Five Best Friday Columns

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Paul Krugman in The New York Times myths surrounding the Eurozone crisis Economists of all political persuasions want to see the Eurozone's crisis as proof for their arguments. "I've been hearing two claims, both false: that Europe's woes reflect the failure of welfare states in general, and that Europe's crisis makes the case for immediate fiscal austerity in the United States," Krugman writes. He points out the lack of correlation between a European country's level of government debt and spending and the depth of their crisis. Healthy countries like Germany and Sweden oftentimes have greater welfare programs than struggling countries like Spain and Italy. Furthermore, he argues no country that has enacted severe austerity measures has seen an improvement either in their bond yields or their unemployment. Those countries problems are mostly caused by their inability to control their own monetary supply. "The moral of the story, then, is to beware of ideologues who are trying to hijack the European crisis on behalf of their agendas," he says. 

Michael Gerson in The Washington Post on eradicating AIDS In the last 18 months, researchers have discovered several ways to lessen the likelihood of transmitting AIDS, and the prospect of combining these methods could mean the end of the disease. "For every person who begins treatment, there would be fewer than one who becomes infected. This would effectively be the epidemic's end," Gerson writes. Gerson describes some of the scientific discoveries and notes that the Obama administration has rightly set a goal to end the disease's spread. But the new research comes at a time when budgetary woes make effective funding unlikely. "Ending the global AIDS epidemic would require a major presidential push. It would also require congressional Republicans to make a human life exception to austerity," he says.

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Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal on the GOP race Forcing Republicans to undergo grueling questioning at the debates may end up making them look stronger and more tested than President Obama. But, at this week's contest, "too many people in that audience were fully locked into Republo-world, a nice place but one that exists apart from the reality-based community," Noonan writes. Noonan describes her thoughts on the candidates' performances, noting that Rick Perry was unlikely to be the nominee even before his brain freeze and that Newt Gingrich remained compelling though also unlikely to survive opposition research. She describes the charges faced by Herman Cain as serious and plausible, and disagrees with his and the Republican audience's tendency to dismiss them as political. While Republicans may want to quickly dismiss the scandal, independents do not. The independent voter "doesn't live in Republo-world, but he's right across the street, and he votes. He's going to pick the next president." 

Stephen Carter in Bloomberg View on Solyndra documents and executive powers The Obama administration may soon comply with a Congressional subpoena to provide documents related to its funding of Solyndra. "A settlement would certainly be good politics ... Yet the constitutional scholar in me finds something admirable in the administration's original instinct to demur," Carter writes. Carter describes a history of clashes between the executive and legislature on the issue of providing information, naming presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush who have defended the executive's right to keep some documents private. He notes the circumstances under which Congressional oversight is necessary and healthy, but also remarks on the legislature's tendency to politicize even the less important executive dealings, as, Carter suspects, is the case with the Solyndra fallout. "But no White House e-mails are needed to make this point. If House Republicans want to end the loan program, they are free to vote its abolition, and then lobby the Senate to follow suit." 

Richard Stearns in The Wall Street Journal on Evangelicals and foreign aid The budget crisis has led many to call for a reduction in the government's foreign aid budget, and though that call has met with resistance from some religious groups, Evangelical Christians largely support the cuts. Stearns, the president of World Vision USA, provides statistics to show that many evangelicals don't want the federal government in the business of providing aid to the world's poor. Stearns argues for the federal government's ability to provide aid in ways that churches and service groups sometimes cannot, and argues that providing funds for the poor should be in the interest of all Christians. "We cannot let others suffer simply because times are tough in the U.S. All Americans must understand the urgency of the human need and the effectiveness of our government's aid programs." 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.