Daily Digest 1/1 - The Winners And Losers In The Fiscal-Cliff Deal, Pick Up A New Skill In 2013
The Senate, in a predawn vote two hours after the deadline passed to avert automatic tax increases, overwhelmingly approved legislation on Tuesday that would allow tax rates to rise only on affluent Americans while temporarily suspending sweeping, across-the-board spending cuts.
We're Over The Cliff, But Don't Panic (jdargis)
What to make of the deal that will mitigate the worst effects of the cliff? Republicans have long had an unusual fixation on marginal income-tax rates, and their willingness to increase taxes on the very rich is indeed a historic moment in our politics. But more recently there’s been a similar obsession among Democrats with rates. Democrats cherish a progressive tax code, and higher rates on the super wealthy helps alleviate the disturbing level of economic inequality in America. So many Democrats are unhappy that under the current deal being discussed, rates are not rising more. But it probably makes more sense to view the deal in terms of how much revenue it produces overall—with all its component parts—rather than simply through the lens of the final levels at which income-tax rates will be set.
The Obama administration has gotten a lot done since Inauguration Day 2009, but what it’s never done is give strong partisan Democrats the kind of to-the-mattresses battle against the GOP that they crave. Most liberals think—and I agree—that had we simply gone over the cliff and had Obama simply insisted on a new tax cut bill with a $250,000 threshold, he ultimately would have won. But success was by no means guaranteed, and ultimately the White House chose not to risk further re-enforcing a sense that the president is a weak poker player.
Compare the 1912 Elections with the 2012 Elections (Michael W.)
On the presidential ballot were Republican incumbent William Howard Taft, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, and the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party’s choice former president Theodore Roosevelt. Taft would be repudiated for being far too populist and too critical of corporations by today’s Republican Party. He favored national, not state, charters for “national corporations.”
Somewhere Over The Rainbow (tshtf09)
Even if you have no investments in the stock market, this is an important question, in part because the pensions funded by state and local governments are heavily invested in US equities. In fact, they are often projecting returns in excess of 10% per year. How likely is that to happen? Who will make up the difference if it doesn’t? In nearly all states and jurisdictions, it is against the law to change the terms of a public pension plan once it is agreed upon.
This is not the first time that analysts have forecast an end to the rally in bond values that has lasted for decades. But previously many of the voices predicting it were pessimists who believed that investors would sell off their bonds when they lost faith in the American government’s ability to pay back its bonds, forcing the government and many other bond issuers to pay higher interest rates. When interest rates rise, older bonds with lower interest rates are worth less.
Happy New Year: Pick Up A New Skill (jdargis)
While I was writing, I imagined that I was alone in my quest; the conceit was that I was going to practice for ten thousand hours, because nobody else my age would ever be willing to invest that kind of time. But in the past year, I’ve been deluged with e-mails from other adult learners. A journalist wrote to say that her seventy-six-year-old father had learned the guitar late in life, and had just told her that he was starting a band with his friends called “The Three Grandfathers.” In Portland I met (and jammed with) Rick King, an engineer who was keeping an Excel spreadsheet tracking every hour of his practice, having returned to the guitar in his sixties after surviving a heart attack. Looking back, it was silly to think that there was anything unique about what I was doing.
The 266-foot diameter rig ran aground on the east coast of Sitkalidak Island, an uninhabited island that is separated by the Sitkalidak Strait from the far larger Kodiak Island to the west. The nearest town, Old Harbor, is across the strait on Kodiak Island; it has a population of about 200 people.
Ms. Sinclair said the coast where the Kulluk ran aground has a combination of rocky and sandy terrain.
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