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The Scholars Who Shill for Wall Street

Lee Fang, The Nation 

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todd_zywicki_otu_img.jpgOctober 23, 2013 | Professor Todd Zywicki is vying to be the toughest critic of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency set up by the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law to monitor predatory lending practices. In research papers and speeches, Zywicki not only routinely slams the CFPB’s attempts to regulate bank overdraft fees and payday lenders; he depicts the agency as a “parochial” bureaucracy that is “guaranteed to run off the rails.” He has also become one of the leading detractors of the CFPB’s primary architect, Elizabeth Warren, questioning her seminal research on medical bankruptcies and slamming her for once claiming Native American heritage to gain “an edge in hiring.”

Zywicki’s withering arguments against financial reform have earned him guest columns in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times and on the New York Times’s website. Lobbyists representing the largest consumer finance companies in the country have cited his writings in letters to regulators, and the number of times he has testified before Congress is prominently displayed on his academic website at the George Mason University School of Law.

Lee Fang is a reporting fellow with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. He covers money in politics, conservative movements and lobbying. Lee’s work has resulted in multiple calls for hearings in Congress and the Federal Election Commission.

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The Machine: A Field Guide to the Resurgent Right, Lee Fang, The Nation 

The Machine CoverInvestigative reporter Lee Fang's look at how the conservative movement rebuilt itself after the 2008 elections.

Before Barack Obama had even taken the oath of office after his historic victory, cadres of lobbyists, political hacks, oil tycoons, and right-wing politicians met to plan his political demise. The massive conservative infrastructure created by business groups beginning in the 1970s would not be sufficient, they concluded: in the age of Obama, something new—and bold—had to be done.

Written by the blogger who was the first to report on the lobbyists who brought us the Tea Parties, here is a groundbreaking exposé of the plans to make America conservative again. A Field Guide to the Right dissects astroturf strategies, the coordination between corporate power brokers and Republican leaders, the political infrastructure building, and the true history of the Koch brothers’ war on Obama.

For anyone interested in comprehending the new landscape of the conservative movement, here is an essential guide to the people, the money, and the strategies that make it tick.

The book is published by The New Press. Ordering options can be found here.

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The Radical Christian Right and the War on Government, Chris Hedges, Truthdig

Politics Banner

  • The rise of Christian fascism is aided by our complacency. The longer we fail to openly denounce and defy bankrupt liberalism, the longer we permit corporate power to plunder the nation and destroy the ecosystem, the longer we stand slack-jawed before the open gates of the city waiting meekly for the barbarians, the more we ensure their arrival.
  • How these gibbering numbskulls came to dominate Washington

Series | Loathsome Wall Street Deficit Hysterics: Part 1, 'Blame the Old and Sick, Not Us'

New Economic Perspectives Banner

  • Besides inspiring the reduced level of government funding we are now seeing in the US and elsewhere, the deficit hysteria campaign is threatening to undermine what remains of the American social safety net that helped form and support the American middle class over the past 70 years.
  • State (Minnesota) to cut Medicaid benefits for the elderly.

Michael Hoexter, New Economic Perspectives

Austerity%20Measures%20Graphic.jpgSunday, 29 December 2013 | The austerity push by politicians, political operatives, and pundits of the last 5 years is the height of economic, political, and social perversity and stupidity. Yet, as it still resonates in the halls of power, in the White House and Congress, and in many parts of the media, it still requires explanation and clarification.  Besides inspiring the reduced level of government funding we are now seeing in the US and elsewhere, the deficit hysteria campaign is threatening to undermine what remains of the American social safety net that helped form and support the American middle class over the past 70 years.  In addition, now and in the future, we will need a government able to use the full range of fiscal (i.e. financial) tools to combat climate change, tools which the austerity campaign seeks to lame or sequester for the benefit of a small financial elite.   In the latest turn, deficit hysterics are trying to incite intergenerational warfare between the young and the old, accusing the latter of taking more than their share of public financial resources which the young will need later in life.

Within the past couple of years, I have tried to explain in a compact and vivid way the austerity campaign, which remains now as then a perverse, unrealistic and destructive set of economic opinions and policy recommendations.  Recently, a view of the austerity drive has come into focus, which maybe has occurred to others as well.  Here is my exposition of this sharper perspective upon what remains a dangerous movement among the political and economic elite to strangle and reverse social progress.

Michael Hoexter  writes on Sustainability, Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency: Policy and Marketing; Politics of a Sustainable Future; and Meta-economics: Science, Subjectivity and Economic Policy.

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State to cut Medicaid benefits for the elderly, Chris Serres, Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune

  • An estimated 2,800 low-income senior citizens who currently receive Medicaid and other state assistance to help with basic living chores, such as bathing and cooking, would no longer qualify for help under the new rules.
  • Advocates say new Medicaid rules for home-based care are shortsighted.
  • Unemployed Americans Speak Out as Benefits are Slashed at Christmas
Section(s): 

The Plight of the Employed

Corporate Accountability and Workplace Banner

  • I don’t think I’d go so far as to say that there’s a deliberate effort to keep the economy weak; but corporate America certainly isn’t feeling much pain, and the plight of workers is actually a plus from their point of view.
  • Unemployed Americans Speak Out as Benefits are Slashed at Christmas

Paul Krugman, New York (NY) Times

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End This Depression Now coverDecember 24, 2013 | Mike Konczal writes about how Washington has lost interest in the unemployed, and what a scandal that is. He also, however, makes an important point that I suspect plays a significant role in the political economy of this scandal: these are lousy times for the employed, too.

