The Associated Press
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
The Star-Ledger, New Jersey, on unwillingness to make a debt deal keeps U.S. economic rebound stalled:
The International Monetary Fund is that elite group of pinched-nosed accountants who have been running around Europe for the last several years forcing countries such as Greece and Spain to cut their spending.
These are not the guys you want to invite to your party. They are the ones who snap on the lights at midnight and start telling everyone to gather up the beer cans and wine bottles for recycling.
So it is worth noting that the IMF is telling the United States to spend more now, while the economy is sputtering, and to solve the debt problem by cutting spending over the longer haul, with entitlement reforms.
The global lender believes the sequestration spending cuts that Republicans forced on Washington are slowing economic growth, and making it impossible to put the army of unemployed Americans back to work. It notes that the deficit is shrinking fast, and suggests that unemployment is a killer problem that deserves more attention. Slow growth today, in America and Europe, is making the job of cutting debt more difficult, because slumping economies yield less tax revenue.
Imagine that. ...
The IMF predicts the United States economy will grow at an anemic rate of 1.9 percent next year without new policies, nowhere near enough to seriously cut unemployment. If the two parties were sensible enough to strike a grand bargain that increased spending today in return for modest austerity tomorrow, the rate of growth would jump to 2.7 percent, creating millions of jobs.
Obama is ready for a deal like that, which is why he stepped up on Social Security. But no reasonable deal has traction.
So for now, millions of American families suffer long-term unemployment, the economy slumbers, and the Treasury's long-term plan is to borrow more and more money from China. It's enough to make you want to hand control to the pinched-nose accountants.
The Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C., on America's growing math problem:
Rep. Ed Markey was trying to explain why the Keystone XL Pipeline shouldn't be completed.
He's wrong about that, but that's a different editorial.
Last week, the Massachusetts Democrat was debating Republican Gabriel Gomez, a former Navy SEAL and his opponent in the June 25 special election to choose a replacement for John Kerry, who left the Senate this year to become Secretary of State.
Rep. Markey, playing a numbers game on the Keystone issue: "It's really not math. It's just arithmetic. It's very simple arithmetic. It's not as complicated as math."
Ridicule ensued from assorted conservative outposts about what dailycaller.com called Rep. Markey's "somewhat confusing remark."
Yet according to merriam-webster.com, arithmetic really isn't always as complicated as math. That online dictionary's first definitions of those words:
"arithmetic: a branch of mathematics that deals usually with the nonnegative real numbers including sometimes the transfinite cardinals and with the application of the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to them."
"math: the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations."
And now that Rep. Markey's grasp of that defining distinction has been confirmed, he should reflect on this alarming, persisting math problem:
The federal budget -- and national debt -- have soared since he was first elected to Congress.
That was back in 1976, when the budget was $372 billion and the national debt was $620 billion.
This year, the budget is $3.8 trillion, and as of today, the national debt is $16.75 trillion.
Do the math.
Tampa (Fla.) Tribune on rare good news in Iran:
To Westerners, so weary of the carefully cultivated arrogance and belligerence of Iran's outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the fact that a genuinely moderate cleric, Hassan Rouhani, will succeed him can only be taken as encouraging news.
What's somewhat surprising is that Iran's all-powerful religious establishment even permitted Rouhani to be on Friday's ballot in the first place. His opponents were all ultra-conservative.
And yet Rouhani won a surprisingly easy victory, sending a clear signal - actually, a sharp rebuke - to Ayatollah ali Khamenei that regardless of his unbridled political power, the Iranian people have their own priorities. A much better life is probably at the top of their list, along with better relations with the rest of the world.