Jun 10 2011

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis 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: Rule by Rentiers

The latest economic data have dashed any hope of a quick end to America’s job drought, which has already gone on so long that the average unemployed American has been out of work for almost 40 weeks. Yet there is no political will to do anything about the situation. Far from being ready to spend more on job creation, both parties agree that it’s time to slash spending – destroying jobs in the process – with the only difference being one of degree.

Nor is the Federal Reserve riding to the rescue. On Tuesday, Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, acknowledged the grimness of the economic picture but indicated that he will do nothing about it.

And debt relief for homeowners – which could have done a lot to promote overall economic recovery – has simply dropped off the agenda. The existing program for mortgage relief has been a bust, spending only a tiny fraction of the funds allocated, but there seems to be no interest in revamping and restarting the effort.

Dean Baker: Political Advice to Republicans on Medicare

The Republicans are very upset that their vote for Representative Ryan’s plan to end Medicare is being used against them. The loss of an upstate New York Congressional seat that they held for 50 years was quite a shock. Furthermore, groups are already using this vote in attack ads around the country to threaten incumbents.

This could be really bad news for their election prospects in 2012 since Medicare is a hugely popular program. Polls consistently show that the program has enormous public support among all political and demographic groups. Not only do Democrats and independents overwhelmingly support the Medicare program, even Republicans overwhelmingly approve of Medicare. Even Tea Party Republicans overwhelming approve of Medicare.

The same story holds by age group. Of course, Medicare has the greatest support among the over-65 age group that currently depends on it, but the program even draws large majority support among young voters who hope to be able to rely on the program in their retirement. Republicans could try to extend the vote to ten-year-olds, but this route probably does not hold much promise.

Robert Reich: President Obama Must Not Go Over to the Supply Side

“I am concerned about the fact that the recovery that we’re on is not producing jobs as fast as I want it to happen,” President Obama said Tuesday, amid the flood of bad economic news, including last Friday’s alarming jobs report.

Does this mean we’re about to see a bold package of ideas from the White House for spurring growth of jobs and wages? Sadly, it doesn’t seem so.

Obama says he’s interested in exploring with Republicans extending some of the measures that were part of that tax-cut package “to make sure that we get this recovery up and running in a robust way.”

Accordingly, the White House is mulling a temporary cut in the payroll taxes businesses pay on wages. White House advisors figure this may appeal to Republican lawmakers who have been discussing the same idea. It would, in essence, match the 2 percent reduction in employee contributions to payroll taxes this year, enacted as part of the deal to extend the Bush tax cuts.

Roger Cohen: When Fear Breaks

MONTREAL – Whenever I come to Canada I think the world should be simple. People are nice. They’re decent. There’s lots of space. Angry identities assumed in tougher climes morph into gentler ones beneath the wide Canadian sky.

But not everyone can come to Canada. That’s a pity. This is a good place, even if Michael Moore did go a little over the top. Oscar Wilde, however, was too harsh – “a mournful Scottish version of America.” It’s less dark than that.

Outside Canada things are tense because seismic shifts are underway. Some of them are clear: The American Century is ending. Some are not: Nobody predicted the Arab Spring because nobody can predict the human spirit.

Leonard Pitts, Jr.: Commentary: Like Sarah Palin, many of us don’t know U.S. history

Don’t know much about history” – Sam Cooke

It would be the easiest thing in the world to make this about Sarah Palin.

She makes mistakes like Apple makes iPhones, so there is a temptation to catalogue her recent bizarre claim that Paul Revere’s midnight ride in April of 1775 was to “warn the British” (He actually rode to alert patriots Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were coming to arrest them) as superfluous evidence of intellectual mediocrity. The instinct is to think her historical illiteracy speaks ill only of her.

But the thing is, she is not the only one.

Eugene Robinson: A plan for Afghanistan: Declare victory – and leave

Slender threads of hope are nice but do not constitute a plan. Nor do they justify continuing to pour American lives and resources into the bottomless pit of Afghanistan.

Ryan Crocker, the veteran diplomat nominated by President Obama to be the next U.S. ambassador in Kabul, gave a realistic assessment of the war in testimony Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Here I’m using “realistic” as a synonym for “bleak.”

Making progress is hard, Crocker said, but “not impossible.”

Not impossible.

What on earth are we doing? We have more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan risking life and limb, at a cost of $10 billion a month, to pursue ill-defined goals whose achievement can be imagined, but just barely?

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