“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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Mohammad Jared Zaraf: Mohammad Javad Zarif: A Message From Iran
WE made important progress in Switzerland earlier this month. With the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, we agreed on parameters to remove any doubt about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program and to lift international sanctions against Iran.
But to seal the anticipated nuclear deal, more political will is required. The Iranian people have shown their resolve by choosing to engage with dignity. It is time for the United States and its Western allies to make the choice between cooperation and confrontation, between negotiations and grandstanding, and between agreement and coercion.
With courageous leadership and the audacity to make the right decisions, we can and should put this manufactured crisis to rest and move on to much more important work. The wider Persian Gulf region is in turmoil. It is not a question of governments rising and falling: the social, cultural and religious fabrics of entire countries are being torn to shreds.
Richard (RJ) Eskow: Social Security Trust — Or, Never Lend Money to a Conservative
Never lend money to a conservative. That’s one conclusion to be drawn from recent attacks on Social Security by Bloomberg View columnists Megan McArdle and Ramesh Ponnuru. Apparently promises, even legally executed ones, don’t mean much to their crowd.
McArdle recently expended 1249 words attempting to evade the government’s debt to the Social Security Trust Fund, never really getting much beyond the five-word assertion that “the trust fund isn’t real.” Ponnuru tried to argue that a cut isn’t really a cut.
It’s an odd spectacle to watch rightwingers, with their avowed hostility toward “big government,” arguing that the federal government should break its commitments and stiff middle-class retirees. Luckily they’re not very good at it.
“Don’t you think they want us to fail?” That’s the question I kept hearing during a brief but intense visit to Athens. My answer was that there is no “they” – that Greece does not, in fact, face a solid bloc of implacable creditors who would rather see default and exit from the euro than let a leftist government succeed, that there’s more good will on the other side of the table than many Greeks suppose.
But you can understand why Greeks see things that way. And I came away from the visit fearing that Greece and Europe may suffer a terrible accident, an unnecessary rupture that will cast long shadows over the future.
The story so far: At the end of 2009 Greece faced a crisis driven by two factors: High debt, and inflated costs and prices that left the country uncompetitive.
Dave Johnson: A Look at the Fast-Track Bill Shows It’s the Wrong Thing to Do
The “fast-track” trade-promotion-authority bill has been introduced in the Senate. Though Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution says, “The Congress shall have power to … regulate commerce with foreign nations,” under fast track Congress relinquishes that power and agrees to pass trade bills brought to them by the executive branch in a very short time frame with little debate and without making any changes should any problems present themselves.
Though it was announced that this year’s fast-track bill was the result of a “deal” between Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the 2015 bill is nearly identical to the 2014 bill that died in Congress without support for a vote. See this side-by-side comparison from Rep. Sander Levin (D-Michigan) of the House Ways and Means Committee. It is unclear from this comparison why the “negotiations” between Hatch and Wyden took so long, or what Wyden got that enabled him to put his name on it, enabling the bill to be sold as “bipartisan.”
E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Can Republicans Learn From California?
Jim Brulte, California’s Republican chairman, has sobering but useful words for his party’s leaders and 2016 candidates: If they don’t learn from what happened to the GOP here, they may doom themselves to repeating its decidedly unpleasant experience.
“California is the leading edge of the country’s demographic changes,” Brulte said in an interview. “Frankly, Republicans in California did not react quickly enough to them, and we have paid a horrible price.”
One measure of the cost: In the three presidential elections of the 1980s, California voted twice for Ronald Reagan and once for George H. W. Bush. The state has not gone Republican since, and it won’t get any easier in 2016.
Bill Curry: My party fears a debate: This same nervous centrism created the Tea Party
Another Wall Street Democrat is running for president. Once again we must choose between acquiescence and rebellion
The race for president is on. And imagine this: The Democrats may not have any debates.
What awful timing for a runaway front-runner. The last time the Democrats were in such dire need of a debate was in 1968, when the Vietnam War drove Lyndon Johnson from office and drew the caliber of Bobby Kennedy, Gene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey into the fray. But if the party doesn’t want to have a real airing of issues, those who do have to figure out how to force one.
By ‘Democrats,’ I mean Hillary Clinton, with no others having joined the race. Clinton doesn’t want a real debate. Right now she’s trying not to repeat her 2008 campaign. She’d like to replicate Obama’s 2008 campaign. His secret sauce in both 2008 and 2012 was money, top-notch consultants, cutting-edge technology and a willingness to put ‘message’ before policy.