Why? Because they have so little bargaining power. Leave or lose your job, and the chances of getting another comparable job, or any job at all, are definitely not good. And workers know it: quit rates, the percentage of workers voluntarily leaving jobs, remain far below pre-crisis levels, and very very far below what they were in the true boom economy of the late 90s.

Paul Krugman, a Nobel laureate in Economics, is a New York Times columnist and continues as professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University.

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Unemployed Americans Speak Out as Benefits are Slashed at Christmas, John Dodds, Truthout

  • "I am a single mother of four and was laid off almost six months ago. I have applied to at least four jobs a week every week and still haven't found a job that will support my family. I have a college degree and have always worked, till I was laid off, and will now have no choice but to turn to welfare if benefits are not extended. Please help!"
  • Temporary Work, Lasting Harm
  • Dire consequences on the way as emergency unemployment aid expires
  • Paul Krugman | A Permanent Slump?
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Special Project | America's Financial Crisis: Week Ending December 22, 2013

“…it seems that our remedies are instinctively those which aggravate the sickness: the remedies are expressions of the sickness itself“. --Thomas Merton

8 New Items including:

  • American Inequality in Six Charts
  • Paul Krugman | A Permanent Slump?
  • The Superrich Don't Need Our Middle Class Infrastructure any more
  • The Surreal Logic Of The Debt Ceiling Deniers
  • The Top 6 Things We Could Be Doing To Kick-Start This Country
  • You Really Ought to Be More Terrified of the Debt Ceiling
  • How Austerity Wrecked the American Economy
  • RIP, the middle class: 1946-2013

David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

Milt Priggee 

American Inequality in Six Charts, John Cassidy, New Yorker 

  • M.I.T.’s Robert Solow suggested that, at U.S. levels of inequality, inequality (might be) retarding growth. Columbia’s Joseph Stiglitz and others have also made (the same argument).
  • Ask a Keynesian: With Borrowing Capped, Won't More Pentagon Spending Destroy Jobs?

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Paul Krugman | A Permanent Slump? Paul Krugman, New York (NY) Times

  • What if depression-like conditions are on track to persist, not for another year or two, but for decades?
  • Why the Boeing machinists' fight matters
  • What if this is the end of recovery, the new "normal"?
  • Obama should have listened to Paul Krugman

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The Superrich Don't Need Our Middle Class Infrastructure any more,  Thom Hartmann , Truthout

  • Times have changed -- and the elites inhabit their own private economy.
  • 5 Ways Super-Rich Are Betraying America

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The Surreal Logic Of The Debt Ceiling Deniers, Jason Linkins, Huffington Post

  • The whole plan here is to hold the debt ceiling hostage in exchange for a series of demands. And they are making no offer in return -- raising the debt ceiling is what's supposed to be the concession.
  • The Reign of Morons Is Here

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The Top 6 Things We Could Be Doing To Kick-Start This Country, Brandon Weber, Upworthy

  • Here are the six steps we need to do pronto to get this country back on track.
  • Robert Reich's 'Inequality' movie: As influential as Al Gore's blockbuster?

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You Really Ought to Be More Terrified of the Debt Ceiling, Derek Thompson, Atlantic 

  • The truly scary thing about blowing through the debt limit isn't what we think will happen--—a scramble to prioritize payments, delayed checks to groups like veterans and senior citizens, and angry, confused investors. It's that we actually have no idea what will happen.
  • How Austerity Wrecked the American Economy

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How Austerity Wrecked the American Economy, Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

  • Republicans are fighting to cut spending, while America is trying to recover from the worst recession since WWII. Ted Cruz and the tea party are trying to shut down Washington and are instead losing sight of what‘s really wrong with the economy. And they are still working toward crippling the economy.
  • It's the Austerity, Stupid
  • Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills

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RIP, the middle class: 1946-2013, Edward McClelland, Salon

  • The 1 percent hollowed out the middle class and our industrial base. And Washington just let it happen
  • The economy isn’t coming back
Section(s): 

American Inequality in Six Charts

  • M.I.T.’s Robert Solow suggested that, at U.S. levels of inequality, inequality (might be) retarding growth. Columbia’s Joseph Stiglitz and others have also made (the same argument).
  • Ask a Keynesian: With Borrowing Capped, Won't More Pentagon Spending Destroy Jobs?

John Cassidy, New Yorker 

 

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Billy Wharton

 

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Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty

 

November 18, 2013 | Last Friday, the Center for American Progress, the center-left think tank founded by Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff John Podesta, held a conference to launch its new Washington Center for Equitable Growth. The new center, which is being funded by the Sandler Foundation, will finance academic research into the causes and effects of inequality, broadly conceived, and function as a hub for policy makers, journalists, and others involved in the subject.

