“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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Joshua Sager: GOP’s 30-year spin job is over: Why we are not a center-right nation
From minimum wage to the environment to abortion, America is far more liberal than the media or the right admit
It is a persistent belief among many in the political and media establishments, fed by decades of right-wing propaganda, that the United States is a “center-right nation” that finds progressives to be far too liberal for mainstream positions of power.
If you look purely at electoral outcomes, those who assert this appear to have a fairly strong point. The last several decades of federal politics have been dominated by center-right policies and truly left-wing politicians have been largely marginalized (e.g., Bernie Sanders). Even Clinton and Obama – the last two Democratic presidents who, theoretically, should be leftists – are corporate-friendly moderates who have triangulated during negotiations with Republicans to pass center-right policy compromises (e.g., Obama’s Heritage Foundation-inspired ACA or the Clinton Defense of Marriage Act compromise).
While electoral results may support the idea of a center-right nation, looking beyond electoral politics – which involve a mixture of policy choices, party politics, fundraising and propaganda – and focusing purely upon raw policy preferences leaves us with an entirely different picture.
Here is a compilation of polling data from various reputable American polling organizations, describing the policy preferences of the Americans people over the last year.
Bill Curry: My party has lost its soul: Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and the victory of Wall Street Democrats
In 2006 the Atlantic magazine asked a panel of “eminent historians” to name the 100 most influential people in American history. Included alongside George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Mark Twain and Elvis Presley was Ralph Nader, one of only three living Americans to make the list. It was airy company for Nader, but if you think about it, an easy call. [..]
Populism isn’t just liberalism on steroids; it too demands compromise. After any defeat, a party’s base consoles itself with the notion that if its candidates were pure they’d have won. It’s never true; most voters differ with both parties. Still, liberals dream of retaking Congress as the Tea Party dreams of retaking the White House: by being pure. Democratic elites are always up for compromise, but on the wrong issues. Rather than back GOP culture wars, as some do, or foreign wars, as many do, or big business, as nearly all do, they should back libertarians on privacy, small business on credit and middle-class families on taxes.
If Democrats can’t break up with Obama or make up with Nader, they should do what they do best: take a poll. They would find that beneath all our conflicts lies a hidden consensus. It prizes higher ethics, lower taxes and better governance; community and privacy; family values and the First Amendment; economic as well as cultural diversity. Its potential coalition includes unions, small business, nonprofits, the professions, the economically embattled and all the marginalized and excluded. Such a coalition could reshape our politics, even our nation.
The people of Detroit have no rights that corporations and their servants in government are bound to respect. Indeed, the emergency manager laws have been used to disenfranchise the residents of every largely Black city and school district in the state, encompassing more than half the Black population of Michigan. (The people of Michigan rejected the legislation in a referendum, but Republican lawmakers simply passed a near-identical measure, as if nothing had happened.)
The 82 percent Black metropolis is under siege, in the Medieval sense of the term. Just as ancient armies deprived towns under siege of food and water, to starve and thirst them into submission, so Kevin Orr has caused the Detroit Water and Sewage Department to cut off tens of thousands of residents, in an escalating trajectory of systematically inflicted mass punishment and pain designed to make life in the city unbearable for a huge proportion of the population.
This is a war against a Black city, and a blueprint for future aggressions aimed at shrinking “chocolate cities” across the nation. What Katrina accomplished through the sudden advent of flood, the corporate strategists in Michigan intend to achieve by emergency dictatorship, privatization and blatantly racist official barbarism.
Dean Baker: Finance in America: Promoting Inequality and Waste
In the crazy years of the housing boom the financial sector was a gigantic cesspool of excess and corruption. There was big money in pushing and packaging fraudulent mortgages. The country paid a huge price for the financial sector’s sleaze.
Unfortunately, because of the Obama administration’s soft-on-crime approach to the bankers who became rich in the process, the industry is still a cesspool of excess and greed. Just to be clear, knowingly issuing and packaging a fraudulent mortgage is a crime, the sort of thing for which people go to jail. But thanks to the political power of the Wall Street, none of them went to jail, and in fact they got to keep the money.
Since the penalties for ripping off people are trivial to non-existent, the financial sector finds this to be a much more profitable line of business than actually providing financial services. The New York Times recently reported on the boom in the subprime market for auto loans featuring many of the same abusive practices we saw in the subprime mortgage market during the bubble years. Lenders are slapping on extra fees, changing the terms after contracts are signed, and doing all the other fun things we have come to expect from leaders in finance. The used car industry was sufficiently powerful that it was able to gain an exemption from being covered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
We could look to contain these abuses with better regulation, but there is an easier route: competition. Senator Elizabeth Warren and others have proposed re-establishing a postal banking system. The Postal Service used to provide many basic banking services and postal banks still exist in many European countries. It should be a simple enough matter to re-establish such a system, run on a profit-making basis, that would provide basic services to low and moderate income households.
Eugene Robinson: Republican Lawmakers on Strike
The Republican Party’s paralysis on immigration is so complete-and so utterly irresponsible-that President Obama has no choice but to act on his own.
Just say the word immigration and most GOP members of Congress either change the subject or scurry away. Rather than tackle a suite of genuine issues whose obvious solutions would clearly benefit the nation, House Republicans prefer to pass yet more useless bills that seek-and fail-to take away people’s health insurance. [..]
House Republicans, meanwhile, have been spinning their wheels. Boehner is reportedly seeking agreement on a bill that provides only about $1 billion in emergency funding, far less than Obama says is needed. And it seems likely that the House bill-if there is one-will seek to change a 2008 law that prevents the Central American children from being summarily deported.
A little background about that law is in order. The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act-named after a 19th-century English abolitionist-was signed by George W. Bush late in his presidency. Designed to combat human trafficking, the law provides that any child from a country other than Canada or Mexico who enters the United States illegally must be given a full immigration hearing before being deported. The goal is to determine whether the child has a valid claim for asylum.
E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Paul Ryan’s New Clothes
Paul Ryan is counting on this: Because he says he wants to preserve a safety net, speaks with concern about poor people and put out a 73-page report, many will elide over the details of the proposals he made last week in his major anti-poverty speech.
The Wisconsin Republican congressman is certainly aware that one of the biggest political difficulties he and his conservative colleagues face is that many voters suspect them of having far more compassion for a wealthy person paying taxes than for a poor or middle-income person looking for a job.
So Ryan gave a well-crafted address at the American Enterprise Institute in which the centerpiece sounded brand spanking new: the “Opportunity Grant.” The problem is that this “pilot program” amounts to little more than the stale conservative idea of wrapping federal programs into a block grant and shipping them off to the states. The good news is that Ryan only proposes “experiments” involving “a select number of states,” so he would not begin eliminating programs wholesale. Thank God for small favors.
Senate Bill 2277, which is an act of war (another) against Russia, also includes sections 305 and 306. These sections focus on
“allowing American corporations to exploit existing natural gas reserves and conduct additional exploration for oil and gas…you know, while we’re busy combating that pesky Russian aggression.
Well, it seems Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter made the right move at just the right time when he decided to join the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, not even two weeks after this bill was introduced.”
There is also a Section 309 which directs the propagation of propaganda to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to make them think it’s in their best interests.
It’s also absolute proof, again, that our Congress and Senate are completely directed by corporate, banking and Wall Street interests.
It is useless voting for these two parties. In fact, voting for these two parties only allows them to continue with their evil games.