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Must Read Op-Eds for Monday, November 21, 2011

OCCUPY OUR CONSCIENCES  BY E.J. DIONNEWASHINGTON POST, Republicans wouldn’t have to forgive his past sins, just treat them as irrelevant.


[T]he movement should remind itself of its greatest innovation, its slogan: “We are the 99 percent.” This is an affirmation that it is trying to speak for nearly everybody. Its tactics should live up to this aspiration by building support among the vast number of Americans who will never show up at the encampments. It should also want to help political figures such as [Elizabeth] Warren, who understood far earlier than most the costs of inequality and of the abuses of financial power. The last thing this movement should want to do is create fodder for the ads and e-mails propagated by Warren’s foes. The occupations have done their work. Now it’s time to occupy the majority.


HEAVEN IS A PLACE CALLED ELIZABETH WARREN  BY REBECCA TRAISTERNEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINEIf Washington were a place where one brave politician is able to triumph, Warren wouldn’t be running for the Senate at all; she’d be running the consumer-protection agency she created. But Obama didn’t even nominate her for the position. Perhaps he didn’t want to have the fight with Republicans determined to block her; perhaps he was worn down by those on his own team who didn’t mesh with Warren or by Democrats like Chris Dodd, who suggested publicly that she lacked the managerial experience to run the agency. But that’s the point: Warren is headed toward a legislative body that will most likely wear her down, too. She will be pushing her attempts at substantive change right up against the same Republicans whose very existence cowed a president, in a Senate that now requires 60 votes to pass a greeting card.

BORING CRUEL ROMANTICS  BY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESSince we have our own pseudo-technocrats warping the policy debate. In particular, allegedly nonpartisan groups of “experts” — the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the Concord Coalition, and so on — have been all too successful at hijacking the economic policy debate, shifting its focus from jobs to deficits. Real technocrats would have asked why this makes sense at a time when the unemployment rate is 9 percent and the interest rate on U.S. debt is only 2 percent. ... So am I against technocrats? Not at all. ... But our discourse is being badly distorted by ideologues and wishful thinkers — boring, cruel romantics — pretending to be technocrats. And it’s time to puncture their pretensions.


FIXING MEDICARE  BY EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESAt this point, the supercommittee looks close to implosion. But the last time Washington tried for a quick fix of Medicare, in 1997, it did not turn out well. Congress devised a flawed formula that was supposed to hold down payments to doctors. Instead, many doctors simply expanded the number of services delivered to keep their incomes high, while Congress — after being lobbied — has postponed the payment cuts year after year. To catch up with the formula, Congress would have to cut physician reimbursements by 29 percent next year. That obviously shouldn’t happen and won’t. That cautionary tale is in no way an argument for inaction. It is an argument for serious, unhurried analysis in a less polarized climate. That is the only way to fix this vital program.


DECLINE OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM  BY CHARLES BLOWNEW YORK TIMESWe are settling into a dangerous national pessimism. We must answer the big questions. Was our nation’s greatness about having God or having grit? Is exceptionalism an anointing or an ethos? If the answers are grit and ethos, then we must work to recapture them. We must work our way out of these doldrums. We must learn our way out. We must innovate our way out. We have to stop snuggling up to nostalgia, acknowledge that we have allowed a mighty country to be brought low and set a course to restitution. And that course is through hard work and tough choices. You choose greatness; it doesn’t choose you. We must look out at the world with clear eyes and sober minds and do the difficult work as we’ve done time and time again. That’s how a city shines upon a hill.


THREE WAYS TO COMBAT RISING INEQUALITY  BY LAWRENCE SUMMERSWASHINGTON POSTWe need more and better responses to rising inequality. Here are three places to start. First, government must not facilitate increases in inequality by rewarding the wealthy with special concessions. ... Second, there is scope for pro-fairness, pro-growth tax reform. ... Third, the public sector must ensure greater equity in areas of the most fundamental importance. ... Neither the politics of polarization nor those of noblesse oblige on behalf of the fortunate will serve to protect the interests of the middle class in the post-industrial economy.


THE HILLARY MOMENT  BY PATRICK CADDELL & DOUGLAS SCHOENWALL STREET JOURNALHaving unique experience in government as first lady, senator and now as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton is more qualified than any presidential candidate in recent memory, including her husband. Her election would arguably be as historic an event as the election of President Obama in 2008. ... If President Obama is not willing to seize the moral high ground and step aside, then the two Democratic leaders in Congress, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, must urge the president not to seek re-election—for the good of the party and most of all for the good of the country. And they must present the only clear alternative—Hillary Clinton.


ARE TENT CITIES FREE SPEECH?  BY GORDON CROVITZWALL STREET JOURNALThe mostly young Occupy Wall Street protesters seemed genuinely shocked when Mayor Bloomberg ordered their tents removed. This probably fueled their violent and abusive reaction. ... Protesters are free to demonstrate peacefully in Zuccotti Park, provided they follow its regulations. If they have to rely on unlawful campouts and disrupting neighborhoods instead of using speech, their message must not be very persuasive. They might occupy that sobering thought as they consider their future.


NEWT GINGRICH WOULD BE A GODSEND TO DEMOCRATS  BY PAUL BEGALANEWSWEEKAt some point Republicans will wise up and nominate the zillionaire layoff artist with the square jaw and the Slinky spine. But I’ve been saying that all year, and I’ve been wrong all year. I really can’t imagine how it must pain Mitt Romney. He must feel like Adm. Pierre-Charles Villeneuve at the Battle of Trafalgar. What does the guy have to do to win? He’s changed so many of his deeply held convictions that he’s reduced to bragging that he hasn’t changed wives or religions. Newt has changed wives and religions, and the base still likes him better than Romney. There are only two months until the Iowa caucuses. After Newt does a Hindenburg, that’s still enough time for a Santorum Surge and maybe even a Huntsman Hiccup. Anything, anything other than a Romney Romance.


THE HISTORY OF NEWT  BY FRED BARNESTHE WEEKLY STANDARDRepublicans are fixated on defeating President Obama. They’re obsessed. They think about little else. And if that means choosing a candidate with a lurid past and a penchant for self-destruction to beat Obama, Republicans are likely to swallow hard and nominate Gingrich. In their hearts, Republicans have always wanted a candidate who is bold and tough, and Gingrich is. They’re not sure about Mitt Romney, who is cautious, conventional, and sounds more conciliatory than Gingrich... To rally behind [him], Republicans wouldn’t have to forgive his past sins, just treat them as irrelevant. They already talk about how sweet it would be to see Gingrich crush Obama in presidential debates. They don’t see Romney that way.