“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.
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Paul Krugman: Crash of the Bumblebee
Last week Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, declared that his institution “is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro” – and markets celebrated. In particular, interest rates on Spanish bonds fell sharply, and stock markets soared everywhere.
But will the euro really be saved? That remains very much in doubt.
First of all, Europe’s single currency is a deeply flawed construction. And Mr. Draghi, to his credit, actually acknowledged that. “The euro is like a bumblebee,” he declared. “This is a mystery of nature because it shouldn’t fly but instead it does. So the euro was a bumblebee that flew very well for several years.” But now it has stopped flying. What can be done? The answer, he suggested, is “to graduate to a real bee.”
Robert Weiner and Richard Mann: Health Decision Dangers: Are the New Deal and Great Society at Risk?
When the Supreme Court affirmed the Affordable Health Care Act, liberals were running everywhere expressing love, kisses, and euphoria for the decision. Nobody has been talking about the destructive parts of the Court’s actions. Upholding the expansion of health care is a good decision for the American people, but the Court made a business-based decision. The Court held the bill constitutional where it goes through the insurance companies, but it gives the States the right not to expand Medicaid or create the exchanges for the 30 million people without health insurance – even though states will be hard pressed to refuse the near-full federal funding for the expansion. Most significant, the decision denies the authority of the Commerce Clause, putting the nation’s entire social safety net at risk.
Even with a persistent gender gap in a presidential election year, House Republicans have not given up on their campaign to narrow access to birth control, abortion care and lifesaving cancer screenings. Far from it.
A new Republican spending proposal (pdf) revives some of the more extreme attacks on women’s health and freedom that were blocked by the Senate earlier in this Congress. The resurrection is part of an alarming national crusade that goes beyond abortion rights and strikes broadly at women’s health in general.
These setbacks are recycled from the Congressional trash bin in the fiscal 2013 spending bill for federal health, labor and education programs approved by a House appropriations subcommittee on July 18 over loud objections from Democratic members to these and other provisions.
E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Romney and the Go-for-Broke Election
Here are the two great campaign mysteries at midsummer: Why does Mitt Romney appear to be getting so much traction from ripping a few of President Obama’s words out of context? And why aren’t Romney and other Republicans moving to the political center as the election approaches?
Both mysteries point to an important fact about the 2012 campaign: For conservatives, this is a go-for-broke election. They and a Republican Party now under their control hope to eke out a narrow victory in November on the basis of a quite radical program that includes more tax cuts for the rich, deep reductions in domestic spending, big increases in military spending, and a sharp rollback in government regulation.
Peter Edelman: Poverty in America: Why Can’t We End It?
RONALD REAGAN famously said, “We fought a war on poverty and poverty won.” With 46 million Americans – 15 percent of the population – now counted as poor, it’s tempting to think he may have been right.
Look a little deeper and the temptation grows. The lowest percentage in poverty since we started counting was 11.1 percent in 1973. The rate climbed as high as 15.2 percent in 1983. In 2000, after a spurt of prosperity, it went back down to 11.3 percent, and yet 15 million more people are poor today.
At the same time, we have done a lot that works. From Social Security to food stamps to the earned-income tax credit and on and on, we have enacted programs that now keep 40 million people out of poverty. Poverty would be nearly double what it is now without these measures, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. To say that “poverty won” is like saying the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts failed because there is still pollution.
Barbara R. Bergmann: Social Security is Not Headed for Disaster
The gloomy annual report of the trustees of Social Security has provoked the usual ominous predictions of big trouble ahead. Media accounts spoke of significant deterioration in the financial outlook of the system, and declared it unsustainable unless structural changes were made. The scare words might seem to justify the often-heard prediction that Social Security may last long enough to sustain our current oldsters, but that it is headed for bankruptcy and “won’t be there” for our younger citizens.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Into the future, Social Security can and will provide wage replacement at about the same level it does now. It does not depend for its resources on an entity that might run out of money, that has no way to raise more, and could go into bankruptcy. The U.S. government has the ability to raise enough revenue to pay out whatever level of Social Security benefits the public wants. In that, Social Security resembles all the other things the government pays for, including the national parks, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Defense.