Economy

Yep, Washington Is Out-of-Touch

Kevin Burkett / Flickr

Like Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei at Politico, Charlie Cook does a nice job of unintentionally revealing the huge blindspots of our business elites:

While the vast majority of major corporate leaders either backed Mitt Romney last year or stayed neutral, they don’t really see the Republican Party as the good guys and Democrats as the bad guys. They see the whole political and governing process as dysfunctional. They believe that even the smart, well-intentioned, and economically sophisticated policymakers on both sides of the aisle are rendered almost powerless by the extremists.

The Fiscal Cliff Proxy War

Flickr/Talk Radio News Service

Washington has a way of focusing the nation’s attention on tactical games. We almost never get to debate or even discuss the big problems because the tactical games overwhelm everything else. The debate over the fiscal cliff, for example, is really about tactical maneuvers preceding a negotiation about how best to reduce the federal budget deficit. This, in turn, is a fragment of a bigger debate over whether we should be embracing austerity economics and reducing the budget deficit in the next few years or, alternatively, using public spending and investing to grow the economy and increase the number of jobs.

Labour’s Rise

The leader of the British Labour Party emerges as a true political leader

(Press Association via AP Images)

On that emotionally charged day in Manchester in late September 2010 when Ed Miliband narrowly beat his brother David to become the new leader of the British Labor Party—largely thanks to trade union votes, Conservatives rejoiced. The younger Miliband, they thought, was too woolly and too left-wing to lead a Labor resurgence; they considered David a much tougher opponent.

In opposition since May 2010, after 13 years in government, Labor faced a twin struggle: to convince voters to take them seriously as stewards of the economy again and to make their new leader, only 40 and with relatively thin ministerial experience at the time of his election, plausible as the country’s next prime minister.

It's All About the Tax Brackets

Google

Conservatives might think otherwise, but the liberal focus on repealing the upper-income Bush tax cuts has less to do with higher taxes for their own sake, and more to do with revenue—we need it—and basic distributional concerns: The rich have been extremely well-served by the economy, taking a huge percentage of all income produced since 1979.

This Is Not Wisconsin. It's Worse.

Sheldon Dick/Farm Security Administration

Let’s clear one thing up. “Right to work” laws, which permit employees working at a unionized workplace to refuse to join the union or to pay the union the cost of representing the worker, are designed to weaken the economic and political power of organized labor and, by extension, wage workers. Full stop. They allow workers to “free ride” all the benefits of a collective-bargaining agreement (increased wages, benefits, rights to adjudicate a dispute with a supervisor, safety and health requirement beyond those mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, etc.) negotiated by the union without paying any of the union dues their fellow employees pay.

Michigan: A Right-to-Work State?

AP Photo

Labor never ruled Michigan as such. It may have been home to the best and biggest American union, the United Auto Workers, but even at the height of their power, the UAW could seldom elect its candidates to Detroit city government. Still, the UAW dominated the state’s Democratic Party and much of state politics for decades—at least, until the auto industry radically downsized.

Bobby Jindal Makes a Splash with Terrible Ideas

Derek Bridges / Flickr

The title of this post is harsh, but when you consider the actual effects of the policies he endorses in this Politico op-ed, it's fair to wonder if he's trying to provoke a combination economic/constitutional crisis.

Forget the Fiscal Cliff—We've Got Other Problems

Flickr/DonkeyHotey

The “fiscal cliff” is a metaphor for a government that no longer responds to the biggest challenges we face because it’s paralyzed by intransigent Republicans, obsessed by the federal budget deficit, and overwhelmed by big money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires.

If we had a functional government America would address three “cliffs” posing far larger dangers to us than the fiscal one:

The child poverty cliff.

Folks Like Me

(Flickr / 401(K) 2012)

When President Obama calls for raising taxes on the top 2 percent, he has a habit of declaring that, “Folks like me” should pay higher taxes. He used the phrase dozens of time during the campaign, and just this week again in an interview on Bloomberg.

Either someone on the president’s speechwriting staff has a tin ear, or Obama himself does.

For starters, the comment puts unnecessary distance between the president and the citizenry. It signals: I am not like most of you. I am far wealthier.

An End to Debt Ceiling Shenanigans?

Center for American Progress

Via Matthew Yglesias, Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, explains one of the administration's key demands as deals with Republicans on the fiscal cliff—an end to the debt ceiling as a negotiation tool:

News Flash: Americans Still Don't Understand Deficits

Business Insider

At Business Insider, Walter Hickey reports results from an online survey (commissioned by the website) that show a public muddled over the consequences of going over the fiscal cliff. Per the survey, 47.4 percent of Americans said that the deficit would increase if we went over the cliff, only 12.6 percent say that it would decrease.

The Importance of Elizabeth Warren

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Boston Globe, Politico, and Huffington Post are all reporting that Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren has been granted her wish to get a seat on the Senate Banking Committee.

This victory for progressives is huge. It means that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid—who makes the committee selection, later ratified by the Democratic caucus—did not cave to pressure from either the financial lobby or from Senate Banking Committee Chairman, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, who is effectively part of that lobby. (South Dakota gutted its usury laws decades ago to make the state hospitable to the back office operations of the biggest banks.)

Resistance (on Tax Rates) Is Futile

Google

It seems that Republicans are beginning to understand the futility of their opposition to higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. Writing for the Washington Examiner, Byron York reveals the extent to which GOP lawmakers know the weakness of their position.

Republicans, Exposed

(Flickr/David Silver)

President Barack Obama’s persistence has managed to smoke out House Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans. Their just-announced plan for cutting the deficit is what we suspected: cuts in Medicare and Social Security; no higher tax rates on the rich; limits on tax deductions that would hit the middle class as well as the wealthy, but only raise half the revenue of Obama’s plan; and a lot of fudging with numbers.

The Republicans might as well be parading around with a sign that reads “Kick Me.” None of this stuff solves the real problem of getting a recovery going. If you believe that deficit reduction is required, it doesn’t even solve that. And the plan cuts into social insurance programs that are hugely popular, while Obama defends them.

Greedy Geezers, Reconsidered

(Seymour Chwast)

For three decades, conservative critics have been warning that the elderly are living too well at the expense of the young. Since the early 1980s, financier Peter G. Peterson has been predicting that Social Security’s excessive generosity would crash the retirement system and the economy. The late British journalist Henry Fairlie, in 1988, famously wrote a piece in The New Republic with the cover line “Greedy Geezers,” faulting the elderly for living too well at the expense of the young. 

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