Thing One: Do you already miss being constantly bombarded with election ads, the way you were right up until about a week ago? Well, then, you're in luck, because a new campaign is about to begin: The fiscal-cliff campaign.
President Obama and his opponents in the fiscal-cliff debate are taking to the airwaves to hash out their positions on the issue in the weeks ahead, according to various depressing reports this morning. They're not going to spend nearly as much money as, say, Karl Rove did on the election. But then, this issue is far, far more crushingly tedious than the election, if you can imagine such a thing. That means every one minute of air time about the fiscal cliff will do as much damage to your immortal soul as four hours of campaign advertising.
At least Obama appears to have learned from perhaps the biggest flaw of his first term, his tendency to disappear for large chunks of time during debate on giant policy issues, only bothering to explain it all to us when it is already too late. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal say Obama this time plans to take his campaign directly to the American people, who are already mostly on board with his idea of helping balance the federal budget by raising taxes on wealthy Americans.
The next group that may need some convincing is the business community. America's CEO types have taken a shine to the debate themselves and plan to launch their own ad campaign, pushing politicians to avoid falling off the cliff and cut a deal on the debt, the NYT writes. Journalistic organization CNBC has for some reason chimed in with its own campaign, called "Rise Above," begging politicians to fix the fiscal cliff.
The trouble with all of this campaigning is that it will add to the fiscal-cliff panic already swirling around Washington and Wall Street, raising the risk that our policy makers are pushed into unnecessarily bad, panic-based solutions -- even though Main Street really doesn't care much about the deficit, and the bond market yawns about it every single day. As the NYT notes, many of the Business Roundtable types pushing a fiscal-cliff fix are backed by Pete Peterson, who has long been sharpening his knives to carve up Social Security and Medicare, Paul Krugman notes. Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson are right there with him. Business leaders and their sidekick, CNBC, may genuinely want to avoid the recession that could ensue if we don't avoid the sudden austerity of the fiscal cliff. But many of them also want to avoid the abruptly more progressive tax code that will ensue, as well.
One big question, then, is whether Obama is going to fall sway to the deficit panic and cut a bad deal just to cement his legacy. It's a good thing he'll be talking to us along the way -- we need to know what he's thinking.
Thing Two: Greece Signs On For More Recession: Speaking of austerity! Greek parliament this morning approved yet another round of budget-tightening measures meant to help the country get its latest round of bailout money. But euro zone finance ministers, meeting later today, are unlikely to be in a hurry to cut Greece a check, with Germany's Wolfgang Schaeuble (naturally) saying the euro zone won't be pressured into giving Greece more money. The trouble is that Greece is at risk of defaulting on five billion euros' worth of debt this week if it can't raise more cash, the Financial Times writes.
Thing Three: Fracking Our Way To Glory: Remember during the campaign how President Obama and Mitt Romney almost came to blows over who was more willing to bespoil federal lands to extract oil from the ground? Turns out they needn't have fought, because all of the fracking we're doing means the U.S. will by 2020 become the world's biggest oil producer, Bloomberg writes, citing a new IEA report. USA! USA! Never mind the environmental destruction, or the continued reliance on climate-wrecking fossil fuels. We'll be the best at sucking oil from the ground.
Thing Four: No Bankers Were Harmed In The Making Of This Settlement: JPMorgan Chase is close to settling Securities and Exchange Commission charges that its Bear Stearns unit misled investors about the quality of crappy mortgage loans ahead of the crisis, the Wall Street Journal writes. And you might want to sit down for this, but not a single individual banker will face any charges in the case, the WSJ points out. That means the government's proud record of not holding anybody accountable for the financial crisis is still intact.
Thing Five: BBC Firings Will Continue Until Morale Improves: The BBC's embarrassing child-sex-abuse scandal just keeps getting worse and worse, with its two top news executives stepping down this morning. Another top official resigned over the weekend amid revelations that the BBC falsely accused a politician of child sex abuse, following other revelations that one of its own anchors was abusing children.
Thing Six: Apple Settles HTC Patent Suits: Apple settled all of its patent disputes with Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC, Bloomberg writes. That may signal a kinder, gentler approach to rivals than Steve Jobs's "thermonuclear war" approach, or it may just clear the legal decks for all-out war on Samsung, the world's biggest phone maker.
Thing Seven: All Of The Student-Loan Debt, None Of The College Keg Parties: The number of 60-year-olds with student-loan debt has tripled since 2005, the NYT writes, as parents are increasingly wrecking their own finances to help pay for their kids' college. Increasingly these loans are going into default, and increasingly retirees are using their Social Security benefits to pay for them.
Thing Seven And One Half: NYC Dark: Maybe it's too soon, but here's some cool time-lapse video of New York City with all of the lights out, via BuzzFeed.
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Calendar Du Jour:
Heard On The Tweets:
Paul Ryan is a great example of why you should never pre-register a Twitter handle for a job you don't have yet.
— Jake Beckman (@jakebeckman) November 11, 2012
At current velocity some Republicans will be calling for carbon tax and single payer health care by end of the year.
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) November 11, 2012
Life is like a museum, where fascinating rooms and passages beckon as you pass to your appointed end. You swear to return, but you never do.
— Epicurean Dealmaker (@EpicureanDeal) November 11, 2012
American TV may be the most potent weapon of dumbification ever unleashed on the world.
— umair haque (@umairh) November 12, 2012
Regular coffee at Starbucks should cost a nickel & bullshit clown people drinks should cost $30.
— rob delaney (@robdelaney) November 11, 2012
And you can follow me on Twitter, too: @markgongloff