Mark Weisbrot and Dean Baker are, I swear, the two of the people in DC who give me reason to hope. 

Regular readers know Dean Baker for his FDL columns, his wonderful books, his uncompromising intellect and his insights on everything from the bank bailouts to unemployment to bad economic reporting.  Mark Weisbrot joined us in trying to stop the IMF bailout earlier this year, and focuses on international economic issues like blocking bad trade bills and debunking media lies about South American.  

Together they are the co-directors of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.  It was started in 1999 with a total budget of $120,000, and they’re having a fundraiser today because it’s grown somewhat since then:

CEPR was mentioned over 6,650 times in various media in 2008 (an average of over 18 per day), far surpassing the previous year’s record high of 2,500. Over the course of the past year, CEPR was cited 37 times in the New York Times and 33 times in the Wall Street Journal. CEPR staff gave almost 250 TV and radio interviews last year alone. From its humble beginnings, CEPR has grown in both size and stature.

They are unique among a generation of economists who seem to have been captured by the neoliberal orthodoxy that has facilitated an upward redistribution of wealth across the globe.  It was Dean who first warned of the housing bubble in 2002, and Dean who argued against the bank bailout when other economists were crying doom, claiming that the world would face a collapse of the financial system without it:  

How do you make a DC intellectual look less articulate than Sarah Palin being interviewed by Katie Couric? That’s easy. You ask them how failure to pass the bailout will give us a Great Depression.

In a city whose liberal establishment have turned themselves into one giant veal pen, CEPR is definitely not in the veal pen.  I don’t know how they do it  — because, let me tell you, writing about finance in a way that isn’t "Wall Street friendly" is not a way to make friends in this town.

I’m at CEPR tonight celebrating with them.  Wherever you are tonight, please join us, and consider making a donation to CEPR to keep it going. We’ll be live on the YouStream above, taking questions that you leave in the comments.

Happy birthday, CEPR, and here’s hoping we celebrate many, many more with you because you are invaluable.