Here are today's must read opinion and editorial columns.
ESCAPING THE TAX PLEDGE EDITORIALWASHINGTON POSTToo often in recent years, the tax debate has resembled a one-way ratchet: Taxes can go down but never back up, except if a booming economy produces additional revenue. It is important to remember that the Bush tax cuts were passed at a moment when, hard as it may be to believe, enormous surpluses were in sight... There is no policy basis for insisting that these tax rates are graven in stone and immune to change given the changed circumstances. And the Norquist pledge, it turns out, is not a suicide pact preventing such a sober reassessment.
SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN CONGRESS EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESIt is hard to see how the extremist Republican caucus in the House could accept the Gang of Six plan. At the moment, at least 80 members have signed a letter objecting even to the “Plan B” proposal. But perhaps the growing prospect of a financial crash will focus a few minds. With a bit of extra time, and a good deal of extra sense, there is still a chance to avert disaster.
TOSS THE TEA PARTY ASIDE BY E.J. DIONNEWASHINGTON POSTBoehner and Cantor don’t have time to stretch things out to appease their unappeasable members... Republicans need to decide whether they want to be responsible conservatives or whether they will let the Tea Party destroy the House That Lincoln Built in a glorious explosion. Such pyrotechnics may look great to some people on the pages of a novel or in a movie, but they’re rather unpleasant when experienced in real life.
THE GRIDLOCK WE CAN FIX BY FAREED ZAKARIAWASHINGTON POSTIn the standoff over the debt crisis, it’s easy to point the finger at the Tea Party. Even conservative commentators have argued that its uncompromising ideology is at the heart of the problem. But there have often been strong ideological movements in American politics, represented by politicians such as William Jennings Bryan, Barry Goldwater and George McGovern. Yet between elections, people still found ways to compromise and govern. What has steadily changed over the past three or four decades is not so much the ideological intensity (though it has grown) but the structure of politics, making it more beholden to narrow, specialized interests — including ideological ones — rather than broader national ones.
'THE ASSAD SHIP IS SINKING' BY DAVID IGNATIUSWASHINGTON POSTThe strategic stakes are high in Syria partly because Assad is allying himself ever more closely with the stridently anti-Western regime in Iran. White House officials last week were circulating a news report that Iran had pledged $5.8 billion in emergency aid to Assad’s regime. Tehran and Damascus may once have pretended that they supported the Arab Spring, but no longer. If Assad falls to citizen protests, the Iranians know they will be the next target... The thinking in Washington now is about getting to the post-Assad era, quickly and peacefully.
THE GANG OF SIX PLAY EDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALAs for Republicans, we understand the skepticism about promises of future spending cuts. GOP leaders need to see more of the fine print. But even the $600 billion in spending cuts in stage one are worth grabbing as part of a debt ceiling vote. More broadly, Democrats in the Gang are making a big concession by saying that tax rates should go down, not up, and that the older entitlements and even ObamaCare must be reformed. Maybe, just maybe, the U.S. can avoid a fiscal crack-up and a debt downgrade after all.
THE PAUL RYAN FACTOR BY DANIEL HENNINGERWALL STREET JOURNALWhen people say they "like" Paul Ryan it is because they see him as a kind of political Navy SEAL, someone with the specialized knowledge needed to do hand-to-hand policy combat with an incumbent president who represents a once-and-for-all assertion of Washington's primacy... Don't read this as a Ryan endorsement. Read it as an endorsement of the discontented voters who understand they need a candidate with the skill set to take on Barack Obama with more than sophisticated blather. If that's the battleground, the president wins.