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.

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New York Times Editorial: An Inadequate Offer From the House

Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said he was willing to delay briefly a disastrous default of the country’s financial obligations but was not willing to reopen the government. “I would hope that the president would look at this as an opportunity and a good-faith effort on our part to move halfway – halfway to what he’s demanded,” he said. [..]

Postponing default by raising the debt ceiling for five or six weeks offers only momentary relief, and refusing to do so would have been unthinkable. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday that the public’s retirement savings and benefits were at serious risk if Republicans left the debt ceiling unchanged. Business leaders – the traditional constituency of the Republicans until the Tea Party muscled them out of the way – have been pressuring leaders to change course.

A default would roil the global bond market, push up interest rates, and almost certainly produce another recession. Although Mr. Boehner grandly pronounced the six-week delay to be a major concession, the same danger will stare Congress in the face before Thanksgiving.

Paul Krugman: Dealing With Default

So Republicans may have decided to raise the debt ceiling without conditions attached – the details still aren’t clear. Maybe that’s the end of that particular extortion tactic, but maybe not, because, at best, we’re only looking at a very short-term extension. The threat of hitting the ceiling remains, especially if the politics of the shutdown continue to go against the G.O.P.

So what are the choices if we do hit the ceiling? As you might guess, they’re all bad, so the question is which bad choice would do the least harm. [..]

So are there any other choices? Many legal experts think there is another option: One way or another, the president could simply choose to defy Congress and ignore the debt ceiling.

Wouldn’t this be breaking the law? Maybe, maybe not – opinions differ. But not making good on federal obligations is also breaking the law. And if House Republicans are pushing the president into a situation where he must break the law no matter what he does, why not choose the version that hurts America least?

Sadhbh Walshe: Are Americans Dumb? No, It’s the Inequality, Stupid

The US and UK have pitifully low OECD test scores. They are also the countries with some of the greatest inequality

Are Americans dumb? This is a question that has been debated by philosophers, begrudging foreigners and late night TV talk show hosts for decades. Anyone who has ever watched the Tonight Show’s “Jaywalking” segment in which host Jay Leno stops random passersby and asks them rudimentary questions like “What is Julius Caesar famous for?” (Answer: “Um, is it the salad?”) might already have made their minds up on this issue. But for those of you who prefer to reserve judgement until definitive proof is on hand, then I’m afraid I have some depressing news. America does indeed have a problem in the smarts department and it appears to be getting worse, not better. [..]

So are Americans dumb? The answer appears to be yes, some are. The dumb ones are not the poor minorities or low skilled adults who fared badly on the OECD tests, however, but a certain privileged and selfish elite, who have suffered from no want of opportunities themselves, yet seem to think that denying millions of struggling Americans an equal (or indeed any) opportunity to get ahead is a sensible way forward. The results are in now and clearly it isn’t. The question is will enough Americans be smart enough to do something about it?

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Boehner’s “Offer”: A Ticking Time Bomb is Still a Bomb

A time bomb with a six-week fuse is still a bomb. And as long as the Republicans keep issuing threats and shutting down the government, they’re still playing with dynamite.

It was initially reported that the GOP’s “offer” to extend the debt ceiling for six weeks was rejected by the White House. There’s good reason to reject it. The Republican proposal isn’t a concession. They’re merely rescheduling their threat so that it can hang over the nation until Thanksgiving. They’d still keep the government closed.  And their proposal reportedly included provisions that would prevent the Treasury Department from taking “extraordinary measures” to keep paying the government’s bills – now, and in the future.

The GOP’s stance is: We won’t hurt you with the debt ceiling now, but we’re prepared to do it in a few weeks. We’ll hold off on wreaking widespread economic havoc until then, but in return you must render yourself helpless in the face of our threats – now, and forever – despite the fact that our corporate funders want us to hold off anyway. Oh – and we’ll keep on hurting you with the shutdown in the meantime.

You call that an offer?

Bill Boyarsky: Cruel and Unusual Republicans Want Poor Americans to Starve

Among the many victims of the Republicans’ deranged effort to kill Obamacare are the millions of forgotten poor suffering from bad nutrition or just plain hunger, one of the most shameful afflictions of American life.

They have escaped media attention. But they will be badly hurt if the effort of right-wing Republican House members-backed by their ultraconservative financial supporters-manages to destroy the Affordable Care Act and then bring down what’s left of the social and economic safety net that has for generations provided minimal protection to the poor, the elderly, children and the disabled.

The Republicans are already insisting on major cuts to the nation’s biggest and most successful nutrition program, food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Amy Goodman: Single-Payer Prescription for What Ails Obamacare

While the ACA was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, the opinion gave states the option to opt out of the Medicaid expansion, which 26 states with Republican governors have done. A New York Times analysis of census data showed that up to 8 million poor people, mostly African-Americans and single mothers, and mostly in the Deep South, will be stranded without insurance, too poor to qualify for ACA subsidies, but stuck in a state that rejected Medicaid expansion.

So, while partisan bickering (between members of Congress who have among the best health and benefits packages in the U.S.) has shut down the government, the populace of the United States is still straitjacketed into a system of expensive, for-profit health insurance. We pay twice as much per capita as other industrialized countries, and have poorer health and lower life expectancy. The economic logic of single-payer is inescapable. Whether Obamacare is a pathway to get there is uncertain. As Dr. Woolhandler summed up, “It’s only a road to single-payer if we fight for single-payer.”