Mar 25 2015

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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Susan Greenbaum: GOP’s plan to shred the safety net in 2016

Republicans intend to inflict more painful austerity on those who can least withstand it

The GOP majorities in both chambers of Congress have crafted their 2016 budget proposals, newly confident about fulfilling promises to cut spending, reduce taxes and shrink the government. Although inequality has reached Gilded Age levels, austerity continues to dominate their internal debates. Never mind that drastic spending cuts have harmed, not helped, the struggling economies of the eurozone, where mounting evidence eviscerates the theory that austerity can spur growth.

The latest tax reform proposal from Sens. Marco Rubio and Mike Lee is a full-blown version of supply-side economics, to the tune of $4 trillion in revenue loss over a decade that would have to be offset by spending cuts. The plan targets programs that benefit the poor the most: Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps). On all sides and in both chambers, the Republicans appear determined to inflict more painful austerity on those who can least withstand it.

Winnie Byanyima: Another World Is Possible, Without the 1%

Activists from around the world will defy the terrorists to attend the World Social Forum in Tunis on March 25, determined to make the occasion a beacon for free speech, justice and equality. I am proud to join the leaders of Greenpeace, ActionAid, Civicus and the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) in highlighting the urgent need to tackle the vested interests of the 1 percent, in order to build a better world for all of humanity.

If you are in the top 1 percent of the global wealth stakes, our economic system works exceptionally well. Since the financial crisis in 2008, most of the wealth created in the world has ended up in your bank accounts. By next year, you could own more wealth than the rest of the world put together.

This is not just a global phenomenon. The growing gap between rich and poor is a reality for seven out of ten people on the planet. Last week the World Bank calculated that ten Africans own more wealth than half the continent. Statistics like these are actually a cold shower on people’s natural, positive aspirations to improve their lot – they’re telling us the 99 percent won’t get there, or anywhere close.

Amanda Marcotte: Political Lobby for Frats Wants to Make It Harder to Enforce Title IX

The political arm of the national fraternity system-known as the Fraternity & Sorority Political Action Committee (FratPAC)-is getting involved in the campus rape debate. Sadly, it seems they want to make it as hard as possible for schools to discipline students who sexually abuse or harass each other. [..]

The sentiment may sound fair-minded; it’s anything but. FratPAC is singling out sexual assault as the only crime they want universities to handle in this way. Underage drinking, drug dealing, burglary, assault-all of these actions break both school rules and the law, but FratPAC is not asking universities to wait for the criminal courts to adjudicate these crimes before punishing the students for breaking their corresponding school rules. In the situation they’re proposing, a school could punish a student for stealing from another student without waiting for the courts to adjudicate the matter; but if a student rapes another student, the school couldn’t act.

Joan Walsh: GOP innovation paralysis: How Jeb Bush sucks the oxygen out of Republican “reform”

While some governors practice genuine policy innovation, Bush’s fundraising juggernaut keeps them on the sidelines

I feel for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. He can’t get traction as a potential 2016 GOP presidential nominee with anyone so far – except political journalists. He sits around 1 percent in polls (that bother to mention him) and yet he’s been the focus of two long, laudatory profiles, touting his potential presidential appeal, in the last 18 months.

The New York Times’s Trip Gabriel found Kasich to be a maverick who “defies GOP with defense of safety net.” Now Yahoo Politics’s Andrew Romano asks if he could be “the GOP’s secret weapon in 2016?” He answers, archly, “John Kasich thinks so,” but the sympathetic profile suggests Romano agrees. Kasich seems eternally poised on the brink of defining a new way for the GOP – Compassionate Conservatism 2.0 – but is stymied by his inability to a) raise big money and b) get taken seriously (beyond Ohio and the national media), at least partly because he seems a tiny bit loopy and c) get past the boys of the Bush dynasty. [..]

The moderate establishment wing of the GOP, by contrast, seems content to let Jeb Bush be its standard bearer, charged with figuring out how much to cave to his party’s far-right base during the primaries, while trusting him to course correct in time for the general election. The campaign is unlikely to feature a genuine debate about a GOP economic growth agenda – a debate that a Kasich candidacy might catalyze. That’s a loss not just for Kasich, if indeed he skips a run, but for the country.

Julia Harumi Mass: FBI Ordered to Disclose its Surveillance Tactics on Communities

On Monday, a federal district court in San Francisco issued an important ruling for government transparency and accountability. Judge Richard Seeborg disallowed the FBI’s attempt to use a “law enforcement exemption” in the Freedom of Information Act to shield from public disclosure details of the agency’s surveillance programs. [..]

This ruling well upholds the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act and its limited law enforcement exemption. As the FBI has expanded its activities to include generalized monitoring and surveillance, unconnected to any suspected criminal activity, it is critical that records related to those broad surveillance programs be available for public scrutiny.