As Harry Reid works on a Senate debt-ceiling plan, the Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein suspects he will reach his “savings” by counting reduced spending from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and making optimistic projections about the economy. As John Boehner works on a revised House plan, Hugh Hewitt of the Examiner fears Republicans may accept limitations on home mortgage interest or charitable contributions. Since nothing has been released to the public, we may have to watch whatever emerges enacted into law without time for review or comment, regarding legislation involving trillions over 10 years.
It was Keynes who warned about long-term projections, since “in the out years, we are all dead” (or something like that). One wonders what he would think of legislation enacted a week after the public (and most of its representatives) learned of the projections. We need a short-term solution providing time for public analysis and debate, the way laws with long-term consequences were once considered — until in recent years (two-and-a-half to be exact), when secret meetings followed by immediate votes became the new norm. The current crisis will be wasted if it is not used to restore a facsimile of the former process.
With eight days to go until the August 2 deadline to raise the deadline and with no solution apparently in sight, the spin contest is going full tilt. The White House is blaming House Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans of irresponsible obstructionism by refusing to accede to the president’s demands for higher taxes while the GOP blames the White House for not accepting their plans for a debt ceiling increase accompanied by budget cuts but no new taxes. On the surface, it looks like both sides are being stubborn.
But if you want to know who is really playing chicken with the debt and the future of the U.S. economy, perhaps the answer can be found by asking which side is doing the most to use scare tactics to get their way in the negotiations: President Obama.
The Forward presents a sympathetic portrait of Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur to the Palestinian territories, after he had embroiled himself in a scandal by posting an anti-Semitic cartoon on his blog. Even Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, has denounced the cartoon Falk propagated as anti-Semitic. Only in passing does the Forward mention the controversy surrounding Falk’s embrace of 9/11 conspiracy theories.
The Forward presents Falk as an ethical man, deeply considered by social justice and the plight of the underdog. Citing Falk’s own explanations, the Forward explained, “His criticism of Israel is less a reflection of his Jewish identity than his posture as an American leftist, perennially dedicated to history’s underdogs — in his eyes, the Palestinians. Throughout his life, Falk has maintained a cool detachment from his own faith that has allowed him to critique Israeli policy with the same standards he brings to bear in his assessment of the U.S. military and its foray into Vietnam.”