Timothy Noah

When last we heard from Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) on the topic of income inequality, he was claiming, incorrectly, that the United States redeems its disproportionate income inequality, relative to western Europe, by offering greater equality of opportunity. Whoops!

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Hallelujah

The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman finally come clean. "If the congressional 'supercommittee' cannot agree on a plan to tame the federal debt by next week’s deadline, as now appears likely," they write, "here’s what will happen: nothing." They still won't explain why the Republicans' proposed tax hike is actually a tax cut, and the story quotes Sen. Max Baucus, D.-Montana, at length about what a tragedy it is that Democrats are unwilling to capitulate, er, I mean compromise. They also quote Sen.

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Memo to the Washington Post news desk: Please read E.J. Dionne's excellent column today, which explains why the Republicans' $300 billion tax increase is really a tax cut. Also read my esteemed predecessor Jon Chait on the subject way back in January. Also listen to Alan Greenspan--you like Alan Greenspan, right?--in April.

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Say It Ain't So, Ezra

The ordinarily rigorous and sensible Ezra Klein is edging closer to joining the Washington Post's knicker-twisting caucus. Don't do it, Ezra! Klein writes that members of Congress are foolish not to fear sequestration because preventing it won't be as easy as they think. I guess he imagines something like that scene in Goldfinger where James Bond is handcuffed to a nuclear bomb inside Fort Knox and before he can even defuse the damn thing he has to electrocute Oddjob (the guy with the deadly Frisbee hat): Why is it like James Bond at Fort Knox?

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Shame Of The Leaders

Okay, now the Washington Post  is framing imminent super committee failure as a failure of leadership--not by the super committee itself, mind you, but by the president and the congressional leaders. On Nov. 15, eight days before the anticipated sequestration apocalypse, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell "scurried home for the night" at 7 p.m. Like cockroaches! "Boehner," the Post's Paul Kane adds scornfully, "had left the building earlier in the evening."  And the commander-in-chief?

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Am I missing something? The Republican Study Committee is circulating a letter urging that the super committee "not increase Americans' tax burden. With current levels of taxation already limiting economic growth, we believe that marginal rates must be maintained or lowered and that repeal of any tax credit or deduction be offset with an equal or greater tax cut." The deal currently being offered by super committee Republicans meets every one of those goals.

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Oh no! Have you heard? The super committee may not come up with $1.2 trillion in budget cuts by its Nov. 23 deadline! Even after the Republicans on the committee made the extraordinary, nay, unprecedented concession to include taxes in the deficit-reduction package. Their plan would raise $600 billion in revenue. That is, until you factor in extending all the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts, which is a condition of the deal. When you figure that in their plan "raises" -$3.1 trillion in revenue.

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Saving School Pizza

In January the Agriculture department had this crazy idea to improve nutritional standards for federally-subsidized school lunches. It proposed limiting "starchy vegetables" (read: fries) to one cup per week "to encourage students to try new vegetables." It also proposed changing the way schools met daily requirements for fruits and vegetables by limiting--not eliminating, merely limiting--the use of tomato paste (read: pizza) to meet that requirement.

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Not having taken Herman Cain seriously enough to write about him when he was up, I probably should resist the temptation to write about him when he's down. But this is sure to become a You Tube classic: The obvious antecedent is when Woody Allen is instructed to check the cell structure in 1973's Sleeper: At the risk of ruining the fun by raising a serious question: How did Cain's experiences running a major corporation fail to teach him that if you want to be a success at anything in life, much less become president, you have to do your homework? He can't remember what U.S.

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Downsizing CFTC

Psst, Occupy Wall Streeters. I've got a new slogan for you: "Feed The Watchdog!" The Dodd-Frank financial-reform law gave the Securities and Exchange Commission lots of new regulatory responsibilities that House Republicans don't want it to have. Since they lack the votes to repeal Dodd-Frank, they're de-funding it instead. The SEC will have to make do with the same funding level it had in 2011. The same goes for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Under Dodd-Frank the CFTC is supposed to regulate derivatives. Remember derivatives? They helped sink the economy in 2008.

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