August 31

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

Obama promises new efforts to boost economy (WaPo)
Yesterday’s speech offered few details, but the president called out GOP obstructionism and promised new measures to encourage hiring.

Meet the 18 People Who Could Determine the Fate of Social Security (TPM)
Brian Beutler has the rundown on the members of the deficit commission, their professional backgrounds, and their worrying views on Social Security.

Senator Simpson’s Quick Budget Quiz (HuffPo)
Dean Baker poses seven important questions to the deficit commission’s co-chair and supplies a helpful cheat sheet for the rest of us.

The case against reforming Social Security (WaPo)
Ezra Klein suggests that the difficulty of finding a good way to change Social Security is a sign that the program should be left well enough alone.

Coup d’Etat: Standard & Poor’s Is Now Giving Orders to Congress … and the American People (HuffPo)
The ratings agency is not-so-subtly threatening to downgrade the government’s debt if Congress doesn’t adopt the deficit commission’s proposals.

Making the impossible possible (The Economist)
Economists should be in the business of figuring out what needs to be done, not guessing what can get through Congress at the moment.

Why Wall St. Is Deserting Obama (NYTimes)
They thought he was one of them, but it turns out he actually blames them for the disaster they caused. The nerve of this guy!

Obama and Civic Idealism (Democracy Journal)
Michael Sandel argues that modern-day liberals must return to the project of bringing America’s unbridled economic forces under democratic control.

GOP Warming to Elizabeth Warren? (MoJo)
Conservatives may not like what Elizabeth Warren has to say about Wall Street corruption, but at least they’ll know exactly who they’re dealing with.

Who’s Making Business Nervous Now? (TNR)
Jonathan Cohn notes that GOP lawmakers who complained about the “uncertainty” created by new regulations have left small businesses twisting in the wind.

Estimates Say Fewer Jobs, Larger Deficits if Republicans Were in Charge (Newsweek)
The math doesn’t lie: The current Republican platform would take everything they’ve been complaining about and make it worse.

Obama’s Tax Reform Panel: A Missed Opportunity (Tax Vox)
Led by Paul Volcker, the president’s tax panel identified plenty of flaws in the tax system but wasn’t permitted to offer any real solutions.

Lenders Back Off of Environmental Risks (NYTimes)
Banks are beginning to question whether destroying mountains and poisoning the atmosphere is a productive use of their money.

Immigrants Make U.S. Workers Richer (WSJ)
A new study from the San Francisco Fed finds that “They’re taking our jobs!” is nothing but a bumper sticker slogan.

Youth Unemployment Hit a Record High This Summer (HuffPo)
America’s 18 to 24-year-olds are getting a taste of what’s in store for them later in life if current economic policies remain on course…

Housing Bust Makes Paying for College Harder (WSJ)
…And if they were hoping to escape into academia, they’d better have a Plan C.

The Iraq War leaves a fog of ambiguity (WaPo)
As President Obama prepares to commemorate the “end” of the Iraq War, Eugene Robinson argues that there isn’t much worth celebrating.