Sep 30 2013

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 thea Pundits”.

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Henry J. Aaron: Our Outlaw President?

Obama Should Ignore the Debt Ceiling

The United States government is likely to shut down nonessential services tomorrow, after House Republicans voted before dawn yesterday to attach a one-year delay of President Obama’s health care law (and a repeal of a tax to pay for it) to legislation to keep the government running. The Democratic-led Senate is expected to refuse.

House Republicans also said last week that they would not agree to lift the debt ceiling unless implementation of the health law was delayed by one year. So the government is also headed toward a mid-October default on its debts – and a full-blown constitutional crisis.

Failure to raise the debt will force the president to break a law – the only question is which one. [..]

The debt ceiling is the fiscal equivalent of the human appendix – a law with no discoverable purpose. It is one law too many. Once Congress has set tax rates and spending levels, it has effectively said what it wants the debt to be. If Congress leaves the debt ceiling at a level inconsistent with duly enacted spending and tax laws, the president has no choice but to ignore it.

Paul Krugman: Rebels Without a Clue

This may be the way the world ends – not with a bang but with a temper tantrum.

O.K., a temporary government shutdown – which became almost inevitable after Sunday’s House vote to provide government funding only on unacceptable conditions – wouldn’t be the end of the world. But a U.S. government default, which will happen unless Congress raises the debt ceiling soon, might cause financial catastrophe. Unfortunately, many Republicans either don’t understand this or don’t care.

Let’s talk first about the economics.

New York Times Editorial Board: Birth Control and a Boss’s Religious Views

The Obama administration’s rule requiring employer health plans to cover birth control without a co-payment has given rise to a slew of lawsuits by private companies claiming the mandate attacks religious freedom. Three federal appeals courts have ruled on the issue, with two correctly rejecting that view as without legal foundation. Given the conflicting rulings, it is a good bet the Supreme Court will agree to address this issue in the next term. [..]

Allowing employees to make independent decisions to obtain contraceptives does not violate anyone’s religious freedom. If the Supreme Court takes up these cases, it should soundly reject the warped view that some employers can get out of complying with the new law, and in effect use their religious beliefs to discriminate against women.

Dean Baker: Social Security Does Not Redistribute From Young to Old, It Is a Public Pension System

One of the most pernicious myths of the Fix the Debt Gang and other Peter Peterson type outfits is that Social Security redistributes money from the young to the old. This is bizarre because people pay for their benefits with the taxes they contribute during their working lifetimes. In fact, the average return current beneficiaries receive is not especially high (less than 2.0 percent real).

If workers contributed the same amount to a privately managed pension fund and then collected an annuity in their retirement no one would call it a redistribution from young to old. It hard to see how it becomes a generational redistribution because Social Security is run by the government. But that is what Robert Samuelson is telling readers in today’s column.

Paul Rosenberg: The US needs to adopt a new mythos that’s not at war with facts

From guns to health care, conservatives push a mythically-driven politics that’s actively hostile to facts.

Antoinette Tuff is the NRA’s worst nightmare.  In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre infamously said, “The only way to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun.” But when Tuff talked Michael Brandon Hill into giving up his gun and surrendering to police on August 21, she showed the whole world just how wrong LaPierre was.  A good woman with no gun did the job perfectly, thank you very much. ]..]

It’s not that Tuff disproved LaPierre. It was something much more basic than that. Disproving LaPierre’s statement would imply it was a factual claim, when actually it was not. It was, instead, a form of mythic utterance, a ritual incantation, a drawing down of higher powers, into the holy vessel of the gun.  In the introduction to The Battle For God, Karen Armstrong distinguishes between two radically different forms of knowledge: logos, which has to do with how things work in the world, and mythos, which has to do with ultimate meanings.