epi.org — By now, it’s (finally) becoming well-recognized that the term “fiscal cliff” confuses more than it clarifies. The worst problem with it is that it presents the sharp fiscal contraction baked into current law for 2013 as a single monolith, when in fact it’s the result of a bunch of separable tax increases and spending cuts. Given that our previous effort at renaming the “cliff” clearly failed, I now officially nominate “à la carte austerity” as a new entry. A second problem with the “cliff” metaphor is that it carries the strong implication that if this à la carte austerity is not solved by Jan. 1, then economic chaos will ensue. This is clearly wrong.
talkingpointsmemo.com — Lest you conclude that progress in fiscal cliff negotiations is symptomatic of a weakened conservative appetite for taking the debt limit hostage, allow me to dissuade you. The truth is quite different. See, for starters, the Club for Growth’s reaction to John Boehner’s latest budget offer. The nub of it is pretty straightforward: They don’t want Boehner to raise the debt limit, even temporarily. They’re still pushing a 2011 redux. Even if deep down John Boehner wants to avoid another debt limit fight, or doesn’t think it’s winnable this time around, he’s so constrained by the right that he only felt able to offer Obama a year-long reprieve from that particular brinksmanship. Preventing it altogether will require the kind of willingness to shut down the right that Boehner’s never exhibited as speaker.
Our review of a broad range of reputable polls on economic issues finds a big difference between the policy solutions that dominate the discussion among policymakers and media pundits and what the majority of average citizens would like to be brought to the forefront.
thedailybeast.com — Fiscal cliff hostage situation, day 40. It’s taken six weeks, but President Obama has finally got the Republican House leader to make the case for a more progressive tax system. In an effort to resolve the fiscal cliff impasse, John Boehner reportedly has offered to raise income-tax rates on people who make more than $1 million a year—but if, and only if, Obama agrees to entitlement cuts. In addition, The Washington Post reported, Boehner also has offered to take the toxic debt-ceiling debate off the table for a year. Like those Japanese soldiers holed up in caves on Pacific islands in 1945, the House Republicans don’t seem to grasp that the war over higher taxes on the rich is effectively over. This war ended, of course, with the election.
economix.blogs.nytimes.com — Most of us live in a world in which paid employment is the only avenue to economic self-sufficiency. Without it, families maintained by working-age adults are largely dependent on the kindness of strangers, otherwise known as extended unemployment insurance and food stamps. Yet, for more than four years, this nation has tolerated levels of unemployment that have essentially made it impossible for most of those seeking paid employment to find it, with a ratio of unemployed workers to job openings of more than three to one. The next time someone with a comfortable paycheck tells you that American workers no longer have a work ethic, please explain to them that right now, there’s not enough paid work to go around. Which is why we should fight for a real right to work.
alternet.org — Corporate tax rates must be lowered in order to create economic growth: this is a key argument made by CEOs and their political allies while they push for a fiscal cliff deal. That was in the Bowles-Simpson plan, and members of Fix the Debt are pushing for that too, along with a territorial tax system. This desire is deeply held in much of Washington. Never mind for a moment the obvious problem with lowering tax rates as a means of fixing the long-term debt. Would allowing corporations to pay less taxes really mean more hiring? Luckily we have some interesting case studies. Several of the CEOs pushing this idea actually run companies that pay extremely low corporate tax rates, well below the statutory 35 percent rate—or pay none at all. So, via the invaluable Institute for Policy Studies, let’s see what kind of job creation these folks did while enjoying very low corporate tax rates.
jaredbernsteinblog.com — Secretary Geithner was met at the door in January of 2009 by a financial market meltdown and correctly undertook reversing that as his first job. That part of the market has recovered. The job market has not. But “wait a minute!” you say. That’s the labor secretary’s job—the secretary of the Treasury is responsible for financial markets, making sure our borrowing costs stay low (so s/he must worry about the budget deficit), international trade—stuff like that, right? Wrong! Or, at least only partially right. S/he must recognize the linkages between all of the above and the largely unfinished business of economic recovery. That is, in every policy matter, the new secretary must envision a new client.
thedailybeast.com — So the Republicans look like crap right now. The brand, as they say, is at a horrible low. Naturally I find this amusing and satisfying. But then I recall: Well, they looked pretty bad in December 2008, too. Remember? They were written off. But then they came roaring back and really showed some muscle and swept the next elections. So what’s to prevent them from doing the same this time? Three factors, actually. History may repeat itself, as the saying goes, but never so precisely that the exact same tricks will work a second time.
alternet.org — Quick - when you hear "public housing," what picture jumps into your mind? Or "public hospital"? All around us, our public institutions are disintegrating, and the most important public institution of all – our public education system – is the next to be ghettoized. Despite several progressive victories this Election Day, there was one significant defeat in Georgia, as voters approved of Constitutional Amendment 1 , which changes Georgia’s Constitution to give Republicans in that state the power to create charter schools as part of Georgia’s public education system. The result will be crucial taxpayer dollars being funneled away from free public schools and directed toward brand new, sometimes for-profit, privately-run charter schools. This is a major shot in the multigenerational war on public education part of our commons.
robertreich.org — It was the centerpiece of the President’s reelection campaign. Every time Republicans complained about trillion-dollar deficits, he and other Democrats would talk jobs. That’s what Americans care about — jobs with good wages. And that’s part of why Obama and the Democrats were victorious on Election Day. So why are we debating how to cut the deficit when we should be debating how best to use the cheap money we can borrow from the rest of the world to put more Americans to work? Because too many Democrats inside and outside the Beltway have ingested the deficit Kool-aid that the “serious people” on Wall Street have serving for two decades. And the President has been all too willing to legitimize their deficit obsession by freezing federal salaries, appointing a deficit commission, and, now that the election is over, going back to deficit-speak.