“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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Trevor Timm: The Isis war resolution debate resounds with doublespeak
We’re more than six months into an illegal war and hardly anyone in DC seems to care.
Congress continued to half-heartedly debate an ISIS war resolution this week, as the Senate held a hearing on the Obama administration’s proposed language for a three-year ISIS war that it belatedly wrote only a few weeks ago – after several months and thousands of bombs had been dropped in both Iraq and Syria. Sen. Bob Corker, meanwhile, says he his committee might get around to holding another hearing in a couple weeks. But he’s in no rush.
It’s hard to figure out who is more to blame for the embarrassing damage both branches of government are currently doing to both the War Powers Act and the Constitution: a Congress that is too cowardly to take a stand, or an administration that insists it doesn’t matter what Congress does, they’re going to keep bombing Iraq and Syria for years either way.
Christine Lagarde: Fair Play — Equal Laws for Equal Working Opportunities for Women
Leveling the legal playing field for women holds real promise for the world — in both human and economic terms. Unfortunately, that promise remains largely ignored and its potential untapped. In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to be economically active to work.
What can be done to remove these barriers? A new study (pdf) done by IMF economists seeks to answer that question.
The bottom line? It’s about a fair, level playing field.
Despite some progress over the past few years, gender-based legal restrictions remain significant. Almost 90 percent of countries have at least one important restriction in the books, and some have many.
These range from the requirement for women to seek their husband’s permission to work, to laws that restrict women’s participation in specific professions. Others constrain the ability of women to own property, or to inherit, or to obtain a loan.
: Walmart’s Visible Hand
A few days ago Walmart, America’s largest employer, announced that it will raise wages for half a million workers. For many of those workers the gains will be small, but the announcement is nonetheless a very big deal, for two reasons. First, there will be spillovers: Walmart is so big that its action will probably lead to raises for millions of workers employed by other companies. Second, and arguably far more important, is what Walmart’s move tells us – namely, that low wages are a political choice, and we can and should choose differently. [..]
But labor economists have long questioned this view. Soylent Green – I mean, the labor force – is people. And because workers are people, wages are not, in fact, like the price of butter, and how much workers are paid depends as much on social forces and political power as it does on simple supply and demand.
What’s the evidence? First, there is what actually happens when minimum wages are increased. Many states set minimum wages above the federal level, and we can look at what happens when a state raises its minimum while neighboring states do not. Does the wage-hiking state lose a large number of jobs? No – the overwhelming conclusion from studying these natural experiments is that moderate increases in the minimum wage have little or no negative effect on employment.
Charles M. Blow: CPAC: Hackneyed and Hollow
I never know how to set my expectations for the Conservative Political Action Conference, also known as CPAC.
I try to approach it with as much of an open mind as I can muster, understanding that I am at odds, fundamentally, with many conservative principles and conservatives’ views about the role, size and scope of government, but also realizing that apart from a debate setting, this may be the best place to take the temperature of, and hear from, the broadest range of conservative leaders.
I still think, perhaps naïvely so, that people can be ideologically opposed but intellectually engaged, that a good idea makes the best bridge.
So I do my best to follow the speeches – from afar (thank you, live streaming!) – and wait to hear something that jolts my consciousness or challenges my sense of things.
But once again this year, I was disappointed.
There remains in the Republican Party, as evidenced by the speakers at this event, a breathtaking narrowness of vision and deficit of creative thought.
Robert Kuttner: Is Hillary a Sure Thing in 2016?
You hear two competing stories about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in 2016. According to the first, she has a lock on the nomination and the election.
Hillary is sure to win the nomination, because there are no other plausible candidates, especially if Elizabeth Warren doesn’t get in. And Clinton begins with a overwhelming money advantage.
She wins the election because the Electoral College gives Blue states something close to a majority even before the campaign starts. The Republicans would have to run the table of every possible state. But the Republicans are deeply divided, with the candidates who appeal to the base far to the right of the general electorate. And the GOP Congress is rapidly alienating most moderate voters.
Game, set, match to Hillary, correct? Well, not so fast.
John Limbert: Netanyahu’s supporters (and critics) don’t really care what he says to Congress
There is a remarkable parallel between denunciations of Binyamin Netanyahu’s March 3 speech to Congress and of a possible nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1. Those who condemn the former haven’t heard it; and those who condemn the latter haven’t seen it.
Of course the fights are not about the contents of either a possible nuclear agreement or a future Netanyahu speech. The Israeli Prime Minister could outdo Demosthenes in eloquence. It won’t matter, because the political symbolism of the event will overshadow his words. Likewise a nuclear agreement with Iran could be one of history’s most creative settlements between adversaries. To its opponents, however, that will not matter either.
What matters is the existence of a speech or a nuclear agreement, not their content. The fact that Iran and the P5+1 may negotiate their way to an arrangement in which both sides can claim achievements will represent to its opponents (both in Tehran and Washington) a disaster. When both sides see the other as infinitely duplicitous and dishonest, anything they agree to, must
in some unfathomable way contain a trick to cheat US. How, the argument goes, can one reach any agreement “with such people”?