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By Tim Price, originally posted on Next New Deal

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Obama and the end of decline (WaPo)

E.J. Dionne writes that President Obama's second term has the potential to dispel the widely shared concern that America is caught in an escapable downward spiral -- but only by addressing rising inequality and helping those Americans who actually are.

The Twinkie Manifesto (NYT)

It turns out Twinkies won't be joining cockroaches post-apocalypse, but as long as we're getting nostalgic for snack products, Paul Krugman notes that their heyday was the '50s, a time when taxing the rich was not considered the source of said apocalypse.

Why We Should Stop Obsessing About the Federal Budget Deficit (Robert Reich)

Reich urges Democrats to make the case that creating jobs and boosting growth should be our top priority instead of allowing the agenda to be set by whatever the grumpy conservatives who populate Sunday talk shows are currently paid to complain about.

The Next Chapters in the Republican War on Math: Tax Cuts and Austerity (The Atlantic)

Heather Boushey argues that Republicans' insistence that Nate Silver and his liberal "mathematics" must be wrong because it was telling them things they didn't like reflects their overall approach to economics, in which 2+2=? is a creative writing exercise.

GOP's Opposition to New Taxes: Same As It Ever Was (TPM)

Sahil Kapur writes that despite recent feints, Republicans only support raising revenue through tax reform as part of a deficit reduction compromise as long as that reform doesn't actually raise any revenue and the compromise is they get everything they want.

This Week in Poverty: The Fiscal Cliff and the Janitors Who Are Already on It (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann checks in on the ongoing wage negotiations between Cincinnati's janitors and the city's cleaning contractors, and also attempts to figure out just what this supposed cliff is that we're barreling toward like Thelma and Louise on a bender.

How to Sort Out Social Security's Finances While Making It More Generous (WaPo)

Dylan Matthews notes that amid a sea of proposals to cut Social Security because, well, it seems like the type of thing a serious person would do, one senator has a plan to simply lift the payroll tax cap and increase benefits. Whoops, not serious enough.

Defending the Right to Treat Your Employees Like Dirt (Prospect)

Paul Waldman argues that when a company like Papa John's reacts to Obamacare by punishing its employees, it's really demonstrating its contempt for workers, not its heartfelt moral objection to asking its customers to pay an extra dime for bad pizza. 

Wall Street's Great Scapegoat Hunt (Bloomberg)

William Cohan writes that the message being sent from top Wall Street executives to underlings involved in shady activity is pretty clear: in exchange for the glory of fighting under the king's banner, you may be called upon to throw yourself on a pike for him.

Big Banks vs. Elizabeth Warren: It's On (Again!) (MoJo)

Elizabeth Warren: Threat or menace? The new junior senator from Massachusetts hasn't even been sworn in yet, but Andy Kroll reports banks are already lobbying hard to keep her off the Banking Committee for fear that she might use the position to do stuff.

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