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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David Cay Johnston: Americans have lost out on $6.6 trillion

The inability to maintain 2000-level prosperity has cost us all

Why are so many Americans feeling squeezed economically even as the economy expands at an accelerating pace?

Last month set a new record for sustained job creation: 52 straight months of added jobs, with a robust 288,000 more jobs in June and more than 9 million jobs created since February 2010. The unemployment rate is down to 6.1 percent, and the number of long-term unemployed has been slashed, from about 5 million people to about 3 million.

The stock market is soaring, reaching a record high on July 3. The Dow Jones industrial average passed 17,000 – amazing compared with its Great Recession low of 6,627 in March 2009, just weeks after President Barack Obama took office.

So what’s missing? Why did Obama acknowledge in a television interview last week that the “underlying trend for middle class families, that they don’t feel, no matter how hard they work, they’re able to get ahead in the same way that their parents were able to get ahead.”

The answer lies in a very large sum of missing money – about $6.6 trillion by my count – over the first 12 years of this century. That’s as much money as everyone in the United States made from New Year’s Day 2012 through late September of that year. It may also explain Obama’s low approval ratings.

How could such a gigantic sum go missing and not get noticed?

Paul Krugman: Who Wants a Depression?

The story so far: For more than five years, the Fed has faced harsh criticism from a coalition of economists, pundits, politicians and financial-industry moguls warning that it is “debasing the dollar” and setting the stage for runaway inflation. You might have thought that the continuing failure of the predicted inflation to materialize would cause at least a few second thoughts, but you’d be wrong. Some of the critics have come up with new rationales for unchanging policy demands – it’s about inflation! no, it’s about financial stability! – but most have simply continued to repeat the same warnings.

Who are these always-wrong, never-in-doubt critics? With no exceptions I can think of, they come from the right side of the political spectrum. But why should right-wing sentiments go hand in hand with inflation paranoia? One answer is that using monetary policy to fight slumps is a form of government activism. And conservatives don’t want to legitimize the notion that government action can ever have positive effects, because once you start down that path you might end up endorsing things like government-guaranteed health insurance.

George Zornick: Did the CIA Illegally Spy on the Senate? Now We May Never Know

The Department of Justice will not investigate whether the Central Intelligence Agency illegally spied on staffers of the Senate Intelligence Committee and removed documents from committee servers, McClatchy confirmed Thursday. The CIA also claimed committee staffers took documents from the intelligence agency without authorization, and that claim will also not be investigated.

“The department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation,” Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr told McClatchy.

It’s a fizzling denouement to one of the more fascinating political dramas of the Obama era. Earlier this year, without any warning, Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein took the Senate floor and delivered a lengthy, forceful speech directly accusing the CIA of spying on private committee computers and removing sensitive documents. It was an unprecedented public eruption of tensions between the security state and the legislative branch.

John Nichols: The Senate Judiciary Committee Just Backed an Amendment to Overturn ‘Citizens United’

Constitutional amendments are often proposed but rarely advanced to the stage of serious debate. What moves any meaningful amendment from mere paperwork to serious consideration is the popular will of the great mass of Americans. And the popular will of the great mass of Americans have been abundantly clear since the United States Supreme Court struck down barriers to corporate control of democracy with its 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.

Sixteen American states and roughly 600 communities have formally told Congress that the Constitution must be amended to make it clear that corporations are not people, money is not speech and citizens and their elected representatives have a right to organize elections that are defined by votes rather than dollars.

Zoë Carpenter: The GOP’s Completely Incoherent Stance on the Border Crisis

Republicans are furious about the flood of children streaming across the US-Mexico border, and are criticizing the president for not deporting the children fast enough. But now that Obama has asked for nearly $4 billion to help kick the kids out more quickly, they don’t want to fund the emergency measures. [..]

Most minors are simply handing themselves over to border patrol agents, suggesting that a porous border isn’t really the problem. And even if the border were completely sealed, there’s still the question of what to do with the tens of thousands of children here already. Perry ignored the fact that the Obama administration is bound by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which bars the government from immediately deporting children from countries that do not share a border with the United States-such as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where the bulk of the children are from. The law requires border patrol to turn the children over to Health and Human Services and entitles them to due process so they may apply for humanitarian relief. Obama is trying to speed up deportations, to the consternation of immigrant rights and humanitarian groups. But unless Congress changes the trafficking law, the only way to do so is to make the legal system work faster by paying for more lawyers and judges.

Ana Marie Cox: Rick Perry just might be the lunatic the GOP is looking for in 2016

Republicans need a candidate who can do a quick two-step on immigration. Who better than a Texan?

Can Rick Perry – the one-time laughingstock who couldn’t overcome uncountable gaffes and wildly uneven stump performances to become the Republican nominee in 2012 – be the Republican party’s great red hope in 2016? Given a schizophrenic GOP and a political climate where one word – jobs – can trump most every concern, the answer, let me tell you, is … let’s see … sorry … oops … yes! And it’s precisely because his policy positions are as wildly unpredictable as his debate performances. [..]

He’ll have to weather some stumping, of course, and, of all the potential Republican presidential candidates, Perry stands to benefit the most from the shortened primary season and curtailed debate schedule. But it would behoove his naysayers to remember that his bad-to-weird stump performances in 2012 were a seeming anomaly in a retail politics career that once earned him comparisons v] to Bill Clinton and the [endorsement of a liberal state congresswoman “on personal grounds” during his first gubernatorial re-election campaign.

As for the Beltway establishment’s obsession with Perry’s gaffes, it’s almost not worth even asking the question if voters really care. Was George W Bush elected president? Gaffes are a feature of politicians and the electoral process, not a bug. Rick Perry puts on a good show. He may have ditched his cowboy boots for nerd glasses, but he’s still as captivating as a rodeo clown.