Apr 13 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”

It’s Ladies’ Day. Scroll down for the gentlemen

Katrina vanden Heuvel: It’s the economic debate, not the U.S., that’s bankrupt

The government is open, but hope has lost its audacity.

After negotiations in which Republicans ended up gaining more cuts than they originally sought, President Obama chose to celebrate “the largest annual spending cut in history.” Lest we forget, these cuts total $78 billion from the president’s own budget, with programs for working and poor families taking the biggest hit. Any more triumphs like this and Obama will become a new American synonym for pyrrhic victory.

Lost in the coverage of the juvenile, perils-of-Pauline, last-hour rescue from a government closure is the substance of the deal. The great con of the Boehner-Tea Party good-cop, bad-cop negotiating pose is that it focuses attention on intra-party melodramas. The real deal gets lost in the noise.

Laura Flanders: Shareholders Fight Back as Democrats Compromise

The ink on the compromise that kept the government open, barely, isn’t even dry and they’re already talking about the next round of cuts in Washington.

The New York Times led off this week with an article about Obama’s plan to reduce the deficit by making unspecified “changes” to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Sure, it also mentions increasing taxes and cutting military spending, but when we’re embracing the conservative frame that entitlement programs are too big, that’s not much to cheer about.

Meanwhile, of course, CEOs are raking in the cash and still not hiring, at least not Americans. Daniel Costello wrote in the Times this weekend that top executive pay at 200 major companies was up 12 percent from last year-a median pay rate of $9.6 million. Viacom’s CEO made $84.5 million in just nine months, and Ray Irani at Occidental Petroleum’s pay went up 142 percent from last year.

Amy Goodman: U.S.-Backed Bloodshed Stains Bahrain’s Arab Spring

Three days after Hosni Mubarak resigned as the long-standing dictator in Egypt, people in the small Gulf state of Bahrain took to the streets, marching to their version of Tahrir, Pearl Square, in the capital city of Manama. Bahrain has been ruled by the same family, the House of Khalifa, since the 1780s-more than 220 years. Bahrainis were not demanding an end to the monarchy, but for more representation in their government.

One month into the uprising, Saudi Arabia sent military and police forces over the 16-mile causeway that connects the Saudi mainland to Bahrain, an island. Since then, the protesters, the press and human-rights organizations have suffered increasingly violent repression.

One courageous young Bahraini pro-democracy activist, Zainab al-Khawaja, has seen the brutality up close. To her horror, she watched her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, a prominent human-rights activist, be beaten and arrested.

Susan Feiner: GOP’s Attack on Child Labor Threatens Our Daughters

It’s Equal Pay Day, a time to remember those 600 extra hours that women work each year to catch up with male wages. For female teens exploitation at work is advancing, as GOP lawmakers in several states try to relax child labor laws.

It’s Equal Pay Day, a time to review the reasons why so many hard working women find themselves chronically running short on cash.

Women need to work 15 weeks into 2011 to earn what men earned in 2010. Think about all that work: 40 hours multiplied by 15 weeks. That’s 600 hours. On top of that work there’s the cooking, cleaning, picking up, dropping off, dressing and bathing.

But this is not news. We’ve been trying to get paycheck fairness for years.

What’s more notable right now is the GOP-led attack on child labor laws that will affect female teens disproportionately.

Ruth Marcus: On the budget, the White House is late to the game – again

I’m no sports nut but I’ve spent enough time at kids’ soccer games to understand that it’s impossible to score if you’re playing on the wrong side of the field.

Which is why I have found the White House strategy for dealing with Republicans on the deficit so befuddling.

The fight over spending this fiscal year is a case in point. The prospect of a Republican takeover of the House was evident well before the election. The inevitable result was going to be more draconian cuts than would have been required if the spending bills were passed beforehand.

In the aftermath of the Democrats’ losses, the entire debate played out in terms they were destined to lose. If the argument is framed solely in terms of budget cuts, Republicans always win: They are willing to out-cut Democrats. That inescapable tilt was exacerbated by the virtual absence of a White House message about the impact of a shutdown or the cuts themselves.

Dana Milbank: Obama’s birth secret revealed

The birthers have come back to life.

Donald Trump has soared to the top of the Republican presidential polls, thanks in part to the whimsical candidate’s claim that he has hired investigators to hunt down President Obama’s birth certificate in Hawaii. He’s tied for first place with Mike Huckabee, who has said Obama grew up in Kenya. The fading Sarah Palin, swallowing her earlier disavowal of the birther libel, is now asking questions about where the president was born.

Let’s hope Trump’s gumshoes don’t succeed in locating the secret document, for if they do they will learn the horrible, gruesome truth: Obama was born a moderate. In fact, and I have this straight from the vital records people in Honolulu, he was the bastard child of an unholy union of pragmatism and centrism.

Dean Baker: Some Market Discipline for Economists

The IMF lashes itself for failing to foresee the crisis, but the only remedy would be the hazard of unemployment for its economists

Last month, the International Monetary Fund’s independent evaluation office issued a remarkable report. The report quite clearly blamed the IMF for failing to recognise the factors leading up to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and to provide warning to its members so that preventive actions could be taken:

   “It [the report] finds that the IMF provided few clear warnings about the risks and vulnerabilities associated with the impending crisis before its outbreak. […] The IMF’s ability to correctly identify the mounting risks was hindered by a high degree of groupthink, intellectual capture, a general mindset that a major financial crisis in large advanced economies was unlikely, and inadequate analytical approaches.”

The report noted that several prominent economists had clearly warned of the dangers facing the world economy prior to the collapse that began in 2007. One of these economists was Raghuram Rajan, who was actually the chief economist at the IMF when he gave a clear warning of growing financial fragility back in 2005. Yet these warnings were, for all practical purposes, ignored when it came to the IMF’s official reports and recommendations to member countries.

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