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.
There are four dangerous fiscal fables afloat. Paul Krugman, who has been pleading for more deficit spending on a continuous basis in his New York Times column, is hawking all four fables. Pity our children if our policymakers continue to take his views seriously.
The vote on the Sanders Amendment should've been newsworthy. Here was an opportunity for all the senators who have explicitly or implicitly supported the adoption of the chained CPI to step up and say why the switch to the chained CPI was a good and necessary measure. However, not one senator was prepared to stand up and argue the case.
With the baby boom generation just starting to enter an uncertain retirement, what can we learn from the finances of current elderly Americans?
On the heel of Cypriot bank-deposit delirium, we suspect that the U.S. central bankers had more than enough concern to hold firm to the seemingly limitless flow of monetary easing.
I can only think of this metaphor, which I believe is apt: There's a ticking time bomb in your living room, you know the bomb will certainly explode in 10 to 15 years, and you choose only to reassure your family, "There is no 'immediate' danger." That is pretty much the situation we face today.