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Jul 22 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: The Lesser Depression

These are interesting times – and I mean that in the worst way. Right now we’re looking at not one but two looming crises, either of which could produce a global disaster. In the United States, right-wing fanatics in Congress may block a necessary rise in the debt ceiling, potentially wreaking havoc in world financial markets. Meanwhile, if the plan just agreed to by European heads of state fails to calm markets, we could see falling dominoes all across southern Europe – which would also wreak havoc in world financial markets.

We can only hope that the politicians huddled in Washington and Brussels succeed in averting these threats. But here’s the thing: Even if we manage to avoid immediate catastrophe, the deals being struck on both sides of the Atlantic are almost guaranteed to make the broader economic slump worse.

Glenn Greenwald: Barack Obama is Gutting the Core Principles of the Democratic Party

The president’s attacks on America’s social safety net are destroying the soul of the Democratic party’s platform

In 2005, American liberals achieved one of their most significant political victories of the last decade. It occurred with the resounding rejection of George W Bush’s campaign to privatise social security. . . . . .

But in 2009, clear signs emerged that President Obama was eager to achieve what his right-predecessor could not: cut social security. Before he was even inaugurated, Obama echoed the right’s manipulative rhetorical tactic: that (along with Medicare) the programme was in crisis and producing “red ink as far as the eye can see.” President-elect Obama thus vowed that these crown jewels of his party since the New Deal would be, as Politico reported, a “central part” of his efforts to reduce the deficit.

The next month, his top economic adviser, the Wall Street-friendly Larry Summers, also vowed specific benefit cuts to Time magazine. He then stacked his “deficit commission” with long-time advocates of social security cuts.

Many progressives, ebullient over the election of a Democratic president, chose to ignore these preliminary signs, unwilling to believe that their own party’s leader was as devoted as he claimed to attacking the social safety net. But some were more realistic. The popular liberal blogger and economist Duncan “Atrios” Black, who was one of the leaders of the campaign against Bush’s privatisation scheme, vowed in response to these early reports:

   The left … will create an epic 360-degree shitstorm if Obama and the Dems decide that cutting social security benefits is a good idea.

Fast forward to 2011: it is now beyond dispute that President Obama not only favours, but is the leading force in Washington pushing for, serious benefit cuts to both social security and Medicare.

Amanda Marcotte and Jesse Taylor: How States Could Ban Abortion With ‘Roe’ Still Standing

For decades, the debate over abortion rights has centered on a single court decision, Roe v. Wade, and the possibility of its overturn. Overturning Roe has become the holy grail of the antichoice movement, and many states have “trigger laws” on the books that would ban abortion immediately should the Supreme Court overturn Roe. Unfortunately for antichoicers, the justices resist overturning precedent; more importantly, Justice Anthony Kennedy, the likely swing vote on any abortion case before the court, upheld Roe on the basis of precedent in 1992. However, the recent surge in state legislation against abortion demonstrates that antichoice activists have figured out a new strategy: eliminating legal abortion without directly overturning Roe.

The Supreme Court granting states the power to ban abortion with Roe still standing seemed outlandish even just a few years ago, but the appointment of John Roberts as chief justice shifted the equation. Roberts specializes in decisions that reverse the spirit of precedent while leaving intact the letter of it, like when he squashed large chunks of Brown v. the Board of Education while claiming to uphold it. To make it legal to ban abortion in the states, all the Court needs is a law that eliminates legal abortion while dodging the logic of Roe v. Wade.

George Zornick: [Gang of Pain: Who Suffers Under the Bipartisan Deficit Reduction Scheme]

President Obama endorsed the Senate’s Gang of Six deficit reduction plan Tuesday, saying that the proposal “is broadly consistent with the approach that I’ve urged” and “makes sure that nobody is disproportionately hurt from us making progress on the debt and deficits.”

However, an examination of the plan’s specifics reveals that corporations and wealthy Americans won’t feel much pain at all-in many cases, just the opposite. The plan slashes taxes and could bring the top personal income rate down as low as 23 percent-meaning CEOs like Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein could see their after-tax income increase by as much as $3 million, according to Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The corporate tax rate would be reduced from 35 percent to between 23 and 29 percent under the proposal. (Supposedly enough loopholes would be closed to keep total revenue from corporate taxes the same. Even in that scenario, corporations won’t pay an extra penny). Military spending also remains virtually untouched.

Eugene Robinson: The Limits of Compromise

Before we make political partisanship a felony, punishable by endless lectures from weather-vane senators and allegedly “wise” commentators, let’s remember that some choices are real, consequential and mutually exclusive.

I’m not talking about the kind of scorched-earth partisanship that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell espouses-the notion that Republicans should favor anything that’s politically harmful to Democrats, never mind what the impact on the country might be. “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” McConnell said last year, displaying a candor that is all too rare in Washington.

I’m talking about partisanship based on issues, policy options and incompatible philosophies about the nature and purpose of government. Powerful forces are pulling the nation in opposite directions. The danger of too much compromise is that we end up not moving at all.

David Sirota: The Terrorist Threat We’re Ignoring

According to the U.S. government, the list of known bogeymen working to compromise American national security is long, and getting longer by the day. By my back-of-the-envelope count, we have shoe bombers, underwear bombers, dirty bombers and car bombers. Now, we are being told to fear “implant bombers” who will surgically attach explosives to their innards.

All of these threats are, indeed, scary. But the fear of individual attacks has diverted attention from a more systemic threat of terrorists or foreign governments exploiting our economy’s penchant for job-offshoring. How? By using our corresponding reliance on imports to stitch security-compromising technology into our society’s central IT nervous system.

Sounds farfetched, right? That’s what I thought, until I read a recent article in Fast Company. Covering a little-noticed congressional hearing, the magazine reported that a top Department of Homeland Security official “admitted on the record that electronics sold in the U.S. are being preloaded with spyware, malware, and security-compromising components.”

Bernie Sanders: Congrats to the Gang of Six, the Powerful, the Wealthy, and Multinational Corporations

If there was ever a time in the modern history of America that the American people should become engaged in what’s going on here in Washington, now is that time. Decisions are being made that will impact not only our generation but the lives of our children and our grandchildren for decades to come, and I fear very much that the decisions being contemplated are not good decisions, are not fair decisions.

There is increased understanding that that defaulting for the first time in our history on our debts would be a disaster for the American economy and for the world’s economy. We should not do that.

There also is increased discussion about long-term deficit reduction and how we address the crisis which we face today of a record-breaking deficit of $1.4 trillion and a $14 trillion-plus national debt.

One of the long-term deficit reduction plans came from the so-called Gang of Six. We do not know all of the details of that proposal. In fact, we never will know because a lot of the decisions are booted to committees to work out the details.

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