Ira asks Washington-insider Norman Ornstein if we actually need to be paying attention to all of the Fiscal Cliff political news. Or can it wait until next week? Ornstein is the author of the book It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.
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Producer Alex Blumberg tells the story of how Oklahoma, against huge odds, came to have the first and best publicly-funded pre-school system in the country, and how one businessman joined the fight because a cardboard box full of evidence convinced him that pre-school was the smartest business decision the state could make.
An estate attorney in Rhode Island discovers the investor's Holy Grail: a financial scheme that guarantees only reward and no risk. All upside with no downside.
Producer Sarah Koenig reports on a company called Journatic, that is producing local journalism in a brand new way.
Planet Money's Alex Blumberg and NPR Congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook take a tour through the world of money and politics, discovering just how much time members of Congress spend raising money and which committee assignments yield the biggest campaign donations. They also try to figure out what all this money is actually buying.For an interactive map of Washington DC fundraiser locations, charts of the best and worst types of fundraisers, and other online extras, visit Planet Money's website.
Everything about political fundraising is changing right now, because of the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.
Ten years ago, Congress voted to reform campaign finance, after Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold took up the cause. Here they reunite on the radio, to reminisce and lament how that reform failed.
In the town of Nowthen, MN, residents held meetings to debate whether a police force is worth the cost. And in Springfield, IL, the state police motorcycle division has been cut, leading to an increase in highway fatalities.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie has led some of the most sweeping budget cuts in the country. Producer Sarah Koenig reports from Trenton, where one third of the police force has been laid off, leading to dramatically increased crime.
Perhaps the biggest proponent of smaller government in the United States is lobbyist and activist Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. He envisions a government reduced in size by half, and has compelled scores of conservative politicians take pledges to never raise taxes.
After the recession hit, Colorado Springs was in rough shape. City services were being cut left and right.
Ira Glass asks guest host Alex Blumberg whether we should really care about the current European debt crisis. The answer: yes, we should, and we should WANT to care too, because this story—and it's actually the story of the Euro itself—is very surprising and dramatic.