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Fiscal cliff notes

Nineteen protestors demanding Senator Richard Durbin oppose cuts to Social Security and other social programs as part of any deficit deal were arrested on Friday in his office and the lobby of the Federal Building, Kari Lydersen reports at In These Times.  (See our previous post for more.)

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The so-called “grand bargain” is a “grand swindle” which ignores the “victory for middle-class populism” that last week’s election represents, according to Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future.

“Within hours of the election, the austerity posse was fear-mongering around the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ and pressuring Washington to accept a ‘grand bargain’ before the end of the year that would slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – and plunge us into a double-dip recession.”

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Durbin and other deficit hawks “are hoping that the hype around the budget standoff (aka ‘fiscal cliff’) can be used for a grand bargain that eviscerates the country’s two most important social programs, Social Security and Medicare,” writes Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, noting that “they made a point of keeping this plan out of election year politics.”

But they must act quickly, he points out – because “one of the pillars of their deficit horror story could be collapsing.

Read the rest of this entry »

The housing crash and family wealth

If house prices stay the same through 2009, the median household headed by a person between the ages of 45 and 54 will have 24.7 percent less wealth than a similiar household had in 2004, according to a new report on the housing crash and family wealth from the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

If real house prices fall another 10 percent, these folks will see a 34.6 percent loss in wealth — while families in the 18-to-34 age range will lose 67.6 percent.

This analysis should prompt serious re-examination of policy proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare for near retirees, according to Dean Baker of CEPR: “Policies that perhaps could have been justified at the peak of the housing bubble make much less sense now that tens of millions of near-retirees have just seen most of their wealth disappear.”

See CEPR’s press release.



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