Visual source: Newseum
Scripps Howard News Service:
Any positive economic news is good for President Barack Obama, but there's good news politically for the rest of us. The Treasury was expected to hit its borrowing limit of almost $16.4 trillion in November or December, but the improving revenue picture pushes back that date to early in 2013.
One hopes that the reckless lawmakers who nearly drove the country into default last summer to score political points — and did succeed in denting America's credit rating — either won't be re-elected or will return severely chastened by the electorate.
But what really sets the current recovery apart from all its predecessors is this: Almost three years after economic growth resumed, the real value of Americans’ paychecks is stubbornly still shrinking. According to Friday’s Bloomberg Economics Brief, “the pace of income gains is well below that of the past two jobless recoveries and real average hourly earnings continue to decline.”
The Bloomberg report cites one reason for this anomaly: Most of the jobs being created are in low-wage sectors.
Optimists — yes, there are still some — say that the prospect of the tax hikes and cuts could finally nudge the two parties to the kind of deficit solution that many experts prefer. It involves sweeping tax reform that would close loopholes, reduce marginal rates, simplify the tax code and perhaps even lift long-term economic growth. Such tax reform has always been easy to put off, but the compromises it requires may end up being easier to accept than taxmageddon.
YET there is still a basic contradiction with which most politicians and voters have yet to grapple, the same contradiction that has helped create this strange situation in the first place. Talking in exasperated tones about the importance of fiscal responsibility is easy. Cutting the deficit is hard, because it involves unpopular tax increases or unpopular spending cuts — and huge cuts if the solution involves only spending, not taxes, as many Republicans urge.
What the tea party has wrought is more damage to both the economy and the voters than the media (with rare exceptions like Leonhardt and Krugman) is prepared to talk about.
Maureen Dowd on Saturday Night Live and the election:
Maybe Stefon can moderate the debates. But meanwhile, Downey is leavening the prospect of an “eh” campaign by plotting to follow up his hilarious Keith Olbermann sketch (performed by the host Ben Affleck) with a send-up of Sean Hannity.
“I think I’m right in saying,” Downey observed, “that he’s the dumbest person who’s ever been paid to speak on television.
The competition is fierce.
Patrick Pexton on an obscure study that was highlighted by the Washington Post to their chagrin:
We in the media like the Web traffic that a story like this attracts. It quickens the media pulse; we all get a frisson of pleasure from being viral on the Internet for a day.
But I’m not sure the truth wins. The truth is that every complex law change, every annual federal budget, is a risk. They’re all based on assumptions and forecasts that may or may not come true. And when they don’t, Congress and the president have to adjust.
As the Medicare actuary wrote in his 2011 testimony: “The Affordable Care Act improves the financial outlook for Medicare substantially. However, the effects of some of the new law’s provisions on Medicare are not known at this time, with the result that the projections are much more uncertain than normal, especially in the longer-range future.”
Republicans may condemn class warfare, but their primaries turned into a class struggle. Romney performed best among voters with high incomes, and he was consistently weaker with the white working class, even in the late primaries where he put Santorum away. And Romney cannot win without rolling up very large margins among less well-off whites.
When Ann Romney’s husband, who faces a gender gap in some polls, uses her experience and insight as a megaphone for women’s concern over fewer paid jobs, he mistakenly assumes that all women are fungible. Which was, I take it, Rosen’s original point.
Although Ann Romney may be a fine spokesperson on some issues, the dirty little secret of angling for female votes is that while all women’s work, inside or outside the home, has the same worth, as Michelle Obama and Barbara Bush sweetly expressed, all women do not have the same interests. Women who work in the home do not have the same interest in the recovery of the formal job market as women who have to work for pay. Indeed, wage-earning women probably have more in common with their paycheck-dependent male co-workers on the subject of economic recovery than with household laborers such as Ann Romney.