Wonkbook: Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention

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Top story: Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention

Democrats make their opening pitch about the values which inform governance and policy. "Democrats opened their convention here on Tuesday night with two simple messages for voters: Mitt Romney does not get it, and President Obama does. A parade of Democratic officials spent the first hours of the gathering detailing a political indictment of Mr. Romney, blistering him as being out of touch with the middle class and intent on taking the country back to the policies that caused the economy’s problems...The speakers here pounded Mr. Romney on immigration, on health care, on Medicare, on foreign policy, on the 2009 auto bailout and on his tax policies, which they said would benefit the rich at the expense of the working class and cause the same kind of economic damage that they said Mr. Obama had worked so hard to undo." Jim Rutenberg in The New York Times.

@JonahNRO: This is the best part of the convention and the best part of Obama -- he's a decent and good dad, and that's a good thing.

Wonkbookmark: The DNC speaking schedule for Wednesday, which includes Elizabeth Warren and Bill Clinton.

Michelle Obama stole the show on the first night of the convention. "[T]he main attraction of the evening was the appearance of Mr. Obama’s lead character witness...Mrs. Obama sought to remind his 2008 voters that the same person they supported then is underneath the tarnish she sought to buff away. The address was meant to lay the foundation for a convention program devised to remind wavering working- and middle-class voters -- the same ones Mr. Romney is working so hard to woo away -- what they liked about the president when they supported him four years ago, and how his own humbler roots have helped inspire his policies to help them...Mrs. Obama’s was almost the only voice lacking an explicit anti-Romney edge, conveying a personal tone and touch." Jim Rutenberg in The New York Times.

Read: The full transcript of Michelle Obama's speech.

Excerpts: "[Barack] was still the guy who'd picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door…he was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he'd found in a dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small. But when Barack started telling me about his family – that's when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine...Like so many American families, our families weren't asking for much...They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don't start out with much, if you work hard and do what you're supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids."

@jodikantor: This speech is the climax of Michelle Obama's 8-year political conversion, from reluctant spouse to campaign powerhouse.

More: Politico's Mackenzie Weinger on the top ten lines of Michelle Obama's speech.

San Antonio mayor Julian Castro, the Democratic keynote speaker, addressed the balance between government and individualism. "America didn't become the land of opportunity by accident. My grandmother's generation and generations before always saw beyond the horizons of their own lives and their own circumstances. They believed that opportunity created today would lead to prosperity tomorrow. That's the country they envisioned, and that's the country they helped build. The roads and bridges they built, the schools and universities they created, the rights they fought for and won—these opened the doors to a decent job, a secure retirement, the chance for your children to do better than you did." The Washington Post.

@esoltas: Julian Castro: "The American dream is not a sprint, or a marathon, but a relay." This is a strong metaphor for Democrats.

Wonkblog explains: Five policy facts on Julian Castro.

Zev Chafets profiles Julian Castro:"[Castro] is cerebral, serious, self-contained and highly efficient. If he were an energy source, he’d be zero-emission. A video of the event shows the president listening intently to Castro’s presentation and nodding occasionally, Harvard Law ’91 silently encouraging Harvard Law ’00...A lot of very smart people, not all of them in Texas, see Julián Castro as the favorite to fill the leadership void [as the 'Great Hispanic Hope.']... A Democrat, Castro is a pragmatist, sometimes unpredictably so. He supports free trade, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, advocates an energy policy that includes fossil fuels, believes in balanced budgets and refers to David Souter as his ideal Supreme Court justice. Like a large plurality of his fellow San Antonians, Castro is a Roman Catholic, but he was the first San Antonio mayor to be grand marshal when he marched in the annual gay rights parade, and he is pro-choice. "

@ByronTau: When's the next plausible cycle that a Dem like Julian Castro will be competitive statewide in Texas? 2014 governor's race or too soon?

Convention news

Obama is going into the convention with cautious optimism for November, says David Plouffe. "[Plouffe:]'The question is, Is Romney going to get enough of the undecided vote to overcome a two or three point deficit in the battle ground states? Most assuredly not...We think these people are not going to break decidedly against us. The fact that we’re polling at 48 or 49 in these battlegrounds is a big deal, because we’re right on the cusp of victory.'" Greg Sargent in The Washington Post.

