On Friday I did something I almost never do: I tuned into Rush Limbaugh. And wouldn’t you know it? He was talking about one of my favorite subjects: Mitt Romney and health care reform. Limbaugh was explaining why conservatives have such a hard time with Romney.
With the November 23 deadline nearly upon us, there’s a broad consensus that the Joint Select (Super) Committee won’t get anything done, which means that the clock will start on a “trigger”—that is, a series of budget cuts, including cuts to Defense spending and Medicare providers, that are scheduled to begin taking effect in January 2013. Since the trigger was devised to be unpopular with everyone in order to force Democrats and Republicans into making a deal, the next and obvious step will be for various factions in congress to try to eliminate the portions of the trigger they don’t like.
Before he was the frontrunner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich had gained acclaim as the author of a number of “alternate histories,” a genre of literature that speculates how important events in the past might have turned out differently. A high-brow genre this is not. One could say that “alternate history” is to “history” what “science-fiction” is to actual “science.” Gingrich’s fans laud the research that goes into his tomes, but what they are really responding to are the feverish scenarios he conjures: Here’s Robert E.
The media narrative on the super-committee is finally starting to change, as writers realize that nothing terrible will happen if, as seems likely, the super-committee fails to make recommendations on deficit reduction. I'm happy for my colleague Tim Noah, who was slowly being driven mad by what he was reading in the papers. More important, I'm happy for all of the people struggling to find jobs or pay their bills.
On Thursday, The New York Times broke the news that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is belatedly taking steps to implement the Obama administration’s commitment to “prosecutorial discretion”—that is, concentrating enforcement resources on criminals and serial lawbreakers, not DREAM Act students or other “low priority” immigrants. That policy, outlined in a memo by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton in June, has been ignored for months, as I’ve shown here, here, and here.
In the past several weeks, the New York Police Department has been confronted with a scourge it hasn’t had to face for years: critical press coverage. Judging from recent headlines, New York’s relationship to its cops has been changing subtly, but unmistakably. Indeed, the response to this week’s heavy-handed crackdown against the Occupy Wall Street protests serves as the crescendo of a period of mounting public skepticism. But this is one threat that the NYPD simply isn’t prepared for.
Michael Bloomberg isn’t having a very good week. The New York mayor is being pilloried for his decision to chase the Occupy Wall Street protesters out of Zuccotti Park in a heavy-handed, pre-dawn raid. And the press conference at which he tried to defend his decision was a weasely dance around his motivations. But Bloomberg isn’t just having a bad week. He’s having a bad third term. His politics and his demeanor appear to be wearing thin in New York.
Will it be a tragedy if the Super Committee fails to agree on a proposal by next week’s deadline? Yes, but not for the reasons that you’ve heard. The conventional story is that the committee’s failure to come up with an agreement will have catastrophic effects, sending a signal that the country is not serious about reducing the deficit and, as a result, spooking investors and chilling the economy. As my colleague Tim Noah keeps pointing out, that seems highly unlikely.
Newt Gingrich’s improbable surge in the polls for the GOP presidential nomination has surprised nearly everyone, including TNR, and given rise to an important question: How, exactly, should one cover a candidate who already possesses enough baggage to sink a small freighter? Though Gingrich’s ship may sail before reporters have time to unpack it all, the following collection of embarrassing words and deeds attributed to Newt will live forever: 1. Gingrich divorced his first wife for Marianne Ginther, whom he began courting while he was still married.