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Jan 27 2012

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”.

Taylor Marsh; Time for a Tea Party of the Left

President Obama takes his base for granted on issues like the Bush tax cuts, Plan B, and the economy

Where’s the Democratic version of the Tea Party? You’d think after Obama’s anti-progressive economics, foreign policy, and adoption of Bush antiterrorism policies (though to a more methodically lethal, anti-progressive effect), the Democratic base would have taken the Tea Party template and run with it by now. [..]

When Obama recently decided not to relax restrictions on the emergency contraceptive Plan B, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi gave him a pass, while the Colorado Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, a member of the so called “Pro-Choice Caucus,” stated she was “disappointed.” There are never any repercussions for such decisions on the left, while repercussions have defined the Tea Party and its power on the right. [..]

The Democratic base has a passive-aggressive relationship with Obama that resembles a dysfunctional love affair. He has all the power and the base has absolutely none, unless you count the gay and lesbian contingent which was as good a model as the Tea Party on how to get it done. It’s not that progressives couldn’t have power; it’s that they refuse to wield any.

Paul Krugman: Jobs, Jobs and Cars

Mitch Daniels, the former Bush budget director who is now Indiana’s governor, made the Republicans’ reply to President Obama’s State of the Union address. His performance was, well, boring. But he did say something thought-provoking – and I mean that in the worst way.

or Mr. Daniels tried to wrap his party in the mantle of the late Steve Jobs, whom he portrayed as a great job creator – which is one thing that Jobs definitely wasn’t. And if we ask why Apple has created so few American jobs, we get an insight into what is wrong with the ideology dominating much of our politics.

Bill Buzenberg: Super Pac pacts after Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren’s in Massachusetts

The deal to block outside ads in the Senate race is admirable, but futile: Citizens United has embedded big bucks in politics

Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, are attempting some creative political jujitsu to end massive outside spending on advertising in their 2012 US Senate race. I applaud them and you should, too. But, their experiment, however laudable, is unlikely to work. [..]

Unfortunately, the candidates do not control this outside spending. The candidates would like the media to turn down such outside advertising. But the dirty secret every campaign year is that commercial broadcasters love – and, in fact, have come to depend upon – the money thrown at them in election years.

New York Times Editorial: So Who’s a Lobbyist?

Under the federal lobbying law, Newt Gingrich can legitimately claim that he is not a lobbyist. That alone demonstrates how much the law needs to be changed. [..]

The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 has three tests: 1) Do you make more than $3,000 over three months from lobbying? 2) Have you had more than one lobbying contact? 3) Have you spent more than 20 percent of your time lobbying for a single client over three months?

Only a person who has met all three tests must register as a lobbyist. So a former lawmaker who has many lobbying contacts and makes $1 million a year lobbying but has no single client who takes up more than 20 percent of his time would not be considered a lobbyist.

Congress has shown little interest in tightening these requirements, in part because lawmakers don’t want to close off a lucrative career in lobbying after they leave office. More than 400 former lawmakers have become lobbyists or consultants in the last decade.

George Zornick: Enforce Dodd-Frank: Break Up Bank of America

Section 121 of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill provides a pretty clear mandate: if the federal government determines that a financial institution poses a “grave” risk to the financial system, the government is entitled to take action to mitigate that risk.

Specifically, if the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System makes that assessment, it can take action with the approval of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which is part of the Treasury Department. The potential actions can range from limiting mergers and acquisitions, imposing conditions on how the institution does business or ordering it to liquidate. [..]

To that end, Public Citizen filed a petition (pdf) this week to the Federal Reserve and FSOC to break up Bank of America-a bank that’s clearly too big to fail, since it holds assets equal to one-seventh of the United States’ gross domestic product. It’s got the second-biggest holdings of any US bank and is interconnected with so many other institutions that few people-if any, even inside the bank-truly understand the complexity of those arrangements and dependencies.

Jennifer Abel: The bigger picture of Rand Paul’s brush with the TSA

Go Rand Paul, for refusing a patdown! But ordinary Americans will still be daily deprived of their constitutional rights by the TSA

The brouhaha over Senator Rand Paul’s refusal to submit to a full-body groping by blue-gloved minions of the Transportation Security Administration shows, again, how the more things change, the more they stay the same. [..]

For all that Rand Paul was right in refusing the TSA patdown, though, his proposed solution is little better than the status quo. Paul supports the creation of a “trusted traveler” program for frequent flyers who would be exempt from TSA procedures. That would surely be an improvement for frequent flyers like Senator Paul, but it still does not address the odious idea that the TSA’s routine treatment of passengers is acceptable.

Fourth amendment rights should not be special privileges, doled out only to those the government deems “trustworthy”. Or did 9/11 really change all that?

Ari Berman: Mitt’s Money Problem

“Romney, sinking in polls, says ‘banks aren’t bad people.’ ” That headline from the LA Times encapsulates, in a nutshell, why Mitt Romney is in trouble, both in the Republican primary against Newt Gingrich and in a possible general election campaign against President Obama. [..]

The key problem for Romney is that at a time when Americans are increasingly concerned about income inequality and the political voicelessness of the 99 percent, Romney is an unabashed proponent of Wall Street and the 1 percent. The fact that he paid only 13.9 percent in taxes on $21.6 million in income in 2010, that he had investments in offshore tax havens, that he profited at Bain Capital from bankrupt companies and shuttered steel mills, and that he believes corporations are people all reinforce this central weakness of his candidacy.