“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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New York Times Editorial: The House Makes an ‘Offer’
Since last month’s election, Republican leaders in Congress have been demanding that President Obama come up with a detailed plan to cut the deficit and solve the upcoming fiscal deadlines without feeling any need to prepare a plan of their own. On Monday, under pressure from the White House, Republicans finally released their opening position in the negotiations – a remarkably shallow one that demonstrated a lack of seriousness in negotiations, or farsightedness in policy. [..]
The only way to produce the necessary revenue is to combine some limits on deductions with an end to the Bush tax cuts on the rich, and Mr. Obama, fortunately, has been adamant he will not consider any plan that does not do so. The Boehner letter, by contrast, actually advocates lowering rates, suggesting that Republicans are still clinging to the notion, rejected by voters, that was put forward by Mitt Romney.
Tavis Smiley: Ceilings, Cliffs and Walls
Ceiling caving, cliff hanging, walls closing in — sounds like an Indiana Jones movie. Except this is real life. The real lives of millions of Americans.
First, we hit the debt ceiling. Now we’re hanging over the fiscal cliff. Next, the walls start to close in on millions of Americans, particularly the poor.
The news media is covering this story everyday as if this is some kind of “cliffhanger” when, in truth, it’s really not. I can tell you right now how this movie ends. Indiana Jones is not going to show up and save the day. Whenever this so-called “grand bargain” is reached, it may be grand for the elite, but not so much for the nation’s poor. I would love to be wrong about this, but signs point to yet another piling on of the poor. Eventually, if not immediately.
Fans of arithmetic everywhere know that the large deficits of the last five years are the result of the economic downturn caused by the collapse of the housing bubble. But those taking part in deficit discussions in Washington won’t allow such numbers into the discussion.
The Serious People in Washington, such as the Washington Post (both the opinion and news sections), the Wall Street Campaign to Fix the Debt, and the Republican congressional leadership are in a full budget-cutting frenzy. They demand cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and everything else that benefits middle-income and poor people because, well, because the market demands it.
And we know, the market demands these cuts because the Serious People told us the market demands these cuts. The fact that the cuts have the effect of redistributing income from the rest of us to the Serious People and their friends is just a coincidence.
Glenn Greenwald: Progressive Media Claims They’ll Be ‘Tougher’ on Obama Now
Given the rationale they have embraced, is there any reason to believe this will happen, or that it will matter if it does?
Last week, the Huffington Post‘s media reporter, Michael Calderone, wrote a long article on the widespread perception that MSNBC isn’t so much a progressive network as it is “simply pro-Obama”. Citing a new Pew study that found that MSNBC was actually more negative toward Romney than even Fox News was against Obama “and offered mostly positive coverage about Obama” – most remarkably, during the last week of the campaign, MSNBC did not air a single story critical of Obama: not one – Calderone wrote: “post-election, the question is whether MSNBC continues cheering Obama on – or takes him on.”
I want to focus on this claim that media progressives will now be “tougher” on Obama, but first, an aside: Hendrik Hertzberg proclaims that they will now be even “more respectful” of Obama than they have been. Short of formally beatifying him, or perhaps transferring all their worldly possessions to him, is that even physically possible? Is there a reverence ritual that has been left unperformed, [swooning praise left to be lavished upon him, heinous acts by him that have not yet been acquiesced to if not affirmatively sanctioned in the name of keeping him empowered? That media progressives will try to find ways to be even “more respectful” to the president is nothing short of scary.]
Eugene Robinson: Boehner Plays a Weak Hand
How dare he? President Obama, I mean: How dare he do what he promised during the campaign? How dare he insist on a “balanced approach” to fiscal policy that includes an teensy-weensy tax increase for the rich? Oh, the humanity. [..]
“The president’s idea of a negotiation is, roll over and do what I ask,” Boehner groused.
Hmmm. Where do you imagine the president might have learned this particular bargaining technique? Might his instructors have been Boehner’s own House Republicans, who went so far as to hold the debt ceiling for ransom-and with it, the nation’s full faith and credit-in order to get their way?
George Lakoff: Why It’s Hard to Replace the “Fiscal Cliff” Metaphor
Writers on economics have been talking since the election about why the “fiscal cliff” metaphor is misleading. Alternative metaphors have been offered like the fiscal hill, fiscal curb, and fiscal showdown, as if one metaphor could easily be replaced by another that makes more sense of the real situation. But none of the alternatives has stuck, nor has the fiscal cliff metaphor been abandoned. Why? Why do some metaphors have far more staying power than others, even when they give a misleading picture of a crucial national issue?
The reason has to do with the way that metaphorical thought and language work in the brain. From a cognitive linguistics perspective, “fiscal cliff” is not a simple metaphor bringing “fiscal” together with “cliff.” It is instead a linguistic metaphor that is understood via a highly integrated cascade of other deeper and more general conceptual metaphors.
A cascade is a neural circuit containing and coordinating neural circuits in various parts of the brain.