“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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Richard (RJ) Eskow; As Alan Simpson Puts President On the Defensive, House Dems Must Hold the Line
Alan Simpson, along with Erskine Bowles, represents a well-funded cadre of spokespeople who are only willing to present a narrow band of corporate- and billionaire-friendly economic policies. There’s just one approach in their world, one which Simpson and Bowles reiterated just this week: Medicare and Social Security benefit cuts for seniors and the disabled and the gutting of middle-class tax breaks, paired with further tax reductions for corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
This cynical agenda is all that Simpson represents. If he brings anything else to the table, it isn’t immediately visible. He lacks subject matter knowledge in any of the fields a person must understand to speak knowledgeably on budget issues. He’s not an expert in finance, economics, health care, or social welfare.
Norman Solomon: Congress: End Endless War and Stop Becoming “the Evil That We Deplore”
Congress waited six years to repeal the Tonkin Gulf Resolution after it opened the bloody floodgates for the Vietnam War in August 1964.
If that seems slow, consider the continuing failure of Congress to repeal the “war on terror” resolution-the Authorization for Use of Military Force-that sailed through, with just one dissenting vote, three days after 9/11.
Prior to casting the only “no” vote, Congresswoman Barbara Lee spoke on the House floor. “As we act,” she said, “let us not become the evil that we deplore.”
We have. That’s why, more than 11 years later, Lee’s prophetic one-minute speech is so painful to watch. The “war on terror” has inflicted carnage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere as a matter of routine. Targets change, but the assumed prerogative to kill with impunity remains.
Now, Rep. Lee has introduced H.R. 198, a measure to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
Conservative policy researchers Avik Roy and Doug Holtz-Eakin say that Republicans can’t repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and should instead reform it into the free-market system of their dreams. It’s a weird piece.
As Matt Yglesias notes, Roy and Holtz-Eakin basically offer a negotiated surrender that keeps the basic terms of PPACA, tinkers with its parameters and calls it a conservative victory. If conservatives could live with this, why didn’t they cut a deal like this in 2009 instead of engaging in three years of scorched-earth tactics in a failed effort to stop reform? [..]
It’s good to see conservatives realizing that they’re going to have to live with PPACA or something like it. I’m still waiting for them to work on controlling total health spending, within the context of universal coverage, in a truly constructive manner.
Monique Morrissey: Strengthening Social Security for All
Americans need Social Security more than ever, and they’re willing to pay for it. Rather than more cuts, we need higher benefits across the board.
This was the gist of my presentation at the National Academy of Social Insurance conference last month, whose theme was “Social Security and Medicare in a Time of Budget Austerity” (emphasis added). I wasn’t expecting it to go over very well. [..]
At the conference, NASI released the results of a poll showing strong support for Social Security by the American people, a consensus that benefits are inadequate, and a willingness to pay higher taxes to strengthen the program (I discussed these results in an earlier blog post). The poll made it harder to dismiss calls for expanding Social Security, though Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel tried. Among the other conference participants who made a strong case for expanding Social Security were blogger-economist Duncan Black (a.k.a. Atrios) and Wilhelmina Leigh, a participant in the 2011 Commission to Modernize Social Security, which led the way in calling for higher contributions and benefits across the board.
Tom Engelhardt: How to Gain Expertise in Recognizing Torture: Go to Law School
There was a scarcely noted but classic moment in the Senate hearings on the nomination of John Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism “tsar,” to become the next CIA director. When Senator Carl Levin pressed him repeatedly on whether waterboarding was torture, he ended his reply this way: “I have a personal opinion that waterboarding is reprehensible and should not be done. And again, I am not a lawyer, senator, and I can’t address that question.”
How modern, how twenty-first-century American! How we’ve evolved since the dark days of Medieval Europe when waterboarding fell into a category known to all as “the water torture“! Brennan even cited Attorney General Eric Holder as one lawyer who had described waterboarding as “torture,” but he himself begged off. According to the man who was deputy executive director of the CIA and director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center in the years of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and knew much about them, the only people equipped to recognize torture definitively as “torture” are lawyers. This might be more worrisome, if we weren’t a “nation of lawyers” (
Charles M. Blow: A Game of Chicken
Well, here we go again. Another season, another manufactured, self-inflicted, completely preventable crisis of government. This time it’s the sequester.
We may as well put these things in the Farmers’ Almanac.
Now we’re engaged in a finger-wagging blame game of who proposed it, who supported it and who is opposed to preventing it.
Let’s lay out some of the facts of this disaster.