How Rich Is Rich? Where We Draw the Wealth Line

America has always had a love/hate relationship with its wealthiest citizens, and the Great Recession has only made it worse. The trouble is, while everybody knows that "the rich" are the enemy, it's hard to determine where exactly the line lies between salt-of-the-earth members of the middle class and the bloated plutocrats.

Five Takeaways from the Debt Debate

As the debt-ceiling discussion winds down in Washington and everyone laments over the meaning and mutual downside of compromise, the economy is still in trouble. But we learned some lessons along the way. Here are some key points from the debacle.

Could the U.S. Print Its Way Out of the Debt Crisis?

Everyone now knows the federal government is about to run up against its limit for borrowing money, but everyone also knows that governments can -- and do -- just print the stuff. Washington owns the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Could the way to sidestep this looming crisis be just making more money?

First Lady, Grocers Bring Stores to Food Deserts

As part of a plan to increase access to high-quality nutritious foods, First Lady Michelle Obama announced on Wednesday that she is teaming up with several of the country's largest food retailers. From healthier foods to new jobs, see what's in store for big chains like Walmart.

Social Security: Why Seniors Are Just Plain Angry

If Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling soon, come August, the White House warns that tens of millions of Social Security recipients may find their mailboxes empty when they go looking for their checks. Even though some describe it as a "fear tactic," protests by seniors and their advocates are getting much louder.

Unemployed and Seeking Shelter from the Storm

The housing crisis continues unabated, and millions of unemployed Americans remain at risk of ending up homeless. But additional government help is arriving from the Obama administration, and nonprofit agencies are making a difference in the efforts of some families to get help from their lenders.

GS Deal Exposed; BofA Deal Nixed

Two surprises in the finance biz: A small group of bond investors has thrown a wrench into Bank of America's massive mortgage securities settlement, while the Fed revealed a secret $15 billion loan it made to Goldman Sachs in 2008. But in retail, there are no bad surprises on same-store sales so far.

Financial Landscape: Dreary Polls and Tax Loopholes

Nearly 90% of Americans still see owning a home as a key part of the American Dream, but 39% see us in a permanent economic downturn. Meanwhile, Obama has set his sights on closing tax loopholes for businesses and the rich, but the Fed just cut banks a break in new rules on debit card swipe fees.

White House to Tap Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Describing the president as "deeply concerned" about the impact on global economic growth of oil supply disruptions in the Middle East and North Africa, the Obama administration announced it would release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the next 30 days.

The Financial Landscape: OPEC Quotas and 'Too Big to Fail'

The theme for Thursday is big players adjusting to a changing world: Citigroup is shutting down a major hedge fund it used for soon-to-be-banned proprietary trading, Goldman has been subpoenaed over its role in the subprime mortgage crisis, and OPEC is thinking that it might need to pump more oil.

White House Outlines a Global Plan for Cyberspace

The Obama administration laid out plans Monday to work aggressively with other nations to make the Internet more secure, enable law enforcement to work closely on cybercrime and ensure that citizens everywhere have the freedom to express themselves online.

White House Threatens to Hold Up Key Trade Deals

The White House is threatening to hold up final passage of three coveted free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia unless lawmakers expand retraining assistance for American workers who lose their jobs because of foreign competition.

Time to Kill the Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction?

With proposals from both President Obama and GOP leaders to broaden the tax base, it seems likely that some cherished income tax deductions may be reduced or even eliminated, and one leading candidate for the chopping block is the deduction for mortgage interest.

Social Security Isn't Broke, But We Still Should Fix It

It's true that Social Security paid out more than it collected in 2010. But the Trust Fund owns $2.6 trillion in Treasury bonds, and though some people may claim those holdings are an illusion, they aren't. Still, there are some fairly painless steps we could take to shore up the program's balance sheet for the long term.

Who Wins and Who Loses If the Government Shuts Down

Unless Republicans and Democrats can agree on budget legislation to keep the federal government running, a shutdown at midnight Friday looms. From a political and financial perspective, if that shutdown happens, there will be a few clear winners, some who break even, and a whole lot of losers. DailyFinance breaks it down:

Will Budget Battle End With a Tax Increase?

Republicans pushing for spending cuts in the 2011 federal budget may be ready to shut the government down to get their way. But is anyone ready to do what it would take to really make a dent in the federal budget: raise taxes on the rich, close corporate tax loopholes, and cut war spending?

GOP Wins Budget Battle, but May Lose Political War

The Republicans are winning this year%u2019s budget battle: Discretionary spending will decrease. But this is hardly the time for the GOP to take a victory lap: Next, the GOP will have to lower unemployment and improve the average American%u2019s daily life -- two areas where the party has historically come up short.

How Health Care Reform Law Will Boost the Economy

Forget that the health care reform act will help individuals and strengthen the social safety net. All the propaganda against the reform law is concealing one of the best business arguments in favor of it: The benefits portability it creates will drive faster U.S. economic growth.

Can the Tea Party Platform Reduce Unemployment?

The U.S. set the forces of globalization in motion, and now more than ever, it's clear we're suffering the consequences: high unemployment, stagnant or declining incomes, and rising costs for goods. Can the policies of the surging Tea Party provide solutions, or will they just make matters worse?

Next Commerce Chief Will Play Key Role on Exports

This week, President Obama announced that he's nominating Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as U.S. Ambassador to China. There are several short-list contenders to replace Locke at Commerce, but the question is: Who would best be able to help Obama double U.S. exports in the next five years?

How an Oil Baron's Heir Cleaned Up a Slimy Internet Scam

For the past decade, a few clever companies have been running an online scheme that tricked consumers into joining so-called membership clubs and charged their credit cards without their consent. But thanks to Sen. John Rockefeller, the era of this $1.4 billion con is coming to an end.

Congress Passes Spending Bill: GOP Wins First Round of Federal Budget Battle

Right now, everything is coming up roses for the Republican Party: It's won the first round of the budget battle, and if the GOP%u2019s momentum continues, the new federal budget will reflect its spending-reduction priorities, not the Democrats'. Even so, if the two parties can agree on a budget, the greater danger, a potentially market-impacting government shutdown, will have been averted.

Obama's Cuts: Less Than Meets the Eye, Thankfully

A parade of Republicans immediately lined up to attack the president's proposed budget cuts this week, claiming the plan falls short of making a real difference. They're right. And that's good, because really deep cuts are the last thing the economy needs right now.

Obama's 2012 Budget: Why Federal Spending Needs to Be Raised, Not Cut

President Obama's proposed spending plan seeks to slash $1.1 trillion from the deficit over the next decade. Republican House Speaker John Boehner says that's too little. In fact, the cuts go too far in the wrong direction: With the economy still recovering, Obama should raise federal spending.

Obama's Mortgage Reforms: Higher Standards -- and Costs

The administration's proposed revamp of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is actually an offering of multiple policy options, essentially passing the political hot potato to the Republicans. Problem is, any fix is sure to make mortgages costlier, with potential harm to the housing market.

In Construction, a Year of Flat Growth Would Be Welcome

If you want to see how the construction industry will do in 2011, look at how the architects did in 2010. By that gauge, last year's thin uptick in spending on building design and engineering services foretells a similar small gain ahead for builders -- and after two years of steep declines, any growth at all is welcome news.

The Impact of Better Teachers: $100 Trillion More in U.S. GDP

A new study says top-performing teachers turn out students who learn more than the students who had the worst teachers. And that extra learning has a huge impact on earnings -- and the nation's economy. Still, some educational experts say the study raises more questions than it answers.