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Dec 06 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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New York Times Editorial: The Next Debt-Limit Debacle

Republicans clearly sense that they are being outmaneuvered in the fiscal talks by the Obama administration, unable to stop the inevitable rise in tax rates for the rich. But they have one last card to play and they intend to use it, knowing it will endanger economic progress: They are threatening once again to default on the credit of the United States if President Obama doesn’t do their bidding. [..]

Mr. Obama said firmly on Wednesday that he had no intention of playing the Republican debt ceiling game again. This time he might want to enlist the help of every American who holds federal, state or municipal bonds, investments that would be under threat in a debt crisis. If nothing else works, he should cite the 14th Amendment’s ban on questioning the public debt, and declare an end to the debt ceiling once and for all. The country can no longer tolerate government by brinkmanship and extortion

Rev. Al Sharpton: If We Did Not Share in the Prosperity, Why Should We Have to Share in the Sacrifice?

When the great recession of 2008 struck, it hit some of us harder than others. Middle class families, the poor, people of color and the workers of America suffered the most, while those that caused the crisis were largely unscathed — many even increased their wealth. Today, when we are in danger of going over the notorious fiscal cliff, some repeatedly speak of ‘shared sacrifice.’ But when the top 2 percent were enjoying their tax breaks and stockpiling their prosperity, there was no sharing with the masses. And instead, these individuals and groups now have the audacity to ask seniors, minorities, folks whose children fought in our wars, the disenfranchised and the most vulnerable among us to sacrifice some more. Does that seem fair to you? [..]

Simply put: if we did not share in the prosperity, then we should not be asked to share in the sacrifice. Period. The New America spoke on Election Day and we want the 2 percent to make sure they hear us now.

Dean Baker: Wall Street manipulates deficit angst with fiscal cliff fear

Deficit hawks rely on media allies to report budget doom to advance their agenda of cutting Medicare and social security

Many of the nation’s most important news outlets openly embrace the agenda of the rich and powerful that colors its coverage of major economic issues. This is perhaps nowhere better demonstrated than during the current budget standoff between President Obama and Congress, which the media routinely describes as the “fiscal cliff“. This terminology seriously misrepresents the nature of the budget dispute, as everyone in the debate has acknowledged. There is no “cliff” currently facing the budget or the economy.

If no deal is reached this year, then on 1 January, daily tax withholdings will rise by an average of about $4 per person. Any money actually deducted from pay checks will be refunded if a deal is subsequently reached that returns tax rates to 2012 levels. Government spending probably won’t change at the start of the new year, since President Obama has considerable discretion over the flow of spending. No one can think that this modest increase in tax withholdings would plunge the economy into a recession, but the Wall Street types seeking to dismantle social security and Medicare have used their enormous wealth and allies in the media to generate this kind of fear-mongering across the country.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: GOP Offers to Throw Middle Class, Elderly Over the ‘Fiscal Cliff’

The Republican Party has a message for the American people: Meet the new deal, same as the old deal. The GOP “counter-offer” to the president’s fiscal-cliff proposal isn’t really an offer at all: It’s a rehash of the tired and extremist right-wing economic warfare which the American people soundly rejected last month.

But a political tin ear is the least of the shortcomings Republicans bring to this debate. This rehash of their old, rejected budget ideas is a formula for reducing the United States of America to a crumbling and poverty-haunted land where the young have no opportunities, the middle class is struggling to survive, and the aged live in misery and fear.

Think we’re exaggerating? Take a look at the details, such as they are, and decide for yourself.

Mark Kirk: It Takes a Cabal of Willing Governments to Maintain Global Tax Havens

When corporations say what they do to shield profit from taxation is “legal” they’re often right. And this is wrong.

Everyone loves to hate a thief. And quite right, too. Google, Amazon and Starbucks – and many more like them – are certainly stealing from the UK and other countries by playing tax systems so aggressively.

But there’s a more important story here that the British MPs and world media are largely missing. In fact, the only ones who haven’t missed it are Google themselves. Matt Brittin, Google’s UK Chief, hit a very important nail on the head when he said, to Channel 4 News this week, ” [Google] plays by the rules set by politicians.”

Leaving aside his motivation to shift the blame, the man is not wrong. The rules of the international tax system do not just let this happen, they actively encourage it.

Tax theft is endemic all over the world. It is organised through an intricate system of tax havens; the PR around it is astonishingly good, as evidenced by the fact that most people have no idea of its scale and can get distracted by the misdeeds of a few bad apples rather than seeing the barrel they came in; and one of the most vibrant and important hubs – the City of London – is sitting right under the noses of the British politicians who are today decrying the corporations who use it.

Joe Conason: Arithmetic For Republicans: Why Boehner’s ‘Offer’ Just Doesn’t Add Up

If President Obama honestly wants to negotiate an agreement with Republicans before the year-end fiscal deadline, he must be deeply frustrated. And if he doesn’t really want to negotiate with them, then he should be delighted, for the same reason: Their latest “offer” laid before him by House Speaker John Boehner demonstrates again their refusal to reveal their true intentions-and their inability to do simple arithmetic. [..]

Unless and until the Republicans start talking about real numbers that can actually add up, there is nothing to be gained from pretending to negotiate. Nor should the president start negotiating with himself, as he has sometimes done in the past. Instead, he ought to make sure that the opposition understands what will happen when they fail to act responsibly. After Jan. 1, he will bring them an offer they cannot refuse to restore cuts for the 98 percent-and they will be held accountable for any consequences caused in the meantime by their stalling.