Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

What Obligations Do Mainstream Media Editors (e.g., The Washington Post’s) Have to Bar Their Regular Political Columnists (e.g., Michael Gerson) From Stating Bald Misrepresentations of Fact?


When people realize that their most personal, sensitive, intimate, private health-care information is in the hands of the IRS that’s been willing to use people’s tax information against political opponents of this administration, then people have pause and they pull back in horror.

— Michele Bachmann, on ABC News/Yahoo, May 20 (H/T Glenn Kessler, in a spot-on takedown today)


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Mississippi sets a record for unreported subsidies

As I have written before, when states announce a major new investment, it is far more likely that the announced subsidy is an underestimate than an overestimate. A new Good Jobs First study commissioned by the United Auto Workers unearths a new example of this, which I believe is the largest underestimate ever: Nissan in Mississippi.

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Quantitative Easing: Like “trying to kill James Bond with a shark”

This line by Matt McOsker, in a comment on one of my recent posts, now reigns as the best line of the year in my personal pantheon.

QE’s only direct effect is on the financial sector. It only affects the real sector — where people work to produce, buy, and sell real goods, and produce surplus in the process — through second- and third- (+) order carry-on effects of quite uncertain and contestable mechanism and efficacy.

I’m with Steve Randy Waldman: if you want to kill James Bond, just shoot him with a gun, already!

Cross-posted at Asymptosis.


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Another reason for NOT cutting Social Security benefits–seniors poorer than you think

by Linda Beale

Another reason for NOT cutting Social Security benefits–seniors poorer than you think

As everybody knows, a constant refrain of the far-right GOP establishment is a desire to cut taxes for the wealthy while cutting benefits for the poor.

The ideological right talks about benefits for the poor as “welfare” but never talks about the tax expenditures for the wealthy–which amount to much more of an income redistribution, from middle class to wealthy–as “welfare”. They should, because that’s what it is. The tax preference for capital gains, a “privileged” tax rate, favors the very wealthy who own most of the financial assets, who itemize and who have much of their income in the form of capital gains (now, after the Democrats’ weak-handed agreement to extend almost all of the absurd Bush tax cuts, also used for corporate dividends), just as the overly generous estate tax exemption levels and rates favor the very wealthy, who are the only ones EVER subject to the estate tax at all.

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Interview with Mark Thoma

Angry Bear readers are familiar with Mark’s writings:

Mark Thoma is a macroeconomist and time-series econometrician at the University of Oregon. His research focuses on how monetary policy affects the economy, and he has also worked on political business cycle models. Mark is currently a fellow at The Century Foundation, a columnist at The Fiscal Times, an analyst at CBS MoneyWatch, and he blogs daily at Economist’s View.

In the interview, Mark discusses:

  • What we can expect from gas prices this summer and beyond
  • Why clean energy won’t see an dramatic investment rival, for now
  • How political feasibility, not economic feasibility, drives the ethanol mandate
  • Why the ethanol mandate might eventually be nixed
  • How we weigh the free market against government intervention
  • Why there is little momentum for a US-wide carbon market
  • What we learned from the global financial crisis
  • Why our best hope for strong economic growth is in exports

Energy – Balancing the Bonanza: Interview with Mark Thoma

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A Nation of the Non-productive?

By Noni Mausa

A Nation of the Non-productive?

Over on Brad deLong’s blog, I tossed off a comment. Thought it was a throw-away, but is it really?


Now and then for fun, I dip into the Wealth of Nations. Here’s a snippet from the beginning of Chapter III:

““A man grows rich by employing a multitude of manufacturers; he grows poor by maintaining a multitude or menial servants. The labour of the latter, however, has its value, and deserves its reward as well as that of the former. But the labour of the manufacturer fixes and realizes itself in some particular subject or vendible commodity, which lasts for some time at least after that labour is past. It is, as it were, a certain quantity of labour stocked and stored up, to be employed, if necessary, upon some other occasion. That subject, or, what is the same thing, the price of that subject, can afterwards, if necessary, put into motion a quantity of labour equal to that which had originally produced it. The labour of the menial servant, on the contrary, does not fix or realize itself in any particular subject or vendible commodity. His services generally perish in the very instant of their performance, and seldom leave any trace of value behind them, for which an equal quantity of service could afterwards be procured.”

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The IRS tale–Times letter writers seem to get it (or at least, most of them anyway)

by Linda Beale

The IRS tale–Times letter writers seem to get it (or at least, most of them anyway)

As I’ve noted in several posts on A Taxing Matter (see links, below), the media and right-wing “hearing” frenzy continues over the purported IRS “scandal” from “targeting” conservative groups for extra scrutiny in determining whether to approve application for 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization status (referred to herein as “C-4 status”). It’s a silly affair. Obama and his minions appear to have apologized not because anything wrong was done but because the (GOP-appointed) Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) was issuing a report that suggested the use of a key word that might be in many conservative groups’ name was “inappropriate” and that the failure of IRS leaders to correct that represented “mismanagement.”

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