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Wonkbook: A guide to today’s March on Washington

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Welcome to Wonkbook, Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas's morning policy news primer. To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism, or ideas to Wonkbook at Gmail dot com. To read more by Ezra and his team, go to Wonkblog.

I intended to begin today's Wonkbook with the only lede that seemed fitting: Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech. The same speech that, at 3:05 p.m. today, President Obama will honor while standing before the Lincoln Memorial.

But I can't. The 'I Have a Dream' speech isn't available for reproduction. "A few months after King delivered the speech, he sent a copy of the address to the U.S. Copyright office and listed the remarks as a 'work not reproduced for sale,'" explains attorney Josh Schiller. "In legal terms, this is also known as an unpublished work. He subsequently sued to enjoin two publishers from distributing phonographic reproductions of the address."

Since then, the King family has been aggressively litigious, launching lawsuits against CBS and USA Today, among others. The work won't enter the public domain until 2038 which means, until then, the only way to legally use it is to pay up.

But that's not the only way to read it. The National Archives -- who I assume have figured out the copyright issues -- have a version you can read. So go do that.

Wonkbook's Number of the Day: $103 billion. That's the amount the six largest U.S. banks have spent in legal costs -- hiring lawyers and settling claims -- since the financial crisis. Ouch.

Wonkbook's Graph of the Day: Where middle-class jobs are vanishing the fastest.

Wonkbook's Top 5 Stories: 1) the March on Washington; 2) Janet Yellen: philatelist or Fed chief; 3) should you worry about an adverse-selection death spiral?; 4) the short life of a charter-school teacher; and 5) Obama may not get to appoint someone to fill Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat.

1) Top story: Everything you need to know for today's March on Washington

Videos: Here's a playlist from the original march.

Schedule: The Root breaks down what's happening, and when.

Your homepage today: Should be, where The Washington Post will be providing continuing coverage on the day's events.

Fifty years after March on Washington, economic gap between blacks, whites persists. "Even as racial barriers have tumbled and the nation has grown wealthier and better educated, the economic disparities separating blacks and whites remain as wide as they were when marchers assembled on the Mall in 1963. When it comes to household income and wealth, the gaps between blacks and whites have widened. On other measures, the gaps are roughly the same as they were four decades ago. The poverty rate for blacks, for instance, continues to be about three times that of whites." Michael A. Fletcher in The Washington Post.

50 years after march, Obama aims to define his role in a new front in the fight for equality. "In preparing for the address, Obama has assembled civil rights advocates at the White House to discuss states’ efforts to make it harder to register to vote and cast ballots, nearly five decades after passage of the Voting Rights Act. He has met with religious leaders. He has phoned Rep. John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat who marched at Selma, Ala. According to those he has spoken to, Obama will say that gay men and lesbians, women’s rights advocates, immigration activists, and African Americans must come together as a coordinated political movement to defend rights in peril, particularly at the ballot box, and to secure new ones in such areas as marriage equality and criminal sentencing." Scott Wilson in The Washington Post.

Historical backgrounders: MLK's speech attracted intense FBI attentionTravel guide for African Americans, civil rights activists pointed way to 1963 marchTony Capaccio, Ruth Tam in The Washington Post.

STIGLITZ: How Dr. King shaped my work in economics. "I had the good fortune to be in the crowd in Washington when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his thrilling “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963. I was 20 years old, and had just finished college. It was just a couple of weeks before I began my graduate studies in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...As president of the student council at Amherst College, I had led a group of classmates down South to help push for racial integration...Much of my scholarship and public service in recent decades — including my service at the Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration, and then at the World Bank — has been devoted to the reduction of poverty and inequality. I hope I’ve lived up to the call Dr. King issued a half-century ago." Joseph E. Stiglitz in The New York Times.

MEYERSON: The link between civil and economic rights. "As two excellent new books about the march and the men and women who made it happen — “The March on Washington” by William P. Jones and “A Freedom Budget for All Americans” by Paul Le Blanc and Michael D. Yates — make clear, the march was initially conceived in late 1962 primarily to spotlight the growing unemployment, underemployment and job discrimination plaguing African Americans in northern cities. Only when all hell broke loose in Birmingham, Ala., in the spring of 1963 — with Bull Connor loosing attack dogs on black schoolchildren demonstrating for equal access to public accommodations — did the focus of the march expand to the civil rights demands with which it is linked in popular memory today." Harold Meyerson in The Washington Post.

