US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. My Tax and Spending Reform Plan (Wall Street Journal)

"Individuals will have the option of paying a 20 per cent flat-rate income tax and I'll cap spending at 18 per cent of GDP," writes Republican presidential hopeful, Rick Perry.

2. Obama should give press access to his fundraisers (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Obama White House's restrictions on media access to its fundraising events makes a mockery of its claim to be the most transparent administration in history, argues this editorial.

3. Living dirt poor (Chicago Tribune)

Urged on by Occupy Chicago and the other protest movements, Dennis Byrne considers gauging misery and despair among the nation's destitute.

4. Will Amazon Kill Off Publishers? (New York Times)

What happens when more writers have the option of a one-stop shop: agent, publisher and bookseller? Authors and publishers debate.

5. The Beauty of Institutions (New York Times)

The European Union was not created to deliver Europeans to postmodern bliss but to prevent another hell. It's doing just that, says Roger Cohen.

6. George Clooney is wrong on politics (Politico)

Martin Frost asks: In Ides of March, has the actor produced and directed a movie that might depress turnout in 2012?

7. Too hot to ignore (Washington Post)

Eugene Robinson considers the scientific finding that settles the climate-change debate.

8. 9-9-no way (Washington Times)

Herman Cain's plan raises a constitutional conundrum, concedes Milton R. Wolf.

9. American imperialism? Please (Los Angeles Times)

The upside to the US leaving Iraq is that it should quell the nonsensical talk about empire-building, writes Jonah Goldberg.

10. The revolution now in Silicon Valley (Houston Chronicle)

While Wall Street is being rattled by a social revolution, Silicon Valley is being by transformed by another technology revolution, says Thomas Freidman -- one that is taking the world from connected to hyperconnected and individuals from empowered to superempowered.

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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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