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Dec 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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Paul Krugman: A Double Shot of Misunderstanding

(T)he reality is that the business leaders intervening in our economic debate are, for the most part, either predatory or hopelessly confused (or, I guess, both).

I’d put Fix the Debt in the predatory category; it’s quite clear that the organization (which is yet another Pete Peterson front, this time explicitly dominated by corporate interests) has an agenda more focused on cutting social insurance and corporate taxes than on reducing the deficit per se.

Meanwhile, Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, exemplifies the hopeless confusion factor. By all accounts, he’s a good guy, with genuinely generous instincts. But in his message to employees, urging them to write “come together” on coffee cups, he gets the nature of the fiscal cliff completely wrong. In fact, he gets it wrong in two fundamental ways.

Ezra Klein:

[A]t the elite level – which encompasses everyone from CEOs to media professionals – there’s a desire to keep up good relations on both sides of the aisle. And so it’s safer, when things are going wrong, to offer an anodyne criticism that offends nobody – “both sides should come together!” – then to actually blame one side or the other. It’s a way to be angry about Washington’s failure without alienating anyone powerful. That goes doubly for commercial actors, like Starbucks, that need to sell coffee to both Republicans and Democrats.

That breaks the system. It hurts the basic mechanism of accountability, which is the public’s ability to apportion blame. If one side’s intransigence will lead to both sides getting blamed, then it makes perfect sense to be intransigent: You’ll get all the benefits and only half the blame.

The two parties are not equivalent right now. The two sides are not the same. If you want Washington to come together, you need to make it painful for those who are breaking it apart. Telling both sides to come together when it’s predominantly one side breaking the negotiations apart actually makes it easier on those who’re refusing to compromise.

Dean Baker: Economy Wrecker Alan Greenspan Was Central to the Formation of the Campaign to Fix the Debt

Alan Greenspan will go down in history as the person who has done more damage to the U.S. economy and society that anyone who was not a foreign enemy. In fact the destruction he wreaked through his incompetence would also exceed the damage caused by almost all would-be enemies as well. [..]

This is why it would have been worth highlighting the news contained in a NYT article on the origins of the “Campaign to Fix the Debt,” the corporate financed effort to reduce the deficit. [..]

This is such an amazing tidbit that it really should have been the lead of the article. The person most responsible for wrecking the economy — and incidentially adding trillions of dollars to the debt — was there at the founding of the Campaign to Fix the Debt.

Wow, what did Santa get you for Christmas?

Matthew Rothschild: Why the “Fiscal Cliff” Bores the Snot Out of Me

I can barely write the words “fiscal cliff” without dosing off. And I’m not alone here. Utter the term to insomniacs and out they’ll go. [..]

And after this weekend or by the end of January at the latest, Congress will have passed a budget bill that maintains middle class tax cuts and averts the alleged calamities that, in all probability, were never going to come to pass anyway. [..]

The “fiscal cliff” has been a tiresome charade, and it disguises the fact that both parties are taking us down the path of austerity.

Sam Sacks: From MLK to Occupy, the FBI Resides on the Wrong Side of History

Why did the FBI consider a movement composed of students, senior citizens, mothers with baby carriages and Americans of all colors and backgrounds such a threat that they required covert monitoring?

During the heyday of the Occupy Movement last year, if you were lucky enough to walk through one of the encampments – as I was frequently here at Occupy DC – you would have seen a community built as an example of what our nation should be striving for. [..]

And in a nation facing economic desperation, historic levels of wealth inequality and a rapidly disappearing social safety net, Occupy was the way forward – a community in every city that could serve as an example of what we as Americans should be striving for during a time when Wall Street suits were choking the lives out of most Americans.

But if you were an FBI agent, then Occupy looked like something completely different. To the FBI, Occupy was a breeding ground for violence and domestic terrorism.

Robert Reich: Cliff Hanger: Why Republicans Don’t Care What the Nation Thinks

Are House Republicans — now summoned back to Washington by Speaker John Boehner — about to succumb to public pressure and save the nation from the fiscal cliff?

Don’t bet on it.

Even if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cooperates by not mounting a filibuster and allows the Senate to pass a bill extending the Bush tax cuts to the first $250,000 of everyone’s income, Boehner may not bring it to the House floor. [..]

But this assumes Boehner and the GOP will be any more swayed by public opinion than they are now.