Longread: Meyerson also has an interesting piece, in The American Prospect, on the role of socialism and socialists in the March on Washington.

MCWHORTER: A better way to honor MLK's dream. "With segregation illegal and public racism considered a moral outrage, we black Americans are now told that we will not truly overcome until Americans don't even harbor private racist sentiment, until race plays not even a subtle role in America's social fabric. In other words, our current battle is no longer against segregation or bigotry but "racism" of the kind that can be revealed only by psychological experiments and statistical studies. This battle is as futile as seeking a world without germs...Along these lines, the term "institutional racism," which the Black Power movement injected into the lexicon in the late 1960s, is more damaging to the black psyche than the n-word or any crude jokes about plantations or food stamps." John McWhorter in The Wall Street Journal.

Music recommendations interlude: Bob Dylan, "Only a Pawn in Their Game," 1963.

Top opinion

KLEIN: Cory Booker is reading ‘This Town’ to prepare for Washington. That’s a huge mistake. "[T]hough “This Town” is a great and insightful read, it’s also part of the problem. The political-communications complex doesn’t survive because it’s powerful. It survives because it gets a lot of press and people assume that means it’s powerful...This is a particularly dangerous mistake for Booker to make, as he will be relentlessly courted by Washington’s political-communications complex...If he tips into the political-communications complex, he might never escape...Washington is also full of people like Bob Greenstein, the broadly respected and constantly consulted head of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — people who work hard to understand the issues and spend their days influencing policy outcomes." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

SUNSTEIN: People don't fear climate change enough. "An understanding of what human beings fear -- and what they do not -- helps to explain why nations haven’t insisted on more significant emissions reductions. The first obstacle is that people tend to evaluate risks by way of “the availability heuristic,” which leads them to assess the probability of harm by asking whether a readily available example comes to mind...By contrast, climate change is difficult to associate with any particular tragedy or disaster." Cass R. Sunstein in Bloomberg. 

GALSTON: Government is a good venture capitalist. "For more than four decades, R&D magazine has recognized the top innovations—100 each year—that have moved past the conceptual stage into commercial production and sales. Economic sociologists Fred Block and Matthew Keller decided to ask a simple question: Where did these award-winning innovations come from?...Two of their findings stand out. First, the number of award winners originating in Fortune 500 companies—either working alone or in collaboration with others—has declined steadily and sharply, from an annual average of 44 in the 1970s to only nine in the first decade of this century...Second, the number of top innovations originating in federal laboratories, universities or firms formed by former researchers in those entities rose dramatically, from 18 in the 1970s to 37 in the 1980s and 55 in the 1990s before falling slightly to 49 in the 2000s. Without the research conducted in federal labs and universities (much of it federally funded), commercial innovation would have been far less robust." William A. Galston in The Wall Street Journal.

SOLTAS: Why measuring quality in education will be harder than you think. "So, did these graduating Princetonians get their money's worth -- and did the government? If you run a college or university, you had to know this was coming. The federal government now has $560 billion in student loans outstanding. At some point it was going to ask where the money is going and whether it's getting value in return...[A]ll such measures of quality are questionable -- and many can be gamed. (Lowering standards would allow colleges to graduate their students faster.) Measuring quality isn't easy, as college applicants and their parents can tell you." Evan Soltas in Bloomberg.

SCHEIBER: Obama has already bungled the debt-ceiling negotiations. "Whether or not the White House maintains its no-debt-ceiling negotiation stance within these talks, the whole construct throws the GOP a lifeline where none would otherwise exist...The White House willingness to engage in a multi-issue mega-negotiation plays entirely into Boehner’s hand. It’s basically a strategy designed to maximize Republican leverage and minimize Obama’s. At the very least, the White House should want to keep each track of the negotiation unambiguously separate, forcing Boehner to acknowledge his terrible bargaining position." Noam Scheiber in The New Republic.

WOLFERS: So, what is economics good for? "An English professor and a philosopher have made a bit of a splash with a recent New York Times opinion article asking, “What is Economics Good For?” Their central claim is “the fact that the discipline of economics hasn’t helped us improve our predictive abilities suggests it is still far from being a science.”  Notice that this is an empirical claim. Empirical claims are usually based on facts. We present them, and we argue about what they mean. (Or at least that’s how we economists prefer to proceed.) Yet the anti-economics screed includes no actual facts." Justin Wolfers in Bloomberg.

Wonkbook has become obsessed with this interlude: A free, online air traffic control simulation game. Also, check out "Pushing Tin" (1999), which is apparently a cult classic and is in any event massively underrated.

