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Jul 21 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 Shameful Murder of Dodd Frank

Happy Birthday Dodd Frank,

Happy Birthday to you,

You’ve lost all your muscle,

And your teeth are gone, too.

One full year after the financial reform bill spearheaded through Congress by Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank was signed into law, Wall Street looks and acts much the way it did before. That’s because the Street has effectively neutered the law, which is the best argument I know for applying the nation’s antitrust laws to the biggest banks and limiting their size.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says the financial system is “on more solid ground” than prior to the 2008 crisis, but I don’t know what ground he’s looking at.

Much of Dodd-Frank is still on the drawing boards, courtesy of the Street. The law as written included loopholes big enough to drive bankers’ Lamborghini’s through – which they’re now doing.

Glen Ford: Impeachment: If Not Obama, Who?

One thing about of the Bush administration that makes me something very close to nostalgic, is the number of people who, back then, wanted to impeach the president. It was exhilarating to hear Americans full of righteous emotion, willing to use up their last Aladdin’s lamp wish for the pleasure and privilege of seeing George Bush indicted by the House and put on trial before the Senate. For the vast majority of Black folks, the impeachment of George Bush would have been the best thing that’s happened since 1965, a genuine “Free at Last” moment. Hell, nothing could beat that but the election of a Black President to succeed Bush…

Which is what happened, and that’s the problem. We did get a Black successor to George Bush – and what did the new guy do, but move most of Bush’s luggage right back into the White House. Barack Obama then proceeded to out-Bush Bush, especially when it came to wielding imperial power and doing away with what’s left of due process and the rule of law.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Go Gang of 70

With too much fanfare, the contours of a “grand bargain” on the budget have emerged with a proposal offered by the Senate’s Gang of Six.  It’s a deal that looks a helluva lot more like a Raw Deal than a New Deal or a Fair Deal.

It’s good to get a grip and some perspective at times like these.  That’s why I appreciated Congressman Raúl Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), reminding us that a “Gang of 70” Democrats in the House has already vowed to oppose any deal which cuts benefits in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

“Our Gang of 70-plus has the Gang of Six completely outnumbered,” says Grijalva.  “And with Republicans not voting for any package, period, because of their opposition to a functional economy, House Democrats hold the key to whatever plan can pass Congress.”

Robert Scheer: Sorry Elizabeth, Wall Street Said No

So much for the meritocracy. Despite an elite education, effusive charm and brilliant wit, Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, has ended up betraying his humble origins by abjectly serving the most rapacious variant of Wall Street greed. They both talk a good progressive game, but when push comes to shove-meaning when the banking lobby weighs in-big money talks and the best and the brightest fold.

The defining moment of Clinton’s capitulation was his destruction of Brooksley Born, the one member of his administration with the courage and prescience to warn him about the unregulated derivatives trading that ultimately led to the housing collapse. For Obama, it is his decision not to nominate Elizabeth Warren to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she fought so hard to create.

Obama’s refusal to take the fight to Senate Republicans by nominating Warren should be taken as the vital measure of the man. This gutless decision comes after the president populated his administration with the very people who created the financial meltdown.

Richard (RJ) EsKow: Could Wall Street Ever Face a “Murdoch Moment”?

History books record an empire’s fall as a series of dates and events. Battles are fought, people resist, elections are called, arrest warrants are issued. But those are just details. An empire really falls in that moment when people stop believing that it’s invulnerable. Whenever the spell is broken, whether it’s by anger or just by awareness, the end becomes inevitable. It doesn’t matter what happens to Rupert or James Murdoch now. They may return to positions of relative wealth and privilege or their lives may take unpleasant turns. Either way, the Murdoch empire has already fallen.

There’s a lesson here for anyone who thinks the safest and surest path to success is by serving the seemingly invincible. Sure, it may lead to riches and power, at least for a while. But you may also wind up like those powerful people in Great Britain who now find themselves struggling with scandal, hiding in fear, or facing terrible legal consequences – all because they believed in Murdoch’s invincibility and served him accordingly. As Martin Luther King often said (and we’ve often quoted), “The moral arc of the Universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

John Nichols: Bernie Sanders on’Gang of Six’ Plan: ‘Not So Fast’

With a blessing from President Obama and support even from some deficit-hawk Republicans, momentum is building for the ten-year deficit reduction plan announced Tuesday by the “Gang of Six” Democratic and Republican senators. “Can’t We All Just Get Along” commentators like the proposal, while headlines declare: “Bipartisan Support Builds for Gang of Six $3.7 Trillion Deficit-Reduction Plan.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is typically grumbly, and Senate Democrats are complaining that they may not have enough time to pull everything together before the August 2 debt ceiling deadline. But the cheerleading for the “Gang of Six” plan is considerable and enthusiastic.

“This is a serious, bipartisan proposal that will help stop Washington from spending money that we don’t have, and I support it,” Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander says of the proposal to reduce the deficit by $3.7 trillion over the next ten years with deep spending cuts while increasing revenues by closing tax loopholes.

Greg Sargent: Dear House GOP Member: Raise the Debt Ceiling. Love, Ronald Reagan

Dana Milbank had a provocative column this morning arguing that on the debt ceiling, Dems have become the new party of Ronald Reagan, and that Republicans only honor their alleged hero Reagan in the breach and not the observance. After all, Reagan presided over 18 debt ceiling hikes as President. But for a large swath of today’s House conservatives, the drive to prevent the debt ceiling from being hiked has replaced the now-forgotten push to repeal Obamacare as their number one ideological cause celebre.

Now House liberals have hit on a fun new way of emphasizing this point: They are sending a letter today to every House Republican asking them to raise the debt limit. Only the letter wasn’t written by House liberals. It was written by Reagan himself.