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Jan 10 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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New York Times Editorial: Democracy in the House

The only reason that income taxes on 99 percent of Americans did not go up this month was that Speaker John Boehner briefly broke with an iron rule of Republican control over the House. He allowed the fiscal-cliff deal to be put to a full vote of the House even though a strong majority of Republicans opposed it.

That informal rule, which bars a vote on legislation unless it has the support of a majority of Republicans, has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks to progress and consensus in Congress, and, in its own way, is even more pernicious than the filibuster abuse that often ties up the Senate. [..]

But under the majority-of-the-majority rule in the House, Democrats are completely cut out of the governing process, not even given a chance to vote unless Republicans have decided to pass something. Since 2010, there have been enough extremist Republicans in the caucus to block consideration of most of the bills requested by the White House or sent over from the Senate. If President Obama is for something, it’s a safe bet that most House Republicans are against it, and thus won’t bring it up.

Robert Reich: TARP Is Over, But the Bailouts Will Continue Until the Big Banks Are Broken Up — and Washington Knows It

TARP — the infamous Troubled Assets Relief Program that bailed out Wall Street in 2008 — is over. The Treasury Department announced it will be completing the sale of the remaining shares it owns of the banks and of General Motors.

But in reality it’s not over. The biggest Wall Street banks are now far bigger than they were four years ago when they were considered too big to fail. The five largest have almost 44 percent of all U.S. bank deposits.

That’s up from 37 percent in 2007, just before the crash. A decade ago they had just 28 percent.

The biggest banks keep getting bigger because they can borrow more cheaply than smaller banks. That’s because investors believe the government will bail them out if they get into trouble, rather than force them into a form of bankruptcy (as the new Dodd-Frank law makes possible).

That’s why it’s necessary to limit their size and break up the biggest.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Two New Fraud Deals Show Wall Street’s Washington Insiders at Work

It must’ve been like old home week when the old gang of Wall Street and Washington insiders finalized a couple more cushy settlements last week.

Everybody knew the drill: Ignore the potential criminal charges and agree on settlement figures they think the public will swallow — figures that are big enough to sound impressive but far smaller than the banks’ ill-gotten gains.  They’ve done this dozens of times before.

But there was an empty chair at the negotiating table. [..]

That chair belongs to you, and it belongs to me. And as long as it’s empty these deals will all turn out the same. A small circle of friends will keep cutting the same cushy deals over and over again until we go to Washington and demand a change, this change:

No more deals.  No more negotiations. Not until we’re in the room. Not until we’re  seated in the chair, at the table, in the chambers of justice, that have always rightfully belonged to us — and only us.

Gail Collins: The Woes of Roe

Forty years ago this month, the Supreme Court handed down the great abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade. To be honest, you’re not going to be seeing a whole lot of cake and Champagne. Time magazine recognized the occasion with a downbeat cover story. (“They’ve Been Losing Ever Since.”) Gallup polls suggest support for abortion rights is fading, particularly among young Americans, and that more people now regard themselves as “pro-life” than “pro-choice.”

On the other hand – I know you had faith that eventually we’d get to the other hand – the polls depend on the question. According to the Quinnipiac poll, if you ask Americans whether they agree with the Roe decision, nearly two-thirds say yes.

It’s always been this way. Americans are permanently uncomfortable with the abortion issue, and they respond most positively to questions that suggest it isn’t up to them to decide anything. “Should be a matter between a woman and her doctor” is usually a popular option.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: The Soul of America

Despite such terminology as “fiscal cliff” and “debt ceiling,” the great debate taking place in Washington now has relatively little to do with financial issues. It is all about ideology. It is all about economic winners and losers in American society. It is all about the power of Big Money. It is all about the soul of America. [..]

We are entering a pivotal moment in the modern history of our country. Do the elected officials in Washington stand with ordinary Americans — working families, children, the elderly, the poor — or will the extraordinary power of billionaire campaign contributors and Big Money prevail? The American people, by the millions, must send Congress the answer to that question.

Bob Cesca: Attention Democrats: Chris Christie Isn’t Your New Best Friend

There’s no doubt that, at a glance, Chris Christie (I just did it again, by the way) sounds like the real deal. His press conference last week in which he mercilessly pummeled the congressional Republicans for not passing a Hurricane Sandy relief bill is just the latest example of Christie stepping onto the national stage and providing a brief but welcome breath of fresh air in a universe where Republicans hardly ever break ranks and eat their own, and a universe where even fewer politicians sound as forthright and authentic. [..]

So just because he criticized the most unproductive and unpopular House of Representatives in the history of the U.S. Congress doesn’t make him particularly brave (maybe tomorrow he’ll bravely come out against brain cancer and deer ticks), and it certainly doesn’t mitigate his more conservative policy positions — positions in areas that kind of matter to liberals, especially issues that deal with the female reproductive zone.

Simply put: we’ve seen this maverick act before. It gave us “9/11 Tourettes” and, you know, Sarah Palin. Be careful who you fall in love with.