Here are today's must read opinion and editorial columns.
A RECORD OBAMA CAN'T FLEE BY GEORGE WILLWASHINGTON POST
Obama’s presidency may last 17 or 65 more months, but it has been irreversibly neutered by two historic blunders made at its outset. It defined itself by health-care reform most Americans did not desire, rather than by economic recovery. And it allowed, even encouraged, self-indulgent liberal majorities in Congress to create a stimulus that confirmed conservatism’s portrayal of liberalism as an undisciplined agglomeration of parochial appetites. This sterile stimulus discredited stimulus as a policy... America may be one-third of the way through a lost decade — or worse, toward a lost national identity. So, Republicans have their 2012 theme: “Is this the best we can do?”
HIDING BEHIND THE BUDGET ACT EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMES
Supercommittees and trigger mechanisms have a terrible track record in Washington because they constrain responsibility and political choice. The world changes every month, and legislative straitjackets are almost always discarded after a big show of lacing them on. This bill, like its predecessors, will probably be sharply modified years from now after the fight that produced it is long forgotten. In the meantime, voters should be wary of politicians who substitute gimmickry for governing.
WASHINGTON CHAIN SAW MASSACRE BY MAUREEN DOWDNEW YORK TIMES
Even before Emanuel Cleaver, the Democratic congressman from Missouri, called the debt deal “a sugar-coated Satan sandwich” and Nancy Pelosi tossed in a side of “Satan fries,” the whiff of sulfur was rising from the Capitol. The gory, Gothic melodrama on the Potomac is a summer horror blockbuster — without the catharsis. Most of the audience staggered away from this slasher flick still shuddering. We continue to be paranoid, gripped by fear of the unknown... If the scariest thing in the world is something you can’t understand, then Americans are scared out of their minds about what is happening in America.
A CRISIS MERELY POSTPONED BY ERSKINE BOWLES AND ALAN SIMPSONNEW YORK TIMES
We were co-chairmen of a similar bipartisan group on debt reduction last year, and titled our final report “The Moment of Truth.” Of all our prescriptions, the most pertinent today is the one alluded to in the title: we must act now. If our government cannot address these terribly tough issues at a time when the public’s attention is fully on them, when will we ever be able to? The committee must begin its work immediately. We can reform our budget gradually without disrupting a very fragile economic recovery, but reform it we must.
CARJACKED ON CAPITOL HILL BY RUTH MARCUSWASHINGTON POST
Politicians tend to be a glass-half-full bunch — how could they persist otherwise? In conversations with lawmakers of both parties over the last few days, many expressed hope that renewed public focus on the debt had created demand for future action. But this was coupled with a recurrent undertone of deep concern about whether the modern political system remains capable of avoiding future trips to the brink. President Obama questioned whether the country has a “AAA political system to match our AAA rating.” If there were a rating agency for political systems, it would be moving to downgrade.
TIME FOR BACK PATTING? BY DANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POST
Despite [recent events], Reid still pronounced himself “hopeful that the spirit of compromise that has taken root in Washington over the last several days will endure.” Senators then prepared for a five-week congressional recess, leaving unresolved a dispute that has shut down the Federal Aviation Administration and put 75,000 people out of work. It is a fitting coda: The federal government is on autopilot, and the FAA is grounded.
NEXT: DEEPER REFORM BY TIMOTHY GEITHNERWASHINGTON POST
This week, I spoke to business leaders across the country. Not surprisingly, their relief that Congress has finally acted was tempered by concern about the damage caused to confidence by the months-long spectacle of threats of default... It is not enough for Congress to have prevented a disaster it brought on itself. Lawmakers should return in September prepared to act to strengthen the economy and get more Americans back to work. Doing so will help repair the damage this fractious debate inflicted on an economy that was already slowing, not just here but around the world.
WHERE'S YOUR BUDGET, MR. PRESIDENT? BY PAUL RYANWALL STREET JOURNAL
The president tried to use the debt-ceiling negotiations to secure the first of many tax increases that his party needs to pay for its legacy of unfunded promises. He failed. Instead, Republicans won the policy debate by securing the first of many spending restraints we need to avoid a debt-driven economic calamity. Much hard work remains. But this work will be harder still if leading Democrats remain unwilling to lay their cards on the table and give the American people the debate they deserve.