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June 22, 2011

THE MIDWEEK ROUNDUP

The top five posts from Progressive Fix

What the President Should Say on Afghanistan - Jim Arkedis

Here’s a message that President Obama would do well to tell to the American people tonight:

Good evening, my fellow Americans.

The last time I addressed you on Afghanistan in 2009 from West Point, it was to announce a new direction in that campaign. I appreciate that you might be getting tired of these kinds of speeches. Though our deployment in Iraq is winding down, America remains involved in two major war zones and a mission to protect Libya’s civilians.  I get it — we’ve been at war for nearly ten years, and we’re tired of it. Particularly in this time of economic difficulty, many are rightly asking tough questions: What are we doing there? Is America’s mission still keeping us safe as we spend billions of dollars every month? Can we come home now that we’ve killed Osama Bin Laden?  Read more…

Three Responses To U.S. Cap And Trade Troubles - Nathan Richardson

It’s been a bad month for cap and trade.

Governor Chris Christie has decided to pull New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast’s carbon cap-and-trade program. New Hampshire’s legislature has also voted to leave, though the governor may veto the bill. Other states are considering their positions. As states leave RGGI and its market gets smaller, the advantages of linking up diminish, eroding its economic and political viability. Meanwhile, California’s attempt to implement cap and trade is under attack from the left and, as a result, has hit procedural roadblocks. These events have come as a surprise to many who follow this sort of thing—but are they important? Maybe. Three reactions are possible.  Read more…

Sibling Rivalry: Federal Power Spat Over Libya - Charles Lebovitz

Both the House of Representatives and the president have shown that when it comes to Libya, NATO is not the only organization susceptible to bouts of friendly fire. A bipartisan group of ten congressmen sued the president last Wednesday for not getting Congressional approval of military action in Libya, thereby violating the War Powers Act of 1973. President Obama responded by stating that combat in Libya does not equate to the full-blown “hostilities” described in the Act, while simultaneously disregarding dissenting legal opinions from both the Pentagon and the Justice Department.

Amid this mess, there’s only one thing that’s clear: expending energy to politically posture over the War Powers Act has real costs. While both sides remained tied up in this debate, they remain distracted from our national objectives: ousting Qaddafi and, more broadly, keeping public discourse focused on the economy. Read more…

Wingnut Watch: Pledging Politics - Ed Kilgore

Ideological litmus tests have always been a big feature of Wingnut World, with Americans for Tax Reform chief Grover Norquist’s “pledge” against support for tax increases being the most famous example.  Grover’s pledge has been in the news lately, as Senate Republicans grappled with the question of whether a vote to kill tax incentives for ethanol development would run afoul of Norquist, who has always demanded that any revenue-enhancing action to close off a tax loophole be paired with a tax cut to make the action revenue-neutral.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has been trying to secure Republican support for revenue measures (but not tax rate increases) as part of a deficit deal. In a ploy that was almost certainly a direct challenge to Norquist’s authority in the GOP, Sen. Coburn organized a vote to end ethanol subsidies. With some Democratic support, Coburn prevailed in the Senate.  But now House Republicans are dragging their feet on any parallel action on ethanol or other corporate tax subsidies, and Norquist is predicting that Coburn is leading the GOP down the road to out-and-out tax increases.  Read more…

A New Approach to School Choice - Laura Cunliffe

“You’ve got to keep this country in the change business,” former President Bill Clinton urged a gathering of school reformers in Atlanta yesterday. It’s sound and timely advice progressives should heed, especially as a wave of reaction breaks over America’s two-decades- old experiment in public school choice.

Public charter schools, a form of school choice that Clinton championed as president, have come under fire from detractors who say they have failed to outperform traditional public schools. The right answer is to accelerate the growth of top charter operators and to shut down low-performing charters. And in keeping with Clinton’s admonition to stay the course of reform and experimentation, progressives should continue to look for ways to expand the concept of public school choice. Read more…



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