American politics is in trouble. A tsunami of unaccountable, untraceable political money is overwhelming the Republican race for the presidential nomination and threatens to do the same to the fall election. For many people, especially progressives, the culprit is easy to name: the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which swept away any limits on election-advocacy ads by corporations, unions, and “independent” political-action committees (PACs) and issue groups. Many progressives believe that Citizens United “made corporations people” and that a constitutional amendment restricting “corporate personhood” will cure this political ill.
Any renaissance of American manufacturing must begin by fundamentally reversing our trade policies—both in general and in particular toward China. Over the past two decades, leading U.S. manufacturers, both the venerable (like General Electric) and the new (like Apple), have offshored millions of jobs—by one recent estimate, 2.9 million—to China to take advantage of the cheap labor, generous state subsidies, and low currency valuation that are linchpins of China’s mercantilist development strategy.
Robert Kuttner says house prices are falling again, threatening our fragile recovery. But there are solutions.
In most U.S. cities, housing prices are falling again. In the most recent Case-Shiller index, released Tuesday and showing December prices, they were down in 18 out of 20 metropolitan areas. The Boston metro area did "better" than most -- down only 0.8 percent over the previous year.
That's bad news for the economic recovery, the financial system, and the American middle class. There are solutions that could restore a normal housing market -- but political gridlock and the influence of the financial industry are keeping them off Congress' agenda.
In what should be a shock to no one, the public isn't exactly happy with the provisions of Bowles-Simpson:
In the survey, 57% of respondents said they were uncomfortable with gradually raising the Social Security retirement age to 69 over the next 60 years. Some 41% said they were somewhat or very comfortable with the idea.
Roughly 70% were uncomfortable with making cuts to programs such as Medicare, Social Security and defense in order to reduce the deficit, with 27% saying they were comfortable.
Since the Democrats have set themselves up for an election-year tax-cut brawl, this article on the little-known realities of Bush administration's signature tax cuts is worth reading. For instance, no, letting the cuts for upper-income brackets expire won't hurt small business. Perhaps more surprising to some, the tax cuts have actually slowed economic growth since they were enacted.
Yesterday, we explored how conservatives view deficits, and I noted that National Review's Kevin Williamson, who wrote a piece in May criticizing the Republican establishment's nonsensical approach to tax cuts, hadn't commented on recent comments from prominent Republicans arguing that tax cuts raise revenue.
As we assess the results of the massive oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico -- "Our job basically is to keep the boot on the neck of British Petroleum," says Interior Secretary Ken Salazar -- it's worth noting that we have a situation where massive environmental and economic damage has been caused by a private company, but the costs would be born by the public. Except it turns out we have an Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which assesses a small tax on oil companies and saves the money to cover the economic costs of an event such as this one. (The Obama administration has said the direct costs of the spill will be covered by BP.)