Five Best Tuesday Columns

Paul Moreno on Obama and the courts, David Brooks on America's two economies, John Stossel on the TSA, David Cay Johnston on tax fraud, and Joanna Weiss on 'Texts from Hillary Clinton'

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Paul Moreno in The Wall Street Journal on running against the courts President Obama's preemptive warning to the Supreme Court not to overturn his health care law puts him in a losing tradition. "President Obama is ignoring a lesson liberals and progressives should have learned long ago. None has ever succeeded in galvanizing popular opinion against the courts. In American politics, the goal is not to curb the judiciary but to co-opt it," writes Moreno. Beginning with turn-of-the-century progressives, Moreno details all the instances where presidents or candidates ran against the Supreme Court and subsequently lost elections. FDR initially made the same mistake with his court-packing scheme, but he eventually won out when he stayed in office long enough to appoint eight justices "the old fashioned way." "A decision striking down ObamaCare will not be, as Lincoln called Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), 'an astonisher in legal history' ... A wise progressive would welcome such a decision, respect the court, and then pack it."

David Brooks in The New York Times on America's two economies Brooks highlights an article by Tyler Cowen in The American Interest, which argues that America may be on the verge of an export boom, fueled by newly efficient business models. "His work leaves the impression that there are two interrelated American economies. On the one hand, there is the globalized tradable sector — companies that have to compete with everybody everywhere ... On the other hand, there is a large sector of the economy that does not face this global competition — health care, education and government." The economies are growing apart. The first economy, Brooks says, is pressured to become efficient and dynamic, and it often attracts Republicans. The second provides more jobs but isn't as competitive, and it attracts more Democrats. He writes, "I don't know which coalition will gain the upper hand. But I do think today’s arguments are rooted in growing structural rifts."

John Stossel in The Wall Street Journal on privatizing airport security Years after the government federalized airport security under the TSA in an effort to "professionalize" it, people complain of rude treatment and there's little evidence that the TSA is doing a better job foiling terror plots. "There is a better way: allow competition ... Instead of relying on a government bureaucracy, [some] nations let private companies compete for contracts. Those security companies try harder, because they know if they do a bad job they'll be fired. TSA bureaucrats know that no one can fire the government," writes Stossel. He describes studies of private screeners that show they do a better job detecting contraband, and he details some of the TSA's bigger failings."The TSA's urge to hold power is universal. All governments work that way ... whenever something goes wrong, no matter what it is, no matter if private solutions are perfectly possible, politicians instinctively react by demanding a government solution."

David Cay Johnston in Reuters on ending tax fraud The U.S. Justice Department's recent action against a chain of income tax preparation shops brings attention to the problems of fraud among tax preparers, but Johnston sees a solution. "The action underscores the potential for abusive business practices that taxpayers face because Congress has failed to embrace technology that would eliminate most tax returns ... About 100 million taxpayers — those whose income is entirely from wages and retirement funds, and who do not itemize deductions — should not have to file returns. The government already has the information it needs to calculate the taxes these people owe." Other governments have automated tax returns for these kinds of people, but Johnston says an entrenched lobby of interested firms that profit from preparing people's tax returns makes action in the U.S. unlikely. "Meanwhile, the way Congress has written tax laws, and the way courts interpret them, makes it hard to pursue tax cheats."

Joanna Weiss in The Boston Globe on 'Texts from Hillary' Texts from Hillary Clinton, a popular new meme that attaches hypothetical text conversations to a photo of the Secretary of State looking fierce, reveals a lot about her shifting political image. In most of the images, "Clinton is above the fray, for perhaps the first time in her political life — a time that happens to coincide with headlines about her record-high approval ratings and her triumph in meaningless prospective polls for the 2016 race ... There was a time, not long ago, when Clinton was the one who seemed to be trying too hard, trying to compete with Barack Obama’s effortless charisma." Weiss describes the evolution of the meme and the website that supports it. She suggests it grew so popular because it seized on a conversation people were already having about Clinton. " [I]f Clinton actually runs in 2016[, she] will have to sell herself again. But she will start from a different foundation."

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