2) Summers looks likelier and likelier at Fed

Another day, another sign that Larry Summers will get the Fed job. "The latest smoke signal went to CNBC’s John Harwood, who reports that “a source from Team Obama told CNBC that Larry Summers will likely be named chairman of the Federal Reserve in a few weeks though he is ‘still being vetted’ so it might take a little longer.” My reporting suggests much the same (though I’m less certain of the timetable). The White House’s economic team is lockstep behind Summers. And President Obama’s mind has long been pretty much made up. His preference for Summers comes from two years of working with the guy every single day and two more years in which they were routinely in touch. It’s not a soft lean. If Summers doesn’t get the job it won’t be because the White House doesn’t want to choose him. It’ll be because they’re worried he won’t clear the Senate." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

That Fed governor is worth how much? "Janet Yellen, the No. 2 at the Fed's Board of Governors, and her husband—Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof—had assets such as stocks, bond-fund shares and bank accounts valued at roughly $4.8 million to $13.2 million in 2012, according to financial disclosures released by the Fed on Tuesday...Governor Jerome Powell, a former private-equity executive who joined the Fed's Board last year, held assets valued at between $17.1 million and $47.4 million in 2012, keeping his position as the board's wealthiest member...Governor Elizabeth Duke reported assets worth between $4.4 million and $10 million in 2012, just above 2011 levels...Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin reported assets between $2 million and $5.2 million...Governor Daniel Tarullo reported assets worth between $1.4 million and $3.63 million for 2012." Victoria McGrane and Eric Morath in The Wall Street Journal.

Janet Yellen has a really valuable stamp collection, and other highlights of Fed disclosures. "Yellen and Akerlof have a stamp collection worth between $15,000 and $50,000. It has apparently been in the family for quite some time; a 1997 article in The Washington Post about Clinton administration officials’ assets, based on their financial disclosure forms at that time, said that Yellen inherited a stamp collection with that same valuation range from her mother." Neil Irwin in The Washington Post.

US bank legal bills exceed $100B. "The six biggest U.S. banks, led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Bank of America Corp., have piled up $103 billion in legal costs since the financial crisis, more than all dividends paid to shareholders in the past five years. That’s the amount allotted to lawyers and litigation, as well as for settling claims about shoddy mortgages and foreclosures, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The sum tops the banks’ combined profit last year." Donal Griffin and Dakin Campbell in Bloomberg.

How Wall Street stopped worrying and learned to love global turmoil. "These are perilous times. Syria is in flames, with Western missile strikes increasingly  likely in what had been only a bloody domestic affair. Emerging markets are in free fall; most dramatically, the Indian rupee has been plummeting, and cash has also been gushing out of Indonesia, Brazil and other nations. And the United States once again stands on the verge of a fiscal stand-off, with political dysfunction putting at risk the ability of the federal government to stay open and even to pay its debts...In other words, Wall Street is not really sweating the risks that face the U.S. economy and its markets and corporate earnings. There is a prevailing sense that the American economic recovery is so entrenched and steady that it can withstand whatever problems arise." Neil Irwin in The Washington Post.

Here’s where middle-class jobs are vanishing the fastest. "That’s one way to see the labor market getting increasingly polarized over the past decade, as industries with low average pay grow significantly and mid-range industries wither — mainly driven by the steep decline in U.S. manufacturing...Catherine Mulbrandon of Visualizing Economics has created a graph looking at the industries where job growth has been fastest between 2000 and 2011, breaking it down by income." Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.

Consumer confidence edged higher. "The Conference Board, a private research group, said its index of consumer confidence rose to 81.5 this month from a revised 81.0 in July, first reported as 80.3, The index hit 82.1 in June, the highest reading since January 2008. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected the latest index to edge slightly lower to 79.1. The gain was concentrated in the outlook. Consumer expectations for economic activity over the next six months increased to 88.7 in August from a revised 86.0 in July first reported as 84.7." Kathleen Madigan in The Wall Street Journal.

...And home prices increased in June. "Home prices rose 12.1% for the 12 months ended in June, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index, which tracks prices in 20 major U.S. metro areas. The rate of increase was significantly higher than nearly anyone expected a year ago, but it was down slightly from a gain of 12.2% for the 12 months ended in May. Economists say the brisk acceleration in home prices is likely to moderate because housing no longer is as affordable as it was earlier this year." Nick Timiraos in The Wall Street Journal.

