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New Purpose of Government is Better Government (Bloomberg)
Ezra Klein writes that when Republicans get tired of beating their heads against the walls of the welfare state, the scope of government's responsibilities will finally be settled. But don't worry; there will still be plenty of pointlessly convoluted methodology to argue about.
Here's What Happened the Last Time the U.S. Defaulted on Its Debt (The Atlantic)
Matthew O'Brien notes that the market reacted badly in 1979 when the Treasury temporarily defaulted due to a word processor glitch. So how willing are we to stake the health of the economy on the chance that Microsoft Word won't crash? Clippy can't help us now.
States Gave Gunmakers $49 Million in Tax Breaks Over the Last Five Years (Think Progress)
Pat Garofalo writes that as the president begins his push for tougher federal gun control laws, states are reexamining their own support for the industry given the futility of trading tax cuts for jobs and the dubious honor of being the bullet-making capital of the U.S.
Banker pay is (finally) falling (WaPo)
Neil Irwin examines the trend toward reduced compensation on Wall Street, where banks may be twigging to the fact that recruiting the best and the brightest and handing them the keys to the universe is no guarantee that they won't just run it into a ditch.
The U.S. Gets Left Behind When It Comes to Working Women (Forbes)
NND Editor Bryce Covert notes that women's participation in the workforce has flatlined in the U.S. while other countries have jumped ahead thanks to policies that recognize having kids isn't some annoying employee habit like playing music too loud at your desk.
Are Walmart's Jobs for Vets Any Good? (The Nation)
Josh Eidelson writes that Walmart has gotten a lot of good press for pledging to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years, but given the low wages and poor working conditions such jobs entail, it's not entirely clear whether that's a promise or a threat.
As manufacturing bounces back from recession, unions are left behind (WaPo)
Jim Tankersley notes that while manufacturing jobs have indeed started coming back from the grave since 2009, these zombified positions lack the good pay and benefits that they carried with them in a past life, and that's one reason the recovery's still shambling.
Proposals to drug-test the unemployed gain momentum (Salon)
Natasha Lennard reports that ALEC-backed laws requiring drug testing for the recipients of unemployment benefits and even food stamps are gaining traction in many statehouses. Republicans get what they want, and they really want to get their hands on some urine.
Vacation Homes for the Rich, Courtesy of Uncle Sam (Prospect)
Abby Rapoport looks at a study that shows the U.S. spends $450 billion a year on real estate programs like the Mortgage Interest Deduction, which provides sorely needed relief to those on the market for a second house to visit when they get bored with their first.
Wall Street Journal Deeply Concerned About the Fate of Rich Single Moms (Slate)
Matthew Yglesias highlights an infographic that explains how the Obama tax increases will affect Americans from all walks of life, from a single mom struggling to keep herself in blazers on $260,000 a year to a family of six bringing in only $100,000 per capita.