But the weather forecast in Charlotte remains murky. "Weather reports suggest rain and lightning might literally damp President Barack Obama's plans to deliver his acceptance speech to tens of thousands of loyal Democrats Thursday night gathered in Bank of America stadium...Forecasts vary for Thursday night, when the president is due to speak. The Weather Channel on Tuesday pegged the chance of rain at 20%, but AccuWeather and Weather Underground both predicted thunderstorms that night. Even if the speech does go off as planned, the bigger problem could be no-shows, if those people who have tickets to the event decide against braving a downpour." Patrick O'Connor in The Wall Street Journal.

@JohnJHarwood: Hey whiners who criticized Michael Steele for putting GOP convention in Tampa: weather is actually worse here at Dem convention in Charlotte

'Forward,' but to what? Charlotte conventiongoers look for policy agenda. "There is always one big question at the opening of a political convention, different for each time and place, but something that consumes most of the discussion...In Charlotte, it is whether President Obama will outline a second-term agenda with any more clarity than he has done...Administration officials have been asked repeatedly how the president’s second-term priorities might differ from those of his first term. One thing they’ve cited is immigration reform — a campaign pledge from 2008 that has remained unfulfilled." Dan Balz in The Washington Post.

Previewing VP Joe Biden's role on Thursday. "Vice President Joe Biden will be front and center [at the Charlotte convention] Thursday night when Democrats renominate President Barack Obama...The vice president's job will be to take listeners inside the White House, an aide said, and show them how Mr. Obama makes decisions and sets an agenda -- an attempt to paint a sympathetic portrait of a leader grappling with a sour economy and the aftermath of two wars. The speech will come right before the president's, a sequence meant to underscore that the two men have forged a strong working partnership." Peter Nicholas and Janet Hook in The Wall Street Journal.

The Democratic platform has jogged to the right and left over time. "If Republicans from 1960 to today moved in fairly linear fashion to ever-more conservative stances on the economy, taxes and a slew of social issues, the Democratic evolution over the same period was a more jagged series of experiments with activist and statist approaches, interspersed with more traditional paeans to family, faith and individual initiative." Marc Fisher in The Washington Post.

In the 2012 platform, Republican criticism has zeroed in on Israel and God.

Can Democrats reenergize in Charlotte?. "The first day of the 2012 Democratic National Convention began with an attempt to move past the months of divisive campaigning and years of difficult governing that preceded it...Delegates arrived here from around the country Tuesday hoping to recast the presidential campaign and reenergize their party. Instead of focusing on President Obama’s unfulfilled promises or the serious problems facing the country, they spoke mostly about what has been accomplished and what can still be done. After years of negativity and partisan divisiveness, they sought solace in a community of like minds. And after years of merely defending Obama’s policies, they celebrated some of them. The past three years have exacted a toll on even the most ardent Democrats here." Eli Saslow and Philip Rucker in The Washington Post.

@ByronTau: Lot of Obama swagger-jacking at tonight's DNC. A lot of folks trying to imitate Obama's '04 tone instead of their own style.

Women's health gains traction as major Democratic issue. "[A] battle over women’s health care was raging during the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night...Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, led the charge against Republicans, telling the crowd: 'I am proud to say that the Democratic Party believes that women have the right to choose a safe, legal abortion with dignity and with privacy.'...Six female Democratic House representatives and two female House candidates stood side by side on the stage, taking the microphone in rapid fire succession to discuss women’s issues." Kathryn Smith in Politico.

@ByronTau: Democrats really going all-in on abortion rights. Patrick makes a rousing defense of a woman's right to chose.

Wonkbook's guide to the other convention speeches

In brief: Winners and losers from Day 1 at the convention.

MD Gov. Martin O'Malley on 'a future of less.' "Yes, we live in changing times. The question is: What type of change will we make of it? As we search for common ground and the way forward together, let’s ask one another--let’s ask the leaders in the Republican party--without any anger, meanness or fear: How much less, do you really think, would be good for our country? How much less education would be good for our children? How many hungry American kids can we no longer afford to feed? Governor Romney: How many fewer college degrees would make us more competitive as a nation? The future we seek is not a future of less opportunity; it is a future of more opportunity for all Americans...Let us not be the first generation of Americans to give our children a country of less!" The Washington Post.

@DouthatNYT: My sense is that Martin O'Malley is the Tim Pawlenty of a future Democratic presidential campaign.

