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No 'A' for Effort. Writing for Salon, Brian Beutler speculated that if President Obama was lying about whether people could keep their current insurance plans under Obamacare, it was a “noble lie.” Several other commentators have made similar observations. Obamacare may be a mess; it may be built on a framework of legal, political, and economic distortions; and it may have been pushed through by playing the hardest of political hardball. But the president’s heart was in the right place. “Obamacare’s fiascos can’t be excused on the grounds that the president meant well.” So many defenses of big government in the face of repeated failure seem to boil down this: Don’t judge us by results, judge us by our good intentions. In this case, there clearly was a problem before Obamacare. The president continues to make this case, arguing that he won’t reconsider the health-care law because “I’m not going to walk away from 40 million people who have the chance to get health insurance for the first time.”

George Will: Slouching toward disability. Beginning two decades after the death of Franklin Roosevelt, who would find today’s government unrecognizable, government became a geyser of entitlements. In 2010, government at all levels transferred more than $2.2 trillion in money, goods and services to recipients — $7,200 per individual, almost $29,000 per family of four. Before 1960, only in the Depression years of 1931 and 1935 did federal transfer payments exceed other federal expenditures.

During most of FDR’s 12 presidential years, income transfers were a third or less of federal spending. But between 1960 and 2010, entitlements exploded from 28 percent to 66 percent of federal spending. By 2010, more than 34 percent of households were receiving means-tested benefits. “The growth of entitlement spending over the past half-century has been distinctly greater under Republican administrations than Democratic ones. Why, then, should we expect Romney to reverse Republican complicity?

Georgewill@washpost.com. Don’t Resent the Rich; Fix the Tax Code (Part 3): Robert Shiller. We have ample reason to believe that financial markets are quite useful. And yet our wonderful financial infrastructure has not yet brought us the harmonious society we might consider ideal. There remains the ugliness of extreme economic inequality, of some who endure hardship while others are pampered. While some inequality is actually in many ways a good thing, for the motivation and stimulation it provides, arbitrary and extreme inequality poses problems. It is an imperative that people feel society is basically fair to them.

We see this aversion most clearly today in the worldwide protests associated with Occupy Wall Street and its variants. There is widespread skepticism that those who become extremely wealthy through financial dealings, or very high executive-compensation packages, are sufficiently deserving of their wealth. World’s Richest People If we define the field of finance broadly, then most of the world’s richest people may be classified as connected to it. Tax System Seen as Unfair, in Need of Overhaul. Wealthy Not Paying Fair Share Top Complaint Overview Public dissatisfaction with the tax system has grown over the past decade, and the focus of the public’s frustration is not how much they themselves pay, but rather the impression that wealthy people are not paying their fair share. The number of Americans who feel they pay more than their fair share in federal taxes has dropped significantly over the past decade, from 55% in 2000 to 38% today.

About half (52%) now say they pay the right amount in taxes. Yet at the same time, fewer see the overall tax system as even moderately fair (43%, down from 51% eight years ago), and roughly six-in-ten (59%) say that so much is wrong with the tax system that Congress should completely change it. Republicans and Democrats agree on the need for tax reform; majorities across party lines see the system as unfair and in need of a complete overhaul. Points of Partisan Agreement, Division Household Income and Views of Taxes Fewer Feel Overtaxed.

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Center for Budget and Policy Priorities

Is U.S. Upward Economic Mobility Impaired? What’s the most important issue in American politics? In a narrow sense, the sputtering economy and ballooning deficits are likely to dominate the 2012 election season. But while every election has its own particular concerns, fundamentally it is to the American Dream that our politicians must tend — that libertarian and egalitarian bundle of values and hopes that transcend our partisan, economic, and social divisions. When the Pew Economic Mobility Project (EMP) surveyed people about what the American Dream meant, it got widely ranging answers.[1] Indiana’s governor, Mitch Daniels, recently hit on a common sentiment when he observed that “upward mobility from the bottom is the crux of the American promise.”

But even those who would focus more broadly on the rising tide that lifts all boats should be concerned about the state of economic mobility in America. The finding of pervasive upward absolute mobility flies in the face of liberal accounts of a stagnant middle class.

