Jul 06 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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New York Times Editorial: Bank Scandal Deepens

The settlement between government authorities and Barclays over the bank’s attempts to rig benchmark interest rates drew a picture of a bank that was negligent and corrupt at various times and to varying degrees. Unfortunately, as big banks go, that comes as no shock.

It would be a shock if regulators and prosecutors found the resources and willingness to go wherever the rate-rigging scandal leads, even to the upper echelons of the world’s biggest banks and powerful central banks, including the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve.

Paul Krugman: Off and Out With Mitt Romney

In a better America, Mitt Romney would be running for president on the strength of his major achievement as governor of Massachusetts: a health reform that was identical in all important respects to the health reform enacted by President Obama. By the way, the Massachusetts reform is working pretty well and has overwhelming popular support.

In reality, however, Mr. Romney is doing no such thing, bitterly denouncing the Supreme Court for upholding the constitutionality of his own health care plan. His case for becoming president relies, instead, on his claim that, having been a successful businessman, he knows how to create jobs.

This, in turn, means that however much the Romney campaign may wish otherwise, the nature of that business career is fair game. How did Mr. Romney make all that money? Was it in ways suggesting that what was good for Bain Capital, the private equity firm that made him rich, would also be good for America?

And the answer is no.

Robert Sheer: Crime of the Century

Forget Bernie Madoff and Enron’s Ken Lay-they were mere amateurs in financial crime. The current Libor interest rate scandal, involving hundreds of trillions in international derivatives trade, shows how the really big boys play. And these guys will most likely not do the time because their kind rewrites the law before committing the crime.

Modern international bankers form a class of thieves the likes of which the world has never before seen. Or, indeed, imagined. The scandal over Libor-short for London interbank offered rate-has resulted in a huge fine for Barclays Bank and threatens to ensnare some of the world’s top financers. It reveals that behind the world’s financial edifice lies a reeking cesspool of unprecedented corruption. The modern-day robber barons pillage with a destructive abandon totally unfettered by law or conscience and on a scale that is almost impossible to comprehend.

Mark Weisbrot: Mexico’s Election: It’s the Economy Stupid

If ever there were an election pre-ordained as a result of a country’s economic performance, it would be that of Mexico.  The ruling PAN party was destined to lose because it presided over a profound economic failure for more than 11 years.  Almost any government in the world would have lost under such circumstances. [..]

More than half of all Mexicans are living below the official poverty line, but the new government has little to offer the poor majority or even to produce the long-term growth that Mexico once had.  Sadly, Mexico’s economic progress will probably be quite limited until there is a more level playing field for elections.

Bryce Covert: GOP’s Rejection of Medicaid Funds Is One More Ideologically Driven Bad Idea

My emotions after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act last week went through various stages: confusion (thanks, CNN), shock and finally sheer joy. It was a complete surprise to have the highest court uphold the entire law, including the individual mandate. Liberals rightly celebrated the ruling as a historic step toward ensuring a better quality of life for all Americans. [..]

It seems foolhardy for governors to reject what is basically free money to help more people in their own states gain health insurance. Josh Barro wrote just after the ruling that while the White House’s stick was taken away, its carrot-the federal government’s picking up 100 percent of the states’ Medicaid expansion tab for the early years, gradually declining to 90 percent after that-would be enough to incite states to participate. And they stand to see other economic benefits. States that already provide coverage and care to people living at 133 percent of the poverty line would no longer shoulder those costs, saving them millions. Even for those that don’t offer such coverage, the bill stands to save all states money by getting rid of the “hidden tax” they pay in higher insurance premiums that account for the cost of covering the uninsured, also potentially saving millions.

Eugene Robinson: The Money Manager

You can conduct byzantine transactions through opaque investment accounts and private corporations in offshore tax havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Or you can credibly run for president at a time of great economic distress.

I don’t think you can do both.

Let me be clear that I have nothing against wealth. In fact, I have nothing against great wealth, which is how I would classify Mitt Romney’s estimated $250 million fortune. We can argue about the social utility of private equity firms such as Bain Capital, but Romney isn’t responsible for distorting the system so that financiers are grossly overpaid. He just took advantage of the situation.

Increasingly, however, I have to wonder whether the achievement Romney touts as his biggest asset in running for president-his business success-might be seen by many voters as a liability.