Timothy Geithner on the Debt Compromise Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner praises the debt ceiling "compromise" as one that will avoid default or credit downgrade, provide budget savings without cutting too much in the short-term, give strong incentive for both parties to compromise on further cuts, and "lower the prospect of using the debt limit as an instrument of coercion. ... the prospects for compromise on broader and deeper reforms are better than they have been in years," he writes in The Washington Post. "Leading Republicans have begun talking about tax reforms that will raise revenue and help reduce the deficit. Democrats recognize that we have to find savings to preserve programs for the elderly, the middle class and the poor, and to create room to help rebuild the economy." The short-term spending cuts, at .1% of GDP growth, will not harm growth as much as default or the Republican budget plan would have, he argues. Business leaders and citizens want Congress to build on the compromise that arose from their self-inflicted crisis, he says, and use the budget debate to spur reform and job creation.
Qian Wang on Chinese Media Freedom Despite government attempts to control the story of the recent train crash, "in my view, the level of reporting and criticism seen in China's newspapers on July 29 was on a par with what we saw in Hong Kong that day," writes Qian Gang in The Wall Street Journal. He cites three causes. First, the expansion of the Internet and micro-blogging sites make censorship difficult, allow citizens to help reporters as when train riders posted messages about the crash before the state media reported it, and provide a forum for mobilization and criticism. Second, China's journalists are growing more committed to their roles as a voice of the people and less willing to obscure the truth, even in the face of financial and legal disincentives. And third, the Communist party itself has members who support reform. China's state media agency, Xinhua, posed pointed questions to the government, prompting other media outlets to push further with their criticisms, and when Premier Wen Jiabo publicly visited the site of the crash, he implicitly lifted the controls on media coverage of it. Despite this progress, the government on Friday issued a late-night dictate again instructing the Chinese media to tone down their coverage. Still, with each new crisis, Qian writes, the Chinese people gain a little more freedom to question the government.