...But crude prices hit an 18-mo. high. "Crude oil prices jumped nearly 3 percent to an 18-month high on Tuesday, capping an increase of about 20 percent over the past two months as a result of scattered supply disruptions and rising anxiety about war and political instability in the Middle East. The growing likelihood of a U.S.-led military response to reports of Syrian use of chemical weapons rattled markets, analysts said. The price of the U.S. benchmark crude oil, West Texas Intermediate, on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed at $109.01 a barrel for October delivery, up $3.09 from the day before and up from less than $95 in late June." Steven Mufson in The Washington Post.

Yes, you really do need to care about the decline in labor-force participation. "If the decline stemmed largely from an aging work force, it would be much less worrisome. But the initial wave of baby-boomer retirements plays only a small role in the drop; the labor force participation rate has fallen almost as sharply for people aged 25 to 54 as it has for the overall adult population...Another cause may be the rise in the number of workers on disability." David Leonhardt in The New York Times.

...The number of homes with an unemployed parent rose by a third in six years. "The report paints a vivid picture of how the American household has changed over the recent and more distant past. But one of the most striking statistics was the rapid 33 percent rise in the number of homes with at least one unemployed parent since before the recession began...And while the number of children with at least one unemployed parent swelled and then retracted some over the past several years, the number of those parents who were unemployed six months or longer more than tripled." Niraj Chokshi in The Washington Post.

Economists say D.C. shouldn't host the Olympics. "“My basic takeaway for any city considering a bid for the Olympics is to run away like crazy,” says Victor Matheson, a professor of economics at College of the Holy Cross. His research suggests that cities end up spending a ton and get little economic benefit from hosting “mega-sports events.” But it’s actually more complicated than that. “If you want to go a little deeper,” says Matheson, “you can say that a lot of U.S. cities, including D.C., are fairly well-positioned to hold the Olympics at a reasonable price. The problem is that the International Olympic Committee doesn’t want to host the Olympics in a city that’s saying, hey, we can do this on the cheap. The bids that make economic sense are the bids that have no chance of winning. And the bid that will end up winning won’t make economic sense.”" Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.

What sports would D.C. add to the Olympics? interlude: How about rhetorical gymnastics?

3) Adverse selection death spiral risk may be overstated for Obamacare

Older people more likely than younger people to duck mandate, survey finds. "A new survey of the uninsured by Deft Research, an industry research group, found that younger people will be more likely to enter the new insurance marketplaces because their care will be cheaper overall. This outcome would be welcome news for the Obama administration, which hopes to encourage millions of younger people to sign up for the exchanges. Participation from young, healthy patients will be crucial to keeping premiums low." Elise Viebeck in The Hill.

Michigan Senate passes Medicaid expansion. "The GOP-controlled chamber approved the bill by a 20-18 vote at about 8 p.m. Tuesday after being in session for more than eight hours, much of it spent in caucus debating how to get the expansion passed. Eight Republicans finally joined 12 Democrats to pass the bill. The House, which had already passed an expansion bill, will soon take a concurring vote, and Gov. Rick Snyder’s office confirmed to TPM that the governor would sign the legislation when it reaches his desk." Dylan Scott in Talking Points Memo.

IRS finalizes penalty for individual mandate. "For the first year, the charge for not obtaining health insurance is $95 or 1 percent of household income. The penalty will increase, though, to $695 per person or 2.5 percent of household income in 2016 and then according to a cost-of-living formula for following years. There are, however, a number of exemptions to the penalty. For instance, Americans who qualify for Medicaid coverage but live in states that have not taken part in the law’s expanded Medicaid will not be charged. Neither will people who are temporarily uninsured while between jobs, those who are opposed to having insurance coverage for religious reasons or members of Indian tribes." Julian Hattem in The Hill.

Want to know if your hospital is a rip off? Move to North Carolina. "Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed legislation last week that will require hospitals to publish the prices that they negotiate with insurers...Beginning in June 2014, the state’s Health and Human Services Web site will post that information...This data could become especially important given the trends we’re seeing in the health insurance market: Employers are asking employees to take on a bigger share of their premiums, in the form of much larger deductibles. When individuals are paying out-of- pocket for their care, or even a hefty co-insurance fee, the incentive to shop on price becomes a whole lot stronger." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Bill would end federal funding for lawmakers' health insurance. "A House Republican on Monday proposed a bill that would end federal funding for the health-care premiums of members of Congress, a move that would leave lawmakers fending for themselves after they enter new insurance exchanges forming under Obamacare. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) said she will introduce the legislation after Congress returns from a five-week break in September. “As long as Obamacare remains law, members of Congress should not receive exchange subsidies that are not provided to other Americans,” she said in a statement." Josh Hicks in The Washington Post.

