Occupy Everywhere & Economic News Round-Up

image of feet peddling a stationary bicycle, sitting in a wooden frame which has scrawled on it 'beast of fairness'
People ride a stationary bicycle to generate electricity for laptops and mobile phones at the headquarters of the Occupy Wall Street movement in Zuccotti Park in the Financial District on November 4, 2011 in New York City. Despite a freak snowstorm last Saturday and the confiscation of their generators by the fire department, hundreds of young and old are staying put in the park. [Getty Images]
The Guardian's live coverage of the most recent Occupy events is here.

In US domestic news...

CNN Money—Bank dumping: Do the megabanks even care?
Credit unions and small banks say they've seen big jumps in new account openings thanks to this weekend's "Move Your Money" and "Bank Transfer Day" initiatives, but do the big banks even care?

Digital Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union in New England with 330,000 total members, welcomed 133 new members on Saturday. That's 56% higher than the average 85 account openings it sees on a typical Saturday.

...But while the "Move Your Money" initiative provided a wave of new customers to these smaller institutions, the big banks that these customers are leaving are so big that many of them have barely felt a dent in account holdings.

Bank of America, for example, has 58 million retail and small business accounts.
This, then, is yet another effect of deregulation allowing banks to expand to massive, too-big-to-fail sizes: It becomes increasingly impossible for a consumer-driven protest to have any meaningful impact.

TPMDC—Super Committee GOPers May Agree to Violate Norquist Pledge…With a Catch:
Super Committee Republicans are floating a trial balloon that would produce new tax revenue, in apparent contravention of Grover Norquist's taxpayer protection pledge, according to Wall Street Journal editorialist Stephen Moore.

But as Moore explains that the offer has a catch:
One positive development on taxes taking shape is a deal that could include limiting tax deductions, perhaps by capping write-offs on charities, state and local taxes, and mortgage interest payments as a percentage of each tax filer's gross income. That idea was introduced on these pages by Harvard economist Martin Feldstein.

In exchange, Democrats would agree to make the Bush income-tax cuts permanent. This would mean preventing top rates from going to 42% from 35% today, and keeping the capital gains and dividend tax rate at 15%, as opposed to plans to raise them to 23.8% or higher after 2013.
Neither Republican nor Democratic aides were immediately available to discuss the proposal. But if accurate as reported, it represents both a significant expansion of the growing rift between Norquist and the GOP, and a bad deal for Democrats.

...This isn't offered as a concession Republicans are willing to make in exchange for entitlement cuts — a key Democratic demand. It's designed as a concession Republicans are willing to make if Democrats will agree to make all of the Bush tax cuts permanent — and thereby throw away an enormous amount of leverage they have over Republicans who are committed to extending them.

Democrats, thus, would be expected to agree to throw in entitlement cuts anyhow, just because.
And they almost certainly will, because as soon as the Republicans start screaming, "WE MADE CONCESSIONS! THE DEMOCRATS ARE OBSTRUCTIONISTS!" the Dems will either cave on their own or face bipartipoop pressure from President Obama to cave. Sadly, the best hope we have of quashing this comes from the right, who will think the deal is too favorable to Dems.

CNN Money—Older Americans are 47 times richer than young: "According to analysis by the Pew Research Center released Monday, younger Americans have been left behind as the oldest generation has seen wealth surge since the mid-1980s. While it's typical for older generations to hold more wealth than younger ones who've had less time to save, the gap between the two age groups has widened rapidly. In 1984, households headed by people age 65 and older were worth just 10 times the median net worth of households headed by people 35 and younger. But now that gap has widened to 47-to-one, marking the largest wealth gap ever recorded between the two age groups." They weren't called the Me Generation for nothing.

The GuardianKoch brothers: secretive billionaires to launch vast database with 2012 in mind: "The secretive oil billionaires the Koch brothers are close to launching a nationwide database connecting millions of Americans who share their anti-government and libertarian views, a move that will further enhance the tycoons' political influence and that could prove significant in next year's presidential election. The database will give concrete form to the vast network of alliances that David and Charles Koch have cultivated over the past 20 years on the right of US politics. The brothers, whose personal wealth has been put at $25bn each, were a major force behind the creation of the tea party movement and enjoy close ties to leading conservative politicians, financiers, business people, media figures and US supreme court judges."

Think Progress—Four Problems in Mitt Romney's Medicare Proposal: "Romney—who had leaked aspects of [his plan to partially privatize the Medicare program for future enrollees] during interviews—met with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) before officially announcing his 'premium support' proposal at the end of last week, and Ryan, in turn, gushed the he is 'very pleased with these kind of entitlement reforms.' ... But this approach is still problematic. ... There is still no evidence that competition between private insurers and traditional Medicare will lower health care spending. ... Lower income seniors will pay more. ... Private plans will undoubtedly be encouraged to cherry-pick the healthiest beneficiaries and leave sicker applicants to traditional Medicare. ... Nothing in Romney's plan would actually reduce national health care spending."

Meanwhile, in the Eurozone...

The Guardian's live coverage of the day's events is here.

CNN—Italian lawmakers to take up economic reforms: "The Italian parliament is expected to face a crucial vote on budget reform measures Tuesday, as the country's prime minister comes under increasing pressure to resign amid unease over Italy's economy. Italy agreed to implement structural reforms during an European Union meeting in Brussels last month. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said the reforms must be put in place or risk Italy's credibility in the international community. The budget vote comes after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi denied Monday's rumors that he might resign. But his main coalition partner added fuel to the fire Tuesday, telling reporters he had asked Berlusconi to take a sideways step."

AP—New Greek premier expected to be named Tuesday: "Greece will get a new prime minister later Tuesday, a senior government official said, as the country's European partners ratcheted up the pressure for a swift resolution to the political crisis. Talks between current Prime Minister George Papandreou and opposition leader Antonis Samaras have dragged into a second day as they try to hammer out a power-sharing deal. The two agreed over the weekend to forge an interim government that will shepherd the country's new €130 billion ($179 billion) European rescue package through Parliament. Without the deal, agreed less than two weeks ago, Greece would go bankrupt, potentially wrecking Europe's banking system and sending the global economy back into recession. As yet, there are no precise details of when the new interim prime minister will be announced but the pressure is rising on Greek politicians to make decisions soon."

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