“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”
Paul Krugman: Let’s Take a Hike
When I listen to current discussions of the federal budget, the message I hear sounds like this: We’re in crisis! We must take drastic action immediately! And we must keep taxes low, if not actually cut them further!
You have to wonder: If things are that serious, shouldn’t we be raising taxes, not cutting them?
My description of the budget debate is in no way an exaggeration. Consider the Ryan budget proposal, which all the Very Serious People assured us was courageous and important. That proposal begins by warning that “a major debt crisis is inevitable” unless we confront the deficit. It then calls, not for tax increases, but for tax cuts, with taxes on the wealthy falling to their lowest level since 1931.
Robert Kuttner: A Double Dip Recession for 2012?
Economists are painting a pretty bleak picture of the economic outlook between now and the November 2012 election. Will this hurt President Obama’s re-election chances? Or will voters blame the Party of No?
That, of course, partly depends on what kind of campaign Obama runs and partly on the Republicans. But first, let’s take stock (actually, maybe let’s sell stock).
The Federal Reserve has been buying up lots of bonds to keep interest rates very low. The Fed disguises what it’s doing with the antiseptic and mystifying term, “quantitative easing,” or QE for short. This is the second time the central bank has tried this trick, hence the coy nickname, QE 2. The problem is that very low interest rates only take you so far in a depressed economy.
The poisonous atmosphere surrounding the role of the state and taxation allows no realistic budget bargaining
Maybe it’s because Boston is different, a semi-detached city in one of the US’s most liberal states. But the news that the world’s biggest economy had had its creditworthiness challenged for the first time by the upstart rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) hardly seemed to register with the locals.
No one I met fulminated about loss of economic sovereignty or that S&P, whose purblind approval of junk mortgage debt as triple A was one of the causes of the financial crisis, had finally over-reached itself. Bostonians seemed unconcerned. Perhaps this was because it was just one more surreal moment in the pantomime that is American economic and political life.
That was how the markets judged the news. There was a momentary tremor in the Dow Jones. Some analysts shrugged it off; others thought it profoundly serious. But soon the markets were on the rise again as if nothing had happened.
The New York Times Editorial: The House Strikes, and Wins, Again
In another House-engineered setback for the environment, the compromise budget approved by Congress and the White House prohibits the Interior Department from spending any money to carry out a policy protecting unspoiled federal lands.
Under the 1976 Federal Lands Policy and Management Act, the secretary of interior has the power to inventory, identify and protect such lands. President George W. Bush’s secretary, Gale Norton, who was more interested in development than conservation, renounced that authority. Ken Salazar, the current secretary, reaffirmed it in December only to have House Republicans strike back.
The amendment, like much from the House, was based on demagoguery. Western Republicans claimed the policy would pre-empt Congress’s right to designate permanent wilderness on federal lands. That isn’t true. What the Interior Department does, and has done until Ms. Norton came along, is identify lands with “wilderness characteristics” and manage them carefully – preventing rampant motorized vehicle use, for instance – until Congress can decide whether they deserve permanent protection.
John Nichols: The Issue is Jobs, Not Deficit Reduction
Republicans never cared about deficit reduction when George Bush was president.
And, for the most part, they don’t care now — as evidenced by broad GOP support for House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan’s plan to keep the budget out of balance until 2040 while clearing the way to begin streaming federal Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid dollars into the coffers of Wall Street speculators and insurance-industry profiteers.
But Republican leaders do care about controlling the debate. When the country is focused on an overblown debate about debts and deficits, that forecloses discussion about the serious economic and social challenges facing the nation. It also forecloses discussion about holding bankers and CEOs accountable for irresponssible and illegal practices that have done far more harm to the nation’s fiscal stability than retirees and the children of low-incoem families who need a little health care.
Allison Kilkenny: The Warped US Tax System: Taxpayers Subsidize Their Own Destruction
One of the more interesting battles being waged right now is between labor and Boeing, the aerospace and defense corporation. The National Labor Relations Board accuses the company of illegally retaliating against its largest union when it decided in 2009 to put a second 787 Dreamliner assembly line in a nonunion plant in South Carolina.
Originally, Boeing intended to construct the Dreamliner in Washington, but only if the state approved a twenty-year, $3.2 billion package of tax credits. Officials ultimately conceded, but Boeing took its toys and went to play elsewhere anyway when South Carolina lured it across state lines with the promise of a whopping $900 million subsidy package a k a taxpayer dollars, and a nonunion plant to set up shop in.
Boeing also happens to be one of the shining examples of government-subsidized businesses that pay meager amounts of state and local taxes. In 2010, Boeing received a net tax refund of $137 million from state and local governments despite earning more than $4 billion in pretax profits.