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Dean Baker schools David Brooks on economic reality

Economist Dean Baker takes confused New York Times columnist David Brooks to the woodshed this morning for his partisan and inaccurate attack on clean energy and global warming.

Brooks tries to attack the Obama administration for its investments in green energy and then, as “evidence” that the investments have “failed,” states that there’s an oversupply of solar panels and that their price has fallen dramatically.

But, as Baker notes, that was one of the main objectives!

“Wow, what a disaster! Prices of solar panels have fallen by three quarters in 4 years. Those people in the Obama administration must feel really stupid. They thought their clean energy program would make alternative energy competitive, but look now, prices of solar panels fell by 75 percent in four years. Read more

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Understanding the latest unemployment numbers

There’s been a lot of confusion and absurd conspiracy claims about last week’s drop in the national unemployment rate. Dean Baker has the actual skinny here.

The bottom line: Things are better, but the lack of demand in the economy continues to hold us back.

In other words, we’re still paying the price for the inadequate stimulus that the federal government has mustered over the last few years; The President’s efforts stabilized things but the roadblocks to doing more set up by conservatives have locked us into a just-slightly-better-than-treading-water pattern.

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President signs helpful new work-sharing provisions into law

President Obama signed the new payroll tax cut bill into effect last night — another piece of legislation that shows the Republicans in Congress are finally backing down at least a little bit on their market fundamentalist obstructionism.

One of the best and most under-reported aspects of the bill is a provision that encourages employers to promote work-sharing as an alternative to layoffs. Such programs have worked well in Germany and other countries.

One of the nation’s best economists, Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research, has been touting the concept for years and released the following statement in praise of the new law: Read more