US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Romney, an executive in chief? (Los Angeles Times)

Does experience in the business world really make for a better president? History suggests there's no link, argues Walter Zelman.

2. 'Buffett Tax' and truth in numbers (Washington Post)

Whatever else they are, the super-rich have now become political props, says Robert J. Samuelson.

3. How conservatives lost their moral compass (Politico)

Over the past 40 years, as conservatives have complained, this nation has undergone a moral revolution. It's just not the one they think, writes Neal Gabler.

4. A Mormon church in need of reform (Washington Post)

The church's distrust of outsiders, dissidents must end, says Carrie Sheffield.

5. Apple, not manufacturing, is America's future (Boston Globe) (£)

If we want the next technological revolution to start here, politicians need to change their industrial-age view, argues John E. Sununu.

6. New Strategy, Old Pentagon Budget (New York Times)

The cuts in the Pentagon's spending are not cuts at all, just Washington budget games, says this editorial.

7. RomneyCare and ObamaCare (Wall Street Journal)

Mitt Romney's vulnerability on health care may not cost him the nomination, but it could cost him in November, writes Paul Gigot.

8. Is compassionate conservatism dead? (USA Today)

The Republican presidential candidates competing for the affections of Florida voters have plenty of labels with which to tar each other, says Amy Sullivan.

9. Gingrich's link to Reagan comes under scrutiny (San Francisco Chronicle)

No Republican has claimed the mantle of the late president, former California governor and GOP icon Ronald Reagan with more unabashed relish than former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, says Carolyn Lochead.

10. The Austerity Debacle (New York Times)

In Britain and elsewhere, the policy elite decided to throw that hard-won knowledge out the window, and rely on ideologically convenient wishful thinking instead, writes Paul Krugman.

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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.