OBAMA ON GUNS – TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE
Obama’s failure to strike while the iron was hot offers a lesson in presidential leadership that goes beyond gun control. On almost every topic, from budget negotiations to national security, Washington seems only to act these days in response to crisis, if it acts at all. Obama erred in trying to use Newtown to build support for his positions on taxes, energy and immigration. And he compounded the error by sending Joe Biden off to conduct a study — an unnecessary delay when solutions were obvious. Once the president took his foot off the accelerator, no other action — not even Michael Bloomberg’s ad campaign — could maintain the momentum.
ON THE ECONOMY, THINK LONG-TERM
NEW YORK TIMES
[I]n the face of such immense challenges, Republicans continue to hawk their age-old remedy, demanding cuts in government spending, tax rates and regulation so that market forces can respond in due course. Democrats, meanwhile, push just as stridently for their familiar fixes — short-term spending programs like the 2009 stimulus package enacted during President Obama’s first term. It’s time to move beyond such transitory and piecemeal policies. Our underlying economic problems are chronic, not temporary; structural, not cyclical. To solve them, we need a systematic long-term approach.
WHAT THE IRAQ WAR TAUGHT ME ABOUT SYRIA
The tragedy of the post-Iraq logic embraced by President Obama is that it has ruled out not just George W. Bush-style invasions but also the more modest intervention used by the Clinton administration to prevent humanitarian catastrophes and protect U.S. interests in the 1990s. As in the Balkans — or Libya — the limited use of U.S. airpower and collaboration with forces on the ground could have quickly put an end to the Assad regime 18 months ago, preventing 60,000 deaths and rise of al-Qaeda. It could still save the larger region from ruin. The problem here is not that advocates of the Iraq invasion have failed to learn its lessons. It is that opponents of that war, starting with Obama, have learned the wrong ones.
STATE-WRECKED: THE CORRUPTION OF CAPITALISM IN AMERICA
NEW YORK TIMES
…The Main Street economy is failing while Washington is piling a soaring debt burden on our descendants, unable to rein in either the warfare state or the welfare state or raise the taxes needed to pay the nation’s bills. By default, the Fed has resorted to a radical, uncharted spree of money printing. But the flood of liquidity, instead of spurring banks to lend and corporations to spend, has stayed trapped in the canyons of Wall Street, where it is inflating yet another unsustainable bubble. When it bursts, there will be no new round of bailouts like the ones the banks got in 2008. Instead, America will descend into an era of zero-sum austerity and virulent political conflict, extinguishing even today’s feeble remnants of economic growth.