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Must Read Op-Eds for October 14, 2011

THE SCAPEGOAT STRATEGY  BY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMERWASHINGTON POSTTo the villainy-of-the-rich theme emanating from Washington, a child is born: Occupy Wall Street.

THE SCAPEGOAT STRATEGY  BY CHARLES KRAUTHAMMERWASHINGTON POSTTo the villainy-of-the-rich theme emanating from Washington, a child is born: Occupy Wall Street. Starbucks-sipping, Levi’s-clad, iPhone-clutching protesters denounce corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over. These indignant indolents saddled with their $50,000 student loans and English degrees have decided that their lack of gainful employment is rooted in the malice of the millionaires on whose homes they are now marching — to the applause of Democrats suffering acute Tea Party envy and now salivating at the energy these big-government anarchists will presumably give their cause. Except that the real Tea Party actually had a program — less government, less regulation, less taxation, less debt. What’s the Occupy Wall Street program? Eat the rich.

After all, this is not about programs or policies. This is about scapegoating, a failed administration trying to save itself by blaming our troubles — and its failures — on class enemies, turning general discontent into rage against a malign few. From the Senate to the streets, it’s working. Obama is too intelligent not to know what he started. But so long as it gives him a shot at reelection, he shows no sign of caring.


RABBIT-HOLE ECONOMICS  BY PAUL KRUGMANNEW YORK TIMESThe G.O.P. has responded to the crisis not by rethinking its dogma but by adopting an even cruder version of that dogma, becoming a caricature of itself. During the debate, the hosts played a clip of Ronald Reagan calling for increased revenue; today, no politician hoping to get anywhere in Reagan's party would dare say such a thing. It's a terrible thing when an individual loses his or her grip on reality. But it's much worse when the same thing happens to a whole political party, one that already has the power to block anything the president proposes - and which may soon control the whole government.

THIS IS NO TIME FOR MODERATION  BY PEGGY NOONANWALL STREET JOURNALOccupy Wall Street is not in itself important—it is obvious at this point that it's less a political movement than a be-in. It's unfocused, unserious in its aims. But it is an early expression, an early iteration, of something that is coming, and that is a rising up against current circumstances and arrangements. OWS is an expression of American discontent, and others will follow. The protests will grow as the economy gets worse. A movement that will go nowhere but could do real damage would be "We hate the rich, let's stick it to them." Movements built on hatred are corrosive, and in the end corrode themselves.


The other night the Republicans debated the economy. Nationally, the lightning strikes are all on the Republican side of the field. That's where it's all lit up, that's where people look. The other side of the field is still and dark. No movement there, no lights. ... Moderation is normally the American mood, and good thing too. But maybe on the economy we need something bigger—something more fundamental and dramatic—to get back the old dynamism. At one point Mr. Romney spoke approvingly of "a tax break for middle-income Americans." It sounded like the authentic sound of last year's tax debate, not next year's.    


THE THING ITSELF  BY DAVID BROOKSNEW YORK TIMESPresident Obama's Green Tech initiative has become a policy disaster - not only at Solyndra but at one program after another - because its champions ignored basic practical considerations. They were befogged by their own visions of purity and virtue. Maybe it's part of living in a postmaterialist economy, but nearly every practical question becomes a values question. You get politicians and commentators whose views are entirely predictable because they don't care about the specifics of any particular issue. They just care about the status war against their social enemies and the way each issue functions as a symbol in that great fight.


THE BIG BANKS FALTER  BY EDITORIALNEW YORK TIMESThe banks face legal challenges from federal and state governments over foreclosure abuses and other mortgage-related issues. ... The questions generally involve whether banks are properly valuing their loans and investments and the extent of their exposure to shaky European debt. Banks could fix this with increased and detailed disclosure. Government officials and regulators could compel that disclosure. The general failure on this front feeds the air of skepticism. One of the lessons from the financial crash is that there is no substitute for transparency. In the new earnings season, investors are still in the dark.


RAISING CAIN  BY EUGENE ROBINSONWASHINGTON POSTAs Cain’s opponents pointed out in Tuesday’s debate, the 9-9-9 plan is ridiculous. Most economists who have looked at the proposal say it couldn’t produce nearly enough revenue for the federal government to function. Moreover, it obviously puts a greater burden on the middle class while cutting taxes for the wealthy. Cain dismisses these objections by saying that they are “incorrect.”... In Cain’s world, things are that simple. In the real world of GOP politics, not so much... When Cain’s rocket fizzles — and it is quite likely to — perhaps the well-financed Perry will make a comeback as the anti-Romney, assuming he finds a way to survive those danged debates. So enjoy the flavor of the week while you can. Ice cream does melt.


HOW I'D HANDLE CHINA'S CHEATING  BY MITT ROMNEYWASHINGTON POST[W]hat is the alternative to confronting China? It is allowing the Chinese to take by trade surrender what we fear to lose in trade war. Consider, too, that cheating is contagious. What China gets away with, other emerging economies may emulate. As these countries account for an ever larger share of the global economy, the consequences for the rule-following nations would grow even more intolerable. The result could be permanent damage to the international trading system. In short, if one is genuinely committed to free trade, one must also be genuinely committed to ending abuses of its principles. If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, I will work to fundamentally alter our economic relationship with China. As I describe in my economic plan, I will begin on Day One by designating China as the currency manipulator it is.



Self-pity seems to have overtaken the Perry camp. Anita Perry complains, "We are being brutalized by our opponents and our own party." Are these folks ready for the onslaught from President Obama? Plainly not, especially since almost all of her husband's problems have been self-inflicted. ... Self-pity soon degenerates into anger. Perry is reportedly mounting a negative ad campaign against Mitt Romney. This, of course, misses the point that Herman Cain (who also thinks he's been called to run) would be the beneficiary. Romney senior adviser Stuart Stevens replied matter-of-factly when I asked about the expected onslaught. "Rick Perry has a Rick Perry problem, not a Mitt Romney or Herman Cain problem," he said.