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Must Read Op-Eds for July 12, 2011

Here are today's must read opinion and editorial columns.THE MAGIC LEVER  BY DAVID BROOKSNEW YORK TIMESThe tragedy is that in Barack Obama and John Boehner we

Here are today's must read opinion and editorial columns.

THE MAGIC LEVER  BY DAVID BROOKSNEW YORK TIMESThe tragedy is that in Barack Obama and John Boehner we have leaders who would like to do something big... But they are bracketed on all sides — by the tax cut and Medicare brigades, by the wonks hatching budget gimmicks that erode trust, by political hacks who don’t want to lose their precious campaign issues: tax cuts forever, Medicare spending without limit. Mostly, they are buffeted by the proud, by those who think they have a magic lever to control human destiny and who will not compromise it away. This is the oldest story known to man.

IDEOLOGY TRUMPS ECONOMICS  EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESIt was good to see Mr. Obama challenging the Republicans’ illogic and pushing them to make a deal before it’s too late. But we fear the sort of deal he is willing to consider, based overwhelmingly on spending cuts, could still consign the country to more years of economic stagnation... Americans need to hear the hard economic truth that there is no way to both cut the deficit and revive the economy without finding additional sources of revenue. As the president himself said on Monday, “If not now, when?”

A PHONY DEBT BLAME GAME  BY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTRepublicans are taking the position that not a cent of new revenue can be raised, no matter the euphemism. Some Democrats, yes, are being scratchy and cantankerous. But Republicans are refusing to negotiate at all. That’s not the same thing. I understand why President Obama, in his news conference Monday, chided “each side” for taking a “maximalist position.” For political and practical reasons, it’s advantageous for him to be seen as an honest broker. Meanwhile, though, the clock ticks toward Aug. 2 and the possibility of a catastrophic default becomes more real. And no one should be confused about what the president confronts: On one side, grousing and grumbling. On the other, a brick wall.

JOHN BOEHNER'S BIND  BY DANA MILBANKWASHINGTON POSTJohn Boehner is in a box. The House speaker’s Republican caucus doesn’t entirely trust him. His understudy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, has set him up for a fall with the Tea Party set. Worst of all, his political arch rival is now praising him... Normally, a speaker would twist arms until he won support for the grand bargain he had negotiated. But in this House Republican caucus, leaders are followers.

GIVE PEAS A CHANCE  EDITORIALWASHINGTON POSTWill the president’s arguments change minds in either party or put the elusive grand bargain within closer reach? Maybe not, in which case a period of dangerous brinkmanship is fast approaching. But here’s one reason for optimism: A less far-reaching deal on the debt ceiling may prove equally elusive. And here’s one more: What Mr. Obama said Monday made a whole lot of sense. Even in Washington, that ought to count for something.

ARE YOU BETTER OFF?  BY WILLIAM MCGURNWALL STREET JOURNALThe problem, says the Obama administration, isn't its own performance but the public's unrealistic expectations... Maybe that's a winning message. Maybe Americans who believed Mr. Obama when he said unemployment wouldn't go past 8% if we passed his stimulus will now be persuaded by his explanation that his job was tougher than he or his economists expected... Whatever you call it, it's a long way from "hope" and "change." And the more the president tries to justify the nagging unemployment and sluggish economic growth by rewriting the past, the more he leaves the argument over the future to his GOP rival.

GOP TAX PLEDGE CAUSES MEDIA MELTDOWN  BY JOE SCARBOROUGHPOLITICOIt is interesting to see politicians savaged by the mainstream media as hostage-takers, members of Hezbollah and deranged cult leaders for doing no more than following through on a signed campaign pledge. Wasn’t keeping one’s word to voters once seen as a positive political characteristic instead of a personal moral deficiency? Of course, keeping one’s word to the voters was once seen as a virtue, and it still will be when 2012 rolls around. Republicans who vote to raise income tax rates in 2011 can expect to be sent home in 2012. Period. End of political career.