Must-Read Op-Eds for Friday, March 30, 2012

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MITT ROMNEY PREPARES TO CHALLENGE OBAMA ON FOREIGN POLICY
BY SCOTT WILSON
WASHINGTON POST

Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is preparing to broaden his challenge to President Obama’s management of foreign affairs, sensing political vulnerability in an area in which the incumbent has received his strongest public support. With the nation facing a high unemployment rate and uncertain economic growth, foreign policy as a political issue has remained on the periphery of the presidential race. Republicans seeking their party nomination have trained their sharpest criticism of Obama on his economic record, where they perceive him to be weakest.

BROCCOLI & BAD FAITH
BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES

One would have thought that this claim was self-evidently absurd. After all, states are free to opt out of Medicaid if they choose; Medicaid’s “coercive” power comes only from the fact that the federal government provides aid to states that are willing to follow the program’s guidelines. If you offer to give me a lot of money, but only if I perform certain tasks, is that servitude? Yet several of the conservative justices seemed to defend the proposition that a federally funded expansion of a program in which states choose to participate because they receive federal aid represents an abuse of power, merely because states have become dependent on that aid. … We don’t know how this will go. But it’s hard not to feel a sense of foreboding - and to worry that the nation’s already badly damaged faith in the Supreme Court’s ability to stand above politics is about to take another severe hit.

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A CRUEL BUDGET
EDITORIAL
NEW YORK TIMES

In all, 62 percent of the budget’s cuts come from low-income programs, and that’s on top of the substantial cut in spending already in place from last year. But the Ryan budget does contain a substantial tax cut for the rich, which is one of the reasons Mr. Romney said he was “very supportive” of the plan. “It’s a bold and exciting effort,” he said, “and it’s very much consistent with what I put out earlier.” It is also consistent with his stated lack of concern for the very poor.

AIG IS STILL COSTING TAXPAYERS
BY ELIZABETH WARREN, DAMON SILVERS, MARK MCWATTERS & KENNETH TROSKE
WASHINGTON POST

The CBO estimated that even without the special break, taxpayers will lose $25 billion on AIG. That’s more than the cost of two new-generation aircraft carriers (at $11.5 billion each). … When a company accepts a taxpayer bailout to stay in business, it ought to follow the same tax laws followed by companies that aren’t bailed out. In its ongoing efforts to reform corporate tax law, Congress should close this egregious loophole and prevent AIG from continuing to receive a stealth bailout every time it files its taxes. This amounts to a bailout without oversight, without accountability and, quite likely, without most Americans even noticing.

PAUL RYAN, MAKING IT SAFE TO TALK ABOUT REFORMING MEDICARE
BY MICHAEL GERSON
WASHINGTON POST

The first time Rep. Paul Ryan presented his budget, it was supposed to be fatal for the GOP. Ryan, after all, was not only touching the entitlement third rail but also licking it. Even to some ideological allies, it seemed like a dangerous dare. Now he has dared again. And the absence of an apocalypse is a victory of sorts. … The priority is not to cut discretionary spending or even to quickly balance the budget. It is to avert a fiscal calamity that would bring an economic catastrophe. This requires health entitlement reform — the real measure of budgetary seriousness and the irreplaceable contribution of Paul Ryan.

A STRONGER PRESCRIPTION FOR WHAT AILS HEALTH CARE
BY EUGENE ROBINSON
WASHINGTON POST

In arguments before the Supreme Court this week, the Obama administration might have done just enough to keep the Affordable Care Act from being ruled unconstitutional. … If Obamacare is struck down, the short-term implications are uncertain. Conservatives may be buoyed by an election-year victory; progressives may be energized by a ruling that looks more political than substantive. The long-term consequences, however, are obvious: Sooner or later, a much more far-reaching overhaul of the health-care system will be inevitable. … I’m talking about a single-payer health-care system. If the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare, a single-payer system will go from being politically impossible to being, in the long run, fiscally inevitable.

OBAMA’S PREMATURE PLANNING FOR A SECOND TERM
BY JIM HOAGLAND
WASHINGTON POST

President Obama’s accidental disclosure this week of ambitions to be more flexible toward Russia on missile defense after Nov. 6 is not an isolated example of his second-term frame of mind. He has fine-tuned many foreign policy decisions … to leave hard challenges until after he has fought his last election. But that does not mean that he will overhaul U.S. options after Election Day, even if he is able to. … It is not confidence in Putin that led the president to predict progress on missile defense. It is Obama’s unconcealed confidence in himself. … The second terms of [Richard] Nixon, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were engulfed by problems created in their first terms. … [Obama’s] second term may not be one new thing after another but the same damn thing over and over again: What to do about Iran?

NOT-SO-SMOOTH OPERATOR
BY PEGGY NOONAN
WALL STREET JOURNAL

Even [Obama’s] own supporters will not be that sad [if he loses re-election in November]. It’s hard to imagine people running around in 2014 saying, “If only Obama were president!” Including Mr. Obama, who is said by all who know him to be deeply competitive, but who doesn’t seem to like his job that much. As a former president… [h]e’d make speeches and write a memoir laced with a certain high-toned bitterness. It was the Republicans’ fault. … He will likely not see even then that an American president has to make the other side work with him. … But we’ve strayed from the point. Mr. Obama has a largely nonexistent relationship with many, and a worsening relationship with some. Really, he cannot win the coming election. But the Republicans, still, can lose it.

THE GOP’S HEALTH CARE EEYORES
BY KIMBERLEY STRASSEL
WALL STREET JOURNAL

[W]hat better argument can the GOP be handed than proof, via a Supreme Court repeal, that Mr. Obama cannot be trusted with a second term? If the president was willing to impose such a constitutionally suspect bill prior to re-election, what will he do if he never has to face voters again? And what better reminder of the centrality of the court, which Mr. Obama could well alter in a second term? For these arguments to matter, they must, of course, be made. If a Nominee Romney, for instance, took a repeal of ObamaCare as license to quit talking about a tricky issue, he’d be throwing the game. Whatever the Eeyores say, ObamaCare—upheld or repealed—remains Republicans’ most potent issue this fall.

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Must-Read Op-Eds for Friday, March 30, 2012

Updated