Ross Douthat on How Republicans Lost Ground Ross Douthat wonders how the Republican party, with control of only one chamber, could set the country's agenda for so long and then suddenly lose their control. "In the space of a few days," he writes in The New York Times, "a party that once looked capable of pressing the White House into a deal that would have left liberals fuming found itself falling back on two less-palatable options instead: either a procedural gimmick that would try to pin the responsibility for raising the ceiling on President Obama, or a stand on principle that would risk plunging the American economy back into recession." Douthat blames the Republicans for "an inability to make even symbolic concessions." This position paints Obama as the reasonable negotiator and puts the blame on them for any economic fallout. Now they will likely have to make concessions anyway, though perhaps they will paint them as something else. "But both the politics and the substance of such a deal would probably be worse for conservatives than the kind of bargain that might have been available otherwise."
Lawrence Summers's Prescriptions for Europe The turmoil in Italian markets should convince European Union officials to abandon "dogma, bureaucratic agenda and expediency" when solving the crisis, writes the former Treasury secretary and economic adviser to President Obama in The Washington Post and Financial Times. Officials must realize that "no country can be expected to generate huge primary surpluses for long periods for the benefit of foreign creditors," and that a country that would be solvent with interest rates near its nominal growth rate becomes insolvent at higher interest rates. "In short, the approach of the official sector lending more and more to countries that cannot access the market at premium rates of interest is unsustainable," he writes. Instead, officials must recognize that the collapse of any one European economy is "unacceptable" and offer struggling countries lower interest rates, deferred payment schedules, and exemption from contribution requirements to bailout funds.