Let’s dig in, shall we!
1. ‘Obama’s Immigration Reform Vision: Clouded by Cynicism‘, Mark Salter, Real Clear Politics
President Obama decries ‘politics’, regarding our nation’s immigration policy debate, in a purely political speech without any substance or chance of leading to actual reform:
Obama has never been serious about passing immigration reform. But he has been very adroit at using the unresolved issue to advance his own political interests.
In 2005, Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John McCain sponsored comprehensive legislation that would have made substantial improvements to border security, establish a guest-worker program, and give the 12 to 20 million immigrants now living here illegally a path to citizenship….
A bipartisan group of senators supporting the bill formed an informal caucus to help guide it successfully through Senate debate. They met every morning in a room just off the Senate chamber to discuss plans for defending the bill from amendments that would reduce its chances of passage. Then-Sen. Barack Obama asked to join in those discussions.
As an aide to McCain, I was in the room for every one of those meetings. It was my first opportunity to observe Obama closely. During those meetings, I never saw him engage in any discussion concerned with building a majority vote in favor of the legislation. In the meetings he attended, he would draw from his shirt pocket a 3×5 index card, on which he had written changes he insisted be made to the bill before he would support it. They were invariably the same demands made by the AFL-CIO, which was intent on watering down or killing the guest-worker provisions. Republicans and Democrats alike were irritated by his transparently self-interested behavior, but tried to negotiate with him. He remained adamant in his positions and unwilling to compromise.
2. ‘Syria: The Class Clash‘, Walter Raubeson, Foreign Policy Association
A colleague of mine who spent the last two years in Damascus has been covering the uprisings in Syria since they started. This particular piece discusses the role of classes in the current insurrection.
The ongoing coverage of the Syrian uprising has focused, mostly, on issues of sect, ethnicity, and political affiliation. “This is a sectarian issue! Sunnis vs Alawites vs Christians!!!” Or maybe…”It’s about Kurds vs Arabs!!!” Another favorite is…”It’s about Authoritarianism vs Islamism vs Liberalism!!!” Newspapermen seem to like fights.
The one issue that seems to be getting thrown under the bus, and what might just be most important in the Syrian context, is the issue of class.
3. ‘Mitt Romney: Obama’s Running Mate‘, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board rips into Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care program, delivering what could be a devastating strike to his presidential aspirations:
“There’s a lot to learn from the failure of the ObamaCare model that began in Massachusetts, which is now moving to impose price controls on all hospitals, doctors and other providers. Not that anyone would know listening to Mr. Romney. In the paperback edition of his campaign book “No Apology,” he calls the plan a “success,” and he has defended it in numerous media appearances as he plans his White House run….
The only good news we can find is that the uninsured rate has dropped to 2% today from 6% in 2006. Yet four out of five of the newly insured receive low- or no-cost coverage from the government. The subsidies will cost at least $830 million in 2011 and are growing, conservatively measured, at 5.1% a year. Total state health-care spending as a share of the budget has grown from about 16% in the 1980s to 30% in 2006 to 40% today. The national state average is about 25%.
The safety-net fund that was supposed to be unwound, well, wasn’t. Uncompensated hospital care rose 5% from 2008 to 2009, and 15% from 2009 to 2010, hitting $475 million (though the state only paid out $405 million). “Avoidable” use of emergency rooms—that is, for routine care like a sore throat—increased 9% between 2004 and 2008. Meanwhile, unsubsidized insurance premiums for individuals and small businesses have climbed to among the highest in the nation.
Like Mr. Obama’s reform, RomneyCare was predicated on the illusion that insurance would be less expensive if everyone were covered. Even if this theory were plausible, it is not true in Massachusetts today….
More immediately for his Republican candidacy, the debate over ObamaCare and the larger entitlement state may be the central question of the 2012 election. On that question, Mr. Romney is compromised and not credible. If he does not change his message, he might as well try to knock off Joe Biden and get on the Obama ticket.”
4. ‘Obama owes thanks, and an apology, to CIA interrogators‘, Marc Thiessmen, Washington Post
Just today, Attorney General Eric Holder said that he has “made a lot of progress” on the investigation of former CIA interrogators. Remember, all of these CIA officers have already undergone a federal investigation in which they cleanly passed.
On his second day in office, Obama shut down the CIA’s high-value interrogation program. His Justice Department then reopened criminal investigations into the conduct of CIA interrogators — inquiries that had been closed years before by career prosecutors who concluded that there were no crimes to prosecute. In a speech at the National Archives, Obama eviscerated the men and women of the CIA, accusing them of “torture” and declaring that their work “did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts — they undermined them.” Now, it turns out that the very CIA interrogators whose lives Obama turned upside down played a critical role in what the president rightly calls “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.”
It is time for a public apology.
5. ‘History Lessons for Obama and Other Liberals‘, George will, Washington Post
Will brings some welcome historical perspective to the entitlement program debate, among other topics.
Responding to Ryan’s budget proposal, Obama said it “would lead to a fundamentally different America than the one we’ve known certainly in my lifetime. In fact, I think it would be fundamentally different than what we’ve known throughout our history.”
Well. It is unclear what “fundamentally” means to Obama, but consider some possible metrics of what is, and is not, different than what we have known “throughout our history.” Ryan’s plan would reduce federal spending as a percentage of GDP from the 2009-11 average of 24.4 to 19.9 in 10 years. It was not until the nation was 158 years old — in the Depression year of 1934, with the New Deal erupting — that peacetime federal spending topped 10 percent of GDP, and it did not reach 12 percent until the war preparations of 1941.
Ryan’s plan would alter Medicare. But Medicare has existed in its current configuration for only 46 of the nation’s 235 years.
The hysteria and hyperbole about Ryan’s plan arise, in part, from a poverty of today’s liberal imagination, an inability to think beyond the straight-line continuation of programs from the second and third quarters of the last century. It is odd that “progressives,” as liberals now wish to be called, have such a constricted notion of the possibilities of progress.
Liberals think Medicare and Social Security as they exist are “fundamental” to the nation’s identity. But liberals think the Constitution — which the Framers meant to be fundamental, meaning constituting, law — should be construed as a “living” document, continually evolving to take different meanings under whatever liberals consider new social imperatives.
Please feel free to offer your own recommendations or thoughts on ours in the comments.