-- by Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Selling Larry Summers as the successor to Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve Board is a tough job. The basic problem is that Summers has a dismal track record to overcome, while his main competitor, Janet Yellen, the current vice-chair, has an outstanding record.
While thousands of fast-food workers were preparing to walk off their jobs earlier this summer to seek raises to $15 an hour, the industry's corporate lobbyist, the National Restaurant Association, was celebrating a string of political victories blocking state minimum wage increases and preempting local sick day laws.
Wisconsin workers are joining the "Fight for Fifteen" -- better wages for those at the bottom of the U.S. payscale. Three cities in Wisconsin were among 58 across the United States where thousands of low-wage fast-food workers walked off their jobs to demand a living wage, safe working conditions, and the right to unionize without being penalized. The coordinated actions on August 29 constituted the largest fast food strike in U.S. history.
State Senator Glenn Grothman, Assistant Majority Leader of the Republican Caucus, is leading the charge to protect consumers from Wisconsin's rapacious rent-to-own industry. Governor Scott Walker's $68.2 billion budget bill contains provisions that would rollback common sense regulation of the industry, which has been in place since 1985.
Last week, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and David Vitter (R-LA) introduced the first bipartisan legislation aimed directly at putting an end to "too big to fail" financial institutions and preventing future bailouts of America's behemoth banks.
A team of economists at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at UMass Amherst broke a huge story this week that was promptly picked up by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, and newspapers around the globe. The economists proved that the essential underpinning "of the intellectual edifice of austerity economics," as Paul Krugman put it, is based on sloppy methodology and spreadsheet coding errors.
A JPMorgan Chase employee stepped onstage at a black-tie gala on Wall Street last week to accept a "best crisis management" award given by an investor relations magazine. The bank, which was recently the subject of a U.S. Senate investigative hearing and an ongoing FBI probe into $6.2 billion in trading losses known as the "London Whale" fiasco, is not the subject of ridicule -- but praise -- from its cronies on Wall Street.
As of today, Detroit is under the control of a governor-appointed Emergency Financial Manager (EFM). The Motor City is the largest district in the nation to have its voters and elected officials sidelined by this new experiment in "crisis management."
As sequester cuts start to bite a little harder, the Fix the Debt gang is pushing for a "grand bargain," deep cuts to earned benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare in exchange for some vague promises about "tax reform."