“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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Paul Krugman: Lousy Medicaid Arguments
[..]Last year’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act did strike down one provision, the one that would have forced all states to accept an expansion of Medicaid, the already-existing program of health insurance for the poor. States are now free to reject that expansion. Yet how can states justify turning down a federal offer to insure thousands of their citizens, one that would cost them nothing in the first year and only trivial amounts later? Sheer spite – the desire to sabotage anything with President Obama’s name on it – is the real reason, but doesn’t sound too good. So they need intellectual cover.
Enter the same experts, more or less, who warned about rate shock, to declare that Medicaid actually hurts its recipients. Their evidence? Medicaid patients tend to be sicker than the uninsured, and slower to recover from surgery. [..]
And the reliance on such arguments is itself deeply revealing, because it illustrates the right’s intellectual decline. I mean, this is the best argument their so-called experts can come up with for their policy priorities?
Meanwhile, many states are still planning to reject the Medicaid expansion, denying essential health care to millions of needy Americans. And they have no good excuse for this act of cruelty.
Robert Kuttner: Billionaires Against Social Security
America’s very rich keep trying to start a movement among college students to blame senior citizens for the sorry state of the economy that kids will inherit. Specifically, the billionaires keep trying to scapegoat Social Security.
This is part of the public relations effort to create a “grand bargain” to cut America’s (fast-declining) budget deficit. The Peter G. Peterson Foundation has spent about a billion dollars of Peterson’s own money to create faux movements to get students to take up this unlikely cause.
The latest of the billionaires to try this gambit is Stanley Druckenmiller, net worth estimated at $2.9 billion, former head of the hedge fund Duquesne Capital. Druckenmiller’s personal campus crusade has been the subject of two fawning profiles, one by Tom Friedman in Wednesday’s Times, the other by James Freeman in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal.
Druckenmiller’s campus crusade is based on such preposterous economics that I hereby challenge him to a college debate or series of debates.
You’ve got to love those Washington Post folks. They continuously use both their news and editorial sections to push for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and disability insurance, running roughshod over journalistic standards and data. But when it comes to the Wall Street boys, they just can’t help but to tear at our heart strings.
Last week the Post ran an editorial bemoaning the “political persecution” of J.P. Morgan. It complained that the government was pursuing a civil case against J.P. Morgan for misrepresenting mortgage backed securities it sold to investors during the housing bubble years:
“Yet roughly 70 percent of the securities at issue were concocted not by JPMorgan but by two institutions, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, that it acquired in 2008.”
There are two points worth making on this. First, if 70 percent of the securities came from Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, then 30 percent came from J.P. Morgan. This means that it could have been involved in misrepresenting tens of billions of dollars in mortgage backed securities sold to investors. We have young men sitting in jail for stealing cars worth a few thousand dollars, but the Post thinks that Wall Street bankers should get a pass on fraudulently passing off tens of billions in bad mortgage backed securities.
Jared Bernstein: What’s Wrong With America?
Reflecting on the recent shutdown/debt ceiling debacle, the resolution of which is only a few months’ respite until the same self-imposed deadlines reappear, you’ve got to wonder: what’s wrong with America? [..]
Imagine a platform based not on deficit reduction but on the realization that lots more people need jobs that pay living wages, which means higher minimum wages, work supports, manufacturing/trade policy, full employment fiscal and monetary policy, direct job creation, and work sharing. BTW, that’s not an expensive agenda (the only new cost would be direct job creation, and I’ve got a pretty cheap model in mind; good fiscal policy is a cyclical cost — not saying it pays for itself, but in terms of lost output, it’s expensive not to do it).
OK, enough blue-skying on a beautiful blue-sky, autumn day. All I’m saying is: I can easily see why the world is deeply nervous about where America is and where we’re headed. But I’m not convinced our electorate is so polarized that we can’t change course. We’ve just got to give people a better choice.
E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Hope that governance will return to Washington
“Blessed are they who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed.”
It was the early 20th-century socialist Eugene V. Debs who pointed to the utility of this extra Beatitude. You don’t have to be a lefty to appreciate its relevance to our politics after the shutdown disaster.
Cynicism about the political future is a default position with a great deal of evidence behind it. We seem incapable of reaching compromises or even finding ways to differ productively. Even elections don’t seem to settle things.
Against this grain, I suggest that we allow ourselves a margin of hope in the wake of the decisive defeat of the extremists who closed down the government to accomplish absolutely nothing. It is a hope tempered by humility. Giant leaps ahead aren’t in the cards. But some important things changed for the better because of this battle.
If Americans learn anything from this month’s shutdown-and-debt-ceiling debacle, they ought to realize that political extremism brings real costs-denominated in dollars and jobs, as well as national cohesion and prestige-and that those costs are not small. As long as the tea party faction continues to wield its malign influence over the Republican leadership in Congress, the threat of further and even worse damage will not subside. [..]
Only a dwindling fraction of voters is still mesmerized by such demagogic nonsense, but their anger intimidates enough Republicans to ensure that Cruz and company can seek to sabotage the economy again-and they will. So it is vital for everyone to understand what these vandals have inflicted on us already.