March 5: Free to Be You and Me

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

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Beyond the free market (Salon)
In the conclusion of “The 99% Plan,” Roosevelt Institute Fellow Sabeel Rahman argues that we need to move past the idea that freedom means that the government leaves you alone while powerful private sector interests plant their boots firmly on your face.

States of Depression (NYT)
Paul Krugman notes that in two recent U.S. recessions, one president spent liberally and prevented painful state budget cuts, while another followed a more restrained, austere path. The latter was Barack Obama; the former was socialist Ronald Reagan.

Famed economist: Income inequality bad for economy (The Record)
Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Joseph Stiglitz argues building a stronger economy doesn’t involve cutting the deficit and clapping your hands to prove you really do believe in the confidence fairy — it means reinvesting in the things that matter.

The One Percent Bounce Back (TNR)
Timothy Noah notes that new data show that while the 1% suffered almost half the income loss in the recession, they’ve enjoyed nearly all the gains since. Maybe the rest of us can have a little taste of their recovery once they throw the scraps away.

Fed Shrugged Off Warnings, Let Banks Pay Shareholders Billions (ProPublica)
Jesse Eisinger reports that Sheila Bair warned against allowing banks to pay $33 billion in dividends that could have been used to cushion them from shocks, but after careful consideration, the Fed chose to err on the side of suicidal lack of caution.

Check out “The 99 Percent Plan,” a new Roosevelt Institute/Salon essay series on the progressive vision for the economy.

Making the United States More Like Greece (Baseline Scenario)
Simon Johnson argues the root of Greece’s debt crisis is that its government refused to be honest about the impact of its policies, and the GOP wants to follow suit by scoring budgets to better reflect its party platform instead of liberally biased reality.

When States Abuse Women (NYT)
Nicholas Kristof notes that although Virginia’s skeevy abortion bill made headlines, many states have already implemented laws to punish women for obtaining legal medical procedures, up to and including full-blown Texas-style state-mandated rape.

Massachusetts Senate Race 2012 Could Be Most Expensive In State’s History (AP)
As donations pour into 2012’s hottest Senate race, the Brown campaign is blasting Elizabeth Warren for taking money from academics and Hollywood liberals while Scott Brown relies on grassroots support from local fishermen and, uh, Goldman Sachs.

Hunger—Where We Are, Where We Need to Be (The Nation)
Greg Kaufmann reports that food insecurity remains widespread thanks to rising prices and stagnant SNAP benefits. Luckily, Congress has a chance to rework those benefits and finally fulfill George W. Bush’s promise to help put food on your family.

Morgan Stanley Executive Charged in Cab Hate Crime Attack (Bloomberg)
A senior Morgan Stanley executive has been charged with stabbing his Egyptian cab driver after refusing to pay the $204 fare for his ride from New York to Connecticut. Now imagine being the poor IRS agent who has to make this guy pay his taxes.

With additional research by Roosevelt Institute intern Elena Callahan.