Five Best Wednesday Columns
Ezra Klein on the GOP's fiscal compromise, Maureen Dowd on the Democrats' cliff surprise, Amy Davidson on future fiscal fights, Anuradha Roy on rape in India, and Shashank Joshi on Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
Ezra Klein in The Washington Post on what we learned from the fiscal cliff Now that lawmakers have finally come to an agreement on how to deal with the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, what can be drawn from this contentious, long drawn-out legislativ process? One of the lessons Ezra Klein learned was that Republicans aren't as hostile to negotiating as they sometimes seem. "The Republicans aren’t quite as crazy as they’d like the Democrats to believe," Klein writes. "They were scared to take the country over the fiscal cliff. They’re going to be terrified to force the country into default, as the economic consequences would be calamitous."
Maureen Dowd in The New York Times on Michael Bennet Only eight senators voted against the deal to avert the fiscal cliff. Michael Bennet, a Democratic senator from Colorado, was one of them. He believed the deal didn't adequately adress deficit reduction, saying, "Going over the cliff is a lousy choice and continuing to ignore the fiscal realities that we face is a lousy choice." In her column about why Bennet chose to oppose the consensus, Maureen Dowd writes, "Voting to let the country fall off the cliff was an audacious, even precocious, move by the Democratic golden boy and presidential pet—one that, oddly, put him on the side of Marco Rubio and Rand Paul rather than Obama and Joe Biden." (Standard disclosure: Sen. Bennet is the brother of James Bennet, editor in chief of The Atlantic.)
Amy Davidson in The New Yorker on future fiscal fights This short-term agreement all but ensures bigger skirmishes will crop up in the near future, according to Amy Davidson. And considering how Obama caved on raising payroll taxes, in her opinion, the Democrats' chances of getting their way in March's looming sequestration fight don't look promising. "Republicans have been talking as though the sacrifice on the part of those earning half a million dollars a year and up have been so profound that the question of revenues has been settled, and the sole focus should be slashing domestic programs," Davidson writes. "But the ones who have really paid here are also those most vulnerable to such cuts. How hard is the President going to fight for them in the next round?"
Anuradha Roy in The Daily Beast on a fatal rape in India The disturbing case of a woman raped outside New Delhi has sparked protests throughout India. Women across the country have gathered to call attention to hushed-up sexual violence, but Anuradha Roy finds faint hope in these demonstrations. She fears they won't be able to do away with institutionalized attitudes about rape. "The politicians stayed in their barricaded mansions," Roy writes. "Protesters were battered with icy jets of water. The city’s center was cordoned off, its metro shut down. The gleam of hope in this darkness is the number of men who came out to protest and who shielded women from baton blows."
Shashank Joshi in The Diplomat on nuclear Pakistan Going into the new year, one of Shashank Joshi's biggest concerns is Pakistan's arsenal of nuclear weapons. "Pakistan possesses what is thought to be the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal in the world and if present trends continue, could equal or surpass Britain’s stockpile within a decade," Joshi writes. "So far, the Western world has viewed this expansion as a nonproliferation issue, not a security one. But, over the longer-term, that could change ... Pakistan’s present course, premised on a series of misunderstandings of tactical nuclear weapons, will increase friction with those nations who count themselves allies of Pakistan and generate new risks quite out of proportion to anything the country might gain."