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GOP Revs Up the Spin on Stimulus

Republicans have been winning the media wars over Obama’s central initiative. They have done so largely by defining the proposal by its least significant parts.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 READ MORE


Stimulus Skeptics Wrong (Again)

Mythology is overshadowing history in the debate over Obama’s plan to stimulate the depressed economy. Excessive airtime is devoted to the prejudices of cable hosts and radio personalities who regurgitate ideas they barely understand.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 READ MORE


Eight Is (More Than) Enough

It turns out that the woman who recently gave birth to eight babies already had six in vitro kids at home, no spouse, no job and a pending bankruptcy. There’s a word for this achievement of medicine’s reproductive business: nuts.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 READ MORE


Dear Wall Street

The reason you are such a big story is that you’ve stolen our money. Or at least that’s how most of the country sees it. You think those auto executives looked bad when they flew into Washington on their private jets? Just you wait.

Posted on Feb 4, 2009 READ MORE


Marie Antoinette
Lie Louis Périn-Salbreux

Who Knew Bankers Were This Stupid?

Earth to Wall Street: It’s over, people. You had a terrific run, better than you deserved, but now you’d be wise to pay attention to those citizens outside, the ones with the pitchforks and the torches.

Posted on Feb 2, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / Nikolas Giakoumidis

It’s Not Going to Be OK

The daily bleeding of thousands of jobs will soon turn our economic crisis into a political crisis. Our empire is dying. How will we cope with our decline? Will we cling to the absurd dreams of a superpower and a glorious tomorrow or will we responsibly face our stark new limitations?

Posted on Feb 2, 2009 READ MORE


Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste

President Obama’s outreach to Republicans is popular, but the coming week will test his resolve. Eventually, he’ll have to say “no” to the GOP, or lose what he’s fighting for.

Posted on Feb 2, 2009 READ MORE



Mark Fischer on Copyright in the Digital Age

A new book by Lawrence Lessig asks what constitutes copyright infringement in the era of “sampling” and point-and-click downloading.

Posted on Jan 30, 2009 READ MORE


Making Him Do It

Intragovernmental squabbling probably makes the conflict-averse Obama uncomfortable. But the “make him do it” dynamic could finally bring the center of Washington’s political debate closer to the progressive center of American public opinion.

Posted on Jan 29, 2009 READ MORE


The GOP’s Soundproof Room

Unbeknown to the House Republicans who voted unanimously against President Obama’s stimulus package, we are in the midst of a rare fundamental shift in American politics.

Posted on Jan 29, 2009 READ MORE


Let the Limbaughs Whine

How fortunate for Barack Obama that Rush Limbaugh, big radio personality and leader of the instinctual far right, has yet to retire to a sunny island with his bottles of pills.

Posted on Jan 29, 2009 READ MORE


Economic Policy That Might Actually Work? Who Knew?

After eight years of trickle-down tax cuts that pushed the prosperous up and left most everyday Americans sliding further down, the stimulus bill now moving swiftly through Congress is more than a reversal of political course. Let’s hope it’s not too late.

Posted on Jan 29, 2009 READ MORE


Stimulus Brings on a Family Feud

President Obama’s visit with House and Senate Republicans this week was useful for setting a new tone and a refreshing break from the Bush administration’s habit of consulting almost no one. But it was a sideshow to the main battle over how to improve the economy, which is among Democrats.

Posted on Jan 29, 2009 READ MORE


pigs
Flickr / treehouse1977

Bankers Took Home Billions While Wall Street Burned

If you’re in a good mood, you may just want to skip this bit of news from The New York Times: “Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York ... collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year.” Update

Posted on Jan 29, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / hthg1983

Biden Says Banks May Get More, More, More

The vice president let it slip Sunday that the $700 billion TARP bailout bill could have a sequel. Also, Nancy Pelosi indicated that Congress might dole out more funds to financial institutions. Let’s see, that’s $700 billion on TARP, $850 billion for the still-pending stimulus package, plus the mysterious billions they’re tossing around at the Federal Reserve. ... Here’s hoping China doesn’t cut up our national credit card.

Posted on Jan 26, 2009 READ MORE


The Downside of Bipartisanship

Remember this, President Obama: There are few Washington traditions as annoying as the cultish worship of bipartisanship, for it ignores the simple fact that sometimes one party gets things disastrously wrong.

Posted on Jan 22, 2009 READ MORE


Giving Obama the Benefit of the Doubt

Rarely has a new presidency been greeted with such a consensus of good will—and rarely has a new president so needed it.

Posted on Jan 20, 2009 READ MORE



Wikimedia Commons

Congress Sings the Bailout Blues

Want to know where the $350 billion banking bailout went and why it hasn’t done a bit of good? Read, and weep over, this little-noticed report from the congressional panel set up to monitor the Treasury Department’s distribution of our taxpayer funds.

