Here are today's must read opinion and editorial columns.
THE OBAMA SPEECH DOWNGRADE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL The ratings agencies are hardly the last word on U.S. economic health. But the S&P outlook is a warning to the White House that financial markets have noticed that this President seems to have decided that his path to re-election lies in demonizing his opponents rather than seeing to the nation's fiscal well-being.
LETTING THE BANKS OFF THE HOOK BY JOE NOCERA NEW YORK TIMES The banks will be able to say that they've already settled with the federal government, so why should they have to settle a second time? If they wind up being sued by the states, the federal settlement will help them in court. ... Old habits die hard in Washington. The O.C.C.'s historical reliance on pre-emption should have died after the financial crisis. Instead, it's merely been disguised to look like a settlement.
WHY TRUMP SOARS BY DAVID BROOKS NEW YORK TIMES He emerges from deep currents in our culture, and he is tapping into powerful sections of the national fantasy life. I would never vote for him, but I would never want to live in a country without people like him.
THE COURT AND GLOBAL WARMING NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL As the Second Circuit writes, they "may seek their remedies under the federal common law," including made by justices. The Supreme Court has upheld a lawsuit preventing the discharge of sewage that made the Mississippi River unfit. It has upheld limits of noxious emissions of sulfur from copper foundries in Tennessee that were destroying Georgia forests. There are other clear-cut precedents.
DONALD TRUMP AS GOP HOPEFUL: TAKE HIM SERIOUSLY BY EUGENE ROBINSON WASHINGTON POST Still, if this is all a big joke, I’m having trouble laughing. For one thing, the likely Republican field is so timid that nobody seems to want to step out there — and so lackluster that Trump’s pizzazz could prove overpowering. No, I don’t believe that Trump is seriously running for president. But what if he continues this charade past the point of no return? What if he pulls away from Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and the others? What if he wins primaries and caucuses? ... [N]ot all of Trump’s headline-grabbing bombast is funny. A lot of it is ridiculous and untrue. Much of the rest is offensive and objectionable.
DONALD TRUMP: THE COMEBACK HUCKSTER BY RICHARD COHEN WASHINGTON POST Then there’s Trump. He is all back story. We know his flops. We know he curses. We know his women. We know he lies. We know he has bad taste — in buildings, in ties, in associates. ... And now we must add this nonsense about Barack Obama possibly having been born outside the United States. Trump’s a birther. Why not? He’s everything else — and, anyway, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Such a man cannot become president. This is the required sentence.
THE UNWISE WAR AGAINST CHOCOLATE MILK BY JEN SINGERWALL STREET JOURNAL [T]he Washington Post reports that removing flavored milk from schools reduces children's milk consumption by 37%. And for many kids, school is the only place they drink any milk all week long. ... Unfortunately, even TV's Mr. [Jamie] Oliver wants to rid our schools of chocolate milk. What he and all the rest seem not to realize is that targeting chocolate milk while there are still "Honey Buns"—some sort of iced lard item that I witnessed at Lunch with Your Second Grader—is like running around blowing out candles while your house is on fire.
PAUL RYAN'S REVERSE ROBIN HOOD BUDGET BY ALAN BLINDER WALL STREET JOURNAL The Ryan plan has received vastly too much praise from people who should know better. For a while, it was even celebrated as "the only game in town," which it never was. It was preceded by both the Bowles-Simpson and Domenici-Rivlin plans, which are vastly superior in every respect. Within days of Mr. Ryan's announcement, President Obama chimed in with his own ideas on deficit reduction—another huge improvement over the Ryan plan. Now we await the Senate Gang of Six's entry. No, the House Republican plan is not the only game in town. It's only the worst.