MA Gov. Deval Patrick on Romney's MA legacy. "In Massachusetts, we know Mitt Romney...Mitt Romney talks a lot about all the things he's fixed. I can tell you that Massachusetts wasn't one of them. He's a fine fellow and a great salesman, but as governor he was more interested in having the job than doing it...The question is: What do we believe?...We believe that government has a role to play, not in solving every problem in everybody's life but in helping people help themselves to the American dream. That's what Democrats believe. If we want to win elections in November and keep our country moving forward, if we want to earn the privilege to lead, it's time for Democrats to stiffen our backbone and stand up for what we believe." Politico.

@TobinCommentary: Deval Patrick, Mass's failed governor comes out to trash his more successful predecessor.

Democratic Party chairman Tim Kaine on the choice in November. "[T]here's a real choice. The other side fights to protect subsidies for Big Oil. We want to invest in our small businesses. They want bigger tax cuts for those who need it least. We want to invest in our communities—the roads, bridges and infrastructure that will make us more competitive. They want to slash education and job training. We want to invest in our future." Politico.

@mattyglesias: Tim Kaine's non-partisan anti-ideological schtick is not ideal material for a partisan political convention.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel on judgment. "[I]t's my honor to speak to you about the president I served. I want to tell you what I saw up close while serving our president in a time of crisis, about the values he leans on and the voices he listens to...We faced a once in a generation moment in American history, and fortunately for all of us, we have a once in a generation president...Every challenge is different. Every choice was difficult. But every time the leadership was steady. Now, the one thing I know with absolute certainty, having served two great presidents, is that coming the next four years, and unforeseen crisis, challenge or conflicts will show up and sees this country. Whose leadership, whose judgment, whose values do you want in the White House when that lands like a thud on the oval office desk? That's right. A person who said in four words, 'let Detroit to go bankrupt,' or a president who had another four words, 'not on my watch'?" Fox News.

@TobinCommentary: Rahm Emanuel painting a picture of America in 2009 that makes it sound like 1933.

HHS Dept. Sec. Kathleen Sebelius on the good of Obamacare. "Republicans may see Romneycare as a scarlet letter. But for us Democrats, Obamacare is a badge of honor. Because no matter who you are, what stage of life you're in, this law is a good thing. First, if you already have insurance you like, you can keep it. Insurance companies can no longer refuse to cover Americans with pre-existing conditions. That's what change looks like." Politico.

@RameshPonnuru: Sebelius now repeating administration lie against Romney Medicare plan.

House candidate Tammy Duckworth on the troops. "President Obama asked me to help keep our sacred trust with veterans of all eras at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. We worked to end the outrage of vets having to sleep on the same streets they once defended. We improved services for female veterans. I reached out to young vets by creating the Office for Online Communications...Barack Obama will never ignore our troops. He will fight for them. That's why he is my choice on November 6th. My choice is to do what my family did when times were hard: roll up our sleeves and get to work. My choice is to do what my crew did for me in a dusty field in Iraq." Politico.

@elisefoley: Regardless of politics, Tammy Duckworth's story is really badass and amazing.

Newark mayor Cory Booker on the Democratic platform. "Being asked to pay your fair share isn’t class warfare. It’s patriotism...We must choose forward. We must choose inclusion. We must choose growing together. We choose American might and American muscle, standing strong on the bedrock of the American ideal, a strong and empowered and ever expanding and ever growing middle class." Politico.

@ByronTau: Booker may not be coming across well on TV (very screamy), but the convention crowd is loving him.

IL Gov. Patt Quinn on telling the truth "I want to talk to you about a scary subject for many, many Republicans. I want to talk about facts. You know, I watched the Republican National Convention last week, and I heard a lot of things that are simply not true...One of our founding fathers, President John Adams of Massachusetts, once said that 'facts are stubborn things.' But last week, as they nominated a very different man from Massachusetts, Republicans stubbornly smeared President Obama's excellent record of reforming welfare. They went on and on, pretending that he weakened its work requirement. Everyone knows that is a ridiculous charge...Your vote is a valuable thing. Entrust it to someone who respects you enough to tell you the truth." Bay News 9.

