IN SEPTEMBER of 2011, a fortyish budget connoisseur named Maya MacGuineas was feeling demoralized. She couldn’t believe that Congress and the president had nearly let the country default on its debt rather than reach a major deficit-cutting deal the previous summer. So she did what she had become unofficially famous for in the wonk circles of Washington: She threw a glamorous dinner party. MacGuineas’s friend, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, agreed to open his Alexandria estate to a coterie of bold-faced names.
When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act two years ago, the law's proponents (including me) were confident of two things: That it would become more popular with time and that it would make our health care system more humane and efficient. History has not been kind to the first prediction. Most of the law’s components command broad support: Overwhelming majorities still support the requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions, for example. But overall the Affordable Care Act is unpopular.
The Letters of A.E. Housman Edited by Archie Burnett (Oxford University Press, 2 volumes, 643 pp. and 585 pp., $330) I. FOR MORE YEARS than I care to think about, I have been haunted in a variety of ways by the acerbic and enigmatic ghost of A.E. Housman. It began with A Shropshire Lad, which I discovered (when else?) early in adolescence.
If these facts surprise you, it's because you haven't been given a straight story about the Clinton health bill. Take two examples: on November 4, Leon Panetta, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, testified to senators that the bill does not "set prices" and "draw up rules for allocating care"; a month later Hillary Rodham Clinton assured a Boston audience that the government will not limit what you can pay your doctor.