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Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, July 9, 2012

HISTORY HITS THE CAMPAIGN TRAILBY ADAM GOODHEART and PETER MANSEAUNEW YORK TIMESThe story of the Hoover Dam has...been heavily tinted in rose and sepia.

HISTORY HITS THE CAMPAIGN TRAILBY ADAM GOODHEART and PETER MANSEAUNEW YORK TIMESThe story of the Hoover Dam has...been heavily tinted in rose and sepia. Asian-Americans were forbidden from working on the project, while African-Americans were limited to menial labor and accounted for less than 1 percent of the work force. In August 1931, work halted as construction bosses faced off against striking laborers, who had just seen their wages slashed even as the punishing heat of the Nevada summer killed more than a dozen men in barely a month. (Dozens more are believed to have died from other hazardous work conditions covered up by the project managers.) The heroic endeavor only got back on track after all the workers were threatened with immediate dismissal. ...It’s strange, then, that Mr. Obama, whose health care legislation was born amid similar bombastic accusations, dire predictions, and back-room dealing, should miss one of the perennial lessons of American history: our national achievements have usually been propelled forward by contention, not consensus.MITT'S GRAY AREASBY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESHas there ever before been a major presidential candidate who had a multimillion-dollar Swiss bank account, plus tens of millions invested in the Cayman Islands, famed as a tax haven? ...[T]here are potentially legitimate reasons for parking large sums of money in overseas tax havens. But we don’t know which if any of those legitimate reasons apply in Mr. Romney’s case — because he has refused to release any details about his finances. This refusal to come clean suggests that he and his advisers believe that voters would be less likely to support him if they knew the truth about his investments. And that is precisely why voters have a right to know that truth. Elections are, after all, in part about the perceived character of the candidates — and what a man does with his money is surely a major clue to his character.

WHY U.S. ECONOMIC POLICY IS PARALYZEDBY ROBERT J. SAMUELSONWASHINGTON POST[W]e are still paying the price for the greatest blunder in domestic policy since World War II. ...Until the 1960s, Americans generally believed in low inflation and balanced budgets. President John Kennedy shared the consensus but was persuaded to change his mind. His economic advisers argued that, through deficit spending and modest increases in inflation, government could raise economic growth, lower unemployment and smooth business cycles. None of this proved true; all of it led to grief. ...Political leaders and average Americans noticed that continuous deficits did no great economic harm. Neither, of course, did they do much good, but their charm was “something for nothing.” Politicians could spend more and tax less. This appealed to both parties and the public. We are now facing the consequences of all these permissive deficits.A DO-OVER WITH EGYPTBY JACKSON DIEHLWASHINGTON POSTFor the foreseeable future, U.S. officials will have to navigate between Morsi and the Brotherhood, with their nominally democratic but fundamentally anti-Western agenda... A successful walk along this tightrope could preserve Egypt as a core U.S. ally and peaceful neighbor of Israel while transforming it into a functional democracy — something that would make both those roles more stable. Or, Egypt could become the world’s next Pakistan, a country riven between incompetent and corrupt civilian politicians and double-dealing military commanders.DEMOCRATS AND THE TAX CLIFFEDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALThe dilemma for the White House is that calling off next year's tax increase would undercut Mr. Obama's re-election theme of redistributing income. His liberal base has become so obsessed with the politics of envy that it is demanding higher taxes no matter the economic or political costs.  The question for Senate Democrats is whether they want to jeopardize their personal futures, and their majority, by jumping off the same tax cliff. With the House poised to pass an extension of the tax rates for at least one year, Senate Democrats have to decide if they want to vote before Election Day to wallop an already weak economy with a giant tax increase. AMERICA ALREADY IS EUROPEBY ARTHUR BROOKSWALL STREET JOURNAL[T]he American left is every bit as focused on growing government and equalizing incomes as the Spanish left. Despite arguments from liberals that tax increases on "millionaires and billionaires" are necessary for fiscal prudence, they are little more than a way to meet the single-minded objective of greater income equality.  President Obama's proposal to eliminate the Bush-era tax cuts for households making over $250,000 a year would, on a static basis, reduce the deficit by only 5% annually. That still leaves 95% of the deficit to be paid by the middle class.