Because the sequester is (and is likely to continue to be) very ill-defined in the minds of most Americans, the politics of it will devolve into a popularity contest between the major players. Which gets us to the fact that Obama is at (or close to) his high-water mark in terms of job approval, while Congress sits in political reporter/used car salesman territory.The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, theorizing that there’s no way possible way Congress can win the sequester battle against President Obama. The thinking here is is based on three premises: One, that Obama believes the sequester ultimately will not be avoided, because Congress is dysfunctional and if they could have struck a deal on these cuts, there wouldn’t have been a sequester to begin with; two, that effects of the sequestered cuts will be felt by many Americans once they come into effect; and three, that Obama is significantly more popular than Congress. Given these three assumptions, it seems reasonable enough to conclude that if the sequester happens, Congress—and the GOP-led House of Representatives—will be blamed by the American public. It’s not a bad theory, though it’s still quite speculative given the assumptions. More information on the sequester here. source
» Every walk of life now has debt: With $117 billion in new federal student loans in 2011, the amount of total student debt has tipped the scales at over $1 trillion. And it’s not just young folks who are having to deal with lingering debt, either; some middle-aged adults are finding themselves dealing with the issues decades later. “It’s just unbearable to have that type of weight on you and you can’t do anything about it,” said Brenda Small, a woman who went to nursing school in the late ’80s — and rack up $20,000 in debt — only to get injured not long after graduating, making her unable to pay for it.
We cannot just cut our way to prosperity. Making it harder for our young people to afford higher education and earn their degrees is nothing more than cutting our own future off at the knees. Congress needs to keep interest rates on student loans from doubling, and they need to do it now.President Obama • Singling out stable student loan interest rates as a cause for Congress to protect, in a radio address Saturday. Back in 2007, the Congress passed legislation to hold Stafford loan interest rates at 3.2%, less than half of the 6.8% they had been at the time. Setting aside the differing merits and constituency of each policy for a moment, the political tact Obama is employing here is strikingly similar to how the GOP argues in favor of the Bush tax cuts, among other things. The lower rates eventually expiring was a built-in, fully understood part of the 2007 legislation, but as the new rates have begun to feel “normal,” so to speak, people feel as such, making any refusal to extend the policy a tidy political weapon for the party sponsoring it. source (via • follow)
I may be poorer in my wallet, but psychologically I feel I have more.38-year-old Palestinian Ayman abu Hussein • Discussing how, despite the fact that he and his wife are both working and he has a second job, most of his family’s combined income — 60 percent — goes to paying back mortgages, loans and other kinds of debt, something which was rare in the West Bank until recently. Before, you needed three cosigners — or to be rich — to be able to get a mortgage. Now, upward mobility with the help of consumer debt is becoming more common. The region’s difficult political situation makes loans like this somewhat volatile, along with unique cultural factors — specifically, it’s difficult for lenders to repossess property in the region due to community pressure — but banks in the region are nonetheless moving forward. Fascinating.
» Less money, more problems: The relevance of this lies in the amount of debt relative to Gingrich’s opponents; he’s spent about $3 for every $2 he’s raised in contributions, and now that he’s surged into front-runner status, this ratio is hurting his ability to add staffers and purchase advertising. A possible culprit for the red ink on the Gingrich balance sheet? The early stages of his campaign, in which he was spending heavily on fancy hotels and $30,000 jet flights. Compare this to Mitt Romney’s campaign, which already has a thriving ground-game in place and is reporting zero debt, and one wonders whether Gingrich can raise the organization in time to keep contending.