Five Best Monday Columns

Bill Keller on "no agenda" myth, Michael Hiltzik on high taxes and millionaires, Thomas B. Edsall on rogue billionaires, Brian Lee Crowley on U.S. and Canada, and Jeffrey Toobin on the right to vote.

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Bill Keller in The New York Times on the "no agenda" myth Voters and media like to complain that neither candidate has a real agenda. Even though candidates have been reluctant to give policy specifics, we know what to expect: Obama will finish universal health care and re-regulate Wall Street. Romney will get rid of health care and deregulate. "We don’t elect agendas, we don’t elect platforms, we don’t even elect parties to the presidency," Keller writes. "We elect the human being we trust to have our best interests in mind."

Michael Hiltzik in Los Angeles Times on high taxes and millionaires The old line that high taxes will make the rich leave California are wrong, according to hard data. A study found that a 2005 tax hike had little effect on the rich leaving, and a 1996 tax cut did little to bring the rich in. "The prevailing image is of people so rich they can pack up and move anywhere with ease; the reality is that most millionaires earn their income from their work, which is typically tied to its location."

Thomas B. Edsall in The New York Times on rogue billionaires and campaign finance Changes in campaign financing based on laws are unpredictable. People thought Democrats would not garner a small donor base after corporate soft money contributions ended; that was wrong. Now, Republicans pull more money in with Citizens United. But in the far more hierarchical Republican party, unlimited donations also allow rogue billionaires to defy establishment candidates like Romney and have their own voice in the game.

Brian Lee Crowley in The Washington Post on what the U.S. can learn from Canada Between 1995 and 1998, Canada transformed a $32 billion federal deficit into a $2.5 billion surplus. How? Politicians on both sides treated it like "a vital national interest" rather than as partisan contention. They quickly learned they couldn't play favorites or carve out of exemption. They did it fast, and they made it simple for Canadians to understand. "Surely the American political class is no less capable than its Canadian counterparts of taking up this challenge."

Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker on the right to vote There's no constitutional right to vote—only lines about not restricting votes from certain people. So Republicans used the flexible language to install laws limiting the right to vote. But the Justice Department has been effective about challenging limitations. While the right to vote is not inherent, "once a state sets up rules, those rules have to treat everyone the same way." Limiting voting for some becomes unconstitutional.

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