“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: The Big Kludge
The good news about HealthCare.gov, the portal to Obamacare’s health exchange, is that the administration is no longer minimizing its problems. That’s the first step toward fixing the mess – and it will get fixed, although it’s anyone’s guess whether the new promise of a smoothly functioning system by the end of November will be met. We know, after all, that Obamacare is workable, since many states that chose to run their own exchanges are doing quite well.
But while we wait for the geeks to do their stuff, let’s ask a related question: Why did this thing have to be so complicated in the first place?
It’s true that the Affordable Care Act isn’t as complex as opponents make it out to be. Basically, it requires that insurance companies offer the same policies to everyone; it requires that each individual then buy one of these policies (the individual mandate); and it offers subsidies, depending on income, to keep insurance affordable.
E. J. Dionne, Jr.: First, Admit the Problem
Here’s the mistake made by President Obama and the Democrats that nobody is talking about: They have been too fearful of confronting our country’s three-year obsession with the wrong problem.
And here is the tea party’s greatest victory: It has made the wrong problem the center of policymaking.
The wrong problem is the deficit. The right problem is sluggish growth and persistent unemployment.
President Obama urged Congress on Thursday to revive immigration reform, which is not dead but not moving, either. He was talking mostly to House Republicans, though he also urged business, labor and religious groups to “keep putting the pressure on all of us to get this done.”
It’s good that Mr. Obama said “us.” It acknowledges his own role in this continuing disaster.
Much of the responsibility to fix what Mr. Obama calls the “broken immigration system” lies within his own administration. He can’t rewrite immigration laws, but he can control how well – or disastrously – they are enforced. He can begin by undoing the damage done by his Homeland Security Department. Mr. Obama has just nominated Jeh Johnson, a former Defense Department general counsel, to replace homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano, who resigned in July. It’s the perfect opportunity for a fresh start.
Cliff Shecter; Senator Durbin: Don’t sell us short on Social Security
Visiting the issue of Social Security is fraught with misadventure, especially as Midterm elections approach.
To: Majority Whip, Dick Durbin, US Senate
From: Your pal, Cliff
I must have been a bit hard of hearing while watching you this past week on FoxNews Sunday-the hard of hearing being the key Fox demographic, after all-but I think I heard you say that Social Security in the United States “is going to run out of money in 20 years,” so you want to “fix it now.” I couldn’t have heard that right, could I have? Let me try “The Google,” as wily former President W. Bush once counseled.
Ok, Dick, I just consulted the transcript, and, sadly, I didn’t hear it wrong. So it seems we need to have a bit of an awkward conversation.
First, my friend (I still like to think of you this way, as you’re usually such a staunch supporter of common-sense positions on key issues), surely you must be aware that you misspoke?
Robert Reich: Obamacare is a Republican Construct (So Why Are They So Upset?)
The Democrat’s version of health insurance would have been cheaper, simpler, and more popular
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says Republicans will seek to delay a requirement of the 2010 Affordable Care Act that all Americans obtain health insurance or face a tax penalty. “With so many unanswered questions and the problems arising around this rollout, it doesn’t make any sense to impose this one percent mandate tax on the American people.”
While Republicans plot new ways to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, it’s easy to forget that for years they’ve been arguing that any comprehensive health insurance system be designed exactly like the one that officially began October 1st, glitches and all.
For as many years Democrats tried to graft healthcare onto Social Security and Medicare, and pay for it through the payroll tax. But Republicans countered that any system must be based on private insurance and paid for with a combination of subsidies for low-income purchasers and a requirement that the younger and healthier sign up.
Kevin Gosztola: The Banal Justification for Directing the US Surveillance State at World Leaders
All countries spy on each other. Countries like Brazil, France, Germany and Mexico would not be so upset that they had been spied on by the United States if it had not been made public by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. In fact, countries have learned to look the other way and accept that they are being spied on regularly by American intelligence agencies so there really is no reasonable justification for all this outrage from world leaders.
As The Washington Post‘s David Ignatius declared on CNN, “Everybody does do this kind of thing. The US, through the NSA, does it more aggressively because it’s just better at it. It’s got more capabilities.”
The above has been the typical reaction in the US. It aims to suppress debate or conversation about the operations, which US intelligence is engaged in around the world. It seeks to paint outraged officials as simply jealous. If they could spy on all the world’s people at all levels of society, wouldn’t they be doing it, too?
The nature of this response from officials and commentators, from within a country that has built a massive surveillance state for spying on the entire world of which no other country has matched, is truly imperial.