Posted on Jan 18, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / Betsssssy

Bank of America, Literally

The taxpayers’ bank opened a new branch on Thursday: Uncle Sam just threw $20 billion Bank of America’s way. The government is also on the hook for $118 billion more in crap assets. Bank of America chief Ken Lewis calls it the “deal of a lifetime.” No kidding.

Posted on Jan 16, 2009 READ MORE


Fool Me Once

Somehow, immediately releasing more bailout funds is being portrayed as a self-evident necessity. Amid Barack Obama’s paeans to “new politics,” we’re watching old-school paybacks from a politician who raised more Wall Street dough than any other.

Posted on Jan 15, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / jphilipg

What Does $825 Billion of Stimulation Feel Like?

There will be negotiation, revision and capitulation, but the basic guts of the Democrats’ $825 billion stimulus package are out in the open. There’s billions for infrastructure, billions for schools and billions for you and me. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) responded by saying “Oh. My. God,” which we’ll take to mean, “Praise Jesus! The Democrats have done it again.”

Posted on Jan 15, 2009 READ MORE


The Shame Beneath Inaugural Hoopla

Sorry to rain on the inaugural parade, but we need to find a better way to pay for these things. The financing of President-elect Barack Obama’s big day is just as much of an embarrassment to the country as the financing of inaugurations past.

Posted on Jan 14, 2009 READ MORE


Nothing to Fear but No Health Care

Fifty million Americans are without health insurance, and 25 million are “underinsured.” Millions being laid off will soon be added to those rolls. At this perilous moment, we need sweeping New Deal-caliber changes, not the impotent tinkering that has been proposed.

Posted on Jan 13, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / tomsaint11

This Common-Sense Solution Brought to You by the 19th Century

Barack Obama wants to spend as much as a trillion dollars on the nation’s infrastructure, from roads to bridges. A video on his transition Web site even touts the economic advantages of fixing potholes. Why so car-centric? A new article in the Washington Monthly claims that spending some of that money on rail lines instead of roads could pay dividends.

Posted on Jan 12, 2009 READ MORE


Bush’s Short View of History

In his eyes, there’s “no such thing as short-term history.” It’s true that some presidencies look different after a few decades. But it’s also true that presidential acts can have immediate consequences—and Bush’s eight years are seen as a nadir that will take years to recover from.

Posted on Jan 12, 2009 READ MORE


One for the Workers

Hilda Solis does not have star power. What the nominee for labor secretary does have is a record of loyalty to those who work and want to work, and who wish to receive in exchange a decent wage and a measure of dignity.

Posted on Jan 12, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / respres

Obama Says He’ll Spend Some Bailout Money on Homeowners

With half of the $700 billion in TARP funds already spent and not a whole lot to show for it, Barack Obama has pledged to spend the second parcel differently, with at least some of the money going to desperate homeowners. President Bush has agreed to request the funds on Obama’s behalf in order to expedite the process.

Posted on Jan 12, 2009 READ MORE


ENTER_ALT_TEXT
flickr.com / Presidential Inaugural Committee

Wizards of the Inauguration

While Barack Obama banned corporations and big donors from funding his inauguration so as to not trammel the public celebration, the big event’s multimillion-dollar bill is instead being footed by Wall Street executives and other financial employees acting as fundraisers. Abracadabra—no more special interests.

Posted on Jan 9, 2009 READ MORE


The Politician in Chief Works for a Stimulus

The substantive issues surrounding an economic stimulus are clearer than the politics of getting it passed fast. Here’s how Obama is trying to weave the politics and the substance together.

Posted on Jan 8, 2009 READ MORE


Beware, Mr. Obama, of Tax-Cut Seduction

Much of the business-tax package Obama contemplates fails his own test of cutting business taxes “where it makes sense and is going to work.”

Posted on Jan 8, 2009 READ MORE


Now Is No Time for Phony Thrift

As the government contemplates spending very large sums of money, it is reassuring to know that somebody still worries about waste. Or it would be reassuring, if only that somebody were not Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader.

Posted on Jan 8, 2009 READ MORE


Yukking It Up at the Blago Show

I am supposed to be typing out words that articulate a highly audible and terribly alarmed tsk tsk. Instead, I am laughing with unrestrained amusement at the farce that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has engineered. Honestly, I haven’t had this much fun since New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s implosion.

Posted on Jan 6, 2009 READ MORE


Let’s Pledge to Stop Being Stupid About Teen Sex

“Virginity pledges” are one of the ways that government officials measure whether abstinence-only education is “working.” They count the pledges as proof that teens will abstain. It turns out that this is like counting New Year’s resolutions as proof that you lost 10 pounds.

