Being Unemployed Is a Miserable State

By: Saturday January 18, 2014 9:15 am

The headline isn’t mine, but it comes from one of my old college professors, Dale Mortensen, who won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics. I was fortunate enough to have studied under him for several years, and among other things, he instilled in me and my classmates a strong sense that behind all the statistics, all the equations, and and all the models are real people.

Dale died last week. I just wish that more folks in DC had had him as a professor, or would be willing to listen to the wisdom of his remarks in Sweden in 2011.


Ebeneezer Scrooge, the Grinch, and the Modern GOP

By: Saturday December 14, 2013 9:00 am

As Christmas approaches, Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Grinch are front and center in the GOP’s blocking of extending unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed. While Scrooge and the Grinch eventually figured out that they were missing something, the modern GOP in Congress would label them as “weak” and “wishy-washy” and “backsliders.”

And FDR would have eaten them for lunch.

Assembly Passes Work-Sharing Bill Without Collective Bargaining Protection

By: Monday March 11, 2013 5:40 am

Small Disagreement Suggests Deep Dispute over Role of Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council

The Wisconsin State Assembly passed a bill Wednesday to approve a bipartisan idea, but in the process rekindled debate about respect for collective bargaining. What made the debate interesting and significant is that it could have been avoided by simply passing the version of the bill approved by the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Advisory Council, with the full support of the labor and business groups on that advisory body.

Obama’s Latest Fiscal Slope Offer: I’m Missing the Part Where Republicans Give Up Something

By: Tuesday December 18, 2012 6:54 am

The headlines here is that the Obama Administration narrowed the demand they maintained for four years, for tax rates to increase above $250,000, and they would agree to a benefit cut for Social Security and $400 billion in unspecified Medicare cuts, and in exchange they would mostly extend current law on a few fronts (but not all) and get an unspecified amount, no more than $50 billion, in infrastructure spending.

Boehner’s Counter-Offer: Based on Impromptu Bowles Super Committee Testimony

By: Tuesday December 4, 2012 7:09 am

In trying to make a quick understanding of the Boehner counter-offer on the fiscal slope yesterday, I knew that his reference to the “Bowles plan” was not a reference to Bowles-Simpson but rather something Bowles wrote or said in November 2011. It turns out that it came from testimony before the failed Super Committee, where Bowles basically spitballed a reform measure totaling $2 trillion by averaging out each sides’ initial offers.

White House Makes Aggressive Opening Bid in Fiscal Slope Negotiations

By: Thursday November 29, 2012 4:48 pm

In the context of doing a deficit reduction deal at all, this is an extremely strong bid that Tim Geithner delivered to John Boehner today. Now we know why Boehner whined and cried all afternoon.

Let’s walk through it.

For the Long-Term Unemployed, It Is A Fiscal Cliff

By: Tuesday November 13, 2012 6:43 am

Liberals are working hard to more accurately name the fiscal cliff. They want to remove the sense of immediacy, the idea that the world would end on January 1 if Congress takes no action on expiring tax and spending policies. Democrats would benefit from a strategic standpoint from “going over the cliff” in many cases, so they want to ensure that people understand that Americans won’t immediately find themselves in a punishing recession on January 2.

However, there is a fiscal cliff intertwined with all the other expiring measures.

Goldman Sachs: Even the Least-Worst Economic Forecast Looks Negative for 2013

By: Monday October 8, 2012 8:30 am

As I always point out, Goldman Sachs has an excellent research department, led by Jan Hatzius. Their economic forecasts are almost always on target; if there’s one thing Goldman understands, it’s money. They were the ones who found that federal fiscal policy turned negative in mid-2010. And they now have updated that forecast, incorporating the possibilities for the fiscal slope.

Fiscal Policies Already in Place Will Depress US Economy in 2013, Regardless of Fiscal Cliff

By: Thursday August 23, 2012 8:16 am

It’s not the threat of recession from the fiscal cliff that is despairing so much as it’s the CBO estimate that, even if the fiscal cliff gets put off, we’re staring at anemic 1.7% growth for 2013, and an unemployment rate remaining above 8% by the end of next year. This points to some serious problems with the US economy, and being the “best in the world” at a time of global slowdown is a cold comfort.

Unemployment Benefits for 2 Million Will Expire at End of 2012, Without Congressional Action

By: Wednesday August 15, 2012 11:15 am

Perhaps the most unassuming of “fiscal cliff” policies that expire at the end of the year is extended unemployment benefits. Benefits have already been reduced from 99 weeks to, at most, 79 weeks, in the states, and they will fall to a maximum of 73 weeks by the end of the year. If the program is not extended after December 31, then unemployment benefits will be cut off for millions, with the program reverting back to 26 weeks.

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