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The Tim Geithner Era (Slate)
Matthew Yglesias looks back on the mixed record of Tim Geithner, the influential Treasury Secretary who seemingly only managed to convince one person that he had all the answers, but lucked out with that person being the President of the United States.
The Mortgage Mess and Jack Lew (Prospect)
Robert Kuttner argues that progressives should press hard on Jack Lew to find out whether he would have let the latest mortgage settlement happen on his watch — once they’re finished rolling their eyes at the president’s praise for his budget-balancing skills.
Treasury: We won’t mint a platinum coin to sidestep the debt ceiling (WaPo)
Ezra Klein reports that life has killed the dream we dreamed, as the Treasury Department says it won’t mint a trillion-dollar coin and the Federal Reserve wouldn’t accept it if it did. The only option on the table is for Congress to do the right thing. God help us all.
The Platinum Coin Wouldn’t Have Been Goofy to FDR (Bloomberg)
Jonathan Alter notes that despite the absurdity of ideas like the platinum coin, FDR used tactics, like moving off the gold standard, that were no less gimmicky. But he wasn’t worried about his critics’ jokes given how often the punch line was “and it worked.”
Japan Steps Out (NYT)
Paul Krugman writes that Japan, not really a hotbed of radical economic thought, is breaking with the orthodoxy under prime minister Shinzo Abe, whose push for stimulus and inflation is upsetting austerity advocates by failing to upset anyone else.
Obama’s Job One: Middle-Class Employment Problems Loom Over Second Term (HuffPo)
Dave Jamieson and Arthur Delaney note that after campaigning on a promise to restore the middle class, President Obama must now figure out how to do that when immigration reform and gun control look like safer bets than getting Congress to care about jobs.
Why the Unemployment Rate Is So High (NYT)
Laura D’Andrea Tyson argues that the evidence shows the U.S. doesn’t have a structural unemployment problem, but by letting the unemployed languish for months and years with no new support or opportunities in sight, we’re doing our best to create one.
Ouch! No, you’re not imagining it. Your paycheck just shrank. (WaPo)
Neil Irwin notes that the expiration of the payroll tax cut became evident with the arrival of the first paychecks of 2013 last week. The question is how many Americans will make cutting back on spending their retroactive New Year’s resolution.
This Week in Poverty: Smiley Calls for White House Conference on US Poverty (The Nation)
Greg Kaufmann offers a sneak peek at an upcoming forum that calls for a national plan to end poverty within the next 25 years, and how it could serve as a useful reminder to the White House that a good way to start helping people is by asking what they need.
Paying the Price, but Often Deducting It (NYT)
Question: When is a settlement not a settlement? Answer: When it’s also a tax break. Gretchen Morgenson notes that banks may write their payments from recent foreclosure settlements off as business expenses, because there’s no budget for shame.