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Must Read Op-Eds for Monday, December 19, 2011


A FRACTION OF A TAX CUTEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESMr. Boehner’s opposition makes it clear just how extreme and unreasonable his caucus has become, and how ineffective he has been in controlling its outbursts. By contrast, the Senate passed the two-month extension in an unusually bipartisan vote of 89 to 10. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, negotiated the compromise and voted for it, as did all but eight Republican senators. But House Republicans, led by their Tea Party wing, cannot stomach the idea of giving Mr. Obama even a sixth of what he has asked for, especially if it actually helps improve the economy and thus his re-election chances. If they really follow through on this obstinacy, it could cost virtually all workers an average of $1,000 in their paychecks, beginning next month.

WILL CHINA BREAK?BY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESConsider the following picture: Recent growth has relied on a huge construction boom fueled by surging real estate prices, and exhibiting all the classic signs of a bubble. There was rapid growth in credit — with much of that growth taking place not through traditional banking but rather through unregulated “shadow banking” neither subject to government supervision nor backed by government guarantees. Now the bubble is bursting — and there are real reasons to fear financial and economic crisis. Am I describing Japan at the end of the 1980s? Or am I describing America in 2007? I could be. But right now I’m talking about China, which is emerging as another danger spot in a world economy that really, really doesn’t need this right now.

SELF-ADORATION REACHES NEWT HEIGHTSBY FRANK BRUNINEW YORK TIMESGingrich isn’t the answer: he’s hot-headed and truculent. And while Obama sees himself (with justification) as historic, Gingrich sees himself as epic. If Obama is The One, Gingrich is The Plus-Size One. ... Romney has utter, exaggerated faith in his managerial know-how, his technocratic mettle. That’s the flavor of his arrogance. Gingrich’s is sourer — and scarier. People who have worked with him say that he can’t do justice to any one initiative because he can’t hold any one thought. There are too many others rushing along, and he must pay each proper reverence, because no matter how eccentric it is, it’s his. That self-adoration made him an infuriating House speaker. It would make him a dangerous president.AN EARLY HOLIDAY HANGOVERBY GAIL COLLINSNEW YORK TIMESWhile the rest of the world is out shopping for presents, Republican candidates for president have been lining up to sign a “personhood” pledge sponsored by a group that believes that life begins at the moment an egg is fertilized. (Romney is sort of dithering, but Newt Gingrich signed on even though he had publicly rejected the concept earlier this month.) If enacted into law, “personhood” would prohibit many forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization. It is an idea so extreme that the voters of Mississippi rejected it. Which might make an excellent slogan for the current crop of presidential candidates. “The Republican Field: So Far Right, Mississippi Thinks They’re Scary.”NEWT AND THE REVENGE OF THE BASEBY E.J. DIONNEWASHINGTON POSTWhen National Review, that keeper of conservative ideological standards, recently criticized Gingrich for “his impulsiveness, his grandiosity, his weakness for half-baked (and not especially conservative) ideas,” its editors were reciting from a catechism that his critics wrote long ago. Meet the new Newt, same as the old Newt. ... He is who he is and always has been. The base knows this and loves him for it. But for Republican leaders, Gingrich has become inconvenient. He’s the loudmouthed uninvited guest who is trying to rejoin the country club. The effort to blackball Newt Gingrich will be the next drama in this fascinating train wreck of a campaign.BYE-BYE KEYNES?BY ROBERT SAMUELSONWASHINGTON POSTStandard Keynesian remedies for downturns — spend more and tax less — presume the willingness of bond markets to finance the resulting deficits at reasonable interest rates. If markets refuse, Keynesian policies won’t work. ... Governments have ceded power to bond markets by decades of shortsighted behavior. The political bias is to favor short-term stimulus (by lowering taxes and raising spending), which is popular, and to ignore long-term deficits (by cutting spending and raising taxes), which is unpopular. Debt has risen to hazardous levels, undermining Keynesian economics as taught in standard texts. Were Keynes alive now, he would almost certainly acknowledge the limits of Keynesian policies. High debt complicates the analysis and subverts the solutions. What might have worked in the 1930s offers no panacea today.WHY MANDATED HEALTH INSURANCE IS UNFAIRBY JOHN GOODMANWALL STREET JOURNALShould all Americans be required to have health insurance? ObamaCare said yes, and the issue is now central to the Republican presidential primary. ... The short answer is no. There is nothing that can be achieved with a mandate that can't be better achieved by a carefully designed system of tax subsidies. ... [i]f we want to build on this structure and solve the free-rider problem, there are three fundamental flaws in the current system that need to be corrected. First, although the subsidy/penalty system seems to be broadly adequate for the middle class, it is far less so for the rest of the population. ... Second, our current system makes no connection between penalties and subsidies. ... [Third,] there is virtually no subsidy for people who obtain insurance on their own.ROMNEY IS BEST TO LEADEDITORIALDES MOINES REGISTERSobriety, wisdom and judgment. Those are qualities Mitt Romney said he looks for in a leader. Those are qualities Romney himself has demonstrated in his career in business, public service and government. Those qualities help the former Massachusetts governor stand out as the most qualified Republican candidate competing in the Iowa caucuses. … Mitt Romney is making his second bid for Iowans’ support after an unsuccessful run in 2008. We did not endorse him then, but this is a different field, and he has matured as a candidate. Rebuilding the economy is the nation’s top priority, and Romney makes the best case among the Republicans that he could do that.