Posted on Jan 1, 2009 READ MORE


Swindler of the Year

In a sense, we’re all Bernie Madoff. We’ve been running our economy in accordance with his accounting principles for a generation—and now we face a most unpleasant reckoning.

Posted on Dec 31, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Craig Ruttle

Why I Am a Socialist

The free market and globalization, promised as the route to worldwide prosperity, have been exposed as a con game. We will either find our way out of this mess by embracing an uncompromising democratic socialism or we will continue to be fleeced and impoverished by our bankrupt elite.

Posted on Dec 29, 2008 READ MORE


Economic Death and Millionaire Taxes

For most of us, Benjamin Franklin’s words in 1789 still apply: “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” However, millionaires, by definition, are not most of us.

Posted on Dec 26, 2008 READ MORE



Flickr / Brave New Films

Wal-Mart’s $640 Million Sneeze

Wal-Mart will pay as much as $640 million to settle 63 lawsuits around the country alleging that the retailer had exploited its workers. The payout could add up to less than 0.1 percent of the company’s revenues this year.

Posted on Dec 23, 2008 READ MORE


Regulator Gave Blessing to IndyMac Shenanigans

The Treasury Department’s inspector general has been looking into the failure of IndyMac, which set the taxpayers back $8.9 billion, and what he found isn’t pretty. It seems a certain regulator let the bank present itself as “well-capitalized” when the truth was something entirely different.

Posted on Dec 23, 2008 READ MORE



AP file photo / Reed Saxon

SAG Strikes Out

The Hollywood-centric “Membership First” faction that has controlled the Screen Actors Guild’s national board for most of the last five years chooses tactics—misinformation, tough talk and over-promising—that undermine the union’s credibility.

Posted on Dec 22, 2008 READ MORE


Bailouts

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Posted on Dec 19, 2008 READ MORE


Vegas strip
letstravelvacations.com

We Are All Las Vegans Now

A voyage to Sin City in this moment of ecological and economic crisis is a journey to a giant concave mirror reflecting back the magnified—and ugly—truths about this epoch of cataclysmic consumption and hubristic hedonism.

Posted on Dec 19, 2008 READ MORE


It’s a Man’s Meltdown

Today’s brainteaser: Name the top female executives who were forced to go before Congress, explaining why their companies made multibillion-dollar mistakes that helped wreck the economy but nonetheless deserve billions in taxpayer bailouts.

Posted on Dec 18, 2008 READ MORE


Workers Laid Off, Executives Paid Off, Bernard Madoff

Bernard Madoff’s criminal pyramid scheme, in which losses are expected to be $50 billion, paints a grim picture—unless you are a corporate executive. Read the fine print. Of the TARP bailout funds, only those that were technically spent “in an auction” carry limits on executive pay.

Posted on Dec 16, 2008 READ MORE


Killing the Big 3 Would Be Nuts

Despite the popular myth, lemmings don’t really hurl themselves off a cliff to reduce their numbers. That sort of behavior is seen only among Republicans in the Senate, who gave us a demonstration when they torpedoed legislation to bail out the auto industry.

Posted on Dec 15, 2008 READ MORE


Crippling the Auto Union Is Just a Warm-Up

I must admit that when the danger of a global financial implosion became apparent in March, I did not understand how all those worthless Wall Street credit swaps really could be the fault of an overpaid union welder at an auto plant somewhere in Michigan.

Posted on Dec 15, 2008 READ MORE


Dennis Kucinich
AP photo / Kevin Wolf

Rep. Dennis Kucinich on His Battle With the Banks

Once they were as gods, but the deities of the American banking system are now in ruins, plunged from their pedestals into the maw of taxpayer largesse. There was a time when their power was real. Come with me to Cleveland 30 years ago today.

Posted on Dec 15, 2008 READ MORE


We Told You So

With the release of three new reports, there’s no debate anymore about who was correct and who wasn’t concerning the economic collapse and the Wall Street bailout. The studies prove that progressive critics were right and the Washington ideologues and the pundits were wrong.

Posted on Dec 11, 2008 READ MORE


Say Hello to the Thrift Zeitgeist

Now, competitive consumption has been replaced by contagious anxiety. Buying hit the wall with the housing collapse, the stock market plunge, the credit card crunch and the surge in unemployment figures.

Posted on Dec 11, 2008 READ MORE



Truthdig / Peter Scheer

Redrawing the Political Map

A little-noticed California proposition could limit the kind of partisan gerrymandering that Republicans and Democrats have used to influence elections around America for decades. But is that a good thing?

Posted on Dec 11, 2008 READ MORE


Unions Aren’t the Problem

As Congress and the White House lurch toward possible approval of a loan package for the crippled auto industry, we are undoubtedly in store for more union-bashing.

Posted on Dec 9, 2008 READ MORE


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