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Jul 15 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”.

Paul Krugman: Getting to Crazy

There aren’t many positive aspects to the looming possibility of a U.S. debt default. But there has been, I have to admit, an element of comic relief – of the black-humor variety – in the spectacle of so many people who have been in denial suddenly waking up and smelling the crazy.

A number of commentators seem shocked at how unreasonable Republicans are being. “Has the G.O.P. gone insane?” they ask.

Why, yes, it has. But this isn’t something that just happened, it’s the culmination of a process that has been going on for decades. Anyone surprised by the extremism and irresponsibility now on display either hasn’t been paying attention, or has been deliberately turning a blind eye.

Jon Walker Calling Obama’s Bluff

Last night the Republicans offered to do a short term increase of the debt ceiling to prevent default and President Obama angrily dismissed it according to the Huffington Post:

   At issue was Cantor’s repeated push to do a short-term resolution and Obama’s insistence that he would not accept one.

   “Eric, don’t call my bluff. I’m going to the American people on this,” the president said, according to both Cantor and another attendee. “This process is confirming what the American people think is the worst about Washington: that everyone is more interested in posturing, political positioning, and protecting their base, than in resolving real problems.”

At this point though I don’t see why Eric Cantor won’t try to call President Obama bluff over threatening to veto a short term deal.

As I have explain in more detail Obama threat to veto any short term increase has created a serious credibility problem for the President. You can’t both say default would be a huge problem and that you will single-handily cause a default simply because you won’t grant the GOP request for a short term increase so they can have a few more days to negotiate.

Dean Baker: Stealing from Social Security Is NOT a Debt Solution — Why Do the Media Promote This Dangerous Myth?

Pursuing a plan to kill social security, politicians are relying on a credulous public and compliant media to ramp up debt panic.

The conventional wisdom among the current generation of school reformers is that bad teachers are to blame for the failure of many of our children to learn. Applying this logic to the current debates over the budget and the economy, we should be pointing a big finger of blame at the media.

The conventional wisdom among the current generation of school reformers is that bad teachers are to blame for the failure of many of our children to learn. Applying this logic to the current debates over the budget and the economy, we should be pointing a big finger of blame at the media.

As survey after survey shows, the vast majority of the public are incredibly ignorant of the most basic facts about the budget and the economy. If we treated their teachers in the media the way the educational reformers treat public school teachers, few economics and budget reporters would have jobs.

New York Times Editorial: The Debt Alarm Is Heard

As negotiators in the debt-ceiling talks sputtered and raged, the chill reality of an imminent government default crept up Wednesday and made a mockery of their gamesmanship. Two major rating agencies warned that a once-unthinkable downgrade of the nation’s credit rating would be at hand if this crisis was not immediately defused.

That finally punctured the careless notion, popularized by Tea Party lawmakers like Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert, that default would be a minor inconvenience. Standard & Poor’s said a downgrade could occur if any required payments were missed, even if bondholders were paid first. Moody’s said a new process for dealing with the debt ceiling was needed. Although the bond markets have yet to be roiled, there are fresh indications that China and other investors are beginning to get nervous.

The alarms could not be much louder, but myth-making is still impeding the desperately needed deal.

Matt Taibbi: Greed, Excess and America’s Gaping Class Divide

Courtesy of good friend and Supreme Court of Assholedom justice David Sirota comes this revolting list of Marie Antoinettoid moments from recent years, in an article called “The New ‘Let Them Eat Cake!'”

Some of the moments on the list are easily recalled – Berkshire Hathaway gazillionaire Charlie Munger’s famous “suck it up and cope” quote, coming from a guy whose company was heavily invested in bailed-out banks, was an obvious inclusion – but others are quite shocking.

For instance, I was completely floored by the New York Times‘ pseudo-ironic take on the government’s response to the financial crisis, a piece entitled “You Try to Live on $500K in This Town.”

This came at a time when President Obama was considering curtailing compensation for bailed-out bankers at $500,000. The piece was sort of meant to be taken half as a joke, but it is not hard to detect an element of demented earnestness in the fashion section article, an honest argument that with mortgages and private school tuition and co-op fees and taxes, it really was very hard for a certain kind of New Yorker to get by on half a million a year.

Laura Carlsen: The Audacity of “Free Trade” Agreements

Congress could vote any day now to strike a new blow against already-battered U.S. workers and the unemployed

Committees in the House and Senate recently marked up the Colombia, Panama, and South Korea Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). The Obama administration is urging passage of all three relics of the Bush administration before the summer recess.

The full-court press on the FTAs represents a reversal for a president elected on a trade reform platform. During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama proclaimed his opposition to the NAFTA-style FTAs and boasted of his stance against the devastating North American and Central American agreements. As candidate Obama, he carefully distanced himself from the open-market, pro-corporate policies of his predecessor, calling for significant changes to the NAFTA model, including enforceable labor and environmental standards, and consumer protections.

Bill Boyarsky: ‘Entitlement’ Is a Republican Word

At his news conference this week, President Barack Obama seized on a misleading Washington word-“entitlements”-to describe the badly needed aid programs that are likely to be cut because of his compromises with the Republicans.

“Entitlement” is a misleading word because it masks the ugly reality of reducing medical aid for the poor, the disabled and anyone over 65 as well as cutting Social Security. Calling such programs entitlements is much more comfortable than describing them as what they are-Medicare, Social Security and money for good schools, unemployment insurance, medical research and public works construction that would put many thousands to work.

It’s also a Republican word. It implies that those receiving government aid have a sense of entitlement, that they’re getting something for nothing. And now it’s an Obama word as he moves toward the center and away from the progressives who powered his 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination over centrist Hillary Clinton.