STILL CRAWLING OUT OF A VERY DEEP HOLE
BY TERESA TRITCH
NEW YORK TIMES
[H]ow to nurture the recovery, such as it is? If long-term unemployment remains high through 2012, Congress will need to renew federal jobless benefits beyond their expiration at the end of the year. If incomes and spending remain constrained, tax relief for low- and middle-income earners will also need to be extended. The high-end Bush-era tax cuts should be allowed to expire, with the money going toward programs that have more economic impact. Congress, which has committed to deficit reduction starting in 2013, must avoid heedless cuts, in favor of minimal and balanced tax increases and spending reductions. And the Federal Reserve must resist calls for premature tightening. To oppose such basic measures is to deny reality. The current recovery is largely the result of support from Congress and the Federal Reserve. A self-reinforcing, virtuous cycle of growth has yet to take firm hold, and until it does, the need for help remains.
IN EXECUTIVE PAY, A RICH GAME OF THRONES
BY NATASHA SINGER
NEW YORK TIMES
The 100 highest earners of 2011 have one thing in common... . Although they could all rank among the 1 percent... they actually belong in a more exclusive bracket: people with more than $10 million in pay. But the C.E.O. wealth is hardly trickling down. During the 2010 recovery, the top 1 percent captured 93 percent of the income gains, while the incomes of the 99 percent essentially remained flat... . In 2011, the median weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers in the United States rose only about 1 percent... according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In constant dollars, wages fell a little more than 2 percent. The C-suite and the shop floor have never been further apart, said Brandon Rees, the deputy director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. office of investment. “American workers are having to make do with less,” Mr. Rees said, “while C.E.O.s have never had it better.”
WHEN SHAREHOLDERS' VOICE ARE HEARD
BY GRETCHEN MORGENSON
NEW YORK TIMES
The figures, disclosed in corporate proxy statements this time of year, are often maddening. ... But [w]e are starting to see... that shareholders - the people who actually own public companies - are gaining some influence over corporate pay practices. These straws in the wind appear as a result of the Dodd-Frank law. Rules mandated by the law require companies to put their pay practices to a shareholder vote at least every three years. ... But for every active shareholder who votes for change, thousands of passive ones remain disengaged. ... Like Americans who stay home on Election Day, these investors are giving leaders - in this case, corporate ones - free rein to do what they please. ... Now that shareholders’ voices can at last be heard, silence should not be an option.
THE GULLIBLE CENTER
BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES
So the proposal is exactly as President Obama described it: a proposal to deny health care (and many other essentials) to millions of Americans, while lavishing tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy — all while failing to reduce the budget deficit, unless you believe in Mr. Ryan’s secret revenue sauce. So why are centrists rising to Mr. Ryan’s defense?... Enter Mr. Ryan, an ordinary G.O.P. extremist, but a mild-mannered one. The “centrists” needed to pretend that there are reasonable Republicans, so they nominated him for the role, crediting him with virtues he has never shown any sign of possessing…. So you can see the problem these commentators face. To admit that the president’s critique is right would be to admit that they were snookered by Mr. Ryan, who is the same as he ever was. More than that, it would call into question their whole centrist shtick — for the moral of my story is that Mr. Ryan isn’t the only emperor who turns out, on closer examination, to be naked. Hence the howls of outrage, and the attacks on the president for being “partisan.” For that is what people in Washington say when they want to shout down someone who is telling the truth.
STANDING HIS GROUND
BY E.J. DIONNE
Conservatives are not accustomed to being on the defensive.... So imagine the shock when President Obama decided last week to speak plainly about what a Supreme Court decision throwing out the health-care law would mean, and then landed straight shots against the Mitt Romney-supported Paul Ryan budget as “a Trojan horse,” “an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country,” and “thinly veiled social Darwinism.”... Progressives would be wildly irresponsible if they sat by quietly while a conservative Supreme Court majority undid 80 years of jurisprudence. Roosevelt wasn’t a wimp, and Obama has decided that he won’t be one, either. Conservatives are unhappy because they prefer passive, intimidated liberals to the fighting kind.
THE FACTS VS. MITT ROMNEY
BY DANA MILBANK
Wednesday’s speech alone had more than a dozen distortions, including allegations that: Obama “has failed to even pass a budget” (Congress passes budget resolutions, which the president doesn’t sign); Obama created a panel empowered to deny treatments under Medicare (the board can only make recommendations, and only if Congress fails to find Medicare cuts), Obama “has added regulations at a staggering rate” (the Business Roundtable just said it “lauded” the administration’s attempt at regulatory reform).No fewer than three Romney claims in that one speech merited PolitiFact’s “Pants on Fire” rating: that Obama led “a government takeover of health care,” has been “apologizing for America abroad” and is ending “Medicare as we know it.” Romney’s assertions that Obama “is the only president to ever cut $500 billion from Medicare” and that eliminating Obamacare saves “about $100 billion” were rated false.That Romney resorts to such gratuitous falsehoods discredits his leadership more than his opponent’s.