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Persistent high unemployment keeps ruining families and damaging futures while driving up deficits — but political leaders, pundits, and a significant portion of the electorate remain obsessed with laying off teachers and other public workers, slashing Social Security and Medicare, and ignoring real national needs.

So distracted are we by the cry to cut spending, in fact, that even budget proposals resulting in grossly higher deficits, such as Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s “pathway,” are lauded simply because they would decimate social, environmental, and infrastructure spending. If you’re wondering how our discourse became so mindless, Ari Berman explains in this critical dissection of the “austerity class,” whose privileged members in Washington and New York care far less about deficits than they do about slashing entitlements. And as he points out, their loud voices have badly distorted the most influential media coverage of these issues, too:

Much of the mainstream media…remain enthusiastic cheerleaders for austerity. A recent story in the Washington Post, “Experts Dubious of Obama Deficit Plan,” featured criticism from MacGuineas, Bixby, an unnamed GOP aide and a corporate tax lobbyist as its lone sources. “That’s fair and balanced budget reporting at the Washington Post,” joked [liberal economist] Dean Baker.

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Reprinted with permission from Responsible Statecraft

The Treasury Department's nine-page "2021 Sanctions Review" released on Monday makes vague recommendations for "calibrating sanctions to mitigate unintended economic, political, and humanitarian impact." Unfortunately, it offers few tangible policy suggestions on how to end the high humanitarian
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Reprinted with permission from Creators

In New York City, a statue of Thomas Jefferson has graced the City Council chamber for 100 years. This week, the Public Design Commission voted unanimously to remove it. "Jefferson embodies some of the most shameful parts of our country's history," explained Adrienne Adams, a councilwoman from Queens. Assemblyman Charles Barron went even further. Responding to a question about where the statue should go next, he was contemptuous: "I don't think it should go anywhere. I don't think it should exist."

When iconoclasts topple Jefferson, they seem to validate the argument advanced by defenders of Confederate monuments that there is no escape from the slippery slope. "First, they come for Nathan Bedford Forrest and then for Robert E. Lee. Where does it end? Is Jefferson next? Is George Washington?"

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