May 18 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”.

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Paul Krugman: Apocalypse Fairly Soon

Suddenly, it has become easy to see how the euro – that grand, flawed experiment in monetary union without political union – could come apart at the seams. We’re not talking about a distant prospect, either. Things could fall apart with stunning speed, in a matter of months, not years. And the costs – both economic and, arguably even more important, political – could be huge.

This doesn’t have to happen; the euro (or at least most of it) could still be saved. But this will require that European leaders, especially in Germany and at the European Central Bank, start acting very differently from the way they’ve acted these past few years. They need to stop moralizing and deal with reality; they need to stop temporizing and, for once, get ahead of the curve.

I wish I could say that I was optimistic.

Robert Sheer: Obama Can’t Knock the Hustle

How did we end up with such smart scoundrels? Even after it was known that Jamie Dimon’s bank blew more than $2 billion on the same suspect derivatives trading that has bankrupted the world’s economy, Barack Obama still had praise for the intellect of his political backer and the integrity of the bank he heads: “JPMorgan is one of the best-managed banks there is,” the president told the hosts of ABC’s “The View” in an interview televised Tuesday, adding, “Jamie Dimon, the head of it, is one of the smartest bankers we got. And they still lost $2 billion and counting.”

A lesser bank would have gone under and needed to be bailed out, Obama argued: “That’s why Wall Street reform is so important.” But even when fully implemented, Obama’s tepid reforms would not have stopped this scam and will not stop the others that are sure to follow. Being one of the smartest bankers means you are among those who best know how to skirt the law or, if that cannot be done, how to successfully lobby to gut it.

Laura Flanders: The Student Debt Bomb

President Obama doled out the most shocking stream of commencement cliches to the graduating class of Barnard College Monday. To offer just a taste:

   “The question is not whether things will get better – they always do… The question is whether together, we can muster the will – in our own lives, in our common institutions, in our politics – to bring about the changes we need. I’m convinced your generation possesses that will.”

Whatever else they possess, the class of 2012 possesses an enormous amount of debt. Heavy borrowing’s not only for graduate students or drop outs from for-profit colleges any more. It’s also for Barnard alums. Forty eight per cent of those graduating this year from Barnard (where the price tag of an education stands at $58,078 ) have taken out loans to pay for their bachelor’s degree. As the New York Times recently pointed out, “Nationally, ninety-four percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree borrow to pay for higher education – up from 45 percent in 1993.”  For these students things aren’t getting better, they’re getting worse.  Their will has nothing to do with it.

New York Times Editorial: Germany, the Crisis and the G-8

When the leaders of the Group of 8 gather at Camp David on Friday, President Obama and the others must press Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to commit to a euro-zone growth package. This is no time to mince words: Her one-size-fits-all austerity program has been a failure, pushing heavily indebted countries deeper into recession, making it even harder for them to pay off their debts. It is putting the already-weak recovery in the United States at risk and is fueling instability and extremism in Europe.

After months of obstinance, Ms. Merkel has softened her stance – saying that Germany is open to stimulus to spur growth, employment and development in Greece and pledging to work with the new French president, François Hollande, on a program to promote growth across recession-racked Europe. It is unclear, however, whether her comments reflect a true and lasting change of heart.

Richard Reeves: The Tea Is Getting Weaker

LOS ANGELES-Uh-oh! Some people are looking over the right shoulders of the Republicans who rode into the House of Representatives on the tea party wave of 2010. And they don’t like what they’re seeing.

The Club for Growth is fundamentally a conservative lobbying and research group pushing for lower taxes and reduced government spending, which positions itself well to the right of Republican elected officials and even to the right of tea party rhetoric. The club’s basic goal is a flat tax to replace graduated income taxes or a national sales tax. The idea, pardon my liberalism, is to reduce taxation on business and on the rich.

It seems the club has decided that much of the tea party is reneging on its promises of reducing taxes and spending. Last Wednesday it issued a broadside targeting many of the 87 Republican freshmen who roared into the House of Representatives under the rhetorical umbrella of the tea party.

Jenny Dodson: Citizens Fight Back Against Assault on Women’s Health

Not In My Backyard! As Local Government Attacks on Women’s Health Increase, Citizens Are Fighting Back

The vicious attacks on women’s health to which we’ve grown so accustomed on the national and state stages are trickling down to the local level, as municipal and county governments get in on the action. Thankfully, time and again, local citizens have mounted fast and furious responses, resulting in the type of swift and satisfying victories that sometimes feel unimaginable on the national stage.

Local officials around the country have been using the “no taxpayer-funding for abortion” mantra to quietly turn away money for family planning programs that provide vital services for their neediest constituents. These attacks tend to follow a pattern: a program that has been funded without debate for years is suddenly pegged by a politician as “controversial.” Fellow politicians fall in line and vote to defund the program before residents and public health officials have time to react.

But in a few instances, community members are stepping in to stop them once word gets out.

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