5 Best Monday Columns

Ronald Brownstein on Democratic solidarity, Paul Krugman on fool-proofing financial reform, and more

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  • Ronald Brownstein on Democratic Solidarity  Taking a long, hard look at the current state of the Democratic party, Ronald Brownstein marvels at the stability of the "governing core" that holds the party together. Looking back to 1994, Brownstein notes that Democrats were more likely to break ranks in Congress to satisfy home-state interests; not so in 2010, when the governing core of 33 Democratic senators elected from the 18 "blue wall" states scores a 97% on Congressional Quartley's party unity index. "Post-passage polls show that health care reform has done more to invigorate Democrats than to convert independents," writes Brownstein, looking ahead to the midterm election. "That pattern portends continued difficulty for Democrats in conservative areas on the frontiers of the party's congressional majority. But an enthused base could help Democrats minimize their losses in the places where Obama ran best -- and where Democratic legislators have most unambiguously aligned with him."
  • Paul Krugman on Fool-Proofing Financial Reform  The New York Times columnist critically perforates Chris Dodd's financial regulation bill. In between criticisms of the way the bill handles capita, liquidity, and consumer protection, Krugman arrives at the conclusion that the discretion of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, tasked with overseeing the various restrictions and regulations, may prove to a boon rather than an asset. "The point is that the Dodd bill would give an administration determined to rein in runaway finance the tools it needs to do the job," muses Krugman. "But it wouldn’t do much to stiffen the spine of a less determined administration."
  • The National Review on Banking Reform  Andrew Redleaf and Richard Vigilante, a pair of financial advisers, contest Andrew Kling's contention that banks are too big. "The problem goes much deeper," they argue. "Both the mortgage crisis and the bank panic it precipitated were overwhelmingly crises of lost information." Redleaf and Vigilante condemn the "securitization" of the market, which gave uninformed investors--or as they put it, "the mob,"--too much control over the direction of markets. The real crisis, they claim, is a lack of information about the real financial health of banks. 
The credit system — not surprisingly, given its name — operates on trust. The government’s bizarre position has been that this trust rests more securely on blind faith that government will protect the banks than it would on the informed judgment of investors that the banks were being managed soundly. Government has been asking us to trust but refusing to let us verify.
  • Elizabeth Kolbert on Climate-Change Naysayers  The New Yorker staff writer pens a mild-mannered lament for the global-warming cause, where progress is "always one step forward, two, maybe three steps back." Kolbert usefully recaps the Climategate scandal, rounds up the journalists and TV weathermen who maintain that climate change is bunk, and jabs at the underpinnings of their conspiracy theories. "No one has ever offered a plausible account of why thousands of scientists at hundreds of universities in dozens of countries would bother to engineer a climate hoax," she writes. "Nor has anyone been able to explain why Mother Nature would keep playing along."
  • Michael Lynch on Alaska Drilling  In a New York Times op-ed, Lynch, an energy consultant and former center director at MIT, explains that Obama's new drilling initiative may not produce as much oil or revenue, or as many jobs, as people believe. If "history is any guide, we might get production of as much as one million barrels a day of oil from these newly released areas," he predicts, "but only after 10 to 15 years of effort." A better solution? Drilling off the California coast. This idea is "one of the third rails of American politics," Lynch admits, but "the federal government forgoing at least $20 billion a year in taxes seems unwise."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.