Five Best Thursday Columns

The Atlantic Wire
Five Best Thursday Columns
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Five Best Thursday Columns

Ezra Klein in Bloomberg View on tax reform With lawmakers nearly at the edge of the fiscal cliff, both sides of the aisle will be offering their utopian solutions for spreading tax burdens fairly while also magically vanishing the deficit. Ezra Klein remains skeptical of any fix-all plans, though. "Tax reform doesn’t slice, dice or cut through cans," he writes, citing a number of economic researchers to bolster his point that tax reform's effects on economic growth are tenuous at best. "If it’s a 'game changer,' it is only in the sense that it gives Republicans a face-saving way to do what needs to be done: raise taxes."

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Alex Pareene in Salon on Republican rebranding Bobby Jindal has been perhaps the loudest voice calling for some GOP soul-searching, but many others on the right are also calling for a redrawing of the Republican party image. They just want a face-lift though, argues Alex Pareene, not a thorough overhaul of their policy preferences. "When you hear Republicans and conservatives soberly intone that Big Changes Will Have to Be Made if they want to Remain Competitive, listen closely for any actual suggested Big Changes," he suggests. After combing through the substance of Jindal's own suggestions, Pareene thinks his master plan for remaking the GOP boils down to this: "The Republican Party should stop saying stupid things."

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Amy Davidson in The New Yorker on military sex scandals The still unfolding Petraeus scandal has been a particularly tawdry one, but it's not without historical precedent. For instance, many allege that Dwight Eisenhower had an affair with his World War II chauffeur Kay Summersby, as Amy Davidson recalls. But high ranks shouldn't absolve him, or Petraeus, of infidelities. "What does all the talk about how a general deserves a mistress say to a lieutenant facing unwanted advances from a superior officer, or a specialist who has been assaulted in her barracks?" Davidson asks about female soldiers. "The real question is not what Petraeus saw in Broadwell, but whether he and his fellow generals see the potential and abilities of the women who have committed their lives to the military—and may, and the sooner the better, themselves be the great generals our country really needs."

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Emer O'Toole in The Guardian on Savita Halappanavar The death of a woman suffering from pregnancy complications in Ireland very likely could've been prevented if she'd been given an abortion, but the country's strict laws prevented doctors from carrying one out. "This is a Catholic country," Halappanavar, an Indian immigrant who practices Hinduism, was allegedly told by hospital workers. Emer O'Toole comes from Galway, where this tragedy unfolded. She writes of the staff that wouldn't carry out an abortion procedure, "Adults do not obey, they consent. And yes, the system might punish you for failing to carry out its evil will—for choosing to remove a dying, insensate foetus from the womb of a woman in agony who is begging you to do so—but fear of consequence does not absolve you."

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Stephen Gandel in Fortune on Goldman Sachs In a slumped economy, it seems like companies everywhere are scaling back and hiring less. Everyone except investment banking firms, of course. But that's changing this year, as Stephen Gandel notes. The incoming class of Goldman Sachs partners is the lowest it's been since 1999, down to 70 from the boom year of 2010, when 110 employees were taken on as partners. "Still, at least by one metric, the new partner class is not small enough," writes Gandel. "This year's additions bring the total number of Goldman partners to 477. That's seven more than the 470 partners Goldman had back in 2010. Goldman's profits, on the other hand, have been heading in the other direction. The result: Goldman's own fiscal cliff." Tighten your Gucci belts and start buying mid-shelf caviar, investment bankers. Tough times lie ahead.

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