Friday, July 22, 2011

WSJ: Right on Larry Summers, Right on the Gang of Six Proposals, Wrong on About Everything Else

And Other News in the WSJ That Needs Comments

Sometimes a single newspaper will have such a variety of notable articles and opinion pieces that it can furnish a whole Post of commentary all by itself.  Such is the case with the July 21 Wall Street Journal.

In an editorial on former White House advisor Larry Summers the Journal’s editorial writers come up with this really good line, “Larry Summers is a brilliant guy, or so he's told us” and then go on to complain about Summers comparing Congressional Republicans to terrorists.  The editorial complain is correct. 

Terrorism is committing acts to instill fear.  Extortion is threatening harm in order to get ons’s way. In holding the nation hostage first on tax cuts for the wealthy and now on the debt ceiling, Congressional Republicans are not committing acts of terror, they are committing act of  extortion. So the Journal editorial is correct to criticize Mr. Summers for comparing Republicans to terrorists when he should have been comparing them to extortionists


Another editorial complains about the so-called Plan from the Gang of Six, six senators who drafted a deficit reduction plan long on hyperbole and short on details.  The WSJ editorial calls them on the lack of details.

The latest offer from the so-called Gang of Six Senators might be an exception, if—and this is a big if—its inviting generalities can be matched by useful details.

Actually WSJ, the generalities are not all that inviting.

Economist John Taylor writes an opinion piece in which he blames events that have yet to happen for derailing the economy.

Since President Obama took office, we've added on complex regulatory interventions in health care (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) and finance (the
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act). The unintended consequences of these laws are already raising health-care costs and deterring new investment and risk-taking.

Well the health care reform hasn’t really taken affect yet, and Dodd-Frank is just getting started and the Consumer Protection group won’t have a person in charge since Republicans will never confirm one, so it is hard impossible to see how they have affected anything, particulary since Mr. Taylor provides no support for this conclusion.  Of course, in the opinion world of the WSJ, as long as one’s conclusions are in support of their policy, evidence to support a conclusion is optional, not mandatory.

Speaking of the Consumer Protection Act, Senator Shelby (R, Al) writes that the Senate will not approve of the nomination of Richard Cordray to be head of the board that will enforce consumer protection until Mr. Obama agrees to what Mr. Shelby wants changed.  This is not an act of terrorism by Mr. Shelby, it is an act of extortion (see above). 

One of the things that Mr. Shelby wants is a board of five members to run the Consumer Finance Protection agency.  That way Mr. Shelby can block five appointments and have five times the fun of blocking just one appointment.  It speaks volumes about where the nation is that Mr. Shelby doesn’t even try to present his opposition to the nominee on qualifications grounds.  For Mr. Shelby it is just pure politics.

Fred Barnes, an editor of the Weekly Standard has a nice piece on Canada and admires their economic progress since the recent unpleasantness.  Mr. Barnes conveniently forgets to mention their national health care system which operates at a much lower cost per person that ours, and their tight regulation of financial institutions which prevent a meltdown of the financial structure.  Very convenient Mr. Barnes, don’t let facts interfere with a good argument.

Paul Ryan is shown. | AP Photo

Although he says he is not doing so, Daniel Henninger pushes for the Presidential candidacy of Rep. Paul Ryan, (R, Wi) the author of the plan to end Medicare by touting how popular Mr. Ryan is.  He does not mention that in the recent re-districting of Wisconsin Republicans had to push more Republican voters into the district to shore up Mr. Ryan’s re-election chances.  Apparently the people that know Mr. Ryan best are not among those that like him.

Our old friend (although he would not put it that way) Karl Rove, former Bush advisor and now head Republican cheerleader in the WSJ advises the Republicans to take the deficit reduction package that will most favor them in the coming election. This means rejecting tax reform goals that were an integral part of their governing philosophy.

 This echoes advice of George Will and it seems to be the Republican standard for governing.  Support the policy that is most helpful to their electoral prospects, not the one most beneficial to the country.  But then we knew that, didn’t we.

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