Mobility

Angry about inequality? Don’t blame the rich. But the mere existence of income inequality tells us little about what, if anything, should be done about it. First, we must answer some key questions. Who constitutes the prosperous and the poor? Why has inequality increased? Does an unequal income distribution deny poor people the chance to buy what they want? To answer these questions, it is not enough to take a snapshot of our incomes; we must instead have a motion picture of them and of how people move in and out of various income groups over time.

The “rich” in America are not a monolithic, unchanging class. Mobility is not limited to the top-earning households. And who are the rich? Also, households with two earners have seen their incomes rise. We could reduce income inequality by trying to curtail the financial returns of education and the number of women in the workforce — but who would want to do that? The real income problem in this country is not a question of who is rich, but rather of who is poor. Outlook@washpost.com.

Tax reforms

US welfare. Charles Murray on the New American Divide. What nation has the most progressive tax system? Economics for public policy. Economic Mobility Project. The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today's most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. Site Map Home/Page Error Page Error We're sorry, the page you've requested has an error.

You can return to The Pew Charitable Trusts home page here. Thank you for your interest in our work. Pew News Now Sign Up Today Receive Pew's weekly newsletter, Pew News Now, in your inbox each Wednesday and learn more about our program work improving public policy, informing the public and stimulating civic life. Sign up today. Trust Magazine Fall 2013 A decade ago, the Pew Oceans Commission found that America’s oceans were in crisis.

Click here to read Trust Magazine Media Inquiries The Pew Charitable TrustsTel: 215.575.9050 PATel: 202.552.2000 DCEmail: media@pewtrusts.org Stay Connected About The Pew Charitable Trusts: Pew on the Web: Ronald McKinnon: The Conservative Case for a Wealth Tax. Edmund Phelps Home Page. Edmund Phelps was born in 1933 in , , spent his childhood in Chicago and, from age six, grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. He earned his B.A. from Amherst in 1955 and his Ph.D. from Yale in 1959. He is McVickar Professor of Political Economy at Columbia University, Director of Columbia’s Center on Capitalism and Society. He was the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics. His career began with a stint at the RAND Corporation. Back east in 1960, he held positions at Yale and its Cowles Foundation until 1966, then a professorship for five years at Penn.

In Phelps’s “micro-macro” models, attaining equilibrium in the markets – meaning participants’ expectations consistent with their actions – does not generally eliminate unemployment, not even involuntary unemployment. The main discovery from these models was the potential for disequilibrium and its effects on economic activity. Errors in wage or price expectations would disturb the volume of unemployment. Last Update: February 7, 2014. Income Distribution.

Did the Poor Cause the Crisis? - Simon Johnson. Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space WASHINGTON, DC – The United States continues to be riven by heated debate about the causes of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. Is government to blame for what went wrong, and, if so, in what sense? In December, the Republican minority on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), weighed in with a preemptive dissenting narrative. According to this group, misguided government policies, aimed at increasing homeownership among relatively poor people, pushed too many into taking out subprime mortgages that they could not afford. This narrative has the potential to gain a great deal of support, particularly in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. Not according to Daron Acemoglu of MIT (and a co-author of mine on other topics), who presented his findings at the American Finance Association’s annual meeting in early January.

The Undeserving One Percent? - Raghuram Rajan. Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space CHICAGO – It is amazing how the “one percent” epithet, a reference to the top 1% of earners, has caught on in the United States and elsewhere in the developed world. In the United States, this 1% includes all those with a 2006 household income of at least $386,000.

In the popular narrative, the 1% is thickly populated with unscrupulous corporate titans, greedy bankers, and insider-trading hedge-fund managers. Of course, underlying this narrative is the view that this income is ill-gotten, made possible by Bush-era tax cuts, the broken corporate governance system, and the conflict-of-interest-ridden financial system. Clearly, this caricature is based on some truth. It ignores, for example, the fact that many of the truly rich are entrepreneurs. But what might be the most important overlooked fact is that the rise in income inequality is not just at the very top, though it is most pronounced there. The US has tried quick fixes before.