Dean Baker

What Does The Fed Have To Do With Social Security? Plenty.

Most of the people who closely follow the Federal Reserve Board’s decisions on monetary policy are investors trying to get a jump on any moves that will affect financial markets. Very few of the people involved in the debate over the future of Social Security pay much attention to the Fed. That’s unfortunate because the connections are much more direct than is generally recognized. The basic story of Social Security’s finances is that, while the program is entirely sound for the near future, the program is projected to face a shortfall in the decade of the thirties. Under current law, at that point it would be necessary to reduce benefits from their scheduled level, unless additional revenue can be raised. Of course the answer from those on the right is to cut benefits, and the sooner the better.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The Coming Race War Won’t Be About Race

You probably have heard of the Kent State shootings: on May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University. During those 13 seconds of gunfire, four students were killed and nine were wounded, one of whom was permanently paralyzed. The shock and outcry resulted in a nationwide strike of 4 million students that closed more than 450 campuses. Five days after the shooting, 100,000 protestors gathered in Washington, D.C. And the nation’s youth was energetically mobilized to end the Vietnam War, racism, sexism, and mindless faith in the political establishment. You probably haven’t heard of the Jackson State shootings.

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Dave Johnson

Polling Shows Democrats Should Campaign On Corporate Patriotism

You may have heard about corporations renouncing their US “citizenship” in order to avoid paying taxes for the infrastructure, courts, police and military protection on which they rely, the schools which their employees send their kids — even the food stamps and other government assistance which some of their extremely-low-wage employees receive. Polling shows that the public is outraged. The President and Democrats should use this as a top campaign issue this fall. Corporations are using a gimmicky tax loophole with the technical name “inversions” to abandon their US citizenship. They buy or merge with a company in a tax-haven country and then pretend that company is now the owner of them.

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Terrance Heath

Ferguson And The “War On Whites”

Rep. Mo Brooks (R, Alabama) recently accused Democrats of waging a “war on whites.” In Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown — an unarmed, 18-year-old, young black man —  was shot and killed by a police officer, there is no question against whom war is being waged. If there is a “war” on, whites are winning. Whites earn more. In 2012, the median income for white households was $67,000, compared to about $40,000 for blacks and Latinos. Whites have more wealth. Median net worth for white households is more than $90,000 — ten times that of black and Latino households. The racial wealth gap has grown steadily, nearly tripling between 1984 and 2009. By 2010, whites held about 88 percent of the nation’s wealth. Blacks held just 2.7 percent. Whites fared better in the recession.

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Digby

Why Hasn’t President Obama Fixed The Problem Of Race In This Country?

The Village wants to know now. In many ways, Obama’s difficulty in navigating matters of race as president mirrors his struggles in other areas. He has repeatedly and eloquently spoken about race — and his experiences in making his way in the world as the son of a white mother and a Kenyan father — over the past decade. But those words have done little to heal the racial wounds in the country. Perhaps it’s too much to expect any one individual, even the president, to help finally close such a deep and long-standing gash on the country’s conscience. But such is the historic nature of Obama’s presidency that many people, both white and black, expect him to do just that. Today at least, Obama’s vision of a post-racial America looks even further away than it did that night a decade ago in Boston.

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Richard Eskow

One Nation Under Siege: “Counterinsurgency Cops” in Ferguson – and on TV

The transfer of used military equipment from the armed forces to police departments around the country has been accompanied, at least to a certain extent, by a shift in public thinking. The news media have played a critical part in that shift, both in its coverage and in what it chooses not to cover.  How often do we hear, for example, do we hear statistics like these? From 1993 to 2012, overall violent victimization declined from a rate of 79.8 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older to 26.1 per 1,000. From 1993 to 2011, the rate of homicide declined 48%, from 9.9 to 5.1 homicides per 100,000 persons. These figures are from the most recent Justice Department report on “criminal victimization,” but we seldom hear them.

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Bill Scher

Bush vs. Obama on the Economy. In 3 Simple Charts.

