“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”.
Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt
New York Times Editorial: More Jobs, Higher Pay
In President Obama’s first term, the fiscal stimulus and the auto-industry rescue of 2009 created and preserved millions of jobs. But the stimulus ended years ago, replaced with temporary measures that have been insufficient to propel the economy forward. Health care reform in 2010 was a major step in the effort to support the middle class, but its broad effects will be felt only in the years and decades to come. [..]
A recent federal court ruling invalidating his recess appointees to the National Labor Relations Board, which enforces federal labor law, will be a further setback to workers’ ability to bargain for higher wages. The misguided decision, if upheld, would deny the board a quorum to rule on legal questions. In seeking to overturn the ruling, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, the administration should take aim at the court’s unjustified incursion on presidential power and its antiunion bias. [..]
In his first term – a time of persistent high unemployment, weak job growth, stagnating wages and rising income inequality – Mr. Obama neglected a basic labor agenda. He now has a chance to take corrective action.
Simon Johnson: Who Decided U.S. Megabanks Are Too Big to Jail?
Tom Hanks has a knack for playing the roles that define American generations. In “Saving Private Ryan,” he embodied the courage of the men who landed on the Normandy beaches under heavy fire. In “Apollo 13,” he conveyed calm and ingenuity under intense pressure: “Houston, we have a problem.” And Forrest Gump revealed much about America before, during and after the Vietnam War.
If Hanks turns his attention to our most recent decade, which character should he choose? My suggestion is Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, the head of the criminal division at the Justice Department and the man responsible for determining whether anyone should be prosecuted for the financial crisis of 2008.
In an on-camera interview, which aired recently, Breuer stated plainly that some financial institutions are too large and too complex to be held accountable before the law. Bipartisan pressure is now being applied on the Justice Department to reveal exactly how this determination was made. Breuer, however, has announced he will leave government March 1. Good luck unraveling the cover-up that must already be in place.
Edward Koch, who died last week at 88, figures prominently as an antagonist in “How to Survive a Plague,” David France’s excellent new documentary about the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). The film opens with footage from 1987 of a reporter asking Koch, then New York’s mayor, why he called ACT UP protesters “fascists” but referred to them in a news release as “concerned citizens.” Koch replied, classically, “Fascists can be concerned citizens.” [..]
But “How to Survive a Plague” shows that ACT UP was a movement that worked effectively within the system at the same time that it worked noisily against it. ACT UP activists weren’t just angry about national apathy and inaction on AIDS; they also had specific demands and constructive ideas about how the government and drug companies could do better. Unlike a lot of protest movements, once they got to the stage where the targets of their protests said, “I’m listening. What do you want me to do?” they had concrete answers.
If you wonder why we spend more money on health care than any other country but have some of the worst health outcomes, you need look no further than the halls of Congress to it figure out. [..]
Drug makers have long had cozy relationships and outsized influence on lawmakers in Washington. That’s why Obamacare barely touches that industry. Big Pharma essentially blackmailed members of Congress and the White House by threatening to bankroll a huge PR and lobbying campaign to kill health care reform if serious consideration was given to allowing Medicare officials to negotiate for lower drug prices.
Alan Simpson’s the lead pitchman for a billionaire- and corporate-funded initiative to slash Social Security that has subjected the public to years of nonstop haranguing and lecturing.
The lecturing’s gotten crude, too, as when Simpson insisted that anyone who disagrees with him is shoveling “bullsh*t.”
That’s tough talk, but it’s a funny thing: When the public makes tough decisions, as it did in a new National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) survey, the tough-talking Mr. Simpson is nowhere to be found.
On Wednesday, the Arkansas legislature lurched forward with a radical measure to ban most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected within six weeks of a pregnancy, a requirement experts say will force the state to insert a probe into a woman’s vagina to detect. [..]
Libertarian billionaire Charles Koch, author of his own ideology he touts as the “Science of Liberty,” is famous for spreading his beliefs (and his business interests) through the aggressive use of political donations to candidates, think tanks, media outlets, universities, career-training institutes and dark-money attack-ad groups. But critics, including myself, point to the hundreds of state and federal Koch-backed politicians who seem to prioritize fairly authoritarian policies. Rapert’s transvaginal probes and government-forced pregnancies do not seem to cohere with any notion of individual liberty I’m familiar with.