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Jan 27 2011

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”.

Robert Reich: The President Ignored the Elephant in the Room

The president’s new emphasis on the importance of investing in education, infrastructure, and basic research in order to build the nation’s long-term competitive capacities is appropriate. For the last three decades the federal government’s spending on these three essentials has declined as a percentage of its total spending, arguably threatening America’s technological and economic leadership.

But the president’s failure to address the decoupling of American corporate profits from American jobs, and explain specifically what he’ll do to get jobs back, not only risks making his grand plans for reviving the nation’s “competitiveness” seem somewhat beside the point but also cedes to Republicans the dominant narrative.

Robert Sheer: Hogwash, Mr. President

What is the state of the union? You certainly couldn’t tell from that platitudinous hogwash that the president dished out Tuesday evening. I had expected Barack Obama to be his eloquent self, appealing to our better nature, but instead he was mealy-mouthed in avoiding the tough choices that a leader should delineate in a time of trouble. He embraced clean air and a faster Internet while ignoring the depth of our economic pain and the Wall Street scoundrels who were responsible-understandably so, since they so prominently populate the highest reaches of his administration. He had the effrontery to condemn “a parade of lobbyists” for rigging government after he appointed the top Washington representative of JPMorgan Chase to be his new chief of staff.

The speech was a distraction from what seriously ails us: an unabated mortgage crisis, stubbornly high unemployment and a debt that spiraled out of control while the government wasted trillions making the bankers whole. Instead the president conveyed the insular optimism of his fat-cat associates: “We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.” How convenient to ignore the fact that this bubble of prosperity, which has failed the tens of millions losing their homes and jobs, was floated by enormous government indebtedness now forcing deep cuts in social services including state financial aid for those better-educated students the president claims to be so concerned about.

Laura Flanders: Protests in Cairo Forgotten by Obama

In the State of the Union speech, Barack Obama did get applause for saying that the United States stands with the people of Tunisia. Now, he didn’t mention the two decades of support the US had given the dictatorship.

The president did not have anything to say about Egypt-where thousands of people, inspired by Tunisia, were taking to the streets to protest their own repressive government-another one the United States has backed for years. Secretary of State Clinton’s official word is that the Egyptian government was “stable.” Aha. She said it’s “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests” of its people. And she urged “restraint” as they suppressed protesters.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Breaking the Silence: FCIC Report Brings the Focus Back to Wall Street

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s report couldn’t come at a better time. At a moment when it seems that Washington would rather forget what happened two years ago, it documents the opportunism, bad judgment, and criminality that crashed the world’s economy once — and could again at any time. An interconnected web of Wall Street criminality, discredited ideology, and politicians chasing big money — along with a surprising amount of executive incompetence — has caused continued suffering for millions. At a time when the nation’s capital is convinced that CEOs need appeasing rather than policing, the FCIC report is a badly needed return to reality.

Wall Street executives weren’t mentioned in the State of the Union or the Republican response. But their actions caused this crisis, and they can’t be ignored politely like tipsy uncles at a family wedding. The only way to prevent the next crisis is by understanding the last one — and then taking the right actions.

Jack Rasmus: Obama’s State of the Union: No Jobs but More Business Tax Cuts

Not a word about the 25 million still jobless. Nothing about how to help the more than 7 million homeowners who have, or the additional 4 million who will soon, face foreclosures and evictions. Absolute silence about the dozens of states and hundreds of local governments in deepening fiscal crisis and approaching bankruptcy-and the hundreds of thousands of public employees who will pay for that bankruptcy with their jobs, wages, pensions, and health benefits. OK, some vague references to infrastructure and alternative energy jobs-over the next 25 years. Paid for by Obam’s explicit reference to cut Medicare and Medicaid benefits for tens of millions.

But the most disturbing element of Obama’s State of the Union address last Tuesday night was his firm commitment to cut corporate taxes even further, and thereafter to move on to ‘simplify’ the US tax code in general-i.e. a code word in policy circles for further reducing top tax brackets which always results in tax cuts for the wealthiest households.

What Obama proposed in his address on Tuesday was a classic continuation of a supply side, ideological program focusing on business tax reduction, supplemented by various other measures to reduce business costs at the expense of consumers, workers, and others.

Nicholas D. Kristof: Tussling Over Jesus

The National Catholic Reporter newspaper put it best: “Just days before Christians celebrated Christmas, Jesus got evicted.”

Yet the person giving Jesus the heave-ho in this case was not a Bethlehem innkeeper. Nor was it an overzealous mayor angering conservatives by pulling down Christmas decorations. Rather, it was a prominent bishop, Thomas Olmsted, stripping St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix of its affiliation with the Roman Catholic diocese.

The hospital’s offense? It had terminated a pregnancy to save the life of the mother. The hospital says the 27-year-old woman, a mother of four children, would almost certainly have died otherwise.

John Nichols: How Did We Miss Obama’s Great Big “Socialist” State of the Union?

It turns out that President Obama gave a far more radical State of the Union Address than most commentators, political observers and perhaps even the commander-in-chief, himself, imagined.

Most progressives thought Obama erred at least a bit too far toward the right in a speech that was laden with talk about deficit reduction and spending cuts. And some conservatives even complained that the Democratic president was stealing their best lines.

But Georgia Congressman Paul Broun, arguably the most right-wing member of the House Republican Caucus, has ears that are apparently more attuned than those of pundits and progressives — or, for that matter, most conservatives.

Broun heard the president outlining a “socialist” agenda.

After Obama referenced the Constitution in his address to members of the House and Senate Tuesday night, Broun Tweeted from the chamber: ” During President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, he tweeted, “Mr. President, you don’t believe in the Constitution. You believe in socialism.”

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