, or 299 weeks, or 1099 weeks? If 99 weeks is better than 26 weeks, but 199 is too much, how do you know?
Julian Assange has apparently prepared a poison pill of damaging classified files to release should WikiLeaks be threatened. However, it also appears that the files will be released if he is detained in response to sexual-assault allegations in Sweden. That's troubling, to say the least: If Assange's blackmail threat is taken seriously, he will have no accountability whatsoever -- for the actions of his organization or himself. While arguments about the need for transparency carry serious weight in times when institutions are losing the public's faith at breakneck speed, executing these ideas without proper planning can be damaging.
Location is everything, especially in Chicago, where your neighborhood isn't just where you live but who you are. Rahm Emanuel, running for mayor, can't get any respect because he grew up in the suburbs. Barack Obama, Senate hopeful, won in part because he had liberal credibility from his home on the South Side and was able to raise money on the North Side. Politics and real estate can make an unsavory combination: More than one Chicago politician, including Obama, has found himself in hot water after accepting real-estate favors from politically interested friends.