If you’ve been following the debate about the future of the Bush tax cuts, Thursday was a busy day. It was also a depressing day. The activity started early, when the Huffington Post reported that the White House was ready to cut a deal with Republicans—and temporarily extend all of the Bush tax cuts, including those that affect higher incomes exclusively. Why was this newsworthy?
Health care reform has been in the news a lot lately: Judges are ruling on whether the individual mandate is constitutional, companies are announcing changes to their health plans, and congressional candidates are arguing over repeal. But there’s another big story happening, down in central Florida, where some state-level officials, a handful of consumer advocates, and a whole bunch of insurance industry lobbyists are fighting over how to implement a key part of reform. (Update, 11:30 a.m.: The key votes took place this morning and the consumer advocates won on all counts.
Republicans, as you know, want to extend all of the Bush tax cuts, including those that benefit only wealthy Americans. And they want to do so permanently, adding another $600 to $700 billion in debt over the next ten years. Does Peter Orszag, the former Budget Director and well-known fiscal conservative, now support them? Um, no. But the first of his New York Times columns seems to have created that impression, based on what I heard from Tuesday's White House press briefing and what I read at the Weekly Standard's blog.
Franzenfreude, Franzen feud, Franzen frenzy: This literary squabble, one of the most fraught in recent years, isn’t over. It started two weeks ago when Jodi Picoult, peeved that the Times had given Freedom two glowing reviews in one week, gently tweaked (should that be tweeked?) the paper via Twitter: “Is anyone shocked?
Anyone who’s worked for a news organization will recognize the phrase “we did that.” A demonstration at an abortion clinic? We did that. Decay of the New York subway system? Rotting bridges in Minnesota? Shoddy levees in New Orleans? Melting glaciers? Fished-out oceans? Ditto, ditto, and ditto. Other attendant verbs are “rehash,” “warmed-over” and “-up.” Speaking for myself—maybe this is a personal quirk—when I was a kid, I preferred my hash on the second day, warmed up. “We did that” isn’t a sinister response: It’s occupationally necessary.
Last January, Jennifer Rubin wrote a lengthy story for Commentary lamenting the failure of American Jews to appreciate the greatness of Sarah Palin.
This Weekly Standard screed about the Obama administration's pro-labor policies has a pretty hilarious juxtaposition: While the president has failed to enact the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)—the mother of all pro-union legislation which includes the infamous “card check” proposal to effectively eliminate the secret ballot from union elections—he has made it possible for labor leaders to implement EFCA provisions by other means. Through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), for instance.
Not surprisingly, conservatives are unhappy with President Obama. Somewhat surprisingly, liberals are too--or, at least, a lot of liberal commentators. On July 4, Robert Kuttner spoke for many of them when he wrote, on the Huffington Post, that “we voted our hopes that events could compel Obama to govern as a progressive. We are still waiting.” Bob was primarily upset about Obama’s failure to push through a new stimulus package.
I've always liked Jon Stewart, but the worst thing he ever did was kill "Crossfire." It wasn't a perfect show, but it was vastly superior to the chummy insider-laden conventional wisdom-fests that run on Sunday mornings and are held in higher prestige. Certainly in its heyday, the show forced politicians to defend their talking points in the face of critical analysis. When they couldn't defend themselves, it showed. Anyway, having long ago kicked Crossfire to the curb, CNN is creating a new show with a liberal and a conservative host.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- I watched Brazil’s 2-1 win over North Korea in a bar in the hipsterish neighborhood of Melville, where my brother, nephew and I are renting a small house for two weeks. Brazil shirts abounded, as they always do. The run a distant second to South Africa’s ubiquitous shirt, but the two kits combined make yellow the dominant street color of this World Cup. I like Brazil for all of the usual reasons -- grace, possession, elan, the inevitable jaw-dropping ball-on-a-string move or physics-defying shot.