Oct 17 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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New York Times Editorial Board: The Republican Surrender

The Republican Party slunk away on Wednesday from its failed, ruinous strategy to get its way through the use of havoc. Hours away from an inevitable market crash, it approved a deal that could have been achieved months ago had a few more lawmakers set aside their animus. After President Obama signs the bill, the government will reopen after more than two weeks of shutdown, and the threat of a default will be lifted.

The health care reform law will not be defunded or delayed. No taxes will be cut, and the deal calls for no new cuts to federal spending or limits to social welfare programs. The only things Republicans achieved were billions of dollars in damage to the economy, harm to the nation’s reputation and a rock-bottom public approval rating.

Topher Spiro: The Myth of the Medical-Device Tax

IN the last few days of negotiations in Congress, repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s tax on medical devices emerged as a key Republican demand. The medical-device industry waged an intense lobbying campaign – even garnering the support of many Democrats who favored the law – arguing that the tax would stifle innovation and increase health care costs.

This argument is doubly disingenuous. Not only can the medical-device industry easily afford the tax without compromising innovation, but the industry’s enormous profits are a result of anticompetitive practices that themselves drive up medical-device costs unnecessarily. The tax is a distraction from reforms to the industry that are urgently needed to lower health care costs.

The medical-device industry faces virtually no price competition. Because of confidentiality agreements that manufacturers require hospitals to sign, the prices of the devices are cloaked in secrecy. This lack of transparency impedes hospitals from sharing price information and thus knowing whether they are getting a good deal.

Mohamed A. El-Erian: What Follows This Congressional Deal?

The good news — and it is very good news — is that Congress seems to have finally struck a deal that would reopen the government and dodge a debt default. In doing so, lawmakers have avoided (at least for now) a crisis of their own creation that would have tipped the country into recession, caused substantial job losses, and further eroded America’s global standing — all of which would have also undermined national security. [..]

What emerged from Congress on Wednesday speaks to stop-gap measures born of exhaustion and political miscalculations, and prompted by national (and global) outrage.

By kicking the can down the road, our bickering Congress has created a temporary window for — at least in theory — more rational debate and decision-making. According to available information, the government would now be funded until January 15th and the debt ceiling would be pushed back to February 7th (with the ability to use extraordinary measures pushing that deadline to the spring).

Dean Baker: Republicans Are Delusional About US Spending and Deficits

The story of out-of-control debts and deficits is just plain wrong. US deficits have fallen in the past four years

It is understandable that the public is disgusted with Washington; they have every right to be. At a time when the country continues to suffer from the worst patch of unemployment since the Great Depression, the government is shut down over concerns about the budget deficit. [..]

Going to the wall for something that is incredibly important is a reasonable tactic. However, the public apparently did not agree with the Republicans. Polls show that they overwhelmingly oppose their tactic of shutting down the government and risking default over Obamacare. As a result, the Republicans are now claiming that the dispute is actually over spending.

Anywhere outside of Washington DC and totalitarian states, you don’t get to rewrite history. However, given the national media’s concept of impartiality, they now feel an obligation to accept that the Republicans’ claim that this is a dispute over spending levels.

Bill Blum: The Supreme Court Could Get Even Worse This Term

Even allowing for last term’s 5-4 decisions on gay marriage or the equally narrow 2012 approval of Obamacare’s individual mandate, the Supreme Court has amassed a profoundly right-wing record under the stewardship of Chief Justice John Roberts on issues including corporate accountability, campaign finance and voting rights. And if the oral arguments conducted the first two weeks of the court’s current term are any indication, the record is likely only to harden.

It’s easy enough to analyze the court’s opinions one case at a time, identifying how each affirms or alters specific areas of law. It’s also relatively easy, as Mother Jones magazine has shown, to measure the court’s political slant statistically by adding up the number of conservative rulings issued each term or tallying the number of prior liberal court precedents the tribunal overturns.


John Nichols: Paul Ryan’s Peddling a ‘Shock Doctrine’ Cure

Forget about death and taxes.

If you are looking for certainties in American politics, count on this one: If a crisis of governing develops, the advocates for cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will arrive with a plan to resolve the standoff by balancing budgets on the backs of America’s most vulnerable citizens.

Cue Paul Ryan.

The House Budget Committee chairman, a Republican from Janesville, has for the better part of a decade been the most determined advocate on Capitol Hill for the Wall Street agenda that says earned-benefit programs should be reshaped as investment vehicles and voucher schemes that will benefit brokers and the health insurance industry.