President Obama hopes that the European Union will solve his Middle East policy problem: “Team Obama pushes new Quartet statement to avoid Palestinian U.N. bid.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta understands the sequestration problem if the debt supercommittee doesn’t reach an agreement. “An almost trillion-dollar trimming,” Panetta says flatly, ‘cannot take place.’ ”
“And with a sequester?” George F. Will writes. “The 1.5 million active-duty members of the armed services and 700,000 civilian employees of the Defense Department depend on an industrial base of more than 3.8 million. According to the Pentagon, a sequester would substantially shrink those three numbers, perhaps adding a point to the nation’s unemployment rate. The cuts would leave the smallest Army and Marine Corps in more than a decade and the smallest tactical Air Force since this service became independent of the Army in 1947. The Navy has already shrunk almost to its smallest fleet size since World War I.” So why didn’t Panetta object to the debt ceiling deal?
Obama’s Chicago problem: “The rap against Obama’s White House management style became that he was too dependent on old friends and fellow Chicagoans.” But could Obama ever function with advisers who told him hard truths? I doubt it.
The Solyndra problem deepens: “The Obama administration restructured a half-billion-dollar federal loan to a troubled solar energy company in such a way that private investors — including a fundraiser for President Barack Obama — moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment in case of a default, government records show.”
A must-read piece by Yuval Levin on the Medicare problem. “Medicare’s problem is not just overspending. In a sense, the program’s travails mirror (and severely exacerbate) those of our economy and welfare state more generally: The stifling of competition and innovation creates a crushing inefficiency that makes the system unsustainable — giving off a strong whiff of institutional decline, and intimations of a terrible crash to come. Yet correcting the problem, in Medicare’s case as with our broader predicament, presents an enormous political challenge, because recipients of benefits are powerfully resistant to change.”
The problem with leaving just a few thousand troops in Iraq. Last week, “Iran’s main ally inside Iraq, Shiite cleric Moqtada-al-Sadr (whose army [Prime Minister Nouri al-] Maliki bravely disbanded in 2008) told his followers to stop attacking Americans — to ensure that they leave. Sadr’s disingenuous restraint aside, those 3,000 U.S. troops face heightened, needless risk. As the Brookings Institution’s Kenneth Pollack noted [in the Wall Street Journal] . . . on Monday, ‘a force that small will have a very hard time protecting itself, let alone other American personnel in Iraq. They will have to remain on a small number of forward operating bases that are well known to Iraq’s myriad terrorist groups, who will continue to attack them for a variety of emotional and political reasons.’ ”
Rick Santorum’s problem has been in getting attention. This might help: “Rick Santorum captured a home-state straw poll win of Pennsylvania Republicans on Friday night. Santorum, the [former] two-term Pennsylvania senator, won 36 percent of the vote from state committee members, beating Mitt Romney’s 25 percent and Rick Perry’s 18 percent. No one else here cracked double-digits.”