Leading or cowering? President Obama’s Libya policy need not lead to stalemate, argues Bill Kristol: “If you talk off the record with people from the administration, they are terrified of having some American pilot shot down and taken hostage. Would the A-10 and AC-130 fly low and sort of lumber along, it would do a huge amount of damage. You can’t get involved in military action like this though and be totally driven by the fear of one American pilot getting shot down. It’s just wrong in my opinion. And I think he can be gone. I really don’t buy this pessimism and fatalism that, oh, we need to have a stalemate for months. And I do think that’s what Senator McCain is trying to say. A little more aggressiveness on the part of the Obama administration, and we could win this.”
Weekly Standard or Huffington Post? “Apparently, the White House has determined not to muster a clarion call for Assad to exit. The tepid, limited, modified hang out, which evidences the U.S. approach to Syria, is part alibi, part realpolitik. But it does not add up to anything more than shopworn passivity created by missteps toward Syria in the past and ‘revolt fatigue’ that is paralyzing a willingness to explore new ideas and new approaches for an ‘Assad-less Syria.’ ”
Coburn or Norquist? “Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, just e-mailed a response to Sen. Tom Coburn’s claim that his group was a narrow ‘special interest’ that doesn’t represent American conservatives. . . . Norquist accuses Coburn of backing out of a 2004 signed pledge to eschew any tax hikes without buck-for-buck budget cuts; Coburn told David Gregory Sunday that he doesn’t favor tax rate hikes but could agree to a ‘net’ increase in revenues if done carefully.”
A better future or economic ruin? “The president’s plan is to balance the budget by climbing into his Little Orphan Obammie costume and singing: ‘The sun’ll come out tomorrow / Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun.’ We’ve already bet our bottom dollar and it’s looking like total eclipse. But Obammie figures if we can only bet Daddy Warbucks’s bottom dollar, the sun will shine. The ‘rich’ don’t have enough money to plug the gap: As a general principle, whatever the tax rates, the Treasury can never take in more than about 19 percent. Since Obama took office, the government’s spent on average 24.4 percent of GDP. That five-point gap cannot be closed, and it’s the difference between the possibility of a future and the certainty of utter ruin. Hence, [S &P] outlook “negative.”
ObamaCare or McCainCare? “Unlike wages, employer-provided health benefits are untaxed, giving employees an incentive to get the most expensive coverage available through their jobs. This drives up health care costs, but nobody in politics wants to fix the problem by simply taxing benefits. In his 2008 presidential campaign, Senator John McCain proposed to untangle this knot through an insurance tax credit. Whether they get insurance from their employer or buy it themselves, workers would receive the same credit, creating an incentive to shop around for the cheapest coverage.”
Management ineptitude or a daft idea? “[T]he failed effort to close Guantanamo was reflective of the aspects of Obama’s leadership style that continue to distress his liberal base — a willingness to allow room for compromise and a passivity that at times permits opponents to set the agenda.”
Will Ben Bernanke’s handiwork be celebrated or reviled? “The U.S. dollar’s downward slide is accelerating as low interest rates, inflation concerns and the massive federal budget deficit undermine the currency. . . . While the weaker currency is helping to drive the recovery, it has also contributed to palpable public worries about inflation and the diminished standing of the U.S. on a global stage. The weak currency helps to drive up the price of oil in dollar terms, and therefore gasoline at the pump, exacerbating another political problem for Mr. Obama at the moment.”
Israeli apartments in East Jerusalem or something more fundamental at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? “The Palestinian Authority and Hamas on Saturday separately rejected US President Barack Obama’s reported plan for peace in the Middle East, because it calls on Palestinians to give up the right of return of refugees to their original homes in Israel.” At what point does the administration realize this is all a farce?