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Must Read Op-Eds for Friday, November 4, 2011

OLIGARCHY, AMERICAN STYLE  BY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESBut why does this growing concentration of income and wealth in a few hands matter?

OLIGARCHY, AMERICAN STYLE  BY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESBut why does this growing concentration of income and wealth in a few hands matter? Part of the answer is that rising inequality has meant a nation in which most families don’t share fully in economic growth. Another part of the answer is that once you realize just how much richer the rich have become, the argument that higher taxes on high incomes should be part of any long-run budget deal becomes a lot more compelling. The larger answer, however, is that extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.

PUTTING MILLIONAIRES BEFORE JOBS  BY EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESMitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, bitterly accused Democrats of designing their infrastructure bill to fail by paying for it with a millionaire’s tax, as if his party’s intransigence was so indomitable that daring to challenge it is somehow underhanded. The only good news is that the Democrats aren’t going to stop. There are many more jobs bills to come, including extension of unemployment insurance and the payroll-tax cut. If Republicans are so proud of blocking all progress, they will have to keep doing it over and over again, testing the patience of American voters.

SHALE GAS REVOLUTION  BY DAVID BROOKSNEW YORK TIMESSo far, the Obama administration has done a good job of trying to promote fracking while investigating the downsides [of shale gas]. But the general public seems to be largely uninterested in the breakthrough (even though it could have a major impact on the 21st-century economy). The discussion is dominated by vested interests and the extremes. It’s becoming another weapon in the political wars, with Republicans swinging behind fracking and Democrats being pressured to come out against. Especially in the Northeast, the gas companies are demonized as Satan in corporate form.


IS ROMNEY REALLY THE GOP'S CHOICE?  BY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTThe Republican Party’s inevitable decision to nominate Mitt Romney for president is starting to look evitable after all. That’s certainly not a consensus view among the Washington cognoscenti, who tend to see the yet-to-come primaries and caucuses as mere formalities. Romney, they say, is the GOP’s obvious choice — a poised and experienced candidate with presidential bearing, world-class hair and the ability to speak in complete sentences, even about the economy. Sooner or later, the party will come to its senses and see that he has the best chance of beating President Obama.


HAPPY DAYS AREN'T HERE AGAIN  BY PEGGY NOONANWALL STREET JOURNALThe Democrats' challenge? They're living on faded glory, and Mr. Obama has done nothing for the brand. In January 2009 it was bright and shiny. He has murked it up pretty good. The cascade of government-private sector scandals, from Fannie Mae to Solyndra, has dulled the brand further. Party of the working man? Party of the guy who kited the mortgage deals, got bailed out, and left the working man living in his car. The Republicans' challenge now: holding together, and breaking 20th-century stereotypes. They should distance themselves from government even as they prove they can govern, and not only oppose but propose. They should put themselves apart from the rigged, piggish insider life of Washington. And try not to look nuts while they're doing it.


THE CAIN BONFIRE  BY EDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALThis is why we don't have "better candidates." No normal person would risk it. We have no idea if this is why so many prominent Republicans—Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels—decided not to run despite a vulnerable incumbent and a weak GOP field. But we understand it if it were the reason. Mr. Cain has developed an ardent base of supporters. It will be up to them when the voting starts in January to decide how seriously to take these accusations and how to judge the quality of his candidacy.


SUBPRIME MOMENT FOR RISK-FREE SOVEREIGN DEBT  BY GILLIAN TETTFINANCIAL TIMESIt is one thing for European regulators to make banks write off Greek bonds; it is another to reshape the entire rules of modern finance. But the more contagion spreads across Europe's sovereign debt market, the more pressures will rise for a longer term rethink of that zero-risk label. ... [I]f regulatory systems had not encouraged banks and investors to be so complacent about sovereign risk in the past, markets might have done a better job of signaling that structural tensions were rising in the eurozone - and today's crunch would not be creating such a convulsive shock. It is, as I said above, wearily reminiscent of the subprime tale. And, sadly, that is no comfort at all.


WHO LOST IRAQ?  BY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMERWASHINGTON POSTThe excuse is Iraqi refusal to grant legal immunity to U.S. forces. But the Bush administration encountered the same problem and overcame it. Obama had little desire to. Indeed, he portrays the evacuation as a success, the fulfillment of a campaign promise. But surely the obligation to defend the security and the interests of the nation supersede personal vindication. Obama opposed the war, but when he became commander in chief the terrible price had already been paid in blood and treasure. His obligation was to make something of that sacrifice, to secure the strategic gains that sacrifice had already achieved.


ELECTION 2012 WITH A THIRD PARTY OPTION  BY CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN & DENNIS BLAIRWASHINGTON POSTThe party bases have, in short, become the party bosses, and neither party nominates leaders willing to stand tall for country before party. As a former governor and a former director of national intelligence, we know this is a recipe for disaster. We believe that politicians, like most working people, should be judged by results. And producing results requires a willingness to compromise, to get the best deal possible for the American people. That’s called governing, and our democracy can’t function without it. Neither party is more important than America. If the two parties can’t show that they understand that, then we need to find people who will. America’s future belongs to all of us.