Majority Ldr. and Sen. Harry Reid on Romney's taxes "Today’s Republican Party believes in two sets of rules: one for millionaires and billionaires, and another for the middle class. And this year, they’ve nominated the strongest proponent--and clearest beneficiary--of this rigged game: Mitt Romney...Mitt Romney says we should take his word that he paid his fair share. His word? His word? Trust comes from transparency, and Mitt Romney comes up short on both. This is about more than just a piece of paper. This isn’t personal. This is about leveling with the American people and creating a level playing field for them." The Washington Post.

@mattyglesias: Harry Reid's not backing down on taxes.

Lilly Ledbetter on equal-pay reform. "[W]ith President Obama on our side, even though I lost before the Supreme Court, we won. The first bill that President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I think it says something about his priorities that the first bill he put his name on has my name on it too...Maybe 23 cents doesn't sound like a lot to someone with a Swiss bank account, Cayman Island Investments and an IRA worth tens of millions of dollars. But Governor Romney, when we lose 23 cents every hour, every day, every paycheck, every job, over our entire lives, what we lose can't just be measured in dollars." Politico.

@thegarance: Lilly Ledbetter appearance is a shockingly feminist turn for a national political convention. Salary an even harder fight than repro rights.

Frmr. Gov of OH Ted Strickland on the auto industry and manufacturing. "[F]olks in Ohio know what happens when you have a president who stands up for average working people...Barack Obama refused to let the American auto industry die...Barack Obama gave us a chance for a comeback. The auto industry supports one of every eight jobs in Ohio, and it's alive and growing in America again...It's been a long slog back, and we've still got a long way to go. But all over Ohio -- all over America -- men and women are going back to work with the pride of building something stamped "Made in America." Before Barack Obama took office, it looked like that pride could have vanished forever, but today, from the staggering depths of the Great Recession, the nation has had 29 straight months of job growth. Workers across my state and across the country are getting back the dignity of a good job and a good salary." Politico.

Dem. Caucus vice chairman and Rep. Xavier Becerra on the American Dream. "El sueño Americano -- the American dream! In any language, that's what this election is about. We need President Obama for four more years to keep that dream alive. When President Obama was elected, the American dream was on life support. The middle class was being hollowed out. We cannot afford to go back to the failed policies of the past...It's not responsible to reward companies that ship American jobs overseas with more tax loopholes. It's not bold to say our country is broke and then hand out yet another deficit-busting tax break to millionaires and billionaires...I'm not impressed by politicians who vow to veto the dream for immigrant children. That's not the America my parents built. If you want to save the middle class, you don't outsource it, you strengthen it. If you want to get America back to work, you don't fire cops, teachers, nurses and firefighters. You invest in them." Patch.com.

Rep. Jared Polis on diversity "Diversity is America's strength, and only by working together, as one nation, can we form a more perfect union...[N]ow is our chance to tell the dividers no, tell the special interests and cynical Washington insiders no, tell the lobbyists and PACs no, and tell our fellow countrymen and women, gay and straight, Christians, Jews, Mormons, Muslims and nonbelievers, rich and poor, black and white, Latino and Asian, east and west, north and south; it is time to tell them yes, together we are stronger, together we are better, together we are America." Politico.

KLEIN: 'Four years ago' doesn't work as a campaign question. "[I]t’s a little odd to blame Obama for the first few months of his presidency. After all, he entered office amid a convulsive economic downturn. Blaming him for, say, the 724,000 nonfarm jobs lost in February 2009 is like blaming firefighters for the damage done by a blaze while they’re getting out of their truck...But there is a clear question for voters to ask, and to vote on: Which ticket will do the most to make you better off four years from now?"

@sam_baker: I think Democrats have mentioned health care reform more often tonight than in all of 2011.

For the Republicans' talk of 'tough issues' leadership, the Democrats have been walking the walk. "I just got an e-mail from the Romney-Ryan campaign. The headline? “RYAN: WE WILL NOT DUCK THE TOUGH ISSUES. WE WILL LEAD.” The caps lock was on in the original, by the way...Of all the criticisms of the Obama administration, this is the one I find most baffling...[Democrats have made] efforts to take on the tough issues, often at great political cost." Ezra Klein in Bloomberg and The Washington Post.

DIONNE: Why Michelle Obama's speech was 'masterful.' " The most devastating attack on Mitt Romney at Tuesday’s Democratic Convention came from Michelle Obama, who did not mention Romney’s name and said not a single cross thing about him. She devastated him by implication. If Romney was the son of privilege, she and her husband were anything but. What she said directly is that Barack Obama understands people who are struggling. What she didn’t have to say is Mitt Romney doesn’t." E. J. Dionne in The Washington Post.

