“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: Taxes at the Top
Call me peculiar, but I’m actually enjoying the spectacle of Mitt Romney doing the Dance of the Seven Veils – partly out of voyeurism, of course, but also because it’s about time that we had this discussion.
The theme of his dance, for those who haven’t been paying attention, is taxes – his own taxes. Although disclosure of tax returns is standard practice for political candidates, Mr. Romney has never done so, and, at first, he tried to stonewall the issue even in a presidential race. Then he said that he probably pays only about 15 percent of his income in taxes, and he hinted that he might release his 2011 return.
Even then, however, he will face pressure to release previous returns, too – like his father, who released 12 years of returns back when he made his presidential run. (The elder Romney, by the way, paid 37 percent of his income in taxes). [..]
But the larger question isn’t what Mitt Romney’s tax returns have to say about Mitt Romney; it’s what they have to say about U.S. tax policy. Is there a good reason why the rich should bear a startlingly light tax burden?
Nomi Prins: S&P Downgrades and Banks: Threats to Global Stability
The markets weren’t shocked by last week’s wave of pre-broadcast S&P sovereign debt downgrades. For months, the question wasn’t “if” but “when.” And true to form, just as with the U.S. downgrade, S&P’s reasoning skated the surface of prevailing wisdom: Governments have too much debt and not enough income. That’s only part of the story.
Nowadays, when any sovereign gets downgraded by a rating agency, it’s not just because its debt repayment ability is questionable (the publicized logic of rating agencies), but because it incurred more expensive debt to float its banking system. These are institutional problems that in turn cause recurring national economic ones.
Nowhere in S&P’s statement about “global economic and financial crisis” did it clarify that governments (including the U.S.) were hit due to having backed big national banks (and international, American ones) that engaged in half a decade of leveraged speculation.
Multiple marriages and even adultery are not automatic disqualifications for the presidency. If they were, the country would have a very different roster of former presidents and candidates. But when a political party decides that moralizing about personal conduct is as important as public policy, it inevitably makes some of its leaders vulnerable to the worst charges of hypocrisy.[..]
For too many Republicans, it’s not enough that Americans are free to pray in the house of worship of their choice; they want all children to be required to pray in school. They want to impose their own ideas about sexuality and abortion on everyone. And they love to accuse Democrats of being insufficiently pious. (Rick Perry’s exit from the race on Thursday may mean no more ads accusing President Obama of a “war on religion” and liberals of believing faith is a sign of weakness. Or, it may not, depending on how desperate the other candidates get.)
When Republican officials then get caught violating one of the Ten Commandments, they make an enormous show of contrition and repentance and ask for the public’s forgiveness. But as the hypocrisy level continues to rise, that forgiveness may become much harder to provide.
Eugene Robinson: Change They Don’t Believe In
You know-it-alls who think unemployment is the most urgent crisis facing the nation are wrong, I’ve learned from watching a zillion Republican campaign ads on television this week. All you deficit hawks, rise-of-China worrywarts and alarmed observers of the Iranian nuclear program are wrong, too, and should stop bothering yourselves with trifles.
One of Mitt Romney’s spots ends by laying out the nation’s top priority in no uncertain terms. Voters should support Romney, the narrator says, because “beating Obama is the most important issue.”
Am I the only one to find that weird? I understand why trying to engineer President Obama’s defeat would be an urgent priority for Romney, who wants to move his family into the White House, but why should it be more important to voters than, say, boosting the economy or reducing the debt? Why shouldn’t the focus be on policies and results?
David Sirota: Ron Paul and Our Selective Definition of Bigotry
If they have any value at all anymore, presidential election campaigns at least remain larger-than-life mirrors reflecting back painful truths about our society. As evidence, ponder the two-sided debate over Republican candidate Ron Paul and bigotry.
One camp cites Paul’s hate-filled newsletters and his libertarian opposition to civil rights regulations as evidence that he aligns with racists. As the esteemed scholar Tim Wise puts it, this part of Paul’s record proves that he represents “the reactionary, white supremacist, Social Darwinists of this culture, who believe … the police who dragged sit-in protesters off soda fountain stools for trespassing on a white man’s property were justified in doing so, and that the freedom of department store owners to refuse to let black people try on clothes in their dressing rooms was more sacrosanct than the right of black people to be treated like human beings.”
The other camp tends to acknowledge those ugly truths about Paul but then points out that the Texas congressman has been one of the only politicians 1) fighting surveillance, indefinite detention and due-process-free assassination policies almost exclusively aimed at minorities; 2) opposing wars that often seem motivated by rank Islamophobia; and 3) railing against the bigotry of a drug war that disproportionately targets people of color.
Joe Conanson: Tax Day: Will Romney Make April Fools of Republicans
Mitt Romney’s latest flip-flop is almost complete. Having vowed a month ago not to release his federal income tax returns, the Republican presidential front-runner conceded during Saturday night’s debate that he would “probably” release his returns, and then on Tuesday afternoon finally said he will do so-in April, long after he is likely to have secured his party’s nomination. With characteristic arrogance, he excused the delay by suggesting that April 15 is the traditional date when public officials supply this information, which is certainly true if you’re already president.
Even more galling was Romney’s suggestion that he will reveal only his 2011 return, which would allow him to control the narrative, of course, by paying a higher rate this year than in years past. Having admitted that he pays as little as 15 percent-or around the same effective rate as a family earning $60,000 a year.