US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers.

1. Killing the Recovery (New York Times)

A global fixation on austerity is exactly the wrong course to reignite the economy, argues this NYT editorial.

2. Don't blame ObamaCare for premiums (USA Today)

Increase is just more evidence of deep flaws in the health care system, rules this editorial.

3. A record worth checking (Boston Globe)

Sharing fingerprints with the FBI and immigration officials is not a "publicity stunt," says Joan Vennochi, but a way to catch bad guys who are in this country illegally.

4. Warren Buffett aggravates conservatives (Star Tribune)

Partisans of low taxes on wealthy investors hate Warren Buffett because he spoke a truth that conservatives want to keep covered up, writes E.J. Dionne Jr.

5. Obama's Risky Run to the Left (Wall Street Journal)

Divisive rhetoric could alienate swing voters who will determine the next election, writes Karl Rove.

6. Rick Perry's fading fast (Detroit Free Press)

The man many thought would be the Republican presidential nominee has been losing steam big time, says Mike Thompson.

7. Happy Tidings From the Hill (New York Times)

Gail Collins proclaims good news on the stalement in Washington -- the government should be able to operate for a whole seven more weeks.

8. What's going on at our jails? (Los Angeles Times)

Amid allegations of misconduct by his deputies, LA County Sheriff Lee Baca has chosen to blame the messengers, says this editorial.

9. "In my nightmares I can see their faces" (Chicago Tribune)

Allen Ault, a former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections, reflects on the death penalty.

10. Taming of the Fed (Washingon Times)

George F. WIll reports that for Barney Frank, no Fed dissent will do.

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Emmanuel Macron's "moralisation of politics" comes at a heavy price for his allies

"Fake" jobs in French politics, season 3 episode 1.

Something is rotten in the state of France. No political party – at least none that existed before 2016 – seems immune to the spread of investigations into “fake” or shady parliamentary jobs. The accusations sank centre-right candidate François Fillon’s presidential campaign, and led to Marine Le Pen losing her parliamentary immunity in the European parliament (and proxy wars within her party, the National Front). Both deny the allegations. Now the investigations have made their way to the French government, led by Edouard Philippe, Emmanuel Macron’s Prime Minister.

On Wednesday morning, justice minister François Bayrou and secretary of state for European affairs Marielle de Sarnez announced their resignation from Philippe’s cabinet. They followed defence minister Sylvie Goulard’s resignation the previous day. The three politicians belonged not to Macron's party, En Marche!, but the centrist MoDem party. Bayrou, the leader, had thrown his weight behind Macron after dropping his own presidential bid in April.

The disappearance of three ministers leaves Emmanuel Macron’s cross-party government, which includes politicians from centre left and centre right parties, without a centrist helm. (Bayrou, who has run several times for the French presidency and lost, is the original “neither left nor right” politician – just with a less disruptive attitude, and a lot less luck). “I have decided not to be part of the next government,” he told the AFP.

Rumours had been spreading for weeks. Bayrou, who was last part of a French government as education minister from 1993 to 1997, had been under pressure since 9 June, when he was included in a preliminary investigation into “embezzlement”. The case revolves around whether the parliamentary assistants of MoDem's MEPs, paid for by the European Parliament, were actually working full or part-time for the party. The other two MoDem ministers who resigned, along with Bayrou, also have assistants under investigation.

Bayrou has denied the allegations. He has declared that there “never was” any case of “fake” jobs within his party and that it would be “easy to prove”. All the same, by the time he resigned, his position as justice minister has become untenable, not least because he was tasked by Macron with developing key legislation on the “moralisation of politics”, one of the new President’s campaign pledges. On 1 June, Bayrou unveiled the new law, which plans a 10-year ban from public life for any politician convicted of a crime or offence regarding honesty and transparency in their work.

Bayrou described his decision to resign as a sacrifice. “My name was never pronounced, but I was the target to hit to attack the government’s credibility,” he said, declaring he would rather “protect this law” by stepping down. The other two ministers also refuted the allegations, and gave similar reasons for resigning. 

Macron’s movement-turned-unstoppable-machine, En Marche!, remains untainted from accusations of the sort. Their 350 new MPs are younger, more diverse than is usual in France – but they are newcomers in politics. Which is exactly why Macron had sought an alliance with experienced Bayrou in the first place.

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