“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: Addicted to the Apocalypse
Once upon a time, walking around shouting “The end is nigh” got you labeled a kook, someone not to be taken seriously. These days, however, all the best people go around warning of looming disaster. In fact, you more or less have to subscribe to fantasies of fiscal apocalypse to be considered respectable.
And I do mean fantasies. Washington has spent the past three-plus years in terror of a debt crisis that keeps not happening, and, in fact, can’t happen to a country like the United States, which has its own currency and borrows in that currency. Yet the scaremongers can’t bring themselves to let go. [..]
As I’ve already suggested, there are two remarkable things about this kind of doomsaying. One is that the doomsayers haven’t rethought their premises despite being wrong again and again – perhaps because the news media continue to treat them with immense respect. The other is that as far as I can tell nobody, and I mean nobody, in the looming-apocalypse camp has tried to explain exactly how the predicted disaster would actually work.
New York Times Editorial: In Search of Republican Grown-Ups
The leaders of the Republican Party, in full flight from their disastrous and juvenile shutdown stunt, now want to restock their ranks with grown-ups. “Let’s face it: it was not a good maneuver,” Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah told The Times recently. “You’ve got to have the adults running the thing.”
Mr. Hatch and other establishment senators believe that grown-ups would not threaten the country’s full faith and credit, or keep the government closed, in order to get their way. That’s true, but it’s a rather pallid definition of maturity. A mature and responsible political party would do more than prevent a government default; it would offer serious solutions to the nation’s most pressing problems instead of running from them.
And it is there that Republicans – whether adults or Tea Party members – continue to let the public down.
The idea of having a strong Federal government was controversial in the early United States, and one of the ways Federalists reassured Americans that it wouldn’t become tyrannical was to append a Bill of Rights to the Constitution.
That attempt to prevent despotism has failed, because the Federal government and its various agencies have set aside the Bill of Rights as a dead letter, substituted for them a bizarre set of interpretations of law, and either avoid having the courts adjudicate their fascist fantasies or managed to have appointed to the bench unethical or authoritarian judges that will uphold virtually anything they do.
How corrupt our system has become is evident when even the New Yorker emphasizes that a secret Senate report found that torture in the Bush years was “unnecessary” and “ineffective.” Not that it was “unconstitutional.”
Medea Benjamin: $40 Million Allocated for Drone Victims Never Reaches Them
Recent reports on US drone strikes by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN have heightened international awareness about civilian casualties and have resulted in new calls for redress. The Amnesty International drone report “Will I be next?” says the US government should ensure that victims of unlawful drone strikes, including family members, have effective access to remedies, including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. The Human Rights Watch report “Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda” calls on the US government to “implement a system of prompt and meaningful compensation for civilian loss of life, injury, and property damage from unlawful attack.”
Several human rights groups have approached lawmakers asking them to sponsor legislation calling for such a fund. But congresspeople have been reluctant to introduce what they consider a losing proposition. Even maverick Congressman Alan Grayson, who is hosting a congressional briefing for drone victims from Pakistan on October 29, turned down the idea. “There’s no sympathy in this Congress for drone strike victims,” he said.
But unbeknownst to Grayson, the human rights groups and drone strike victims themselves, Congress already has such a fund.
The peace group CODEPINK recently discovered that every year for the past four years, a pot of $10 million has been allocated for Pakistani drone strike victims. That would make a total of $40 million, quite a hefty sum to divide among a few hundred families. But it appears that none of this money has actually reached them.
Dean Baker: After Budget Deal, Time to Move Forward
President Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress deserve credit for successfully fending off Republican efforts to first torpedo the Affordable Care Act and then to attack Social Security and Medicare. Unfortunately, it does not appear that they are prepared to seize on the momentum and try to repair some of the damage that is being down by the prolonged downturn.
The problem is that the Democrats still seem to accept the Republicans’ parameters for the budget debate. The implication is that current deficits are a serious problem. This means that any area where there is an increase in spending must be offset by cuts elsewhere or tax increases. Since the Republicans remain adamantly opposed to any tax increases, reshuffling spending is the only option open to the Democrats. [..]
The reality is that the economy needs more spending and there is no plausible story where the additional spending is going to come from the private sector in the immediate future. If the government is not prepared to boost spending then we will continue to see an economy that is down close to 9 million jobs from its trend level.
Richard (RJ) Eskow: Dear House-Senate Budget Committee: The Country Needs Jobs
Details are emerging about the House-Senate conference committee charged with developing a new budget. That would presumably head off the continued threat of a renewed Republican government shutdown – a catastrophe that is currently scheduled for January 15 – and would presumably also defuse the GOP’s threat to throw the government into default.
A word for the members of the committee: Tuesday the S&P 500 stock market index hit record highs, while newly-released employment statistics were even weaker than expected. Your mission couldn’t be clearer. You must create a budget which creates jobs for the American people.
Nevertheless, many politicians are misinterpreting their assignment. You’ll hear them say that the Committee’s been charged with finding a “deficit reduction plan” that’s acceptable to both parties.