“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: The Secret of Our Non-Success
The U.S. economy finally seems to be recovering in earnest, with housing on the rebound and job creation outpacing growth in the working-age population. But the news is good, not great – it will still take years to restore full employment – and it has been a very long time coming. Why has the slump been so protracted?
The answer – backed by overwhelming evidence – is that this is what normally happens after a severe financial crisis. But Mitt Romney’s economic team rejects that evidence. And this denialism bodes ill for policy if Mr. Romney wins next month. [..]
About the evidence: The most famous study is by Harvard’s Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, who looked at past financial crises and found that such crises are typically followed by years of high unemployment and weak growth. Later work by economists at the International Monetary Fund and elsewhere confirmed this analysis: crises that followed a sharp run-up in private-sector debt, from the U.S. Panic of 1893 to the Swedish banking crisis of the early 1990s, cast long shadows over the economy’s future. There was no reason to believe that this time would be different.
Rupert Cornwell: Poverty: The Election Issue That Dare Not Speak Its Name
Neither Obama nor Romney has much to say on the 46 million who live below the breadline
A presidential election campaign approaches its climax, as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney criss-cross the land in search of the last few votes. But my thoughts have turned to a couple of candidates from long ago, who have been back in the news these past few days. [..]
But something deep down is wrong. “Redistribution” may rank second only to “liberal” as the dirtiest word in the conservative political lexicon. But the return of poverty rates to a level not seen in a quarter of a century is just another facet of the ever-growing income inequality in the US, where the richest 1 per cent have a greater share of the cake than at any time since the Great Crash of 1929. Politicians still worship at the altar of the American Dream, the notion that anyone can make it big in the US, no matter how poor their origins. The fact is that social mobility, as measured by academic studies, is less here than in coddled, sclerotic Europe.
Soon after LBJ became president, an ally warned him not to squander his political capital on worthy but hopeless causes, such as civil rights and poverty. According to the biographer Robert Caro, Johnson’s reply was: “Well, what the hell’s the presidency for?” As you ponder cautious Obama, you think of Johnson, of Bobby Kennedy and George McGovern. Where are their likes today?
Conservative commentators use the term “pander” to describe politicians, usually liberals, who are sensitive to women, blacks, Latinos, gays, and workers who lose their jobs to outsourcing. You might say a lot of right-wing pandering goes on when it comes to the religious right, the NRA, and the anti-abortion lobby. As we heard in the second debate, nearly everyone seems to be pandering to the coal industry.
But the mother of all special interest groups is Wall Street. And the most economically dangerous pandering this year and next is the pandering to the deficit hawks led by America’s corporate elite. If you need an emetic, have a look at the website of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Or the Fix the Debt Campaign. Or any of a dozen other corporate-led front groups who are urging that America deflate its way to recovery.
New York Times Editorial: The Myth of Job Creation
The headlines from the last presidential debate focused on President Obama challenging Mitt Romney on issue after issue. There was a less noticed, but no less remarkable, moment when Mr. Obama agreed with Mr. Romney on something – and both were entirely wrong.
The exchange began with a question about the offshoring of American jobs. Part of Mr. Obama’s answer was that federal investments in education, science and research would help to ensure that companies invest and hire in the United States. Mr. Romney interrupted. “Government does not create jobs,” he said. “Government does not create jobs.”
It was a decidedly crabbed response to a seemingly uncontroversial observation, and yet Mr. Obama took the bait. He said his political opponents had long harped on “this notion that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer. That’s not what I believe.” He went on to praise free enterprise and to say that government’s role is to create the conditions for everyone to have a fair shot at success.
Jeff Bachman; Growing Oppostion to US Drones Program
The United States has a long history of violating international law when its leaders believe foreign policy objectives justify doing so. The belief in the right of the United States to overthrow democratically elected governments (Guatemala), to train and arm insurgencies (Nicaragua), and to launch aggressive wars (Iraq) free of the inconvenience of the law grows out of the nationalistic fervor of “American Exceptionalism.”
Currently, President Obama is directly overseeing a drones program that potentially violates a number of international legal norms. In October 2009, Philip Alston, then UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, stated that the drones program would be illegal if the U.S. was failing to take “all of the relevant precautions to make sure that civilians are not killed, in accordance with the relevant international rules.” Alston continued, “The problem is that we have no real information on this program.”
Danny Schecter: US Election Concern: What Is There To Vote For?
As Americans prepare to go to the polls, the airwaves are littered with paid advertising of the crassest and most manipulative kind. Political issues packaged by ad agencies are flooding the arena of politics with nasty negative ads.
So far, the two parties and their backers have spent a half billion dollars on political advertising with much of the placements still to come in the next few weeks. CBS reports the “spend” will top a billion dollars — just on ads.
AP warns: “Get ready, presidential swing states. Now the campaign ad crush – and TV spending spree – really begins.”
This is occurring even as the economy and unemployment remain major issues. Millions of Americans are broke and hurting as poverty grows, but there seems to be no shortage of money to grease politics.