Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

California’s global warming plan, it turns out, is not “cost free” as its proponents insisted. You won’t be surprised that “greens readily cook the books” with phony economic studies that not even sympathetic economists and newspapers buy. The plan will cost a small fortune and further hobble California’s ailing economy. Perhaps the Obama administration should start paying attention to California (which also dumped its universal health care idea as too expensive even for liberal Democrats).

Noemie Emery traces the fall of the House of Kennedy. Princess Caroline and the rest of the dynasty made a cardinal error, mistaking iconic status for political viability: “Politicians seek, icons are sought after. Politicians covet approval, icons confer it. Politicians explain themselves, icons are beyond such indignity. Politicians do things to justify their existence, icons just are. What Caroline does has always been secondary to her simple existence, which, for most people, is more than sufficient.”

Christopher Caldwell on the stimulus bill: “It reflects the pre-existing wishes of the party’s most powerful interest groups more than the pre-existing wishes of the country. Democrats are now liable to be judged by the standard they created when they abandoned the Bush administration over the Iraq war: you break it, you own it.”

If you thought the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which erased any meaningful statute of limitations on employment discrimination claims, was a bad idea, get ready for the Paycheck Fairness Act: “The bill would, for example, expose an employer to liability for paying a woman less than a man in a similar job unless the employer can convince a jury that the differential is ‘job related’ and ‘consistent with business necessity’ — and also that no ‘alternative employment practice exists that would serve the same business purpose.’” Throw in unlimited compensatory and punitive damages and plaintiff-friendly class action rules and you have a trial lawyer’s dream and an employer’s nightmare. Aren’t we supposed to be making it easier to hire and employ American workers?

Minority Leader John Boehner points to the CBO analysis that only 22% of the “stimulus” bill is tax cuts — a far cry form the 40% the Obama administration advertised.

David Broder joins the pundit chorus pleading for the President to rework the stimulus plan: “Beyond these policy challenges, there are political considerations that make it really important for Obama to take the time to negotiate for more than token Republican support in the Senate. Nothing was more central to his victory last fall than his claim that he could break the partisan gridlock in Washington. He wants to be like Ronald Reagan, steering his first economic measures through a Democratic House in 1981, not Bill Clinton, passing his first budget in 1993 without a single Republican vote.”

And Amity Shlaes brings us back to the central issue: why repeat the New Deal if it didn’t work?

You know things aren’t going well when Maureen Dowd is back to being catty about the White House: “With the equally laconic Tim Geithner beside him, Mr. Obama called it ‘shameful’ and ‘the height of irresponsibility’ for Wall Street bankers to give themselves $18.4 billion worth of bonuses for last year.They should know better, he coolly chided. But big shots — even Mr. Obama’s — seem impervious to knowing better. (Following fast on Geithner’s tax lacunae, Tom Daschle’s nomination hit a pothole when he had to pay $140,000 in back taxes he owed mostly for three years’ use of a car and a driver provided by a private equity firm.)”