I'm happy with the nerfing of the MCC, as a mostly Neutral player, I only occasionally used it, but found it waaaay too easy when I did. Besides, I like the other effect much better, as a riot starter on world that are getting alienated from their own culture. Just adds more spice to the mix really...
I've played two games with ToA now, one with the Korx (huge/abundant/tough) and one with the Thalan (medium/abundant/obscene). First game with the Korx was just to try things out, so I thought I'd step down a bit. Mistake. I didn't need it, I found the eco quite manageable, you just need to know where to put your efforts.
The Korx are naturally good at eco, getting a few eco techs ánd the government techs (which as samuraiTuretsky observed DOES boost your economy significantly, you can find the effect on the Governments & Ethics page, as a sidenote, if I recall correctly the listed bonusses to diplomacy and influence actually don't exist...). it was easy getting a second and even third colony wave out, firmly planting me at #1 from the start. (A position I hate, as I know it won't be very challenging to win...)
The Thalans are more economically vulnerable, I got pop growth as a bonus to offset their natural penalty. Their initial galactic achievements rock, but they have no other buildings, I rushed to the first econ building, to start pumping up my secondairy planets to pay for the industrial world I was going to turn my HP into. Then I got manufacturing on first lvl. The Thalan manufacturing building is cheap to build (=fast, love the super ability), has a high output (12 points, as much as a Industrial Sector) but also a very high maintenance (15bc) (I offset this by turning 60% of my other planets into pretty much eco-only planets). This combo worked very very well.
Naturally, with both races I used the 100% approval to grow populations on my new planets to increase my tax base, as stated before, this hardly hurts your economy at the start, but provides a huge boost to your economy a year into the game. I hardly went into the red at all. With the Thalans I was even doing so well that I could use anomalies (only one survey ship) to purchase a few constructors to quickly claim some resources, instead of using them as cash reserve to cover for the cashfall. Selling tech to the minor races also helped a bit, but was hardly vital.