Five Best Tuesday Columns

Michael Tomasky on taxes, Clint Bolick on the Supreme Court, Joe Nocera on underwater mortgages, Marc Thiessen on Obama and the individual mandate, and Frank Bruni on gay rights.

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Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast on Obama'a tax argument President Obama's renewed call to raise tax rates on dollars earned over $250,000 back to their Clinton era levels is politically smart, Tomasky writes. "But he needs both more facts and more fire." Laying out the numbers shows how the lower rates probably prevent spending among middle class earners and promote savings among wealthier folks. (This is unhelpful for stimulating the economy, he says.) Further, Obama should emphasize the fact that he'd raise top rates only on dollars earned after $250,000, a fact he and the media tend to portray incorrectly. "[I]t shouldn't be impossible to take my second example and use it to illustrate the fact that the increase doesn't even amount to much until you start talking about really rich people. And it shouldn't be hard to make the stimulative point, either."

Clint Bolick in The Wall Street Journal on the election and the Supreme Court With Chief Justice John Roberts now looking more like a conservative-leaning "swing" vote in the mold of Anthony Kennedy, the importance of the presidential election on the Supreme Court becomes even more clear, Bolick writes. "Three justices—liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg and conservatives Antonin Scalia and Justice Kennedy—will reach their 80s during the next presidential administration. So whoever wins in November likely will have the chance either to reinforce the conservative majority, or to alter the court's balance for the first time in nearly a generation." The court's conservative majority has had serious impact in the past few decades, but with justices serving longer and longer terms, Obama's reelection could tip the balance toward liberals for decades to follow.

Joe Nocera in The New York Times on underwater mortgages Nocera begins by outlining why underwater mortgages, where the owner owes more than the house is worth, are so harmful to an economy. He then presents one group's pitch to San Bernardino County, where every other home is underwater. The group, Mortgage Resolution Partners, "had spent the previous year kicking around an intriguing idea: have localities buy underwater mortgages using their power of eminent domain — and then write the homeowner a new, reduced mortgage. It's principal reduction using a stick instead of a carrot." Nocera has reservations, but he says nothing has yet broken the logjam caused by mortgages tied up in bundled securities. "We're four years into a housing crisis. Nothing has yet worked to stem the terrible tide of foreclosures. It's time to give eminent domain a try."

Marc Thiessen in The Washington Post on Obama's individual mandate flip-flops Mitt Romney and his adviser gave different answers when asked whether the individual mandate on health care is a tax, and opponents accused him of once again flip-flopping in the name of political expediency. "With all respect, if anyone has 'adjusted his views for political expediency' or engaged in 'ideological gymnastics' in the debate over the individual mandate, it is Barack Obama," Thiessen writes. Obama argues for the sake of politics that the mandate isn't a tax, but allows his lawyers to call it one before the Supreme Court. Further, he harshly opposed the mandate when Hillary Clinton's campaign supported it, but put it into his own law. "Obama and his supporters should be careful attacking Romney for flip-flopping on the issue. Compared to the president, Romney has been a paragon of consistency -- and that is saying something."

Frank Bruni in The New York Times on Tammy Baldwin and gay rights Bruni follows Rep. Tammy Baldwin on the campaign trail as she tries to become the first gay person elected to the U.S. Senate. "I don't think [the election's] outcome will be governed by whom and how she loves. Not in 2012. Not with all the change afoot," Bruni writes. He celebrates several stories from recent months that mark the progress LGBT people have made, from Barney Frank's wedding to Frank Ocean's coming out to Google's worldwide campaign for gay rights. "[T]he gay rights movement inexorably closes in on its real goal, which is not -- as some opponents believe -- for everyone to be talking incessantly about homosexuality," he says. "The goal is for talking about homosexuality to be largely unnecessary. The goal is for the presence, legitimacy and equal rights of gays to be givens."

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