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Nov 29 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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Sen. Bernie Sanders: Let the Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy Expire Already

Right now, the Bush tax cuts are set to expire at the end of this year. That means the only way that Republicans can extend tax breaks for the wealthy and cut vital programs is if Democrats let them.

Sadly, virtually all Republicans and some Democrats are too willing to do deficit reduction in a way that hurts those who are already hurting.

Don’t let them win. The Bush tax cuts must be allowed to expire.

I look forward to working with President Obama and all members of Congress to do deficit reduction in a way that finally asks the wealthiest people in our country to pay their fair share, and that recognizes the needs of working families.

Gail Collins: Happy Talking

We’re currently having a big debate about the Senate filibuster. It is possible you hadn’t heard, what with the onset of the holiday season, the fiscal cliff and several unexpected plot turns on “Homeland” to worry about. There’s just so much a person can handle.

In Washington, it’s all people talk about. O.K., not all. But there’s a lot of rancor. John Cornyn, the new Senate minority whip, predicted to Politico that if Democrats went forward with their plans to change the filibuster rules, “It will shut down the Senate.” [..]

Here’s the basic deal: There are, at minimum, six points in the life of any fledgling bill when the minority party can file filibuster paperwork that will stop all progress unless the majority can round up 60 votes. The Democrats want to eliminate a few. Also, they’d like to replicate the “Mr. Smith” rules. No more procedural shortcuts. As Senator Richard Durbin put it, “you want to stop the business of the Senate, by goodness’ sake, park your fanny on the floor of the Senate and speak.”

This would be very hard on the minority. Although everybody in the Senate likes to talk, very few actually like to hang around the Senate itself.

Robert Reich: Will Timothy Geithner Lead Us Over or Around the Fiscal Cliff?

I’m trying to remain optimistic that the President and congressional Democrats will hold their ground over the next month as we approach the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

But leading those negotiations for the White House is outgoing Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner, whom Monday’s Wall Street Journal described as a “pragmatic deal maker” because of “his long relationship with former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, for whom balancing the budget was a priority over other Democratic touchstones.” [..]

If “pragmatic deal maker,” as the Journal describes Geithner, means someone who believes any deal with Republicans is better than no deal, and deficit reduction is more important than job creation, we could be in for a difficult December.

Jon Nichols: Don’t Eliminate the Filibuster, Restore It

Historically, the filibuster existed as a protection against the silencing of the minority. Under the rules of the Senate, a member or group of members who did not have the votes to prevent approval of a piece of legislation could demand to be heard in opposition. Ideally, the traditional theory went, this avenue of dissent could prevent a rush to judgment.

But, in recent years, the filibuster has not been used to raise voices of dissent. Instead, it has been used to block votes on critical pieces of legislation, to make it harder for the president to advance even the most popular proposals and to undermine the basic premises of the principle of advice and consent.

What to do? Bring back the filibuster as it has historically been understood.

Amy Goodman: Our Climate Future and the Doha Summit

The annual United Nations climate summit has convened, this year in Doha, the capital of the oil-rich emirate of Qatar, on the Arabian Peninsula. Dubbed “COP 18,” an army of bureaucrats, business people and environmentalists are gathered ostensibly to limit global greenhouse-gas emissions to a level that scientists say will contain the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.8 degrees Fahrenheit), and perhaps stave off global climate catastrophe. If past meetings are any indication, national self-interest on the part of the world’s largest polluters, paramount among them the United States, will trump global consensus.

“We want our children to live in an America … that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet,” President Barack Obama proclaimed in his victory speech on Nov. 6 this year, just over a week after Superstorm Sandy devastated New York City and much of New Jersey, killing more than 100 people. These are fine aspirations. The problem is, action is needed now to avert the very scenario that President Obama has said he wants to avoid. The United States, which remains the greatest polluter in world history, stands as one of the biggest impediments to a rational global program to stem global warming.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Deal Is Wall Street’s Latest Scam

It’s like a Woodstock for plutocrats, or an Avengers for the avaricious: The CEOs of America’s largest corporations have banded together to lecture us on the importance of debt reduction. And despite their lack of qualifications and their very obvious self-interest, the media can’t get enough of them.

Why? They’re not experts in economic policy. Quite the opposite, in fact. Many of them got where they are by persuading people to buy overpriced crap that’s bad for them. So a better way to look at this seemingly endless PR campaign would be to say: There they go again.

And yet their cynical campaign continues to capture national venues like 60 Minutes and conduct local blitzes in areas like Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Reporters are even hounding Warren Buffett — a CEO with much deeper economic knowledge — with the words of a less-informed and more self-interested colleague.

Think of it as Wall Street’s latest scam. If you liked toxic investments and the 2008 financial crisis, you’ll love their deficit deal.