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Aug 13 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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Joseph E. Stiglitz and Mark Zandi: The One Housing Solution Left: Mass Mortgage Refinancing

MORE than four million Americans have lost their homes since the housing bubble began bursting six years ago. An additional 3.5 million homeowners are in the foreclosure process or are so delinquent on payments that they will be soon. With 13.5 million homeowners underwater – they owe more than their home is now worth – the odds are high that many millions more will lose their homes. [..]

Late last month, the top regulator overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac blocked a plan backed by the Obama administration to let the companies forgive some of the mortgage debt owed by stressed homeowners. While half a million homeowners could be helped with a principal writedown, the regulator, Edward J. DeMarco, argued (we believe incorrectly) that helping some homeowners might cause others who are paying on their loans to stop so that they also could get their mortgages reduced.

With principal writedown no longer an option, the government needs to find a new way to facilitate mass mortgage refinancings. With rates at record lows, refinancing would allow homeowners to significantly reduce their monthly payments, freeing up money to spend on other things. A mass refinancing program would work like a potent tax cut.

Robert Reich: The Ryan Choice

Paul Ryan is the reverse of Sarah Palin. She was all right-wing flash without much substance. He’s all right-wing substance without much flash.

Ryan is not a firebrand. He’s not smarmy. He doesn’t ooze contempt for opponents or ridicule those who disagree with him. In style and tone, he doesn’t even sound like an ideologue — until you listen to what he has to say.

It’s here — in Ryan’s views and policy judgments — we find the true ideologue. More than any other politician today, Paul Ryan exemplifies the social Darwinism at the core of today’s Republican Party: Reward the rich, penalize the poor, let everyone else fend for themselves. Dog eat dog.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: “President Ryan” – Another Shrewd Move in the Corporate State’s Long Game

Paul Ryan’s looks are often compared to an actor’s, and that’s no accident: He’s being groomed for the role of a lifetime. When Mitt Romney accidentally introduced Ryan as “the next President” he may have been displaying the same predilection for accidental honesty – for truth-telling as political gaffe – that he showed when he praised Israel’s socialized health system.

And Romney may be right. The most likeable and electable extremist in the country just became the GOP’s 2016 front-runner. That’s no accident either.

All the signs suggest that the economy will struggle for years unless progressive steps are taken. Worse, another steep decline into recession or depression could occur at any time. If Obama’s re-elected and we’re still suffering in 2016, as now seems likely, our “electable extremist” will be in the perfect position to become the next President.

Heads we win, says Corporate America, and tails you lose.

Raymond J. Learsy: France’s 75% Millionaires Tax and America’s Insidiously Crafted Two Tiered Law Enforcement

France’s newly elected Socialist President Francois Hollande has vowed to impose a 75% tax on anyone’s income above a million Euros equivalent to $1.24 million. Clearly there is growing concern among the upper echelons of the France’s business class as Hollande presses forward his ‘manifesto of patriotism’ to ‘pay extra tax to get the country back on its feet again’ (“Indigestion for ‘les Riches,” New York Times, August 8, 2012).

The political rationalization for Hollande’s initiative is to provide political cover for the deep cuts that the government may need to make to France’s extensive social and welfare programs.

Yet the motivating force can be ascribed to a far more destructive impulse imbued with the class animosity dating back to the Revolution. Significantly, Hollande has been quoted, “I don’t like the rich.” Voila!

Matthew Rothschild: Victory for Anti-Nuclear Power Movement in the US

Wendell K. Potter: “Path to Prosperity?” For Many Senior Citizens, VP Pick Ryan’s Plan Would Be Path to the Poorhouse

Score two for the movement against nuclear power in this country.

In June, the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was in violation of the law for failing to adequately assess the environmental hazards involved in the storage of nuclear waste, a point that anti-nuke activists have been making for years and years.

In response to that court ruling, the NRC this week issued a statement that it was stopping the issuing of permits for new nuclear power construction, as well as for life extensions on old existing plants, until it satisfies the court’s concerns.

If Americans who are embracing Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” — and that now includes Mitt Romney — spent a few minutes reviewing a few recent research reports, they just might conclude that the Wisconsin Republican’s plan to reduce the deficit might better be renamed the “Path to the Poorhouse” because of what it would mean to the Medicare program and many senior citizens.

Ryan’s proposal, which will get new scrutiny now that Romney has made him his running mate, would end the current Medicare program for everyone born after 1956. It would replace Medicare with a system in which beneficiaries would receive a set amount of money from the government every year to buy coverage from private insurers. That money would go straight into insurance companies’ bank accounts, which would make them far richer and even more in control of our health care system than they already are.