In the most recent CBS News poll, the public was split on which party will do a “better job” on the economy, with Democrats at 42% and Republicans at 41%. This should help break the tie. Who to hold accountable for the economy is complicated by the fact that for the last three-and-a-half years government is at a bipartisan stalemate. President Obama and the Democrats can’t invest as much as they like in infrastructure, energy and education. Republicans can’t slash spending as deep as they would like or deregulate corporations at all. Still, the totality of the Obama presidency tilts in a Keynesian direction, thanks to the Recovery Act (the “stimulus”) and the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Speaking Ill Of the Dead

Two tragic events this week gave right wingers an opportunity to show some humanity and decency. As usual, wingnuts did not exactly cover themselves in glory. Instead of rising to the occasion, they sank to new lows. Most Americans were sad to learn that beloved comedian and Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams took his own life earlier this week. Within minutes of the news, the web was full of tributes. Williams’ fans and colleagues alike remembered his talent and kindness — even as the world learned that Williams’ had struggled with severe depression of late. Not everyone was so kind. It’s been considered socially inappropriate to speak ill of the dead sinceChilon of Sparta admonished “Demortuis nilnidi bonus” (“Of the dead say nothing but good”) around 600 BC. That didn’t stop wingnuts from chiming in less than 24 hours after Williams Death.

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Dave Johnson

Who Has Been Warning About Police Militarization?

On The PBS Newshour Thursday, Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times was asked who has been covering the issue of the militarization of police. He said this has only been discussed by libertarians, like at Reason Magazine and the Cato Institute. “… has largely come from libertarian quarters for several years. They’ve kind of been the lone voice on this. Folks like the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine have been writing a lot about this. … some of the more traditional liberal voices against this, they have have kind of been on the sidelines on this issue.” This is a bizarre statement. To their credit Cato and Reason have been sounding the alarm about the militarization of our police departments and the potential consequences. But there have also been plenty of “liberal” and other sources trying to raise awareness of this issue as well.

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Jeff Bryant

Character Change In The ‘Education Reform’ Soap Opera

If you’ve ever spent much time watching soap operas, you’re familiar with this scenario: Two characters with furrowed brows, arms akimbo square off: “That’s not true,” says one. “Oh yes it is,” says the other. “If only Brock were here …” as the camera pans right. Music swells, tension builds … only, when the door opens, the person entering doesn’t look like “Brock.” Oh, he looks Brock-like – same telegenic appearance, good style points. But he’s clearly not Brock. Then the voice over: “Now playing the role of Brock is … ” and what you realize is that the character you’re used to seeing has changed, and the person now playing the part is different. But as everyone familiar with this knows, the plot remains the same – same settings, same confrontations over fictional creations.

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Richard Eskow

JPMorgan Chase’s $13 Billion Shadow

If nothing else, William D. Cohan’s recent Nation article about JPMorgan Chase’s $13 billion settlement should confirm the public’s darkest suspicions about that institution and its CEO. It was only logical to assume that the bank wouldn’t have agreed to what was then the largest bank settlement in history unless it believed the alternative was much worse.  In that sense there are no new revelations in Cohan’s reporting. But it’s extremely satisfying to see the events leading up to the settlement laid out in such a clear, logical, and sequential fashion. Cohan guides readers to the conclusions that many of us reached some time ago: that JPMorgan Chase was as corrupt in its business practices as any other major bank (which is to say, quite corrupt); and that CEO Jamie Dimon convinced a lot of people otherwise, using only the power of his personality.

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Emily Schwartz Greco

Solar Power Gets Hot, Hot, Hot

By Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins With so many homeowners and businesses making greener energy choices, private utilities — along with big oil, gas, coal, and nuclear companies — see the writing on the wall. Unlike some other denizens of the fossil-fueled set, this gang isn’t beating oil wells into solar panels, retiring nuclear reactors, or embracing wind and geothermal power. Instead, these guys are trying to coax lawmakers into rigging the rules against increasingly competitive new energy alternatives. You see, the bulwarks of conventional energy are good at math. And the math is increasingly not in their favor.

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Dave Johnson

Obama And Dems Tout Improving Economy. Are They Right?

The President says the economy is doing well. Democrats are circulating a “message document” to Democratic candidates that “highlights a string of recent positive economic indicators.” Who have they been talking to? (Hint: the wealthy donor class.) Economy Improving — For A Few It is a fact that the economy is improving and the behind-the-scenes numbers that economists and business types pour over look better than they have looked in a long time. As a result corporate profits are at record levels and a few people are doing very, very well, thank you. As they say, when Bill Gates walks into a room filled with poor people the average income in that room is incredible.

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Terrance Heath

Blink, And You’ll Miss The Latest “Libertarian Moment”

The latest “Libertarian Moment” is upon us, and will expire once it runs headlong into its own inherent shortcomings and the reality of a populist majority. Blink, and you’ll miss it. Robert Draper, in the New York Times, asks “Has the Libertarian Moment Arrived?”, and answers by asserting that “the age group most responsible for delivering Obama his two terms” is poised to become a political “wild card.” Turned off by the Iraq war, “reflexively tolerant of other lifestyles,” and appalled by NSA-style invasions of privacy, Draper claims that voters between the ages of 18 and 29 — also known as Millennials —  are uncommitted to either major party, and thus are ripe to be lured into libertarianism. Draper’s engaging in wishful thinking. Young voters were an important part of the diverse coalition that gave President Obama two terms — but just one part.