Adorable animals interlude: Sneezing baby panda now a thing we can look forward to.

4) Charter-school teachers don't last

The Tuition is Too Damn High, Part II: Why college is still worth it. "The evidence, however, suggests that the relationship is in fact causal. One prominent strand of research compares earnings of siblings or twins with different degrees of academic achievement. Genetically identical twins raised in the same environment are likely to have very similar ability levels to start with, which enables one to isolate the effect of education...The economists Orley Ashenfelter and Alan Krueger (the latter of whom served as President Obama’s chief economist) found that people with one more year of schooling than their twin earn, on average, 12 to 16 percent more." Dylan Matthews in The Washington Post.

Teaching careers at charter schools are short. "As tens of millions of pupils across the country begin their school year, charter networks are developing what amounts to a youth cult in which teaching for two to five years is seen as acceptable and, at times, even desirable. Teachers in the nation’s traditional public schools have an average of close to 14 years of experience, and public school leaders and policy makers have long made it a priority to reduce teacher turnover." Motoko Rich in The New York Times.

Off-campus housing faces surplus. "Some of the millions of students heading back to college—and their parents—are finding a pleasant surprise: Landlords nationwide are cutting rents because of an oversupply of student housing in college towns...A record 51,000 new off-campus beds are expected to be delivered in college towns nationwide this year, according to Axiometrics Inc. Developer interest in the sector has swelled on the belief that enrollment was outpacing the ability of budget-constrained schools to build or modernize on-campus housing...Overall, the student-housing vacancy rate in the top 74 universities tracked by Axiometrics rose to 6.7% for the 2012-2013 school year, up from 5.2% a year earlier. That means that more than 37,000 beds will be empty in September." Dawn Wotapka in The Wall Street Journal.

Obama thinks law school should be two years. The British think it should be one. "[T]here’s a question of what would actually be cut from law schools’ curriculum. There are a number of courses, typically in the first or second year, that basically every law student takes. The list usually includes Civil Procedure, Torts, Contracts, Property, Legal Writing, Legal Research, and maybe Constitutional and/or Criminal Law. The ABA also requires an upper-level writing class and a class on “professional responsibility.” If you add that all up, there’s still room in the first and second year for electives, typically, but cutting the third year would greatly reduce those slots, which can be used to specialize and gain expertise in a particular kind of law, to practice in law clinics, and so forth." Dylan Matthews in The Washington Post.

Book excerpts interlude: The economist Paul Collier has a new book on migration coming out. Here's something Wonkbook helped pick from an advance copy, and you should read.

5) Ginsburg staying on

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not planning to retire soon. "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 80, vowed in an interview to stay on the Supreme Court as long as her health and intellect remained strong, saying she was fully engaged in her work as the leader of the liberal opposition on what she called “one of the most activist courts in history.”...Unless they have a book to sell, Supreme Court justices rarely give interviews. Justice Ginsburg has given several this summer, perhaps in reaction to calls from some liberals that she step down in time for President Obama to name her successor." Adam Liptak in The New York Times.

Reading material interlude: The best sentences Wonkblog read today.

Wonkblog Roundup

Researchers take on crucial question: Are haters gonna hateSarah Kliff.

Janet Yellen has a really valuable stamp collection, and other highlights of Fed disclosuresNeil Irwin.

Economists: It’s a terrible idea for D.C. to host the 2024 OlympicsBrad Plumer.

Another day, another sign that Larry Summers will get the Fed jobEzra Klein.

Obama thinks law school should be two years. The British think it should be oneDylan Matthews.

Cory Booker is reading ‘This Town’ to prepare for Washington. That’s a huge mistakeEzra Klein.

How Wall Street stopped worrying and learned to love global turmoilNeil Irwin.

Here’s where middle-class jobs are vanishing the fastestBrad Plumer.

Want to know if your hospital is a rip off? Move to North CarolinaSarah Kliff.

The Tuition is Too Damn High, Part II: Why college is still worth itDylan Matthews.

Et Cetera

States force federal government to make payments delayed by sequesterAna Campoy in The Wall Street Journal.

How a Republican congressman in a majority-Hispanic district is handling immigration reformAshley Parker in The New York Times.

Same-sex couples still ineligible for veterans' benefitsTaylor Berman in Gawker.

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

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams.