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Jul 23 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”.

New York Times: The Party That Can’t Say Yes

For days, the White House has infuriated its Democratic allies in Congress by offering House Republicans more and more in exchange for a deal to raise the debt ceiling and prevent default. But it was never enough, and, on Friday evening, it became clear that it may never be enough. Speaker John Boehner again walked away from the “grand bargain” he had been negotiating with President Obama, leaving the country teetering on the brink of another economic collapse.

At the White House podium a few minutes later, the president radiated a righteous fury he rarely displays in public, finally placing the blame for this wholly unnecessary crisis squarely where it belongs: on Republicans who will do anything to upend his presidency and dismantle every social program they can find. “Can they say yes to anything?” he asked, noting the paradox of Republicans, who claim that financial responsibility and debt reduction are their biggest priorities, rejecting yet another deal that would have cut that debt by at least $3 trillion.

Robert Reich: Why Medicare Is the Solution – Not the Problem

Not only is Social Security on the chopping block in order to respond to Republican extortion. So is Medicare.

But Medicare isn’t the nation’s budgetary problems. It’s the solution. The real problem is the soaring costs of health care that lie beneath Medicare. They’re costs all of us are bearing in the form of soaring premiums, co-payments, and deductibles.

Medicare offers a means of reducing these costs – if Washington would let it.

Let me explain.

Americans spend more on health care per person than any other advanced nation and get less for our money. Yearly public and private healthcare spending is $7,538 per person. That’s almost two and a half times the average of other advanced nations.

Margaret Kimberley: Prison Slave Labor

Michelle Alexander’s ground breaking book, The New Jim Crow, is an outstanding expose of the horrors of America’s criminal justice system that are perpetrated against black people. It is well documented proof of what many have long observed, that get tough policies on drug enforcement and “three strikes” laws are targeted towards the masses of often non-violent black Americans and are used to make money for private entities and for all levels of government.

The penitentiary manufactured license plate was long ago joined by more sophisticated methods of exploitation. Prisoners not only work in a variety of jobs without compensation, but are often fined and forced to pay for their incarceration. Obviously they end their sentences owing money and are permanent debtors, susceptible to be consumed by the system again and again.

Jim Hightower: Massey Energy’s Man-Made Hell Hole

Republicans and a few coal-state Democrats have cynically blocked passage of tougher mine safety laws that would stop the murderous greed of coal profiteers.

West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch coal mine was a disaster even before it exploded into an underground inferno last year, killing 29 miners

A new investigative report by federal safety inspectors found that this mine – owned by the enormously profitable Massey Energy Corporation – was essentially a man-made hellhole. Top executives intentionally hid dangerous safety problems from regulators, failed to maintain (and sometimes actually disabled) safety systems, and aggressively pushed a mining ethic of profit over safety, intimidating and firing those who complained about hazards.

Mark Weisbrot: Despite Rightwing Myths, US Health Care Problems Rooted in Private Sector

A recent report by McKinsey and Company was seized upon by opponents of health care reform to create a new myth: that President Obama’s health insurance reform (the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — PPACA) will cause huge numbers of employers to drop health insurance coverage that they currently provide for employees.

The McKinsey study was soon shown to be worthless, and McKinsey itself acknowledged that it “was not intended as predictive economic analysis.” But the myth seems to not be completely dead yet. For a more reasonable estimate of the impact of the health insurance reform, we can look to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. They estimated that the number of people (including family members) covered by employment-based insurance would be about 1.8 percent fewer in 2019, as a result of the PPACA legislation. Of course, this is more than counter-balanced by the fact that the percentage of the (non-elderly) population with insurance would increase from 82 to 92 percent – the main purpose of the reform.

John Nichols: Unions, MoveOn Warn Obama Not to ‘Cave’ in Secret Negotiations With House GOP

The Obama White House is reportedly in the process of negotiating a secret debt deal with House Republican leaders that could include deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The deal would not, according to media reports, significantly or immediately address the need for new revenues that can be derived from fair taxation of the wealthiest Americans.

That’s a bad deal.

Bad for American seniors and Americans who anticipate that one day they will be seniors.

Bad for the American economy.

And bad for Barack Obama politically.

So unions and progressive groups have moved to prevent any deal from moving forward.

MoveOn.org, AFL-CIO, CREDO Action, Democracy for America, PCCC, AFT, Campaign for America’s Future and Change Nation organized an Emergency Call-In Day “to demand Democrats in the House and Senate stand strong and keep their promises to reject any debt deal that slashes programs for seniors and working families while doing little or nothing to make the rich and corporations pay their share.”