inthesetimes.com — In 1818, the Society for the Prevention of Pauperism, New York’s first anti-poverty organization, issued a report advocating the need to relieve “the community from the pecuniary exactions, the multiplied exactions, and threatening dangers” associated with paupers. These middle-class worthies were alarmed at the cost of heating the almshouse in winter, the appearance of women and children scavenging for coal and food scraps along city streets, and the able-bodied men left idle by a serious economic downturn. The report listed the causes of urban poverty: intemperance in drinking, idleness, “want of economy,” gambling, pawnbrokers and “imprudent and hasty marriages.” Nowhere in the 20-page document did the authors mention the twin burdens of urban laboring people: low wages and few jobs. The Society’s report brings to mind Mitt Romney’s comment about the 47 percent. Yet unlike Romney, many Americans are indeed worried about poverty.
colorlines.com — Mitt Romney has taken to lambasting President Obama for record levels of food stamp enrollment, wielding the figures on the safety-net program to attack Obama’s economic policies. “How about food stamps?” Romney said at last night’s debate. “When [Obama] took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps.” Indeed, Romney’s numbers are right. As a result of the recession, the food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, added nearly 15 million new people to its rolls since Obama took office. While Romney’s point is that his economic plan will foster growth and therefore lift all boats—“We don’t have to settle” for that, he said—when it comes to food stamps, Romney has plans for shrinking enrollment that have little to do with economic growth. Mainly, he’d just shrink the food stamp rolls, whether people need the program or not.
otherwords.org — Elections are important. They represent the pinnacle of democracy. But what comes after this election might be even more important. Beginning with the lame-duck Congress that will return to Washington the week after the election, our leaders will start making the most fundamental and consequential decisions about budgets, taxes, and the role of government in our society that they have made in generations. Some call it the "fiscal cliff." Others call it "taxmageddon." Whatever the label, Congress and the president will decide many things: the future of the Bush tax cuts, whether to extend the payroll tax holiday for millions of Americans, and whether to avoid scheduled cuts in spending that would radically pare all sorts of domestic programs. Key things are at stake, such as protecting our water and air, and food assistance for hungry Americans. As these deliberations unfold, we must adhere to three priorities.
jaredbernsteinblog.com — Here’s what I hope is a simple and straightforward way to think about what’s at stake in this election and the differences between the tickets. We face not one, but four deficits: budget deficit, jobs deficit investment deficit, and security deficit. Without jobs, public investment, and an amply funded government, we will be unable to provide a secure safety net under retirees, create and retain the near term jobs to bring us closer to full employment, invest in productive infrastructure and industries of the future, or provide disadvantage kids the educational opportunities they need to realize the intellectual and economic potential. From now until election day, I’ll be everywhere I can be stressing these four deficits, their impacts on the economy, on our livings standards, and on our kids’ opportunities. And, of course, most importantly, I’ll be stressing the gaping differences between the parties’ approaches to closing them.
alternet.org — Pete Peterson, the billionaire former private equity mogul, is quietly funding a noisy bus tour to whip up debt hysteria across the land. The “Ten Million a Minute Tour” headed by the Peterson Foundation’s former CEO, David M. Walker will end this week in Washington, DC after traveling coast to coast to alert America about the myriad of alleged dangers posed by government debt and deficits. Really, it should be called the “Million an Hour” cavalcade because that’s about how much Peterson and company made, in part, through obscene tax loopholes designed for private equity firms and hedge funds. If there really is a debt problem, then Peterson and his fellow tax-evading financial moguls have contributed mightily to it. But America does not face a debt crisis. Nor are we likely to face one in the next 100 years. In fact, we are the last country on Earth that needs to worry about its public debt.
In Wednesday's debate Mitt Romney repeated his claim that cutting individual and corporate income taxes creates jobs. But when you look at what actually happened, the periods when we had the highest tax rates were the periods we had the greatest job and economic growth. And the periods with lower taxes had lower job and economic growth. (And we all know what happened in the Bush years...) more »
In his most recent column, Paul Krugman makes a convincing case that the "real referendum" in this election isn't about President Obama's (real or imagined) economic policies, but about the "the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, on Social Security, Medicare and, yes, Obamacare, which represents an extension of that legacy." Krugman predicts that President Obama will win this resolution, and goes on to question whether the President will honor the will of American voters in his second term.
If Obama wins, that means conservatives will have lost the "real referendum." Conservatives have already lost the "real referendum." They've been losing it for a long time — and it's worth considering why that's the case.
politico.com — Yes. We must address the very serious problem of a $16 trillion national debt and a $1 trillion federal deficit. But at this pivotal moment in American history, it’s essential that we understand how we got into this deficit crisis in the first place and who was responsible for it. More important, we must address the deficit in a way that is fair and does not balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor — people who are already hurting.
nytimes.com — Republicans came into this campaign believing that it would be a referendum on President Obama, and that still-high unemployment would hand them victory on a silver platter. But given the usual caveats — a month can be a long time in politics, it’s not over until the votes are actually counted, and so on — it doesn’t seem to be turning out that way. Yet there is a sense in which the election is indeed a referendum, but of a different kind. Voters are, in effect, being asked to deliver a verdict on the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, on Social Security, Medicare and, yes, Obamacare, which represents an extension of that legacy. If the polls are any indication, the result of that referendum will be a clear reassertion of support for the safety net, and a clear rejection of politicians who want to return us to the Gilded Age. But here’s the question: Will that election result be honored?