LIFE, DEATH AND DEFICITS
NEW YORK TIMES
America’s political landscape is infested with many zombie ideas — beliefs about policy that have been repeatedly refuted with evidence and analysis but refuse to die. …The most dangerous zombie is probably the claim that rising life expectancy justifies a rise in both the Social Security retirement age and the age of eligibility for Medicare. …But it’s a cruel, foolish idea — cruel in the case of Social Security, foolish in the case of Medicare… any further rise in the retirement age would be a harsh blow to Americans in the bottom half of the income distribution, who aren’t living much longer, and who, in many cases, have jobs requiring physical effort that’s difficult even for healthy seniors. And these are precisely the people who depend most on Social Security.
GENERALS IN THEIR OWN WEB
NEW YORK TIMES
Petraeus and Allen (and Kelley and Broadwell) are all in some measure victims of the Surveillance State the president inherited from George W. Bush and has spent the past four years consolidating and expanding. Among other things, Obama has tried to amend the Patriot Act to give the F.B.I. ever greater intrusive powers. … The irony of a security apparatus turning on its security chiefs is impossible to escape. The president says national security has not been compromised in any way. So what, pray, is the issue here? Allen’s flirtatious banter with Kelley? The ultimate failure of Petraeus the perfectionist to meet his own impossibly high standards? Or rather the deeply troubling fact that this F.B.I. inquiry digging into in-boxes was possible in the first place?
KILL THE DEBT LIMIT
…The only way President Obama really has leverage is if he decisively removes the debt ceiling as a source of power for the Republicans. Recall it was reckless GOP brinksmanship with the debt limit last time (and Obama’s timidity in the face of it) that scared markets, gave us the United States’ first-ever downgrade, and left the president looking weak. For Obama’s own sake — and for the sake of stable governance for future presidents of either party — the president can’t let the GOP hold the country hostage via the debt ceiling again. The question is whether Obama has learned from experience and has the stomach now for what’s required.
THE I’S HAVE IT
WALL STREET JOURNAL
[President Obama] talks about the fiscal cliff but not in a way that shows a real eagerness for compromise. He does not define areas of potential give, potential progress. He won, after all. He doesn’t have to. What is needed is bigness, magnanimity. It’s not all about him, his party, it’s not all about self. It is not even all about one’s deepest political intentions. There are other ways and schedules for moving forward there. Get the Republicans leaders on the Hill together. Suggest in subtle ways you’ll let them save face. Quietly acknowledge you weren’t the best negotiator in the world the first time ’round, and neither were they. …This would be good for the president, good for his legacy, good for the country.