Late Night: A Case for Increasing Social Security Benefits

By: Wednesday October 8, 2014 8:00 pm

Some time ago, in the pages of USA Today, Duncan Black, better known to some as Atrios voiced the immediate need for increased Social Security benefits of 20% or more even if it means raising taxes on high incomes, or removing the payroll tax cap on salaries.

Black is right about the need for increased benefits; but legislating that increase doesn’t require increasing taxes. In fact, Congress should both increase benefits and remove the payroll tax entirely.


And How Many Divisions Does the Federal Reserve Have?

By: Friday October 4, 2013 8:18 am

A Federal Reserve that does not back the government will not be backed by the government.

Obama Really Wants to Play Debt Ceiling Chicken

By: Monday January 14, 2013 9:33 am

Obama doesn’t want to get around the debt ceiling, he wants to beat the Republicans on it. Obama seems to believe he can win at a game of chicken, despite his rather abysmal track record so far.

Legal Status of the Trillion Dollar Coin

By: Friday January 11, 2013 5:00 pm

There is a lot of loose talk out there about the legal status of the Trillion Dollar Coin idea. Let’s go to the statute books.

Money and #MintTheCoin

By: Thursday January 10, 2013 12:23 pm

Mint the Coin has drawn a whole lot of fevered discussion, but Joe Wiesenthal (@theStalwart) has perhaps the best take: the project opens the door to a real discussion of money, its origins and its purposes. The idea of just minting a coin with a huge designated value does sound strange to those of us whose economics came out of Paul Samuelson’s textbook. Here’s a possible explanation* for the discomfort. And if you think it sounds strange, just think how it sounds to the Ron Pauls of the world.

The Supreme Court Won’t Destroy the World Economy

By: Wednesday January 9, 2013 2:05 pm

Ultimately it is the Supreme Court that decides the legality of unilateral ways to avoid the debt limit, be it with a platinum coin, invoking the 14th Amendment or moral obligation coupons. But the only way the Supreme Court could end up ruling on one of these actions is if President Obama actually uses one to avoid the looming crisis, then someone with standing sued him, and the Court decided to take the case.

The Three Ways the Debt Ceiling May Be Dealt With

By: Friday January 4, 2013 12:51 pm

The next big looming fight in Congress is clear and the battle lines have already been drawn. The debt ceiling will be reached in roughly two months. President Obama claims that he will not negotiate over it again. Meanwhile Republicans are demanding spending cuts with no tax increases in exchange for raising the debt limit. Republicans threaten they will allow the country to default unless Obama gives them what they want.

Debt Limit Conversation Swamping Fiscal Slope Debate

By: Friday December 7, 2012 9:32 am

The high-stakes battle over the fiscal slope has detoured into a high-stakes battle over the government’s debt limit. Seeing little hope of forestalling rises top-level tax rates, Republicans have discussed a plan to relent on that and then move directly to a debt limit showdown, where they have the advantage because of the need to have Congress act affirmatively to hike that borrowing capacity.

The President has gathered business leaders to press the case that the debt limit must be extended, and he has said he will simply not negotiate over it. However, the White House did give up significant leverage on this question yesterday, with spokesman Jay Carney saying that the President will not use the 14th Amendment’s language about how the validity of the public debt “shall not be questioned” to essentially supersede the debt limit. Carney said the President does not believe he has the power under the 14th Amendment to ignore the debt limit.

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