Public courage notwithstanding, it is also important to recognize that no tragedy like this could have been addressed or people's lives saved without a massive concerted effort by the first responders: the police, the paramedics, the firemen, the doctors, the nurses, and eventually, the national guard.
The 2008-09 global economic crisis pushed public debt ratios of advanced economies to levels never seen before during peacetime. These high debt levels expose countries to a loss of market confidence and, ultimately, damage long-term growth prospects.
Fiscal conservatives around Obama have sold the president on the idea that nipping and tucking Social Security and Medicare is an easy way to get a lot of money, and doing it by the backdoor will entail a lower political cost to him. So far, he seems to have been proven wrong on all three assumptions. The Republicans haven't given an inch, the $270 billion in cuts undertaken so far this year under the January budget deal and the March sequester have cut the growth rate in half, and he is alienating core Democratic constituencies. One unanticipated benefit of Obama's stance is new, explicit pressure on Democratic House and Senate members, as well as candidates considering running for president in 2016, to pledge not to cut Social Security and Medicare. It would be so much better if this Democratic president were behaving as a progressive leader right now.
Government debt is just a tax burden pushed into the future -- if you believe it will be paid back. Tax Freedom Day arrives later, when we account for the burden of the deficit.
Attacking the Republicans for their indifference to inequality is like shooting fish in a barrel. There is no shortage of examples showing how little...
As it stands, the package makes tough policy choices while largely adhering to the principle that deficit reduction should not increase poverty or inequality. Nevertheless, the budget's spending cuts would have real-world consequences for millions of individuals and families.
Republican intransigence on tax revenues will continue to produce the gridlock that's ground fiscal policy to a halt, though perhaps now even the most misguided commentators will not be able to frame this as "a pox on both their houses!"
Last week, President Obama proposed an initiative to map the complete structure and activity of the brain. "As humans we can identify galaxies light-years away," he said. "We can study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven't unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears." I'm all in favor of the effort, especially if it can unlock one particular mystery of those three pounds that was very much in evidence in the days following the president's proposal: How can the human brain not perceive something that's right in front of it? I'm talking about the massive jobs crisis in which the country remains mired. You might think that, given the obviousness of our most urgent economic problem, the president's budget -- details of which were released only a few hours after the jobs numbers -- would naturally focus on this problem. But if that's what you thought, then the three pounds of matter between your ears led you astray.
There are legitimate reasons not to adopt the chained CPI, and many people who aren't affluent would indeed be worse off. At the same time, fears that the chained CPI would impose severe hardship are overblown.
The name of the Social Security System has always been "Old Age, Survivors' and Disability Insurance." This is what it was designed to be, and this is what it still remains: an insurance plan, not an investment plan.
When the federal government seized part of the funding of numerous important public programs, subsidized housing was one of them. Nearly 140,000 impoverished families and individuals would be affected.
Here's an outrage that must be changed: Big Pharma has been systematically price-gouging the Medicare program for seniors and people with disabilities -- and raking in billions in excessive profits.
On Tuesday, President Obama announced a federal effort to map the human brain in unprecedented detail. With any luck, it might help explain the kind of loopy thinking we saw demonstrated at the end of the week. On the one hand, we had the latest jobs report, which showed a country still in crisis, with the addition of only 88,000 new jobs, and the share of the population in the workforce falling to the lowest point in decades. Yet the leaked details of the president's new budget show a focus not on job creation but on cutting the deficit by $1.8 trillion over the next 10 years (in addition to cutting Social Security benefits). So amidst hard evidence of our profound and continuing economic crisis, we get a budget offering a solution to a different (and far less pressing) problem. It's enough to set what Obama called "the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears" spinning.
The downturn caused by the collapse of the housing bubble was the key factor behind both soaring profits and rising disability rates. In terms of their relative importance to the economy, soaring profits swamp rising disability payments.
They cry for cuts, cuts, cuts. When the cuts happen in their districts they cry for cuts somewhere else, cuts somewhere else, cuts somewhere else.
There's no reason to believe that private market competition is a magic potion that will cure our health care problems, nor is it necessarily "the Swiss menace," to quote Krugman's wonderful tongue-in-cheek phrasing.