Ron Paul doesn’t like Rick Perry. And if Thursday’s debate is anything like the last two, you’ll hear about it tonight. At the first GOP debate to feature Perry, Paul pointed to the governor’s past as a Democrat and cited his support for Clinton-era efforts at healthcare reform. In an ad earlier this month, Paul’s campaign dredged up Perry’s 1988 support for Al Gore.
In his deficit-reduction proposal, unveiled in his Rose Garden speech on Monday, President Obama once again found himself adopting the other party’s frame, embracing budget austerity instead of the fiscal stimulus that the economy needs. He still talks about finding bipartisan consensus and describes his ideas as common-sense solutions that every well-intentioned person should support, even though Republicans have shown they’ll block anything with his name on it.
About the only good news in last week’s poverty report from the Census Bureau was the news that the proportion of young adults with health insurance was rising. The news stood in stark contrast to the national trend: Among every other group of non-eldelry adults, people were losing coverage, which is what you’d expect when so many people are out of work. The most obvious explanation for the shift was the Affordable Care Act, which allows young adults (up to age 26) to stay on their parents’ policies if they don't have access to employer-sponsored insurance.
So now the Republicans want to go all Tony Soprano on the Fed. On Tuesday, the GOP's four congressional leaders sent a formal letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The Fed today finishes a critical two-day meeting, during which it will discuss whether to swing into action again, taking steps that could boost economic growth and reduce unemployment. Many and probably most mainstream economists think that's the right thing to do. The Republicans do not. They were not happy the last time the Fed intervened.
The Republican Party has never been confused with a nonprofit charity, but it was not so long ago that elements of the GOP enjoyed displaying a little human tenderness. Jack Kemp, the former football star and vice presidential nominee, is probably best known for his supply-side philosophy, but as a Congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he brought what The New York Times said was “more zeal to America's poverty problems than any national politician since Robert Kennedy.” Then there was George W. Bush.
The numbers in President Obama's new plan for health care spending can be confusing, so how about a picture? Or, at least, a pie chart?
[Note: This will make more sense if you read this first.] I'm a sap, a specific kind of sap. I'm a David Brooks sap. When the conservative New York Times columnist praised President Obama for putting forward “heterodox” ideas “drawn from the middle of the ideological spectrum,” I believed him. When he warned that a double-dip recession would be “terrible for America's workers, fiscal situation and psyche,” I believed him. But I am a sap. Today Brooks criticizes Obama, more in sadness than anger, for relying more heavily on tax increases than entitlement cuts to reduce the deficit.
Whatever their differences, the leading Republican candidates all swear that they love states’ rights.
President Obama’s new deficit reduction plan includes about $320 billion in cuts to government health care programs. Most of the cuts from Medicare and that is sure to get a lot of people’s attention, if not now then in the presidential campaign. But these reductions are less severe, and less worrisome, than some of the proposals Obama indicated he was willing to support over the summer, while he was negotiating with House Speaker John Boehner.
The most important part of President Obama's proposal for deficit reduction may be the threat he's making with it. As noted previously, the proposal calls for around $2 trillion in new deficit reduction -- more than $4 trillion if include the savings from drawing down military forces and already enacted cuts from the summer debt ceiling deal.