Must Read Op-Eds for August 9, 2011

Updated
 

THE AMERICAN DREAM HANGS IN THE BALANCE  BY JOE SCARBOROUGH
POLITICO

I spent this past weekend driving through neighborhoods much like the type my parents took me through on Sunday mornings so long ago. But the large homes with driveways filled with Mercedes and BMWs seemed like relics from a different age — much like the $1,500 shoes that The New York Times recently reported were flying off the shelves of certain Manhattan boutiques. The images of these massive homes and $100,000 cars seemed to clash with the morning headlines announcing a downgrade of the United States’ credit rating and the death of 30 U.S. troops in an endless, expensive war. And while America stumbles toward default, millions of Americans are unemployed and the middle class keeps getting squeezed… This weekend I began to wonder, 40 years after those Sunday morning drives, whether parents across the country still embrace the American Dream with the evangelical fervor that made a 7-year-old boy sitting in the back of a Buick believe that in America, anything is possible.

 

 

THE POWERLESS PRESIDENT  BY DANA MILBANK
WASHINGTON POST

It’s not exactly fair to blame Obama for [yesterday’s stock market] rout: Almost certainly, the markets ignored him. And that’s the problem: The most powerful man in the world seems strangely powerless, and irresolute… He delivered his statement on the economy beneath a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, but that was as close as he came to forceful leadership. He looked grim and swallowed hard and frequently as he mixed fatalism (“markets will rise and fall”) with vague, patriotic exhortations (“this is the United States of America”). “There will always be economic factors that we can’t control,” Obama said. Maybe. But it would be nice if the president gave it a try.

 

THE GOP DOWNGRADE  BY EUGENE ROBINSON
WASHINGTON POST

The so-called analysts at Standard & Poor’s may not be the most reliable bunch, but there was one very good reason for them to downgrade U.S. debt: Republicans in Congress made a credible threat to force a default on our obligations. This isn’t the rationale that S&P gave, but it’s the only one that makes sense. Like a lucky college student who partied the night before an exam, the ratings agency used flawed logic and faulty arithmetic to somehow come up with the right answer… It’s pretty simple: If you threaten not to pay your bills, people will — and should — take you seriously.

WHILE THE MARKETS SWOON…   BY JOE NOCERA
NEW YORK TIMES

In the end, a downgrade from a ratings agency shouldn’t keep anyone up at night; it’s a sideshow. What should cause some sleepless nights is the never-ending turmoil in Europe. I keep thinking about the moment in 1931 when the failure of an Austrian bank led to a contagion of bank runs, first in Europe and then in the United States, and helped bring about the Depression. Could Europe’s current debt contagion jump the Atlantic again? The possibility strikes me as painfully plausible.

MR. COOL TURNS COLD  BY RICHARD COHEN
WASHINGTON POST

Only the GOP can save Obama. His political shortcomings cannot be fixed because he is who he is… Obama is the very soul of common sense. As he talks, I nod my head in agreement. Mostly, I think, he has done the right thing. But I doubt anyone will ever recount how he cried in the Oval Office any more than I can recall a soaring passage from a speech. This president got elected because he was cool. He could be defeated because he is cold.

PAST TIME FOR A NEW AGENDA  EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES

Defeatists may say that it is impossible to consider [certain economic programs] at a time when Republicans will find a way to kill any worthy idea from the White House, especially those that might require some short-term spending. But the shackles forged by Republican lawmakers can only be broken with the power of good ideas. If Mr. Obama is worried about his reputation as a spender, he can remind the public that he just agreed to a huge package of cuts lasting a decade. He is now free to move past that deal, to outline much bolder plans for a turnaround. Then he could defy Republicans — with their crabbed vision of government’s role — to stand in his way.

THE DOWNGRADING OF A DEBTOR NATION  BY MENZIE CHINN AND JEFFRY FRIEDEN
NEW YORK TIMES

We lost the first decade of the 21st century by squandering our wealth and borrowing as if there was no tomorrow. We risk losing this decade to an incomplete recovery and economic stagnation. An economically responsible, politically feasible distribution of the costs of working our way out of the crisis will require higher taxes, a more efficient tax code, and restrained growth of social spending, particularly Medicare. To ignore these realities, and the contentious choices they entail, is merely to postpone the inevitable day of reckoning — and probably to make it worse.

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Must Read Op-Eds for August 9, 2011

Updated