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Jul 26 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 Editorial: The Republican Wreckage

House Republicans have lost sight of the country’s welfare. It’s hard to conclude anything else from their latest actions, including the House speaker’s dismissal of President Obama’s plea for compromise Monday night. They have largely succeeded in their campaign to ransom America’s economy for the biggest spending cuts in a generation. They have warped an exercise in paying off current debt into an argument about future spending. Yet, when they win another concession, they walk away.

This increasingly reckless game has pushed the nation to the brink of ruinous default. The Republicans have dimmed the futures of millions of jobless Americans, whose hopes for work grow more out of reach as government job programs are cut and interest rates begin to rise. They have made the federal government a laughingstock around the globe.

Ari Melber: In Debt Address, Obama Asks Americans to Raise The Roof

President Obama did not say anything particularly new in his unprecedented deficit address to the Nation on Monday night.  The most significant moment came not in an original announcement or last-minute proposal, but in the President’s request that Americans actually get up, get involved, and ask Congress to lay off the insanity.

“I’m asking you all to make your voice heard,” the President said near the end of the address.

“If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know,” Obama continued, “If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise — send that message.”

Even for a politician who ran on his (brief) history as a grassroots organizer, that is unusual. It may really help – there were reports of Congressional websites crashing from traffic spikes on Monday night, according to Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman.

The potential problem, however, is that while Obama admirably walked through the facts on deficits and default, he did not offer a clear, single, final offer for would-be supporters to rally around.

Robert Reich: Why Washington is About to Make the Jobs Crisis Worse

We now live in parallel universes.

One universe is the one in which most Americans live. In it, almost 15 million people are unemployed, wages are declining (adjusted for inflation), and home values are still falling. The unsurprising result is consumers aren’t buying – which is causing employers to slow down their hiring and in many cases lay off more of their workers. In this universe, we’re locked in a vicious economic cycle that’s getting worse.

The other universe is the one in which Washington politicians live. They are now engaged in a bitter partisan battle over how, and by how much, to reduce the federal budget deficit in order to buy enough votes to lift the debt ceiling.

John Nichols: ‘Right-Wing Nutters’ Threaten Global Economy, as IMF Warns of “Disastrous Consequences”

Global markets are slumping, and the dollar is rapidly losing ground in international trading (hitting a record low against the Swiss franc Monday) amid fears that the determination of John Boehner, Paul Ryan and their henchmen to hold the US economy hostage for political purposes could create an international crisis.

Concerns about the Republican refusal to allow the debt ceiling to rise are now being voiced far from Washington. And some of the loudest objections are coming from long-time US allies and governments that led by conservatives.

Britian’s Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable, an economist who serves as a member of Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government, has been particularly blunt in his criticism of the economic madness that is being imposed on the United States-and now the world-by a band of career politicians whose only knowledge of how finance works comes from collecting campaign-contribution checks.

Joe Nocera: This Is Considered Punishment?

Last Wednesday, nearly lost in the furor over Rupert-gate and the debt ceiling crisis, came the surprising news that the Federal Reserve has issued a cease-and-desist order against a Too-Big-to-Fail bank. The bank was Wells Fargo, which was also fined $85 million and ordered to compensate customers it had unfairly – indeed, illegally – taken advantage of during the subprime bubble.

What made the news surprising, of course, was that the Federal Reserve has rarely, if ever, taken action against a bank for making predatory loans. Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, didn’t believe in regulation and turned a blind eye to subprime abuses. His successor, Ben Bernanke, is not the ideologue that Greenspan is, but, as an institution, the Fed prefers to coddle banks rather than punish them. That the Fed would crack down on Wells Fargo would seem to suggest a long-overdue awakening.

Eugene Robinson: The Influence Industry of Rage

The monster who slaughtered at least 76 innocent victims in Norway was animated by the same blend of paranoia, xenophobia and alienation that fuels anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. Yes, it could happen here.

One could argue that it already did, in Oklahoma City. The difference is that Timothy McVeigh’s apocalyptic anger was diffuse and nonspecific. Anders Behring Breivik-who has acknowledged detonating a powerful fertilizer bomb in central Oslo and then killing scores of teenagers and young adults on a nearby resort island-was focused like a laser beam on what he saw as the “threat” posed by Islam.

The judge who presided over Breivik’s arraignment Monday said the accused mass murderer “believes that he needed to carry out these acts to save Norway (from) cultural Marxism and Muslim domination.”

E. J. Dionne: After the Debt Ceiling Fiasco

Hours before the negotiations on the debt limit between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner collapsed, political reporters received a missive from Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign that served as a reminder of how irrelevant this kerfuffle might feel next year.

The headline read, “Romney for President Launches New Web Video: Obama Isn’t Working: Where are the Jobs?”

The video spoke to the difficulties that new college graduates are having finding work in a brutal job market. This bit of campaign propaganda went straight at the core of Obama’s political base-young Americans who volunteered for him by the tens of thousands in 2008 and powered him to victory in state after state. If joblessness disillusions enough of them, the president will be in trouble.

Romney’s exercise was a passing bit of politics unlikely to make many waves in an environment obsessed with debt and fears of default. But it was hugely instructive.