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Sep 09 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 Jobs Speech

With more than 14 million people out of work and all Americans fearing a double-dip recession, President Obama stood face to face Thursday night with a Congress that has perversely resisted lifting a finger to help. Some Republicans refused to even sit and listen. But those Americans who did heard him unveil an ambitious proposal – more robust and far-reaching than expected – that may be the first crucial step in reigniting the economy.

Perhaps as important, they heard a president who was lately passive but now newly energized, who passionately contrasted his vision of a government that plays its part in tough times with the Republicans’ vision of a government starved of the means to do so.

Paul Krugman: Setting Their Hair on Fire

First things first: I was favorably surprised by the new Obama jobs plan, which is significantly bolder and better than I expected. It’s not nearly as bold as the plan I’d want in an ideal world. But if it actually became law, it would probably make a significant dent in unemployment.

Of course, it isn’t likely to become law, thanks to G.O.P. opposition. Nor is anything else likely to happen that will do much to help the 14 million Americans out of work. And that is both a tragedy and an outrage.

Before I get to the Obama plan, let me talk about the other important economic speech of the week, which was given by Charles Evans, the president of the Federal Reserve of Chicago. Mr. Evans said, forthrightly, what some of us have been hoping to hear from Fed officials for years now.

John Nichols: Obama’s Speech Delivered, But Can He Fight?

Obama Has Steered the Debate Back Toward Jobs; Now, He Must Go Out and Win It

Barack Obama delivered a credible if uninspired jobs speech Thursday night.

He communicated that the United States cannot meet the challenges of an unemployment crisis with an austerity agenda that owes more to Herbert Hoover than Franklin Roosevelt. But he muddied the message with too much debt and deficit talk.

He signaled to organized labor and progressives that he at least understands the point of a “go big” response to the challenge-even as his instinctive caution erred against going big enough.

In fact, his rhetoric was good deal better than the specifics of his plan.

Wendy Mink: The Payroll Tax Holiday: Talk about a Ponzi Scheme!

Is President Obama trying to kill Social Security without explicitly saying so?  He put Social Security “on the table” for consideration by his Deficit Commission — even though Social Security has not contributed to creating or sustaining the deficit/debt in the first place.  He kept Social Security on the table when he made a deal to delegate deficit reduction authority over entitlements to an undemocratic Super Committee.  Now, in a speech reportedly about jobs, he proposed to extend and increase the ill-considered FICA tax cut he embraced last December — a tax cut that directly undermines the financial integrity of Social Security.

According to the White House Fact Sheet on “The American Jobs Act” the FICA tax holiday for workers will be increased to a 50% reduction, lowering it to 3.1%.  Under the 2010 tax deal, the payroll tax for workers was reduced from 6.2% to 4.2%.  In addition to expanding the tax cut for workers, the President proposes to extend the FICA tax holiday to employers by cutting in half the employer’s share of the payroll tax through the first $5 million in payroll.

Eugene Robinson: Recognize That It’s Over

The war our enemies began on Sept. 11, 2001, is long over. Perhaps now, after 10 years of anxiety and self-doubt, we can acknowledge our victory and begin the postwar renewal and reconciliation that the nation so desperately needs.

There never was a “war on terrorism.” It wasn’t “terrorism” that crashed airliners into buildings on that brilliant Tuesday morning. The attacks were carried out by a 19-member assault team from al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization then being sheltered by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. There most definitely was a war against al-Qaeda, and we won.

Joe Conason: Texas Medicaid’s Vast and Dangerous Wastefulness

Both as governor of Texas and as the leading Republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry has established himself as a harsh critic of federal programs and, in particular, as a “state’s rights” advocate who accuses Washington of gross ineptitude and waste in providing services such as health care for the poor and elderly.

In his 2010 book “Fed Up” and in his campaign speeches, Perry has often asserted that the states, simply left to do the job without federal interference, could perform far better. The theme is highly popular, like Perry himself, in tea party circles.