Five Best Friday Columns
Alex Koppelman on Joe Biden's gun talks, Kimberley Strassel on gun control roadblocks, Paul Krugman on why we should mint the trillion-dollar coin, Stephen Carter on why we shouldn't, Eleanor Clift on Obama's chief of staff search.
Alex Koppelman in The New Yorker on Joe Biden's gun talks Vice President Joe Biden and the gun advocates he spoke with yesterday with might not have known it at the time, but as they discussed ways to curb gun violence yet another school shooting was underway in Los Angeles. "It was a reminder of the reality looming over these task-force meetings, and whatever comes after them," writes Koppelman. "The Administration can fix parts of this problem on its own, but others require congressional action, and that’s a fight that will be hard for Democrats to win. But if Obama and Biden want to do more than just make small changes, if they want to make a real dent, they’ll have to."
Kimberley Strassel in The Wall Street Journal on gun control roadblocks Kimberley Strassel isn't so sure any significant reform can happen on gun control, considering today's Congressional landscape. She writes, "A few quick facts about that body. 1) More than half of its members have an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association. 2) The few members today calling for gun control are the same few who have always called for gun control. 3) The House is run by Republicans." If lawmakers were to do anything on gun control, Strassel argues, they'd probably just maintain the status quo. It's one of the few issues that has bipartisan support, she finds.
Paul Krugman in The New York Times on why we need to mint the coin If only because envisioning what Republicans might do if given any rope makes him very anxious, Paul Krugman remains one of the pundits most strongly in favor of minting a trillion-dollar coin to avert a drawn-out debate on the debt ceiling. "If we were to hit the debt ceiling, the U.S. government would end up defaulting on many of its obligations," Krugman writes. "This would have disastrous effects on financial markets, the economy, and our standing in the world. Yet Republicans are threatening to trigger this disaster unless they get spending cuts that they weren’t able to enact through normal, Constitutional means."
Stephen Carter in Bloomberg View on why we shouldn't Of course, Stephen Carter doesn't agree with Krugman's solution. He doesn't want the country to default either, but he worries about the precedent a trillion dollar coin would set on the expansion of presidential powers. "Barack Obama’s hands will one day be wielded by a Republican. I was raised to remember that goose and gander alike sup with the same spoon."
Eleanor Clift in The Daily Beast on Obama's chief of staff search With Jack Lew now set to lead the Treasury, President Obama needs to find a new chief of staff. Eleanor Clift sees two main contenders: Deputy National Security adviser Dennis McDonough and former Joe Biden chief of staff Ron Klain. "McDonough is thought to have the inside track," Clift writes, saying that his lower profile might be exactly what Obama needs going into his second term. "Not having to face another election, Obama appears less responsive to outside pressures than to his own need to feel comfortable with his new second-term team as he braces for the challenges ahead."