BARRO: Democrats like to pretend a Democrat isn't already in office. "San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro set the tone for the Democratic National Convention in his keynote address tonight. He wants America to put Democrats in power so they can create jobs for the middle class. Listening to his speech, and many that preceded it, you might not immediately realize that America has had a Democratic president for the last four years...And that’s why attacks like these sound so odd...Castro's guy has already had four years to clean up the Republican mess and get the middle class back to work. How much longer are we supposed to give him before giving someone like Romney a shot?" Josh Barro in Bloomberg.

FIRESTONE: Obama should dust off some proposals to lay out his second term plans. "Mr. Obama will need some big new ideas, as David Brooks wrote this morning in The Times, and undoubtedly has a few in his pocket. But he also has plenty of big old ideas that he has failed to enact, and failed to sell. If he won’t talk about them to voters, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to get them through Congress in a second term." David Firestone in The New York Times.

CADDELL AND SCHOEN: The polls say an Obama pivot to the center is needed in Charlotte. "President Obama needs to change direction -- immediately and decisively. His campaign strategy has been to ­divide the country on the basis of class, demonize the wealthy, call for higher taxes and unceasingly attack Mr. Romney. Yet poll after poll has shown that while voters embrace the idea of higher taxes on the rich, it does not translate into votes...It has been said before, but only because it’s so true: Mr. Obama should follow the lead of President Bill Clinton, who ­emphasized in both his terms in office the need for unity and consensus to achieve fiscal restraint." Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen in The Wall Street Journal.

Top op-eds

ORSZAG: Health care reform is about quality. "The evidence suggests, furthermore, that shifting away from paying for quantity and toward paying for quality affects what providers do in those high-cost cases. Although other quality- improvement measures -- checklists, clinical-support computer software, benchmarking physicians and malpractice reform -- can also influence provider behavior, the payment system is arguably the single most important determinant. Providing a single comprehensive fee for treating a particular disease, a so-called bundled payment, rather than shelling out for each procedure is especially promising. In the 1990s, a Medicare pilot project that bundled payments for bypass surgery reduced costs by 10 percent without diminishing the quality of patient care. " Peter Orszag in Bloomberg.

GLAESER: 'You didn't build that' debate should be about communitarianism vs. individualism. "The president’s defenders claim the Republicans took his words out of context. But if you read the official transcript, Obama’s comments taken as a whole are a coherent statement of a communitarian worldview that emphasizes the power of social influences and the positive role of government...Obama is right that American entrepreneurs benefit from the rule of law, decent infrastructure and research funded by the federal government. But this observation also has limited policy bite. Entrepreneurs’ use of existing roads doesn’t imply that we should build more roads, or that entrepreneurs can’t pay for highways and bridges with tolls and gas taxes." Ed Glaeser in Bloomberg.

FRIEDMAN: Romney has a strong foreign policy argument to make, but which he isn't. "I know Romney doesn’t believe a word he’s saying on foreign policy and that its all aimed at ginning up votes...What’s odd is that Romney was in a position to sound smart on foreign policy, not like a knee-jerk hawk. He just needed to explain what every global business leader learned long before governments did -- that, since the end of the cold war, the world has become not just more interconnected but more interdependent, and this new structural reality requires a new kind of American leadership...In this increasingly interdependent world, your rivals can threaten you as much by collapsing as by rising...In this increasingly interdependent world, we have few pure 'enemies' anymore...But we have many 'frenemies,' or half friends/half foes." Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times.

SOLTAS: The weak hand of the 'Blame China First' crowd. "China-bashing is again in vogue, with both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney bringing out harsh rhetoric in campaign speeches...The problem with [their] argument is that this year it is less and less true. As a result of reforms in Beijing, Chinese currency manipulation is more limited than at any time in the history of the People's Republic...China's yuan is a freer currency than ever, and despite some recent backtracking, it seems likely the march to a more liberalized currency will continue. It's easy to blame Chinese currency manipulation for U.S. economic woes, but Obama and Romney's claims are increasingly looking outdated." Evan Soltas in Bloomberg.

