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Economics
March 6, 2014
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President Obama's budget for the 2015 fiscal year contains lots of populist proposals like more generous tax credits for the working poor, initiatives for education from preschool through college, for roads and other public works, and for research and manufacturing centers. Obama intends to pay for them with taxes, mostly on the rich, which would bring in more than $1 trillion over 10 years. But not all of that would go to government programs — much is, in fact, slated for deficit reduction.

Yet with the deficit declining at the fastest rate since World War II, I — and many others will probably agree — wonder why raising taxes is really necessary at this stage. With interest rates on government borrowing remaining near record lows, the market continues to offer the federal government very cheap money to invest in infrastructure, education, basic research, and measures to reduce economic inequality. That spending can be paid for later, when unemployment is lower, growth higher, and the economy in a stronger position to withstand tax rises.

Faster deficit reduction may be political wisdom — with a large majority of Americans considering deficit reduction a high priority — but it is not economic wisdom when millions of Americans remain out of work, and while economic growth remains relatively timid. It's especially unnecessary for a major superpower like the United States, whose currency and government debt securities are highly prized in global markets as "safe assets."

Let's not forget the reason why economic growth wasn't higher last quarter: Deficit reduction. John Aziz

This just in
September 4, 2015
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Jailed Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis will reportedly appeal her contempt of court ruling and has no plans to resign as Rowan County clerk, her lawyer said Friday. Davis, who was sent to jail Thursday after a judge found her in contempt of court for defying the Supreme Court's order to issue same-sex marriage licenses, says she has a "clean conscience."

Though a deputy clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Davis' absence Friday, her attorney asserted that the licenses are void because she didn't authorize them. Samantha Rollins

Only in America
September 4, 2015
Facebook.com/Washington State University

Washington State University professors have warned students that using "oppressive and hateful language" such as "male," "female," and "illegal immigrant" will result in bad grades. But administrators promised to ensure that no student will be punished for "using terms that may be deemed offensive to some." The Week Staff

emailgate
September 4, 2015
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In a Friday interview with NBC News' Andrea Mitchell, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton once again refused to apologize for using a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. "I'm sorry this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions," Clinton said.

While she admitted a personal server "wasn't the best choice," she maintained that she never knowingly broke the law. "This was fully above board, people knew I was using a personal email, I did it for convenience," Clinton said. "I sent emails that I thought were work related to people's dot gov accounts."

Watch the full interview over at NBC News. Becca Stanek

For those who have everything
September 4, 2015
Courtesy Photo

Jellyfish are "hypnotizing to watch," writes BlessThisStuff, so why not let them hypnotize you in your home or office? The Pulse 80 Jellyfish Aquarium ($1300) was designed with the special needs of jellyfish in mind, and it lets a human operator play with lighting effects. A remote control that governs the LED system lets you choose among thousands of colors and set the brightness and timing for flashes or color shifts. The aquarium is handmade from scratch-resistant cast acrylic and features a low-maintenance filtration system and an Italian-made pump designed to be virtually silent while operating. The Week Staff

Only in America
September 4, 2015
iStock

A Georgia school district is investigating the mass baptism of its high school football players just before practice. A video showing the baptism appeared on a Baptist church's website, with the caption: "See how God is STILL in our schools." A spokeswoman for the Freedom From Religion Foundation said the coach was illegally misusing his authority "to promote his personal religious agenda.'' School district officials said they would "take appropriate steps." The Week Staff

This just in
September 4, 2015
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Martin O'Malley wants the U.S. to accept as many as 13 times the number of Syrian refugees it currently plans to take in. The former Maryland governor and Democratic presidential candidate called Friday for the U.S. to up its plans to accept between 5,000 to 8,000 immigrants to "at least 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016." O'Malley cited the photos of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who washed up dead on a Turkish beach after a failed attempt to sail from Turkey to Greece, for stirring his moral obligation to urge Americans to do more to help some four million Syrian refugees.

"Americans are a generous and compassionate people. But today our policies are falling short of those values," O'Malley said in a statement. "If Germany — a country with one-fourth our population — can accept 800,000 refugees this year, certainly we — the nation of immigrants and refugees — can do more."

As Europe faces an influx of migrants from Africa, Afghanistan, and the Middle East — a record 107,500 migrants entered the European Union in July alone — O'Malley contends that Americans are "not immune from the injustices and tragedies that unfold outside our borders." So far, according to numbers from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) reported by Newsweek, only 1,541 Syrian refugees have arrived in the U.S. Becca Stanek

Trump's take
September 4, 2015
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The media is back at it with its "gotcha" questions, according to Donald Trump, and this time they're from conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. In a live radio interview Thursday discussing U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, Hewitt prompted Trump to name the leaders of ISIS, Iran's Quds Force, Hezbollah, the al-Nusra Front, and al Qaeda.

Trump's response: He didn't know — yet. "You know, I'll tell you honestly, I think by the time we get to office, they'll all be changed. They'll all be gone," Trump said in the interview. The Independent notes that Hezbollah has had the "same Secretary General for the past 23 years."

The interview went further downhill when, after Trump mixed up the Quds Force and the Kurds, Hewitt corrected him. Of course, Trump isn't one to admit defeat, so he took to MSNBC's Morning Joe Friday to lash out at Hewitt and call him a "third-rate radio announcer."

"When you say Kurds vs. Quds, I thought he said 'Kurds,'" Trump said. "And it was like 'got you, got you, got you,' and every question is, 'do I know this one, and that one.' You know he worked hard on that."

Hewitt will be partnering with CNN to moderate the second Republican debate. Becca Stanek

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