“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”.
Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt
Paul Krugman: Economics and Elections
Britain’s economic performance since the financial crisis struck has been startlingly bad. A tentative recovery began in 2009, but it stalled in 2010. Although growth resumed in 2013, real income per capita is only now reaching its level on the eve of the crisis – which means that Britain has had a much worse track record since 2007 than it had during the Great Depression.
Yet as Britain prepares to go to the polls, the leaders of the coalition government that has ruled the country since 2010 are posing as the guardians of prosperity, the people who really know how to run the economy. And they are, by and large, getting away with it.
There are some important lessons here, not just for Britain but for all democracies struggling to manage their economies in difficult times. I’ll get to those lessons in a minute. But first, let’s ask how a British government with such a poor economic record can manage to run on its supposed economic achievements.
Robert Kuttner: Our Corporate Saviors
What are we to make of the fact that some big corporations are turning out to be the relative good guys, on issues as varied as same-sex marriage, the environment and even (to a limited extent) workers’ wages? Last week, the governors of Indiana and Arkansas were forced to back down and dilute bogus “religious freedom” laws intended to shelter discrimination against gays and lesbians, in large part because their corporate bigwigs told them to stop embarrassing the state and scaring off business.
In Indiana, these included the Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, the Indiana Pacers and even the Indy 500. In Arkansas, the pressure came, among others, from (shudder) Walmart, whose executives urged the hapless governor, Asa Hutchinson, to veto the bill. [..]
What gives here? Are big corporations the new custodians of social conscience?
Hardly. If you take these one at a time, a few things are at work. For starters, most big corporate executives are more cosmopolitan than the religious far right, and they also worry mightily about reputational damage.
The GOP presidential field in particular and the Republican Party in general have decided to treat the Iran negotiations the way they did Obamacare, as the unfortunate apparent achievement of a president they had determined to emasculate, which needs to be abrogated yesterday. In short, they are making the Iran talks a partisan domestic issue, refusing to recognize it as a diplomatic victory. [..]
So, just to recap: The usually flamboyant Ted Cruz has been more cautious and circumspect than Scott Walker in his reaction to the Iran deal. Walker used the unfortunate phrase “blow up” about a nuclear negotiation and does not seem to understand how international sanctions work, nor that unilateral US sanctions wouldn’t much hurt Iran. Marco Rubio needs new glasses, since he seems not to be able to read the fine print of the agreement.
And Rand Paul is AWOL on one of the most important issues facing the country.
The Republican presidential field is not ready for prime time regarding the Iran deal.
As for the rank and file GOP congress representatives, such as Louis Gohmert (R-TX), they just raved like lunatics, talking about bombing each and every centrifuge in Iran. But then they were going to fix Iraq by bombing it, too.
Amy B. Dean: The morning after the Tea Party
Governors who thought tax cuts for the rich would create trickle-down prosperity are waking up
Conservative U.S. governors who came to power during the 2010 Tea Party electoral wave are facing a reality check. A few years ago, catering to a far-right constituency, they campaigned on pledges of slashing taxes and bolstering business. Their subsequent policies have benefited the wealthy but failed to bring trickle-down prosperity to their states.
It is the morning after the Tea Party. Republican governors are waking up to a sluggish job market, stagnant wages, state deficits and impoverished services. The party’s trickle-down ideology is no way to manage a government. And a state cannot be run on tax cuts alone. [..]
Conservative governors now recognize the need to generate revenue to maintain schools and highways. But they are still not taking responsibility and cleaning up the messes they have created. Rather than reversing tax cuts for the wealthy, many are implementing regressive measures that penalize middle-class taxpayers.
“Of the 10 or so Republican governors who have proposed tax increases, nearly all have called for increases in consumption taxes, which hit the poor and middle class harder than the rich,” The New York Times reported last month. This includes new taxes on gas, e-cigarettes, movie tickets and services such as haircuts.
Paul Buccheit: Rahm Emanuel: Symbol of a Sick America
America’s is a sickness of the mind, the unwavering belief by people in power that free-market capitalism will somehow work for everyone.
As with a virus that refuses to die, the effects are insidious, because the very rich have convinced themselves that they made it on their own, and that others have only themselves to blame if they are poor.
Rahm Emanuel is Mayor 1%. He speaks a politician’s words to entice many Chicagoans to vote for him, but his actions are on behalf of his friends and colleagues in the business world. [..]
Like its mayor, Chicago has two faces. The rest of the nation sees the glitz and glamour of Chicago’s magnificent downtown, but the city’s south and west sides, according to urban analyst Daniel Hertz, are more dangerous than in the 1990s. This is part of the sickness: a persistent inequality, moreso of wealth than of income, that plagues America and manifests itself in the questionable dealings of a man like Rahm Emanuel. He may best be remembered as the privatizer of Chicago and, as Perlstein suggested, “a strikingly corrupt mayor.”
Harold Meyerson: Workers – Not Employers – Are the Real Wage Movers and Shakers
“We’re too big and complicated a system to do anything in reaction to a particular group or something happening,” Karen King, who has the wonderful title of “chief people officer” at McDonald’s, said Wednesday, explaining her company’s decision to raise wages for some of its employees.
If you believe that, don’t go near anyone purporting to sell you a bridge, even if it comes with fries on the side. [..]
But the prime mover behind these raises, whether company-specific or legislative, is the workers themselves. The campaigns of the fast-food workers, Wal-Mart employees and others have functioned as a kind of second act to the Occupy Wall Street movement, not just highlighting the enormous disparities of income and wealth in our society but also putting forth a concrete demand, as Occupy never did, to remedy some of inequality’s most remediable extremes.
Robert Fisk: What Will Saudi Arabia Do When – Not If – Things Go Wrong in Their War with the Shia Houthi Rebels?
The depth of the sectarian war unleashed in Yemen shows itself in almost every Gulf Arab official statement and in the official press. [..]
Saudis are being told to regard their country’s struggle as a decision even more important than Saudi Arabia’s appeal to the US to send troops to the land of the Two Holy Mosques in 1990 – a view Osama bin Laden might have disagreed with.
What is less clear, however, is where Washington stands amid all this rhetorical froth in the Gulf and real dead bodies in Yemen. There have been reports in the Arab states that US drone attacks have been made as part of the coalition’s battle in Yemen, that American intelligence has been pin-pointing targets for the Saudis (with the usual civilian casualties). There was a time when America’s war in Yemen seemed to be just part of the whole War on Terror fandango throughout the Middle East. Not any more.