CROOK: Let's face it, central bank independence is a chimera. "Even a narrow- purpose central bank -- one with a simple anti-inflation mandate -- must decide how hard to lean against a boom and how urgently to fight a recession. In other words, it has to weigh control of inflation against stability in jobs and the real economy, and that question is unavoidably political...Something no central banker with an eye to keeping his job can say, but which is nonetheless true, is that the U.S. and Europe are suffering a systemic failure of democratic government. Central banks are encroaching on the politicians’ terrain out of necessity. They are doing what elected politicians should be doing, because the politicians refuse to." Clive Crook in Bloomberg.

Scientific interlude: Man reapplies Mother Nature in biomimicry.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

Still to come:explaining jobless recoveries; report says FDA haste is putting Americans at risk; what Canada shows about the decline of unions in the USA; and the true story of how a student solved an unsolved problem in mathematics by accident.

Economy

Car sales look strong, a positive economic indicator. "Major automakers reported Tuesday that sales grew 19.9 percent in August despite higher gas prices during the month. Analysts said the wide range of fuel-efficient models on the market, particularly new small cars from the Detroit automakers, had helped spur demand and accelerate the industry’s recovery...One underlying factor for the heavy demand is Americans’ need to replace older vehicles. The average car or truck on the road is more than 11 years old. So far this year, auto sales in the United States have increased 14.7 percent over the same period in 2011. The industry sold 1.28 million vehicles in August, bringing the total for the year to 9.71 million." Bill Vlasic in The New York Times.

Manufacturing soured, however. "The U.S. factory sector contracted for the third straight month in August, a worrying sign from a corner of the economy that has been a bright spot in a lackluster recovery. A closely watched gauge of the factory sector, released Tuesday by the Institute for Supply Management, showed manufacturing activity slipped to 49.6 from 49.8 in July. It was the third consecutive month in which activity fell. Readings below 50 indicate contraction." Conor Dougherty in The Wall Street Journal.

Betting on an economic boom? Here are five reasons why you should. "Roger Altman, a former deputy Treasury secretary and a co-founder of the investment firm Evercore partners, thinks the U.S. economy could be on the verge of an unexpected boom...[Altman:] 'The housing sector is improving...The breathtaking increase in oil and gas production...The U.S. banking system has recovered faster than anyone could have imagined...The U.S. has made a huge leap in industrial competitiveness...The U.S. may surprise itself and the world by rectifying its deficit and debt problems.'...[Y]ou don’t have to be wildly optimistic about the American economy to expect the next four years to be much stronger than the last four." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

Blame the mechanization of routine labor for jobless recoveries. "Let’s face it: the U.S. economy just doesn’t recover like it used to. The jobs don’t come back as fast, and the effect seems to linger longer. What gives? A new paper, by Duke’s Nir Jaimovich and the University of British Columbia’s Henry E. Siu, tries to answer that question...Jaimovich and Siu find jobs in repetitive manual labor, such as assembly line manufacturing positions, have cratered while jobs that entail more cognitive labor, such as computer programming, and jobs that require non-repetitive manual labor, such as janitorial work, have gone way up...What’s more, job polarization has occurred, the authors find, almost entirely in response to recessions, and it didn’t occur until the 1990s. What’s more, it explains almost completely why the 1991, 2001, and 2008 recoveries have been so rough for workers. The authors calculated what job growth would have been if job polarization hadn’t occurred in those recoveries. The short version: it was much, much faster, because almost all job losses in those recessions were in repetitive, middle-income jobs." Dylan Matthews in The Washington Post.

Libor-rigging cases will bring the big banks to court. "The scandal over global interest rates has state officials like Janet Cowell of North Carolina working intensely behind the scenes to build a case for suing the nation’s largest banks. Ms. Cowell, the state’s elected treasurer, and several of her staff members have spent the summer combing through the state’s investments trying to determine how much the state may have lost because of suspected manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, which is used as a benchmark for trillions of dollars of financial contracts around the world...The activity provides a glimpse at how widely the Libor scandal has spread through the financial world, and how much damage may still be in store for the banks accused of manipulating Libor. Her work also suggests just how difficult it is, and how long it may take, to get to the bottom of the losses." Nathaniel Popper in The New York Times.

Officially the best cat video interlude: As decided by out of 10,000 videos".

