August 19

What you need to know to navigate today’s most critical debates.

Business Bankruptcies Fall While Consumer Filings Soar (WSJ)
Over 780,000 consumers filed for bankruptcy in June, up 15 percent from 2009, and businesses may not be spared the pain for much longer.

In Wake of Housing Bust, Obama Administration Moves Forward (Washington Independent)
The Treasury Department’s conference on housing policy may have marked the end of the “ownership society.”

‘Last’ U.S. ‘Combat’ Troops Exit Iraq (NPR)
Yesterday marked the end of combat operations in Iraq (except for the tens of thousands of U.S. troops who will still be in Iraq, engaging in combat).

From Paul Ryan, a plan that isn’t (WaPo)
Matt Miller argues that Ryan’s budget road map shifts health care costs to those who can’t afford them while continuing to pile on debt for decades to come.

Four Steps to US Fiscal Health (Project Syndicate)
Simon Johnson and James Kwak offer their own road map for raising revenue and curbing entitlement costs.

Thinking clearly about demand declines — and what to do about them (WaPo)
Ezra Klein considers the three forms of demand decline and the need for a long-term strategy to get the economy moving again.

Funding Public Services is the Best Route to Prosperity (Truthout)
A new study finds that if New England states want economic growth, they should be investing in education and infrastructure rather than cutting corporate taxes.

Tensions Rise in Greece as Austerity Measures Backfire (Spiegel)
The government spending cuts that were meant to solve Greece’s economic woes have instead produced a full-scale meltdown and unemployment rates as high as 70 percent in some regions of the country.

Can Government Help with Structural Unemployment? (MoneyWatch)
Mark Thoma argues that the answer is yes, but if the Fed and Congress continue to drag their feet, they’ll miss their window of opportunity.

Oxfam wants banks to save poor countries from financial disaster (Guardian)
The economic crisis left poor countries saddled with debt, but a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions would force the banks who caused the crisis to foot the bill.

Elizabeth Warren or Bust! (Politics Daily)
David Corn predicts that nominating Warren would pay huge dividends among the progressive base and prove that the president is serious about cracking down on financial predators.

Dodd: Is Warren ‘Confirmable’? (CTnow)
Meanwhile, Chris Dodd continues to practice the delicate art of the concern troll.

Think You Understand the New Credit Card Laws? Think Again (HuffPo)
Beverly Blair Harzog highlights the blind-spots and vagaries of the Credit CARD Act.

Obama: Social Security ‘is not in crisis’ (The Hill)
President Obama told his town hall audience that a few modest reforms can ensure that everyone receives the benefits that they deserve, and that his deficit commission will figure out what they are. Is he sure the commission knows that?

A conversation with Howard Dean (Globe and Mail)
Howard Dean holds forth on the advantages of the Canadian health care system and explains why Americans have nothing to fear from “socialized medicine.”

Restoring the Gulf (NYTimes)
The crisis in the Gulf Coast isn’t over just because the oil spill has been stopped. Cleaning up the region is going to require careful planning and a whole lot of money.

How the fight over tax breaks affects your bottom line (WaPo)
This interactive chart compares three possible plans for the Bush tax cuts, including full repeal, partial repeal, and full renewal.

Tom the Dancing Bug: Deficit Hawk Down (BoingBoing)
A parable for our times.