 

It was an interesting morning, featuring some of the top researchers in the field, and I moderated one of the panel sessions. In some brief opening remarks, I noted that Washington has long had a number of centers promoting inequitable growth, so it only seems fair to have one supporting equitable growth. And having learned a good deal from the panelists, I thought it might be worthwhile to share some of the charts they brought with them. Taken together, the pictures convey a good deal of what we know about inequality. They also raise important questions about the channels through which it impacts economic growth and human development.

 

John Cassidy, a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1995, has written many, many articles for the magazine, on topics ranging from Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke to the Iraqi oil industry and the economics of Hollywood.

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Ask a Keynesian: With Borrowing Capped, Won't More Pentagon Spending Destroy Jobs? Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy

  • Cutting Social Security to protect the Pentagon from cuts would destroy American jobs, because Social Security checks - and all other forms of domestic spending - boost the economy more than unnecessary Pentagon spending does.
  • Ask Krugman, Reich, Stiglitz: With Borrowing Capped (Sequester), Won't More Pentagon Spending Destroy Jobs?
Section(s): 

Ask a Keynesian: With Borrowing Capped, Won't More Pentagon Spending Destroy Jobs?

  • Cutting Social Security to protect the Pentagon from cuts would destroy American jobs, because Social Security checks - and all other forms of domestic spending - boost the economy more than unnecessary Pentagon spending does.
  • Sign the PetitionAsk Krugman, Reich, Stiglitz: With Borrowing Capped (Sequester), Won't More Pentagon Spending Destroy Jobs?

Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy

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Money PieOctober 11, 2013 | Cutting Social Security is the latest Republican ransom demand in exchange for letting the government re-open and avoiding default. [1]

What's even more breathtaking about this is that it's widely expected that a "Grand Bargain" budget deal demanded by Republicans would not only cut Social Security, but would also cancel currently planned cuts to the Pentagon budget.

In addition to being unfair to people who rely on Social Security and will rely on it in the future - a benefit we've already paid for through our payroll taxes - cutting Social Security to protect the Pentagon from cuts would destroy American jobs, because Social Security checks - and all other forms of domestic spending - boost the economy more than unnecessary Pentagon spending does.

This economic fact was proved in a 2011 study by economists at the University of Massachusetts.[2]

But most Americans don't know this fact yet because leading progressive economists - people like Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and Joe Stiglitz - haven't made a point of telling people about it. [3]

We'd like to change that. Can you give us a hand?

We set up a petition at MoveOn to Krugman, Reich, and Stiglitz: Almost 10,000 people have signed it. Can you sign and share the petition to help us get over 10,000? Then we'll share it with Krugman, Reich, and Stiglitz and ask them to respond.

Sign the PetitionAsk a Keynesian: With Borrowing Capped, Won't More Pentagon Spending Destroy Jobs?

Here's the petition text:

"Prominent Keynesian economist "public intellectuals," like Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and Joe Stiglitz should help educate the public about the fact that in the current federal budget political environment, with federal borrowing capped by the Budget Control Act and increased taxes on the super-rich judged politically off the table, more Pentagon spending will destroy American jobs. The money for increased Pentagon spending will come from cuts to domestic spending and increased taxes on the middle class, and taking money out of the domestic economy will destroy more jobs than the increased Pentagon spending will create."

Sign the PetitionPlease help us educate more Americans about the real trade-offs at stake by signing and sharing our petition.

Thanks for all you do to help redirect our national priorities from war to human needs.

Sign the PetitionP.S. I wrote about this campaign at Truthout. You can sign and share that here.
 

References:

1. "You'll Never Guess What's in the Latest Republican Ransom Note," Mike Hall, AFL-CIO, 10/09/2013

2. "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update," Robert Pollin & Heidi Garrett-Peltier, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, December 2011

3. "Ask a Keynesian: With U.S. Borrowing Capped, Won't More Pentagon Spending Destroy Jobs?" Robert Naiman, Truthout, 10/07/2013

 

Ralph Nader | Corporate Espionage Undermines Democracy

Rights & Liberties Banner

  • It's not just the NSA that has been caught spying on Americans. Some of our nation's largest corporations have been conducting espionage as well, against civic groups.
  • The NSA is crippling America’s economy.

Ralph Nader, Reuters

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One Nation Under SurveillanceNovember 26, 2013 | It’s not just the NSA that has been caught spying on Americans. Some of our nation’s largest corporations have been conducting espionage as well, against civic groups.

For these big companies with pliable ethics, if they don’t win political conflicts with campaign donations or lobbying power, then they play dirty. Very dirty.

That’s the lesson of a new report on corporate espionage against nonprofit organizations, by my colleagues at Essential Information. The title of the report is Spooky Business, and it is apt.

Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government.

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The NSA is crippling America’s economyPatrick Howell O'Neill, The Daily Dot

In the wake of spying revelations, US companies are reporting profit losses to the tune of billions.

 

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