Nov 13 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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Paul Krugman: Republicans’ Lust for Gold

It’s not too hard to understand why everyone seeking the Republican presidential nomination is proposing huge tax cuts for the rich. Just follow the money: Candidates in the G.O.P. primary draw the bulk of their financial support from a few dozen extremely wealthy families. Furthermore, decades of indoctrination have made an essentially religious faith in the virtues of high-end tax cuts — a faith impervious to evidence — a central part of Republican identity.

But what we saw in Tuesday’s presidential debate was something relatively new on the policy front: an increasingly unified Republican demand for hard-money policies, even in a depressed economy. [..]

As I said, this hard-money orthodoxy is relatively new. Republicans used to base their monetary recommendations on the ideas of Milton Friedman, who opposed Keynesian policies to fight depressions, but only because he thought easy money could do the job better, and who called on Japan to adopt the same strategy of “quantitative easing” that today’s Republicans denounce.


Zyphyr Teachout: Clinton’s Corruption Problem and Saturday’s Debate

Hillary Clinton has some corruption problems. And this is a corruption election.

She can address it head on, but so far she hasn’t done nearly enough. The last debate she was completely silent on the issue. To show she’s serious, she needs a total commitment to the issue in Saturday’s debate.

You can’t have a serious conversation with any voter, left or right, without talking about money in politics. It is in every breath. Eighty-four percent of Americans believe money has too much influence over our political system and elected officials. The despair on the left and right, the excitement about Sanders, the almost desperate desire for anyone who will break up the current machine, the thirst for revolution, not just policy. That this is a corruption election is evidenced in Donald Trump’s appeal: the voters I’ve met who support Trump even accept that he lacks credibility, but argue he doesn’t lack independence — unlike the other candidates. They are fleeing to him in droves not because he represents something positive, but because the corruption of the modern private financing model makes the other candidates feel like servants, instead of leaders.

Eugene Robinson: The Winner of the GOP Debate: Foolish Economic Policy

The real headline from this week’s Republican debate wasn’t that the candidates clashed over immigration and national security. It was that they agreed on economic policies that have proved unpopular and unwise—and that may make the eventual nominee unelectable.

The central issue facing most American families is that incomes, for all but the wealthy, are stagnant. The consensus response from the GOP field is a big collective shrug.

The evening began with front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson announcing they would not raise the federal minimum wage, presently a paltry $7.25 an hour.

“I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is,” said Trump, the allegedly populist billionaire. “People have to go out, they have to work really hard and have to get into that upper stratum. But we cannot do this if we’re going to compete with the rest of the world. We just can’t do it.”

You have to wonder about all those jobs Trump promises to bring to this country from China and Mexico. Are they in sweatshops? Paying starvation wages?

E. J. Dionne, Jr.: The Hidden and Deadly Bias of Class

White working-class voters have been a key building block of the Republican coalition since the rise of the Reagan Democrats 35 years ago. You would think that the party’s presidential candidates would want to respond to the heartbreaking crisis these Americans are facing.

Two Princeton economists, Angus Deaton and Anne Case, issued a study last week that should push what the writers Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb called the “hidden injuries of class” to the center of our political conversation. Deaton and Case found that the death rates for whites 45 to 54 who never attended college increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people between 1999 and 2014. They unearthed a startling rise in suicides as well as diseases related to alcohol and drugs.

Injustices relating to race remain a deep stain on our nation.

Mark Weisbrot: US Political Intervention in Haiti Has Caused Instability and Aid Efforts Have Largely Failed

When a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, killing more than 200,000 people, former President Bill Clinton said that the reconstruction would provide an opportunity to “build back better.” Some $9.6 billion was pledged by the international community, including the U.S. government. But nearly six years later, although about $7.6 billion has been disbursed, there is not much to show for it.

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians displaced by the earthquake remain without adequate shelter. USAID, the U.S. State Department’s development agency, pledged to build 15,000 homes but has so far only delivered 900. Most U.S. taxpayers’ money, it seems, didn’t get outside of the Beltway. Of USAID contracts, for example, more than 50 percent of payments went to contractors in the Washington, D.C. area, while only 1 percent went directly to Haitian companies or organizations. Everyone worries about money being potentially lost to corruption in the Haitian government, and so just a small fraction of the billions pledged went to desperately needed budget support. But the large-scale corruption, fed by lack of accountability, is much closer to home.