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Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, May 13


PLAYING POLITICS WITH TAX RECORDSEDITORIALWASHINGTON POSTA BEDROCK principle of U.S. democracy is that the coercive powers of government are never used for partisan purpose. The law is blind to political viewpoint, and so are its enforcers, most especially the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. Any violation of this principle threatens the trust and the voluntary cooperation of citizens upon which this democracy depends. So it was appalling to learn Friday that the IRS had improperly targeted conservative groups for scrutiny. It was almost as disturbing that President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have not personally apologized to the American people and promised a full investigation.

WHO CAN TAKE REPUBLICANS SERIOUSLY?EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESRepublican lawmakers have become reflexive in rejecting every extended hand from the administration, even if the ideas were ones that they themselves once welcomed. Under the circumstances, Mr. Obama would be best advised to stop making peace offerings. Only when the Republican Party feels public pressure to become a serious partner can the real work of governing begin.

REPUBLICANS SEEK BLAME ON BENGHAZI RATHER THAN SOLUTIONSJACKSON DIEHLWASHINGTON POSTThe common thread here is not just the climate of intense partisanship in which media and politicians from the left dismiss what the right insists is a scandal of historic proportions — or vice-versa. It is the diversion of what should be serious, bipartisan discussion about government failings. The Bush administration, after all, did wrongly conclude that Iraq was hiding chemical weapons and trying to revive its nuclear program. For its part the Obama administration didn’t provide enough security to the Libya mission or adequately prepare for an emergency in post-revolution North Africa.

IRS MESSJOE KLEINTIMEYet again, we have an example of Democrats simply not managing the government properly and with discipline. This is just poisonous at a time of skepticism about the efficacy of government. And the President should know this: the absence of scandal is not the presence of competence. His unwillingness to concentrate — and I mean concentrate obsessively — on making sure that government is managed efficiently will be part of his legacy. Previous Presidents, including great ones like Roosevelt, have used the IRS against their enemies. But I don’t think Obama ever wanted to be on the same page as Richard Nixon. In this specific case, he now is.

STUDENT DEBT AND THE CRUSHING OF THE AMERICAN DREAMJOSEPH E. STIGLITZNEW YORK TIMESSome wonder how the American ideal of equality of opportunity has eroded so much. The way we finance higher education provides part of the answer. Student debt has become an integral part of the story of American inequality. Robust higher education, with healthy public support, was once the linchpin in a system that promised opportunity for dedicated students of any means. We now have a pay-to-play, winner-take-all game where the wealthiest are assured a spot, and the rest are compelled to take a gamble on huge debts, with no guarantee of a payoff.

E PLURIBUS ME TIMOTHY EGANNEW YORK TIMESHelping fellow Republicans govern, or small businesses prosper, is clearly not part of the grand design of Ted Cruz. His job is to say outrageous things, and hope that enough people consider him a maverick for his outbursts. But shouldn’t a man with his self-proclaimed intellectual prowess at least try to be consistent? You would think that someone born in Calgary, Alberta, to a father who is an immigrant from Cuba would reach out to the 11 million illegal immigrants in this country. Instead he put his marker down last week: under no circumstances would he support a path to citizenship for those living in the shadows.