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Deficit Hawks Down (NYT)
Paul Krugman argues that President Obama’s second inaugural address gave the deficit exactly the weight it deserves by hardly mentioning it at all, in contrast to the hawks who have spent years trying to gin up a crisis through the power of negative thinking.
Congratulations, America: Austerity, Not Default, Is the Only Threat Now (The Atlantic)
Matthew O’Brien notes that even with the debt ceiling showdown (mostly) behind us, Congress has only managed to defuse the first layer of booby traps it set for itself, and it’s still not sure whether to cut the red wire or the green wire on the $1.2 trillion sequester.
How to Avoid Raising Taxes on the Middle Class or Cutting Programs the Middle and Poor Depend On (Robert Reich)
Reich writes that despite the drumbeat around slashing spending and demanding “shared sacrifice,” America’s problem isn’t that the middle class and poor are living beyond their means, but that the rich have so very many means put to so few good ends.
Workers, Not Babysitters (Prospect)
NND Editor Bryce Covert looks at the progress being made in the fight to extend essential workplace protections like minimum wage and paid overtime to domestic workers, which would be an upgrade from “totally inadequate” to “only mostly inadequate.”
A Signal to Wall Street in Obama’s Pick for Regulators (NYT)
Ben Protess and Benjamin Weiser note that by appointing former prosecutor Mary Jo White to lead the SEC and renominating Richard Cordray to head the CFPB, the president is sending a message that financial crime doesn’t pay. For more than five years.
Yes, the middle class really is falling behind (WaPo)
Jim Tankersley points out that you can only claim the middle class is doing better than ever because its members are spending less on “basics” if you classify things like health care to keep them alive and gasoline to get them to work as deluxe bonus features.
Older, but Not Yet Retired (NYT)
Catherine Rampell writes that a growing number of Americans are working past age 65, and while some of them are just feeling more spry, many find that, in the wake of the economic downturn, they can only make ends meet by pawning their golden years.
Davos Frets About Elites (TNR)
Timothy Noah notes that the great minds gathered in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum this year are concerned about the threat of rising inequality — specifically, the way it threatens to put a damper on their otherwise pleasant and relaxing ski vacations.
Alan Blinder on the Lessons of the Financial Crisis (NYT)
Binyamin Appelbaum talks to former Fed vice chairman Alan Blinder about his new book on the financial meltdown and why the government’s response to such crises should follow some basic guidelines, like informing the public what in the world is going on.
‘Job Piracy’: Why States Paying for Corporations to Move Is Bad for the Economy (Think Progress)
Pat Garofalo highlights a new report that finds that state lawmakers who try to use tax incentives to attract companies and jobs across their borders are playing a shell game in which the companies pocket the money and leave local workers holding the empty cups.