Thursday, April 07, 2011


The unknowns abound:

Will the government shut down tomorrow night? Whether it does or doesn’t, the saga demonstrates that partisan ideology trumps leadership in this great land of ours. It’s fair to blame the Republicans for creating the crisis. Two months ago they insisted that the budget be cut by $32 billion. The Democrats said no and then yes +. They are now willing to cut out $33 billion. Ooops. The Republicans changed their mind. They now want $62 billion cut. The Republican leadership buckled to Tea Party pressure. What a surprise.

The bigger question is what to do about the long-term deficit. Here there is absolutely no leadership from Obama or the Dems. The Bowles-Simpson proposals, representing a bi-partisan group that Obama asked to come up with ideas, were received by the White House and then ignored. Many of these proposals were innovative, courageous and worth considering. They even confronted the sacred issue of entitlements and dared to suggest they be modified.

Here it is appropriate to give credit where credit is due, though it pains me to do so. The most courageous new ideas have been put forward by Paul Ryan and his Republican colleagues. They are proposing changes that will fundamentally alter the entitlement sacred cows. I doubt that when I see the details I’m going to like some of these ideas. But a tip of the hat to these guys for having the guts to get the conversation up on the table. It’s about time.

Libya is another unknown. My bet: There won’t be a military victory for either side. Rather than a long-term stalemate, there will be a diplomatic solution. Defections will leave Gadhafi with few friends and the world against him. He’ll then go someplace else to live out his days. Who or what will take over is a mystery that will only be revealed in the fullness of time.


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