WBEZ | Charlie Wheelan http://www.wbez.org/tags/charlie-wheelan Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Making sense of the federal budget deal http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-11/making-sense-federal-budget-deal-85012 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-11/Boehner Getty Brendan Hoffman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 3:50 p.m. on 04/11/11</em><br> <br> At the 11<sup>th</sup> hour, leadership struck a budget deal to avert a government shutdown Friday, April 8. But that’s last year’s budget—and it’s six months overdue.<br> <br> WBEZ’s Jason Marck spoke to Charlie Wheelan, a senior lecturer at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, on Monday’s <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to make sense of the ongoing budget battles in Washington. Wheelan franed the last-minute line-item talks in terms of a household budget.<br> <br> “Imagine you and your spouse have been up all night with all the receipts; you’ve argued, you’ve done the math and at the end of it, the morning light comes up and you realize that all you’ve managed to do is pay the minimum balance on your credit card,” Wheelan explained.<br> <br> But at some point, Wheelan said, it dawns that [you] cannot actually pay the full balance on the card much less a car or mortgage payment. Putting off payments month after month is about where the federal government is on its own balancing efforts, Wheelan explained.<br> <br> By failing to pass a budget last year, Democrats yielded considerable leverage to the newly-appointed Republican majority in the House. That said, Wheelan explained that it’s the GOP tail—the Tea Party—that’s wagging the dog of the Republicans.<br> <br> “[John] Boehner had to deliver something to this vocal and influential and winning in November piece of the party,” Wheelan said. Further, Wheelan observed that the Tea Party is different than tails of yore: It’s organized, it got leadership and it’s got a mandate from voters. And so it starts to look like a coalition government similar to those in Italy or Israel.<br> <br> The next big item of the docket is another sizable leverage point: The debt ceiling is a cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow. The United States is unique, Wheelan explained, in that Congress can say “no” to more borrowing. The problem is, the U.S. is consistently running deficits and needs to add to its tab in order to pay off said deficits and the previously due Treasury debt. Were Congress to refuse raising the roof, the U.S. could potentially default on its debt—a threat Wheelan called “quite serious.”<br> <br> A battle on the debt ceiling is the latest opportunity Republicans seized in order to to hold the [Obama] administration’s feet to the fire.<br> <br> “The Treasury bond is the gold standard (not literally) of the financial system. And if there’s even a whiff that people are not going to get their money back or that system is going to be disrupted then there’s going to be widespread concern, if not panic,” Wheelan warned.<br> <br> But all of this, Wheelan said, is just prelude to the much larger conversations this country must have in regards to entitlements and health care and so on. In the nearer term, members of Congress must return to the negotiating table to vote on a 2012 budget. Both parties have what Wheelan described as “glaring blind spots.”<br> <br> “The blind spot on the Democratic side is that we can just keep doing what we’re doing and it going to be OK—we cannot,” Wheelan said. If members care passionately about entitlement programs, he went on to say, they must fix the programs to sustain them—a framework for raising the retirement age to save Social Security has not been drawn nor has a system to contain the cost of health care.<br> <br> “The blind spot on the Republican side is this almost theological aversion to tax increases,” Wheelan observed. He added that he’s not seen any thoughtful observer who believes the United States can dig itself out of a fiscal hole without some sort of tax increase.<br> <br> Wheelan called the recommendations given by the president’s bipartisan deficit commission in the December Simpson-Bowles report “the perfect starting point” for the current discussions. But the plan was stifled by a lack of support from the people who ought to have been behind it.<br> <br> “President Obama’s reaction was tepid at best. Paul Ryan was on the committee, voted against the recommendations and so it was not beginning of that discussion that it should have [been],” Wheelan lamented.<br> <br> But at least part of the blame, Wheelan said, falls on the American people in that taxpayers are not fully prepared for the kind of sacrifice required.<br> <br> On legislative issues of this size and scale Wheelan said a strong executive voice is required. Ryan has provided that voice on the Republican side, whether people like his plans or not. President Obama is expected to deliver a prime-time speech Wednesday on deficit reduction. However many, including Wheelan, feel he’s a bit late to the party. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Music Button: Fujiya &amp; Miyagi, "Minestrone," from the CD Ventriloquizzing, (Yep Roc)</em></p></p> Mon, 11 Apr 2011 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-11/making-sense-federal-budget-deal-85012 'This is our Sputnik moment': Reactions to President Obama's State of the Union http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/%5Bfield_program_ref-title-raw%5D/our-sputnik-moment-reactions-president-obamas-state-u <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Obama state of the union 2011 AP_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>President Obama&rsquo;s second State of the Union address stuck to tradition by highlighting the progress of the nation but many considered the tone of the gathering to be different &ndash; that a bipartisan, even conciliatory air prevailed. That might have been due to the seating arrangement.<br /><br />President Obama focused on both the deficit and the high level of unemployment.Obama also spoke about the need for investment in high technology, science and education. Sound good to you? If it does, where should the money come from: Government or the private sector?</p><p>To answer whether there is a sound economic policy hiding underneath all that high toned rhetoric, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> was joined by two experts: <a href="http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/faculty/web-pages/charles-wheelan.asp" target="_blank">Charlie Wheelan</a>, a senior lecturer at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and <a href="http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/faculty/web-pages/jeffrey-grogger.asp" target="_blank">Jeffrey Grogger</a>, one of the nation&rsquo;s leading experts on welfare reform and the Irving Harris Professor in Urban Policy at the Harris School.<br /><br />Wheelan is also author of <a href="http://www.nakedeconomics.com/" target="_blank"><em>Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science</em></a>. Grogger is co-author of <em><a target="_blank" href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674018914">Welfare Reform: Effects of a Decade of Change</a>.</em></p><p><em>Music Button: Mike Reed's People Places and Things, &quot;Song of a Star&quot;, from the CD Stories and Negotiations, (482 Music) </em></p></p> Wed, 26 Jan 2011 15:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/%5Bfield_program_ref-title-raw%5D/our-sputnik-moment-reactions-president-obamas-state-u The future of Chicago's economy http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/future-chicagos-economy <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/chicago markets.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The economic scenario in Illinois remains precarious. To explain why &ndash; and to talk about which of the mayoral candidates might be best positioned to tackle our fiscal situation &ndash; host Alison Cuddy was joined by two experts: David Greising is &quot;Eight Forty-Eight's&quot; regular business contributor and&nbsp; a reporter for the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/">Chicago News Cooperative</a>. Charlie Wheelan is a senior lecturer at <a target="_blank" href="http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/">The Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago</a> and the author of &quot;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/Naked-Economics-Undressing-Dismal-Science/dp/0393324869">Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science</a>.&quot;</p></p> Mon, 03 Jan 2011 14:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/future-chicagos-economy The deficit deadline that came and went http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/deficit-deadline-came-and-went <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/deficit.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Dec. 1 was the original deadline for President Obama&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/" target="_blank">deficit-reduction commission</a> and it came and went without a vote. Despite the early release of a plan from commission co-chairs Alan Simpson and Erskin Bowles, a vote has been delayed to Friday&mdash;at least.</p><p>Illinois congresswoman and commission member <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/schakowsky-rejects-deficit-reduction-plan">Jan Schakowsky spoke with &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; on Wednesday</a>. She was one of many who offered an alternative plan. Schakowsky's concern is that the Simpson-Bowles scenario jeopardizes social programs and comes down too hard on middle to lower-income Americans.</p><p>To find out more about the strengths and weaknesses of the Simpson-Bowles plan, &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; spoke with a couple of economic experts. <a href="http://www.andrewbusch.com/" target="_blank">Andrew Busch</a> is a global currency and public policy strategist who advises Republicans on the economy and financial markets. <a href="http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/faculty/web-pages/charles-wheelan.asp" target="_blank">Charlie Wheelan</a> is a senior lecturer at <a href="http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/" target="_blank">The Harris School of Public Policy at University of Chicago</a>. He is the author of &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Naked-Economics-Undressing-Science-Revised/dp/0393337642/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1291299705&amp;sr=8-1" target="_blank">Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science</a>&quot;.</p><p><em>Music Button: Maserati, &quot;Monoliths&quot;, from the CD Passages, (Temporary Residence) </em></p></p> Thu, 02 Dec 2010 13:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/deficit-deadline-came-and-went