US Press: pick of the papers

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

1.SOPA protest: The Net strikes back (Politico)

Internet companies ratcheted up their fight against anti-piracy bills in Congress on Wednesday, says Tony Romm

2.Would today's GOP elect Reagan? (Chicago Tribune)

Even Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting nominated in today's GOP race, claims Clarence Page

3.What Mitt Romney's father could teach him about economic fairness (Washington Post)

George Romney exemplified a lost species of American business leaders, says Matt Miller

4.Burning America's future (Los Angeles Times)

An energy policy outlined by the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in which we use all of the nation's coal, gas and oil is beyond dumb, writes Bill McKibben

5.Plastic Man's perils (Chicago Tribune)

Mitt Romney lunges rightward. Is he moving in the wrong direction? asks Paul Begala

6. For God So Loved the 1 Percent (New York Times)

In recent weeks Mitt Romney has become the poster child for unchecked capitalism, a role he seems to embrace with relish, says Kevin M Kruse

7.Newtering Obama's re-election strategy (Washington Times)

Failure of Gingrich's anti-capitalism attacks doesn't bode well for the president, writes Dr. Milton R. Wolf

8.Mitt Romney's tax return problem (Politico)

For Mitt Romney, the choice is stark. He can stop equivocating and cough up the tax returns that his rival Republicans and reporters are clamoring for, claims Reid J. Epstein

9.Iran sanctions won't work (Washington Times)

Effectiveness of economic restrictions always erodes over time, says Ivan Eland

10.Offering a path to legalization for illegal immigrants could mean a local tax windfall (Houston Chronicle)

A report by the Greater Houston Partnership estimated that legalizing Houston-area undocumented workers would generate about $1.4 billion annually in tax revenue, argues this editorial

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Emmanuel Macron offers Theresa May no comfort on Brexit

The French presidential candidate warned that he would not accept "any caveat or any waiver" at a press briefing in London.

Emmanuel Macron, the new wunderkind of French politics, has brought his presidential campaign to London. The current favourite to succeed François Hollande has a natural electoral incentive to do so. London is home to 300,000 French voters, making it by France's sixth largest city by one count (Macron will address 3,000 people at a Westminster rally tonight). But the telegenic centrist also took the time to meet Theresa May and Philip Hammond and to hold a press briefing.

If May hoped that her invitation would help soften Macron's Brexit stance (the Prime Minister has refused to engage with his rival Marine Le Pen), she will have been left disappointed. Outside No.10, Macron declared that he hoped to attract "banks, talents, researchers, academics" away from the UK to France (a remark reminiscent of David Cameron's vow to "roll out the red carpet" for those fleeing Hollande). 

At the briefing at Westminster's Central Hall, Macron quipped: "The best trade agreement for Britain ... is called membership of the EU". With May determined to deliver Brexit, he suggested that the UK would have to settle for a Canadian-style deal, an outcome that would radically reduce the UK's market access. Macron emphasised that he took a a "classical, orthodox" view of the EU, regarding the "four freedoms" (of people, capital, goods and services) as indivisible. Were Britain to seek continued financial passporting, the former banker said, it would have to make a significant budget "contribution" and accept continued immigration. "The execution of Brexit has to be compliant with our interests and the European interest".

The 39-year-old avoided a nationalistic tone ("my perspective is not to say France, France, France") in favour of a "coordinated European approach" but was unambiguous: "I don't want to accept any caveat or any waiver to what makes the single market and the EU." Were the UK, as expected, to seek a transitional arrangement, it would have to accept the continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

Elsewhere, Macron insisted that his liberal economic stance was not an obstacle to his election. It would be fitting, he said, if the traditionally "contrarian" France embraced globalisation just as its counterparts were rejecting it. "In the current environment, if you're shy, you're dead," he declared. With his emotional, straight-talking approach (one derided by some as intellectually threadbare), Macron is seeking to beat the populists at their own game.

But his views on Brexit may yet prove academic. A poll published today showed him trailing centre-right candidate François Fillon (by 20-17) having fallen five points since his denunciation of French colonialism. Macron's novelty is both a strength and a weakness. With no established base (he founded his own party En Marche!), he is vulnerable to small swings in the public mood. If Macron does lose, it will not be for want of confidence. But there are unmistakable signs that his forward march has been halted. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.