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Jared Bernstein at the Huffington Post asks What's Wrong With America?:

I suspect the answer to the question of what's gone wrong has many answers. My readers know mine: it's the result of the toxic, and uniquely American, cocktail of concentrated wealth and money in politics. That combination blocks the policy set that would begin to address the challenges we face and promotes the ones you see around you: constant fiscal squabbles powered by rhetorical obsession with public debts and deficits that has a) nothing to do with our actual fiscal challenges (ones that Obamacare-type changes may actually behelping us to meet) and b) is "rhetorical" in the sense that it's not about real solutions as about reducing taxes and shrinking government.
Paul Krugman at The New York Times rips the Obamacare-haters Lousy Medicaid Arguments:
O.K., you know what to do: Google “spurious correlation health.” You are immediately led to the tale of certain Pacific Islanders who long believed that having lice made you healthy, because they observed that people with lice were, typically, healthier than those without. They were, of course, mixing up cause and effect: lice tend to infest the healthy, so they were a consequence, not a cause, of good health.

The application to Medicaid should be obvious. Sick people are likely to have low incomes; more generally, low-income Americans who qualify for Medicaid just tend in general to have poor health. So pointing to a correlation between Medicaid and poor health as evidence that Medicaid actually hurts its recipients is as foolish as claiming that lice make you healthy. It is, as I said, a lousy argument.

And the reliance on such arguments is itself deeply revealing, because it illustrates the right’s intellectual decline.

The Editorial Board of the Independent offers No Tears for JP Morgan; the reported fine is less severe than it looks:
Reports that the US banking giant JP Morgan has reached an agreement to pay a record settlement to the US Justice Department over mis-sold securities are drawing superlatives. The bank is America’s biggest and the tentatively agreed figure of $13bn, if it is paid out, would be the largest single settlement ever offered by an American company.

While the fine looks colossal, we need to keep in mind that JP Morgan is worth over $2.5 trillion and recorded quarterly profits of around $6bn last year. It posted a loss over the last quarter, but only because it set aside billions in legal bills. Strip that out, and the bank would have recorded another $6bn profit in September.

Below the fold you'll find additional pundit excerpts and links.


Gary Younge
at The Guardian laments as America's skewed democracy lurches on toward its next crisis:

Because America is powerful, the world has to take notice of these self-inflicted crises. But because it has become so predictably dysfunctional and routinely reckless, they are difficult to take seriously or, at times, even fathom. To the rest of the world and much of America, this is yet another dangerous folly. The fact that the nation did not default should come as cold comfort. The fact that we are even talking about it defaulting is a problem.

This particular flirtation with fate was driven by a visceral opposition to the moderate provision of something most western nations take for granted: healthcare. The reforms they opposed had been been passed by the very body of which they are a member and had been been approved by the US supreme court, the guardian of the very constitution they claimed to be defending. For this, they started a fight they never had the numbers to win and carried on waging it long after it was clear they had lost.

Andrew S. Ross at the San Francisco Chronicle BART strike could have long-term impact on unions:
BART riders and other denizens of the Bay Area so far haven't seen it that way. Quite the reverse: The unions are the hostage takers—a furious public has said so in overwhelming numbers. The unions are the ones who have closed down BART.

And, like the Republican Party in Washington, the unions appear to have suffered some serious damage. "The danger to labor is if the strike goes on for a while, then the unthinkable begins to be discussed—like banning all mass transit strikes," said Harley Shaiken, a labor economist at UC Berkeley.

David Gamage and David Louk at the Los Angeles Times write How to avoid another shutdown:
Currently, budgeting differs from almost every other area of federal policy. When Congress and the president cannot agree on other kinds of legislation, existing law remains in effect. But with budget-making, there is no automatic default policy in the absence of congressional action. The government simply stops functioning. [...]

It doesn't have to be that way. State and federal legislators should follow the lead of Wisconsin and Rhode Island and enact provisions for automatic continuing appropriations. Under such rules, if lawmakers fail to negotiate a new budget on time, the previous year's budget automatically carries over until a new spending plan is passed. This gives legislators the opportunity to negotiate without the threat of a looming and costly shutdown.

Brentin Mock at Mother Jones asks How Green Is Cory Booker?
Count Bill Wolfe, director of New Jersey Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, is one of Booker's immediate critics.

"Let's just say Booker is no Frank Lautenberg on environmental issues," said Wolfe by email. "He's got lots of the buzzwords 'sustainability' and 'environmental justice' and 'green jobs,' but on the regulatory side, [he] did nothing to block the re-issuance of a garbage incinerator permit when that facility should have been shut down." [...]

"Frank was a leader," said Wolfe, "Booker not so much."[...]

But Kim Gaddy, an environmental justice organizer for the New Jersey Environmental Federation, says that Booker's environmental record as mayor is "very good."

John Nichols at The Nation issues a warning in Beware of Paul Ryan’s Lose-a-Battle, Win-a-War Strategy:
The conventional wisdom is that the Republicans got nothing—except some historic disapproval numbers and a lot of internal backbiting—from the whole shutdown showdown.

But there are different Republicans, with different intentions, and not all of them were frowning as the week of their party’s public shame came to a conclusion. [...]

The real point of the exercise in chaos that the country was just dragged through was the chaos itself.

And the beneficiary of it all is the Republican who has suddenly stepped back into the limelight after laying low through most of the shutdown: House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

Leonard Pitts Jr. at the Miami Herald writes GOP’s ideological purity meets real world:
The only good news out of this 16-day debacle is that his refusal to kowtow to these bullyboy tactics suggests that the president does, indeed, have a spine, rumors to the contrary notwithstanding.

Repeat: that’s the only good news. Anyone expecting the even better news that this closes the book on the tea party, given its abject failure to achieve its stated goal of defunding the Affordable Care Act, will be bitterly disappointed. These are true believers. True believers thrive on rejection.

E.J. Dionne Jr. at the Washington Post urges us to embrace the  Hope that governance will return to Washington:
Cynicism about the political future is a default position with a great deal of evidence behind it. We seem incapable of reaching compromises or even finding ways to differ productively. Even elections don’t seem to settle things.

Against this grain, I suggest that we allow ourselves a margin of hope in the wake of the decisive defeat of the extremists who closed down the government to accomplish absolutely nothing. It is a hope tempered by humility. Giant leaps ahead aren’t in the cards. But some important things changed for the better because of this battle.

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