THE REPUBLICAN GLASNOST
NEW YORK TIMES
Over the past month, the Republican Party has changed far more than I expected. … There are increasing signs that House Republicans are willing to unite behind Speaker John Boehner so he can cut a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff.” There has been an epidemic of open-mindedness as Republicans try to win minority votes and create a version of their party that can be competitive in states like Connecticut and California. … The Republicans may still blow it. If President Obama is flexible and they don’t meet him partway, Republicans would contribute to a recession that would discredit them for a decade. But they are moving in the right direction and moving fast. These are first steps, and encouraging ones.
NOTHING BUT A POWER PLAY
…Obama’s objective in these negotiations is not economic but political: not to solve the debt crisis but to fracture the Republican majority in the House. Get Boehner to cave, pass the tax hike with Democratic votes provided by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and let the Republican civil war begin. It doesn’t even matter whether Boehner gets deposed as speaker. Either way, the Republican House would be neutered, giving Obama a free hand to dominate Washington and fashion the entitlement state of his liking. … What should Republicans do? Stop giving stuff away. If Obama remains intransigent, let him be the one to take us over the cliff. And then let the new House, which is sworn in weeks before the president, immediately introduce and pass a full across-the-board restoration of the George W. Bush tax cuts.
THE BABY BOOM BUMP
KENNETH BAER & JEFFREY LIEBMAN
NEW YORK TIMES
Far from the headlines, the debate over the budget deficit, taxes and unemployment is being driven by large-scale changes in the American population — and in this case, it’s not the new demographics of the young that are important, but rather the old demographics of the baby boom. For decades we have known that the retirement of the baby boomers would be a monumental event for the economy. But now that it’s happening, many fiscal policy makers are acting as if the boomers are eternal teenagers and are turning a blind eye to how the boomers’ aging changes how we should approach economic policy. And this affects two of the central issues of the negotiations: how much the government should spend and how we can cut unemployment.
SEN. DEMINT YIELDS THE FLOOR
Mr. DeMint’s decision also may have consequences for the Senate, for the Republican Party and for the country. Mr. DeMint has been trying to leverage his position as the tea party’s uncompromising man in Washington into broader power over the GOP, and his resignation suggests that this effort has failed, or at least stalled. … Furthermore, there’s a case to be made that Mr. DeMint helped put the Senate GOP in its present predicament. To be sure, his political apparatus helped several of the Senate’s most conservative members win the seats they now hold, but he also backed candidates who were so far right that they lost winnable races and damaged the party’s brand.
BENEATH THE PRESIDENTIAL PLATITUDES
WALL STREET JOURNAL
The president doesn’t want to cut spending, he wants to increase it. He wants to raise taxes on the wealthy, as he defines them. He does not want the government to be smaller but bigger, or, as he’d probably put it, as big as it has to be. His actions aren’t only about politics—”crush the foe.” He’s happy to crush the foe, and would see the long-term political benefit in it, but it’s not his primary motive. And it’s not about economics per se—he knows raising taxes on the rich will not solve our fiscal problems. He’s seen, as he likes to say, the math. What is motivating him primarily is ideology. And an ideological opening.