India’s battle against hunger beset by problems of delivery and corruption – Malnutrition in India is on the rise, despite nutrition rehabilitation centres and ration shops. "Indicators of urban food insecurity … reveal an alarming picture," says the Report on the State of Food Insecurity in Urban India, published by the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and the World Food Programme. The Congress party, which promised to lift the country out of poverty when it returned to power in 2009, is drafting a revolutionary Right to Food bill. To achieve this goal, organisations will have to be reformed – starting with the ration shops, which are supposed to distribute rice, sugar, wheat and even kerosene at subsidised prices to anyone in need. But none of the inhabitants of Gautam Nagar are entitled to this bounty. More than 60 families live in cramped quarters on wasteland that has a filthy stench, with only plastic sheets to protect them from the elements. Children with swollen bellies wander along the road, begging from passersby…
Tier I is for 20 additional weeks;
Tier II is for up to 14 weeks;
Tier III is for up to 13 weeks;
Tier IV is for up to 6 weeks.
As an example, if a worker was receiving Tier I benefits, they will be able to move to Tier II benefits with this proposed extension. Without the extension of the qualifying dates, workers would not be able to move to the next tier. These two tables are from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The total number of weeks depends on the state unemployment rate.
FDIC Launches Investigation of Officials of Failed Banks – In a move reminiscent of the last time the United States was in such dire financial straits, the FDIC announced recently that it has begun an investigation of executives and other employees of failed banks. In the 1980s and 1990s, the savings and loan (S&L) crisis prompted the government to investigate and prosecute hundreds of bank insiders, sending more than 1,000 to prison, and collecting $4.5 billion. This time around, the FDIC has opened more than 200 civil cases, including more than 50 against top officials of failed banks, seeking to recover around $2 billion in money it spent taking over the failed institutions. The cases aim to prosecute banking employees who may have helped exacerbate the financial collapse by fraud, dangerous lending, and other criminal behavior. So far this year 149 banks have failed. This increase is not as sizable as the predicted increase from 2009, when there were 140 bank failures, but does show how dramatically the market has changed in recent years. In 2008 there were 25 bank failures, and in 2007 there were only three.
€6bn cut and run – FAMILIES are reeling from a savage Budget that will take €3,000 from the average household. Income tax rises, cuts to child benefit, higher petrol prices and a string of other charges will leave low and middle-income families much worse off. However, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s €6bn Budget — Fianna Fail’s last for some time with a general election rout likely — did not contain any root-and-branch economic reforms. Rather than going for more wide-ranging public sector reform, the Government stuck to the Croke Park deal and failed to announce any dramatic new job initiatives. The passage of early Budget votes also failed to bolster embattled Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s position, with widespread speculation circulating about his leadership.
"The Tax Cut Backstory" – Noam Scheiber has some of the backstory on the internal divisions over the Bush tax cut: … Within the administration, the split over whether to mount a tax-cut offensive broke down largely along wonk-operative lines. The wonks spent the last year mystified that the White House was ducking the fight when the substantive merits were so one-sided. The operatives brooded that the politics could abruptly turn against them, despite polling showing little public appetite for the upper-income cuts. "They view it through the class warfare stuff-Kerry in 2004, Gore in 2000," says one administration official. "They worry that they’ll get painted as lefties, tax-raisers." At key moments, including one internal discussion this spring, the political team declined to make a concerted push before Election Day. "The political people were like, ‘It’s a mess, let’s not deal with it now,’ " says another official involved. … Such was the frustration among the wonks that, when asked to explain their tax-cut strategy, they’d morbidly joke that there was no strategy, just an "approach." …
Trojan Horse in Tax Compromise: GOP Plan to Bankrupt States, Break Unions (Updated) –This alert came via James Pethokoukis of Reuters: Congressional Republicans appear to be quietly but methodically executing a plan that would a) avoid a federal bailout of spendthrift states and b) cripple public employee unions by pushing cash-strapped states such as California and Illinois to declare bankruptcy. This may be the biggest political battle in Washington, my Capitol Hill sources tell me, of 2011. That’s why the most intriguing aspect of President Barack Obama’s tax deal with Republicans is what the compromise fails to include — a provision to continue the Build America Bonds program. BABs now account for more than 20 percent of new debt sold by states and local governments thanks to a federal rebate equal to 35 percent of interest costs on the bonds. The subsidy program ends on Dec. 31. And my Reuters colleagues report that a GOP congressional aide said Republicans “have a very firm line on BABS — we are not going to allow them to be included.” In short, the lack of a BAB program would make it harder for states to borrow to cover a $140 billion budgetary shortfall next year, as estimated by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The long-term numbers are even scarier. Estimates of states’ unfunded liabilities to pay for retiree benefits range from $750 billion to more than $3 trillion.