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Richard Eskow

Happy Birthday, Social Security – But Stay Away From That Cake!

August 14th is Social Security’s birthday, and I keep having this nightmare. In it, 300 million Americans are singing Social Security’s praises and celebrating its 79th year. Then a giant cake is rolled out while everybody sings “Happy Birthday” – and out pops Alan Simpson, looking like Freddy Krueger and swinging a buzz saw with the words “chained CPI” painted on it. Alan Simpson, in case you’ve forgotten, is the remarkably uninformed former Republican senator from Wyoming who has made a post-political career out of taunting seniors in need. But he’s not the only chainsaw-swinger who might haunt a Social Security nightmare. So could any one of the politicians, policy analysts, and “think tank” employees who have targeted the program – usually because they’re funded by bankers like hedge fund billionaire Pete Peterson.

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Lynne Stuart Parramore

Regulators: Mega-Banks Still a Giant Threat

Image via Michael Fleshman @ Flickr. We hear a lot of big talk about how Dodd-Frank has made the financial system safer. That law was enacted to make certain that the country never gets blown apart by a financial crisis like the one in 2008. But does anybody really believe it? The bank regulators sure don’t. The FDIC just put out a press release summarizing problems with resolution plans submitted by 11 big banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and other behemoths. These resolution plans, also called “living wills,” spell out how the banks will handle things in the event the financial shit hits the fan. The FDIC noted several areas where bank plans don’t pass the smell test: While the shortcomings of the plans varied across the first-wave firms, the agencies have identified several common features of the plans’ shortcomings.

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Harvey J Kaye

August 14: Time to Reinvigorate the Fight for the Four Freedoms

This Thursday, August 14, marks 69 years since the surrender of Imperial Japan – and with the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II coming up next summer we are sure to see significant efforts around the country during the next twelve months to once again honor the memory and legacy of the Greatest Generation. Just as we have many times before, we will undoubtedly celebrate “the Spirit of ’45″ and tell those who remain of that generation that we will never forget or forsake all that they accomplished. And yet the sad truth is that we have already forgotten and forsaken what they – our parents and grandparents – did in the face of the worst economic and social catastrophe in American history and the global march of Fascism.

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Dave Johnson

Dems Should Campaign On Trade And Jobs, Not On Being Like Republicans

Watch this video of a smart politician who knew how to campaign in the Midwest. He know what people were thinking had his finger on the pulse of what people wanted to do about it: Democrats Campaigning As Republicans? A recent Politico story, “Running as a Dem, sounding like a Republican,” says that many Democrats are campaigning by trying to “appeal to more conservative voters.” They are talking about cutting back on spending, tax cuts for businesses and going after immigrants. Some Democrats also argue that, with so many Republican candidates — pushed by tea party forces — staking out positions further and further to the right, there’s room for Democratic hopefuls to appeal to centrist Republican voters who feel alienated.

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Robert Borosage

Democrats: Party of Future Change or Past Accomplishment

Are Democrats the party of future change or the party of past accomplishment? Are they fighting for what needs to be done or touting what has already been done? Is the economy on the right track or is it rigged to benefit the few and not the many? Are Democrats responsible for current conditions or has Republican obstruction stood in the way? Who is on your side? Who is fighting for you and who is in the pocket of special interests and big money and part of the problem? Every electoral campaign is different. Local issues, individual personalities, money and organization count big time. But to generate momentum across the country, for every candidate, it helps for a party to have a clear set of themes, a narrative, an argument that will help voters understand what the stakes are, and who is fighting for them.

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Isaiah J. Poole

After 5 Years Of ‘Recovery,’ Still Only Half As Many Jobs As Job Seekers

Here’s the sobering reality brought home today by the latest monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary by the Labor Department: After five years of economic “recovery,” there are still only half as many jobs as there are people looking for work. This monthly report gives a total of the number of job openings: a seasonally adjusted 4.7 million job openings in June. But that month, according to a separate monthly employment report, almost 9.5 million people were counted as unemployed. As Economic Policy Institute economist Heidi Shierholz writes in her analysis of the latest JOLTS report, “Put another way: Job seekers so outnumbered job openings that half of job seekers were not going to find a job in June no matter what they did.

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