Winners and Losers Under the Simpson-Bowles Social Security Plan – Every Social Security proposal has relatively clear winners and losers, for the reason that Social Security is a simple income transfer program. The benefits it pays must (in the long run) be equal to the taxes it collects, and the distribution of both its tax burdens and its benefit payments are fairly straightforward to analyze. In my initial piece on the Simpson-Bowles Social Security plan, I explained its major provisions as well as the broader philosophical choices that it embodied. I thought it might be useful in this follow-up piece to explain in clearer terms who would be the plan’s winners and losers. A complete answer would be fairly complex given the broad array of Social Security’s distributional patterns by income level, sex, longevity, birth year, marital status and other factors. I will instead simplify and focus on three obvious categories of winners
John Taylor: Foreclosures Are the Mortal Enemy to Economic Recovery – There are those who believe that foreclosing rapidly on homes subject to defaulted mortgages is vital to clearing the market. Others believe we should do everything we can to keep people in their homes, urging loan modifications to forestall foreclosures. John Taylor, President and CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, falls solidly in the latter camp. Taylor would like to see widespread mortgage modifications that would allow homeowners in danger of defaulting to keep their homes. Taylor is on the board of directors of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights. He has also served on the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank Board, The Fannie Mae Housing Impact Division as well as The Freddie Mac Housing Advisory Board. He is extremely passionate on why his idea is the right choice to help turn around the real estate market.
Johann Hari: There won’t be a bailout for the earth – Why are the world’s governments bothering? Why are they jetting to Cancun next week to discuss what to do now about global warming? The vogue has passed. The fad has faded. Global warming is yesterday’s apocalypse. Didn’t somebody leak an email that showed it was all made up? Doesn’t it sometimes snow in the winter? Didn’t Al Gore get fat, or something? Alas, the biosphere doesn’t read Vogue. Nobody thought to tell it that global warming is so 2007. All it knows is three facts. 2010 is globally the hottest year since records began. 2010 is the year humanity’s emissions of planet-warming gases reached its highest level ever. And exactly as the climate scientists predicted, we are seeing a rapid increase in catastrophic weather events, from the choking of Moscow by gigantic unprecedented forest fires to the drowning of one quarter of Pakistan. Before the Great Crash of 2008, the people who warned about the injection of huge destabilizing risk into our financial system seemed like arcane, anal bores. Now we all sit in the rubble and wish we had listened. The great ecological crash will be worse, because nature doesn’t do bailouts.
Suze Orman: ‘The American Dream Is Dead’ – When asked about her financial fears, Orman said: “My only fear in life, when it comes to money, is what’s happening in the United States of America. The American dream is dead for the majority of America.” The dream she is referring to is not even a Cinderella story; it’s much more practical. Orman believes the hope of someday owning a home, of working one job for life and retiring at 65 has been crushed by the financial crisis. “The middle class has disappeared,” she continued. “We have a highway to poverty and no roads coming out. I fear for [those] who have been kicked out of their homes, could be living on the streets and don’t know how to get another job. Many of the millions of jobs lost I don’t think are coming back. I am really afraid for the majority of Americans today.”
Trade visualizer – world bank interactive site…
Obama calls for 2-year freeze on federal pay – President Barack Obama on Monday proposed a two-year freeze of the salaries of some 2 million federal workers, trying to seize the deficit-cutting initiative from Republicans with a sudden, dramatic stroke. Though signaling White House concern over record deficits, the freeze would make only a tiny dent in annual deficits or the nation’s $14 trillion debt. "Small businesses and families are tightening their belts," Obama said in brief remarks at the White House. "The government should, too." The administration said the plan was designed to save more than $5 billion over the first two years. Obama’s move was an attempt to get in front of Republican plans to slash federal pay and the workforce next year, when they will flex more legislative muscle than now. It came a day ahead of Obama’s meeting at the White House with both Republicans and Democratic leaders — his first with Republicans since the midterm elections — and two days before the deadline for recommendations by his deficit-reduction commission.
Deep-Water Dive Reveals Spilled Oil On Gulf Floor – When the BP oil well blew out earlier this year, the 4 million barrels that flowed into the sea didn’t simply vanish. There’s growing evidence that a good portion of it sunk to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, where some of it remains. To get to the sea floor a few miles from the blown-out Macondo well, we clamber into a titanium-hulled submarine named Alvin. But when the Alvin scrapes the bottom, we discover we’re not actually sitting on the usual dark gray mud that forms the seafloor. "There’s oil on the bottom," Joye says. "If you look at the camera, you can see the brown coloration." We see this brown stuff on coral fans, hit like pine trees along a dusty dirt road. More slimy brown stuff hangs over some of the odd formations of frozen natural gas here half a mile below the surface. Crabs here normally pick at worms that actually live in this methane ice.
Reagan Budget Director: GOP Has Abandoned Fiscal Responsibility By Adopting ‘Theology’ Of Tax Cuts – As Congress prepares to take up extension of the Bush tax cuts during its lame duck session, Republican lawmakers have been unanimous in demanding that the cuts for the richest two percent of Americans be extended, claiming they are necessary for economic growth and that tax cuts (miraculously) pay for themselves. While independent economists have shown these arguments to be false, today on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, President Reagan’s former budget director took on his own party for pushing this faulty logic. David Stockman, who led the all-important Office of Management and Budget under Reagan and was a chief architect of his fiscal policy, criticized today’s GOP for misreading Reagan’s legacy by adopting a “theology” of tax cuts. Stockman has spoken out before, but took perhaps his strongest stance yet against his own party today, saying “I’ll never forgive the Bush administration” for “destroying the last vestige of fiscal responsibility that we had in the Republican Party.” He also broke with Republican orthodoxy on a number of key issues
Bank Customers Choose Overdraft Protection – As the holiday-shopping season kicks off, there is one thing most consumers won’t be leaving home without: an overdraft cushion. Rather than face the embarrassment of being declined a purchase, 75% of consumers are opting to pay a fee—sometimes as much as $34—each time they overdraw on their debit-card account, according to Moebs Services Inc. The choice is a recent one, thanks to new rules that came in as part of an overhaul of consumer-protection regulations. Since Aug. 15, banks have been required to ask consumers to "opt in" for overdraft protection on their debit cards and the added fees
- 1) This is more unwise, unilateral bipartisanship: It’s one thing for the president to concede something to Republicans in negotiations. It’s a whole other to simply do it himself in return for nothing — and that includes Republican support.
- 2) This is a smart way to protect the federal workforce: Republicans don’t have the votes or the will to really cut the deficit or undo Obama’s policy achievements, but they’ll probably get some major symbolic accomplishments in the early months of the next Congress. And the biggest, softest target for the anti-government party is, well, the federal workforce — and they would’ve attacked it mercilessly, and conservative Democrats might have helped them.
- 3) This is bad economics and bad policy: Federal workers buy things and stimulate the economy like anyone else.