Robert Gordon

Extending Lower Student-Loan Interest Rates Is Not the Answer

Senate Democrats need a smarter approach to reducing student debt

Senate Democrats need a smarter approach to reducing student debt.

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McCain advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin slammed Obama's tax plan today, saying, "Obama has proposed a ‘tax cut' for 95 percent of people when, literally, almost 40 percent pay no federal income taxes at all." He cited a recent New York Post editorial labeling Obama's tax cuts "welfare." It is true that Obama has proposed several tax credits that include families who earn too little to owe income taxes, a group that include about half of families with children. But many of these families work and pay thousands of dollars in other taxes.

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In an effort to start making sense of what is an indisputably confusing situation, we asked some of the most thoughtful people we know the question: How will America change as a result of the economic downturn? Here are Robert Gordon and James Kvaal, senior fellows at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.   Hard economic times usually hit not only our wallets, but also our spirits. Charitable giving goes down. And as Benjamin Friedman has explained, racial tension and nativist sentiment go up.

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Bill Clinton declared that the era of big government is over. George Bush is bringing it back. With America facing the largest financial crisis in a generation, it’s striking that free market ideology offers no answers. Virtually no one is arguing that the government should just let these companies fail. Scholars from at least one prominent conservative think tank are declining interviews, according to Marc Ambinder. As Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson put it, “Raw capitalism is dead.” The centerpiece of Paulson’s plan announced today is a new agency to buy up troubled mortgage assets.

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Alpha-Bits

Witnessing the collapse of one Wall Street titan after another seemed unthinkable a year ago, but the U.S. has seen worse before. When Franklin Roosevelt took office, four thousand banks had closed in just two months. From his improvisatory response--like a quarterback calling plays, as he once described it, back when quarterbacks called plays--the framework for the modern banking system emerged.With wiser leadership, that framework might have prevented the current meltdown.

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From Fear To Sneer

We usually write about issues but, as Rick Davis wants it, issues were beside the point of tonight's speeches.  If Republicans were the party of fear in 2004, tonight they became the party of sneer.  Sarah Palin has the knack of delivering strong shots with a light touch, and Rudy Giuliani's nasty speech made even her strongest lines seem a little gentler.  Bob Dole would seem gentle after Giuliani.  But Palin's speech was laced with inaccuracies.  She riffed on how Barack Obama wants to raise taxes.  Never mind that Obama would cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans.  Never mind that Palin he

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It is an embarrassment to John McCain's advisors that they have sent him into battle with a tax agenda that costs trillions of dollars yet delivers no benefit to tens of millions of middle-class Americans.  Since it's apparently too late to change course, McCain advisors Martin Feldstein and John Taylor take a different tack: they misstate what McCain's plan actually does.  In today's Wall Street Journal, Feldstein and Taylor try to manufacture a tax cut from McCain's health care plan.  While admitting that McCain’s plan would tax health benefits (which are largely tax-free today), they say th

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Barack Obama's speech tonight answers critics who argued that he needed to lay out a clear agenda for voters. "Let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am president," he said.  And then he did.  In its depth and detail, his speech resembled a State of the Union address more than a typical stump speech.

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Two quick observations about Bill Clinton's speech.  First, unless we are mistaken, he was the first speaker to explicitly mention the historic nature of Barack Obama's accomplishment as the first African American nominated by a major party.  Second, he ended his speech -- as he did in 1992 -- by asking us to believe in a place called Hope.  Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that the world has always been divided between the party of memory and the party of hope.  Obama knows, as Clinton did, that Democrats win elections as the party of hope. --Robert Gordon and James Kvaal

John McCain – like countless Republicans before him – has made taxes a centerpiece of his political campaign, and no wonder: it’s a strategy that’s worked again and again.  But tomorrow night, it's likely to be Barack Obama who goes on offense on taxes.  McCain wants to make permanent the Bush tax cuts he once opposed.  He’s also proposed an additional $300 billion a year in tax cuts, roughly doubling the size of the Bush tax cuts and making them even more slanted to high-income families.  And he is attacking Obama for a supposed vote for higher middle-class taxes (a claim Factcheck.org call

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