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Here are some news stories and articles which might be of interest to you. I've posted the opening section, and if you want to read more, you can click on "Read the whole article" to go to the original item. You'll find a variety of things here -- current news, political analysis, opinion pieces, articles about religion -- things I've happened to read and want to share with you. It's your Reading Room, so take your time. Browse. You're certain to find something you'll want to read.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Obama Fiasco

Failure all around.

by Conrad Black

The whole Obama era to date has been wasted in a historic, amateurish botch of the health-care issue. This began as a crusade for social justice — to cover the uninsured, whose numbers were suitably exaggerated, as most of them are people changing jobs from one health-insuring employer to another, or foreigners resident in this country, legally or otherwise, or the indigent, who are eligible for Medicaid.

It wasn’t clear from this rationale, however, why Obama was also trying to take over the insurance of those already covered. He therefore pressed on to the need to take over health care to save money (by nationalizing it). The Congressional Budget Office blew that up, so the president moved crisply on to revenue-neutral health-care reform for its own sake. The corresponding promises of cost reductions proved to be shortchanging elderly Medicare recipients of hundreds of billions of dollars and chasing Washington’s oldest and most elusive will-o’-the-wisp, the last refuge of 220 years of desperate public officials, the ever-popular “waste and fraud.” And the “reforms” themselves are just aggravations of long-established mistaken practices.

The president’s reform plan has been seen by almost everyone to be bunk, and hackneyed bunk at that. His political capital is evaporating and, while it was disgraceful for a congressman to scream at him “You lie!” (which he was, about health care for illegal immigrants), this is more understandable and likely to be more habit-forming than an Iraqi journalist’s throwing shoes at his predecessor.

Instead of following the Roosevelt 1933 formula of squarely acknowledging a crisis and pledging an immediate plan of action with inspiriting calls for solidarity and national effort, he magnified the problems in order to try to create an appetite for a more radical turn to higher taxes and social benefits than the country wanted. Instead of sending precise bills to Congress and generating public support for them as Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan did, Obama left it to the Democratic congressional leadership, which festooned every bill with pendulous payoffs to key votes and interests.

The $787 billion stimulus plan was a monstrosity of patronage and logrolling. The money that was borrowed (to stimulate, in reality, Democratic reelection prospects) has been taken from purposes that would have stimulated the economy just as efficiently. Larry Summers could not have believed his promises of instant results that would confine unemployment to 8 percent. Two-thirds of the stimulus is for dispersal closer to elections, and meanwhile unemployment is knocking at the door of 10 percent. The whole misconceived idea should be scrapped and replaced with tax cuts, but it won’t be.

The cap-and-trade bill is so loaded with rebates and exemptions that the administration’s own spokesmen acknowledge that while it would sharply raise heating and air-conditioning costs in tens of millions of American homes, it would neither raise federal-government revenues nor reduce carbon emissions. It was based on the unproved Al Gore science-fiction vision of the environment, and it won’t pass...  Read the whole article.

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Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.