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Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson
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Entries by Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson

Is Growth the Best Measure of a Good Economy?

(29) Comments | Posted April 23, 2013 | 9:39 PM

For the past week, the economics world has been consumed by the revelation that an influential study suggesting that economic growth slows when a country's debt levels reach 90 percent of GDP contains what Bloomberg's Clive Cook calls a "cringe-making error." Economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen...

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12 Myths about America's Jobs Crisis

(5) Comments | Posted February 6, 2012 | 8:21 AM

When Americans head for the polls this fall, a lot of people will be voting on just one issue: jobs. But so far, much of the political rhetoric sounds like it could be coming from one job that's pretty much obsolete - a carnival barker. It's awash with sweeping generalizations...

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Fiscal Follies: Facing the Budget Auto-Destruct Countdown, Without an Escape Pod

(2) Comments | Posted April 7, 2011 | 2:49 PM

For the last couple of weeks, Washington has been living in one of those Star Trek episodes where the computer is counting down to an explosion. Within days, the U.S. government either will or won't shut down because Congress either will or won't agree on a budget to...

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Fiscal Follies: Is Slamming the Brakes on Spending Such a Good Idea?

(15) Comments | Posted March 28, 2011 | 11:48 AM

Between them, Presidents Bush and Obama have added a cool $8.5 trillion to the federal debt. In January 2001, the country's debt was $5.7 trillion. Today, we're at $14.2 trillion and counting. And the astonishing fact is that Presidents Bush and Obama aren't that unusual in presiding...

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Fiscal Follies: Is it Time to Raise Taxes, Simplify Them, or Both?

(5) Comments | Posted March 21, 2011 | 6:18 PM

Americans face two very annoying prospects in the next few weeks. One is that the government may shut down because elected officials can't agree on a federal budget that begins trimming the country's routine deficits and spiraling federal debt. The threat of a gridlock-induced shutdown just makes the second annoyance...

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Fiscal Follies: They're Mad As Hell, and It Doesn't Help at All

(24) Comments | Posted March 14, 2011 | 5:43 PM

When Factcheck.org recently cited the government's own budget agencies in reporting that Social Security will pay out more than it collects in taxes this year and therefore will add to the deficit --the response was vitriolic. Factcheck's Brooks Jackson reported that people accused Factcheck of being...

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Fiscal Follies: on Medicare, the Government's Wasting More Than Money

(17) Comments | Posted March 7, 2011 | 10:30 AM

One of the first things budget experts will tell you is that we're never going to get the federal deficit and national debt under control by eliminating waste and fraud. You could eliminate whole departments like commerce, agriculture, and education and barely make a dent in the problem. You could...

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Fiscal Follies: Can We Defuse the Debt Bomb Without Blowing Up the Economy?

(30) Comments | Posted February 27, 2011 | 5:36 PM

We're not the first to use the "the ticking time bomb" metaphor to describe the country's ominously accumulating national debt and crushing obligations on Medicare and Medicaid. With U.S. debt on track to reach $15 trillion by 2012, and likely to be as big...

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Fiscal Follies: How Long Can We Procrastinate?

(5) Comments | Posted February 21, 2011 | 1:15 PM

There's no shortage of evidence that humans procrastinate when faced with unpleasant experiences. Most of us know this personally. We've put in all-nighters in college or done our taxes on April 15 -- or this year, April 18. Procrastination is a common enough failing, but it's the one...

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Fiscal Follies: Tackling the National Debt in 500 Words or Less

(35) Comments | Posted February 11, 2011 | 5:00 PM

Since we write about public opinion and believe strongly in public engagement, we'll be the first to admit that much of the public is woefully uninformed about the federal budget and the country's choices for getting a handle on its mushrooming national debt. Most Americans know...

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Apparently, Failure is an Option on Energy: Now What?

(2) Comments | Posted August 3, 2010 | 4:34 PM

America's political leaders seem to have collectively decided that passing legislation to tackle the country's looming energy and environmental problems is just too hard - at least when there's an election on the horizon. If you haven't been keeping close tabs on Beltway partisan politics, it must seem like a...

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Sorry, it's Malignant: Why Scientists Need a New Approach on Climate Change

(37) Comments | Posted March 16, 2010 | 12:24 PM

The world's scientists are struggling with the unsettling feeling that the more they talk about climate change, the less progress they make. In fact, in some opinion surveys they're losing ground. But before we start dumping on the public for its scientific illiteracy or unwillingness to...

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How to Make the Fate of the Planet Boring

(2) Comments | Posted December 14, 2009 | 1:42 PM

If energy and climate change are the great challenges facing the human race, why are leaders who should be telling us what our options are talking like a bunch of bean counters?

There's probably no better way to confuse and bore people than to start flinging a lot of...

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Enough With the Global Warming Graphics, Get to the Choices

(70) Comments | Posted November 12, 2009 | 1:41 PM

Those who want the U.S. to act decisively on climate change seem to be losing the battle of public opinion lately. Only 30 percent of Americans say global warming should be a top priority for Congress and the President, behind the economy, terrorism, Social Security, health care, immigration and...

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Even If They're Right, the Superfreakonomics Guys Only Have Half an Answer

(4) Comments | Posted October 28, 2009 | 12:12 PM

The argument by the Superfreakonomics authors that we should try "geoengineering " our way out of global warming seems to be a Rorschach test for the blogosphere: if you're the "drill, baby, drill" type, you love it ; if you're an environmentalist, you hate it. Or, maybe it depends...

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The Walls Come Tumbling Down: Is Stonewalling Finally Over on Energy?

(2) Comments | Posted October 20, 2009 | 4:55 PM

Stonewalling on climate change is rapidly going out of fashion among the American business community.

As a climate bill moves forward in Congress, the energy business is choosing sides between the high-carbon companies (coal, oil), the less-carbon option (natural gas) and the low-carbon alternatives (nuclear, wind and solar )....

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Climate Change: Making Anxiety an Asset

(2) Comments | Posted September 25, 2009 | 3:07 PM

Complex problems and anxious people are a bad combination. And right now that sums up the nation's political agenda for the rest of the year: health care, climate change, immigration and the economy all have the public both confused and scared. But at least when it comes to climate change...

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Does Delay Mean Disaster for the Climate Bill? Depends

(26) Comments | Posted September 19, 2009 | 6:05 PM

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, beset by the health care battle among other problems, says he's thinking about putting off action on the huge climate change bill. Much as we hate to say it, and speaking as people who've been trying to educate the public on energy, it may...

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Do All Roads Lead to Copenhagen?

(1) Comments | Posted May 11, 2009 | 11:51 AM

When environmental and energy policymakers gather in December in Copenhagen to discuss a new international agreement to combat climate change, their goal will be clear: reduce human beings' reliance on fossil fuels. The respected journal Nature upped the ante this week, reporting that the world has to cut back...

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Energy: What Americans Don't Know Can Hurt Us

(10) Comments | Posted April 8, 2009 | 11:43 AM

There's a dirty little secret about the debate over energy and global warming in America, and it's got nothing to do with carbon. But it's got everything to do with whether the American people are ready to make the choices needed to grapple with the problem.

Four in 10...

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