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Dec 21 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: Another Questionable Bank Settlement

The Department of Justice would like you to believe it has finally gotten tough with a too-big-to-fail bank. As part of the global investigation into interest-rate-rigging at the world’s biggest banks, it has extracted a guilty plea for felony wire fraud from UBS Securities Japan, a subsidiary of UBS, the Swiss bank. [..]

Seen in that light, a subsidiary’s plea on a single criminal charge appears to shield the parent company and the prosecution of two traders appears to shield their managers. And even though a $1.5 billion penalty is large by historical standards, there is little reason to believe that such fines, disconnected from criminal charges against bank officers, will deter future wrongdoing.

The Justice Department referred to the UBS rate-rigging as an “epic” scandal. But, as yet, there has been nothing epic in the department’s response.

Paul Krugman: Playing Taxes Hold ‘Em

A few years back, there was a boom in poker television – shows in which you got to watch the betting and bluffing of expert card players. Since then, however, viewers seem to have lost interest. But I have a suggestion: Instead of featuring poker experts, why not have a show featuring poker incompetents – people who fold when they have a strong hand or don’t know how to quit while they’re ahead?

On second thought, that show already exists. It’s called budget negotiations, and it’s now in its second episode. [..]

As in 2011, then, the Republican crazies are doing Mr. Obama a favor, heading off any temptation he may have felt to give away the store in pursuit of bipartisan dreams.

And there’s a broader lesson here. This is no time for a Grand Bargain, because the Republican Party, as now constituted, is just not an entity with which the president can make a serious deal. If we’re going to get a grip on our nation’s problems – of which the budget deficit is a minor part – the power of the G.O.P.’s extremists, and their willingness to hold the economy hostage if they don’t get their way, needs to be broken. And somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen in the next few days.

Alan Grayson: The ‘Chained CPI’ Cut: If You Can’t Dazzle Them With Brilliance…

Let me get right to the point. I’m against the proposed “chained CPI” cut in Social Security because it substantially undermines the protection against inflation that Social Security recipients enjoy under current law. The existing cost of living adjustment (“COLA”) already understates actual increases in the “cost of living;” the chained CPI would exacerbate the problem. [..]

Where we are now in the fiscal cliff negotiations is that Speaker Boehner is talking about reducing the federal deficit in the exact same way that Governor Romney did — Boehner says that he wants to, but he won’t tell us how. President Obama, boxed in by the poll-driven sense that he must-must-must propose something “balanced,” is “balancing” the reduction of tax breaks for the rich against the reduction of the protection that seniors have against inflation. On the merits, however, reducing that protection is undeserved, unwise and unfair.

Robert Reich: Cliffhanger: Obama’s Unnecessary and Unwise Concessions

Why is the President back to making premature and unnecessary concessions to Republicans? [..]

But apparently the President is now offering to continue to Bush tax cuts for people earning between $250,000 and $400,000, and to cut Social Security by reducing annual cost-of-living adjustments. [..]

Hands off Social Security. If the Republicans are willing to raise tax rates on high earners but demand more spending cuts in return, the President should offer larger cuts in defense spending and corporate welfare.

Joe Brewer: What If All the World’s Debt Just Went Away

Just for fun, imagine if all debt were wiped away when the Mayan Calendar ends this Friday…

How would the world be different?  What would become possible for you personally in your life?  How would nations and corporations invest our newfound wealth differently if we all started from a clean slate?  Problems like global warming and extreme poverty would instantly become financial drops in the bucket-easily tackled with fair contracts and forward-looking investments.  The structural debts of entrenched subsidies, invested capital, tax havens, and trade agreements that keep them from being addressed would simply no longer exist.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  Well just such a fantasy used to be standard practice in the Hebrew Tradition throughout the early days of their civilization.  They held a great Jubilee every seven years to erase all debt and end economic slavery.  Accounts kept on stone tablets were broken.  Those stored on papyrus were burned to ash.  Slaves were returned to their families.  Everyone was given a fresh start.  (This tradition is being revived today through the Occupy-inspired project, Rolling Jubilee, that has already abolished more than $9,000,000 in US debt for everyday citizens.)

Jim Hightower: Welcome to ‘Michiganistan’

Michigan is no longer a state. It is now “Michiganistan,” an autocratic czardom in the hands of Emperor Rick Snyder.

Formerly the Republican governor, Snyder has been enthroned by the GOP’s lame-duck, legislative supermajority to rule with an iron fist – democracy, rule-of-law, fairness, and the people be damned.

Who’s behind this madness? Say hello to two infamous, anti-union, billionaire plutocrats: the Koch brothers. They had funneled as much as a million dollars into Snyder’s 2010 gubernatorial election, and three Michigan front groups funded by the billionaire brothers aggressively pushed the exact same anti-worker proposal that the Republican thugs just bullied into law.