The Lookout
  • Not everyone agrees deficit is major problem

    James GalbraithJames GalbraithIf we can all agree on one thing, it's that the federal budget deficit is a big problem, right?

    After all, that's the basic position of both parties, and when the chairs of President Obama's debt commission unveiled their draft proposal last week, it was the talk of Washington, with every pundit worth his salt offering praise or criticism (mostly criticism). The issue is, indeed, so pressing that the New York Times created its own interactive tool to let readers balance the budget themselves.  There's even an imaginary presidential candidate, Hugh Jidette (get it?) to help draw attention to the deficit crisis. Of course, the ratio of tax increases to spending cuts that you favor will likely depend on your political views. But to judge from most of the coverage, which totaled $1.4 trillion for this year alone, is a problem that needs to be solved sooner rather than later isn't up for debate.

    Except that it is. Ever since concerns over the deficit took center-stage in Washington earlier this year, several prominent economists -- all progressives --- have been pushing back, claiming not simply that proposed spending cuts are too deep, or that the rich should be asked to sacrifice more. Rather, they've challenged the entire premise of the debate: that a budget shortfall caused by over-spending and under-taxation stands to put an undue burden on future generations, and that cuts to government programs, including Social Security, can help fix the problem. That view, they say, is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what's driving the deficit and how government spending works. In fact, they argue, as one recently put it, that "the current deficit is a positive."

    Read More »from Not everyone agrees deficit is major problem
  • Welcome to First Look, a daily roundup of early-bird news and a preview of what's to come:

    Harry Reid has promised votes on both the DREAM Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell. (Politico)

    Fried chicken dynasty KFC is offering $20,000 to the student who writes the best Tweet. (CNN)

    A poll shows Americans do not like the latest deficit reduction plan. (Wall Street Journal)

    The surprise verdict in the first civilian trial for a Guantanamo detainee draws criticism. (The New York Times)

    Read More »from FIRST LOOK: Reid promises a vote on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
  • Here's our roster of stories that managed to evade the full-on blog treatment:

    • A judge has denied a motion to stop a Tennessee county from issuing permits for the construction of a mosque. (Daily News Journal)

    • Frustration over Bristol Palin's success on "Dancing With the Stars" inspired a Wisconsin man to shoot his television. (Wisconsin State Journal)

    • Investigators in Aruba think that the discovery of human bones may provide a break in the Natalee Holloway case. (Daily News)

    • A New Jersey pastor has ordered his flock to delete their Facebook accounts because he believes that social networking sites can lead to marital infidelity. (CBS)

    Read More »from FINAL LOOK: Judge denies motion to block Tennessee mosque construction

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