Oct 27 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 Sheer: Thirty Years of Unleashed Greed

It is class warfare. But it was begun not by the tear-gassed, rain-soaked protesters asserting their constitutionally guaranteed right of peaceful assembly but rather the financial overlords who control all of the major levers of power in what passes for our democracy. It is they who subverted the American ideal of a nation of stakeholders in control of their economic and political destiny.

Between 1979 and 2007, as the Congressional Budget Office reported this week, the average real income of the top 1 percent grew by an astounding 275 percent. And that is after payment of the taxes that the superrich and their Republican apologists find so onerous.

Robert Reich: Wall Street is Still Out of Control, and Why Obama Should Call for Glass-Steagall and a Breakup of Big Banks

Next week President Obama travels to Wall Street where he’ll demand – in light of the Street’s continuing antics since the bailout, as well as its role in watering-down the Volcker rule – that the Glass-Steagall Act be resurrected and big banks be broken up.

I’m kidding. But it would be a smart move – politically and economically.

Politically smart because Mitt Romney is almost sure to be the Republican nominee, and Romney is the poster child for the pump-and-dump mentality that’s infected the financial industry and continues to jeopardize the American economy.

George Zornick: Super-Committee Replaying the Same Old Song on Deficit Reduction

Yesterday, super-committee Democrats proposed a massive deficit reduction plan consisting of $300 billion in economic stimulus, discretionary spending cuts and increased tax revenue, and an alarming $575 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, at least $200 billion of which would come directly from benefits. (See my story here).  After I published, reports came out that not only were Democrats proposing draconian Medicare cuts, but also floated the idea of adjusting the Consumer Price Index used to calculate Social Security benefits-in other words, they were willing to cut that program, too.

Nicholas D. Kristof: Crony Capitalism Comes Home

Whenever I write about Occupy Wall Street, some readers ask me if the protesters really are half-naked Communists aiming to bring down the American economic system when they’re not doing drugs or having sex in public.

The answer is no. That alarmist view of the movement is a credit to the (prurient) imagination of its critics, and voyeurs of Occupy Wall Street will be disappointed. More important, while alarmists seem to think that the movement is a “mob” trying to overthrow capitalism, one can make a case that, on the contrary, it highlights the need to restore basic capitalist principles like accountability.

To put it another way, this is a chance to save capitalism from crony capitalists.

Dean Baker: The Military Spending Fairy

Faced with the prospect of cuts to the Defense Department’s budget, the defense industry is pushing the story of the military spending fairy on members of Congress. They are telling them that these cuts will lead to the loss of more than 1 million jobs over the next decade.

Believers in the military spending fairy say things like “the government can’t create jobs,” but also think that military spending creates jobs. Under the military spending fairy story, if the government spends $1 billion dollars paying people to do research or to build items related to the civilian economy it is just a drag on the private economy; however if the same spending goes to military related purposes, then it creates jobs.

Kieran Manjarrez: Half a Percent for Ninety Nine Percent!

In the news today, it was reported that President Obama once again used his executive authority to implement a legislative change — this time, to ease the debt burden on student loans.

According to reports, the executive order moves up the effective date of a previoulsy enacted law which reduced maximum required repayments from 15 to 10 percent of annual discretionary income. Under Obama’s order, the law will take effect in 2012 instead of 2014. Obama’s executive action will also allow student-borrowers to consolidate their loans into a single government debt, carrying an interest rate that is half a percent lower than at present.

Obama’s move is such patent financial demagoguery it is hard not to laugh. Obama is obviously feeling the heat of his own betrayal of the 99 percent. His answer? Shave off half a percent!

Tom Engelhardt: Obama Keeps His Campaign Pledge …Because a Better Option Wasn’t Available

What if, last Friday, President Obama had stepped to the podium at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room and begun his remarks this way: “Good afternoon, everybody.  As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end — for the sake of our national security and to strengthen American leadership around the world.  After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011.  Today, I’m here to tell you that I’m breaking that pledge.  It will not happen.  Instead, I’m leaving 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. troops in that country indefinitely.”

Of course, the president made no such claim (nor, if things had turned out differently in Iraq, would he have done so).  Nonetheless, according to news reports, such an outcome — thousands of American troops in Iraq, possibly for years — was the administration’s first choice, while military commanders were evidently eager to leave tens of thousands of troops behind.  It was the outcome that Washington had been negotiating for and lobbying Iraqi politicians about all year.

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