Health Care

FDA haste is putting Americans at risk, study says. "An FDA effort to speed approval of new medicines allowed drugs for stroke prevention, cancer and multiple sclerosis onto the market without proper safety analysis, according to two drug-safety experts. In an article to be published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Thomas J. Moore and Curt D. Furberg wrote that the Food and Drug Administration's push to get medicines to market may have compromised prescription-drug safety. They cite an MS drug with apparent adverse effects on the heart and many other risks, and an anticoagulant linked to bleeding that is proving difficult to treat." Thomas M. Burton in The Wall Street Journal.

At convention, Democrats reassert pride in, ownership of Affordable Care Act. "Obamacare...doesn’t poll particularly well, and it’s believed to have been a key contributor to the Republican victory in 2010. But Democrats appear to think that the politics have changed. Indeed, if the first night of the Democratic Convention is to be remembered for anything aside from Michelle Obama’s speech, it will probably be remembered as the night that Democrats stood up and began fighting for their health-care law...The fact that Democrats even have the opportunity to take ownership of a health-care reform law is, in a way, a surprise. In 2006, it seemed entirely possible that Mitt Romney was going to take health care away from the Democrats as an issue...[Since then,Republicans have almost entirely ceded the field on health care to Democrats." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

Is overtreatment a real problem for breast cancer? "Every few months, another study reports that many breast cancers are being "overdiagnosed"—that is, detected and treated even though they would never cause problems if they were left alone. In one article, epidemiologists in Norway estimated that 15% to 25% of breast cancers found by mammograms were being treated unnecessarily...Other studies have estimated that the overdiagnosis rate falls in a wide range, anywhere from 2% to 52%...Clinicians say leaving breast cancer untreated is a gamble they can't take. " Melinda Beck in The Wall Street Journal.

Domestic Policy

Canada shows that policy matters in the decline of unions in the U.S. "[A] new paper from Kris Warner of the Center on Economic and Policy Research suggests that the decline in U.S. labor unions wasn’t simply due to inexorable economic forces. Government policies likely played a big role too. And the easiest way to see this, Warner argues, is by comparing unionization rates in the United States to rates in nearby Canada...Between the 1920s and 1960s, both countries saw a similar surge in union membership, thanks to changes in labor law and the growth of sectors ripe for organizing, such as automobile manufacturing. But around 1965, something changed. The two countries diverged. Union membership held steady in Canada, but plummeted in the United States...Warner suggests the biggest reason for the two nation’s contrasting fates has to do with labor law. Canada’s rules for union organizing are largely overseen by its provinces, and, until recently, Canada’s rules made it much easier for workers in the private sector to form a union. A majority of employees in the workplace simply needed to sign cards indicating their desire to join -- a process known as 'card check.'" Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.

Last four years have brought deep cuts in per-pupil education spending. "Millions of students across the country head back to start the school year today. They’re heading back to classrooms that have seen deep budget cuts over the past five years, leaving many school districts with less money than they had before the recession began. The Center for Budget Policies and Priorities draws up this graph that looks at how school spending has changed over the past five years. In the majority of states, per-student spending is still lower than it was five years ago. Arizona and Alabama have seen the biggest cuts." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

How the GOP's views on policy have shifted over the last four decades. "To hear Republicans on the campaign trail, the United States could not have elected a more left-wing president than Barack Obama, one more hostile to business or more eager to expand government power. Left-wing Democrats, I’m sure, would disagree. If they had their druthers, they would probably make a more liberal, more pro-big government choice. Somebody, perhaps, like Richard Nixon...The difference between then and now is that Nixon — like most mainstream Republicans — accepted that government had a role to play guaranteeing Americans’ economic well-being. That consensus cracked around the time of Ronald Reagan’s inaugural speech in 1981...And the country’s political center set off on a long rightward migration." Eduardo Porter in The New York Times.

True story interlude: Student mistakes examples of unsolved math problems for homework and solves them. Later becomes famous mathematician..

Energy

Inspector General report faults Dept. of Energy. "The Energy Department (DOE) missed out on saving more than $6 million by failing to implement certain energy-efficiency measures, according to a recent report. The DOE Inspector General audit of five Energy-managed sites found more could be done to inspect building heating and lighting operations and update meters to monitor electricity use...The DOE said the conservation shortcomings were a symptom of a lack of resources to perform evaluations, billing practices that did not reward energy efficiency and failure to prioritize 'low- and no-cost, quick payback measures,' according to the report." Zack Colman in The Hill.

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