Glenn Hubbard, that tax policy veteran of the Bush I & II administrations, writes that the Erskine Bowles/Alan Simpson proposals leaked last week deserve two cheers. Stopping the use of "tax code as a vehicle for special-purpose spending that weakens both the efficiency and fairness of our tax system," is one of their good proposals, he says, while simultaneously arguing that fairness requires deep-sixing their proposal to treat dividends and capital gains as regular income.
Eugene Robinson praises the Bowles/Simpson proposal to reduce defense spending. And cuts to the chase:
The debt panel chairmen's proposed defense cuts, meant to be "illustrative," include civilian and noncombat pay freezes, a 15 percent cut in procurement, shrinking or eliminating some foreign bases, and $28 billion in "overhead" savings that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has already pledged. But Bowles and Simpson don't state the obvious, which is that a much more effective way to cut defense costs would be to bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to a September report by the Congressional Research Service, the two wars have already cost $1.1 trillion. That figure doesn't include an estimated $170 billion for the current fiscal year - and there's no real end in sight.
But Mr Karzai is able to play it both ways. He knows that the US has found no credible alternative to him and was forced to swallow his fraudulent re-election last year. He can therefore afford to make criticism, which he knows will go down well with the majority of Afghans, without the US being able to do much about it.
John Nichols warns that Barack Obama will be in trouble in 2012 if Democrats don't do a hell of lot better job of inspiring young voters than they did in 2010.
Republicans, who are masters of deceptive marketing, seized on Obama's most appealing qualities and turned them upside down. Their propaganda cast him not as soft but as a power-mad (black) leftist, destroying democracy with socialist schemes. The portrait was so ludicrous and mendacious, the president's party hardly bothered to respond. Egged on by the Republican Party and Fox News, right-wing frothers conjured sicko fantasies and extreme accusations: the president is not only a black man (bad enough for the party of the white South); he is not even American. The vindictive GOP strategy is racial McCarthyism, demonizing this honorable man as an alien threat, just as cold war Republicans depicted left-liberal Democrats as commie sympathizers.
Craig Fehrman points out that Sarah Palin loves to quote Ronald Reagan. But whether it's nuclear arms control or economic policy, she has a superficial understanding of what Reagan was all about, and merely drops his name into every speech as a means "to simplify issues and to skip serious thinking."
"Black males continue to perform lower than their peers throughout the country on almost every indicator," the Washington-based Council of the Great Schools, which represents the nation's 66 largest urban public school systems, said in a recent report.
While much of the news coverage of the council's gut-wrenching report has focused on the failure of nearly all fourth- and eighth-grade black males to read and do math at proficiency levels, less attention has been paid to its conclusion that educational improvements alone won't fix this problem. What's needed, the council said, is a "concerted national effort to improve the education, social and employment outcomes of African-American males."
If you think that's just a warmed-over pitch for more funding of a liberal agenda, you're being shortsighted. In 13 years, minorities will be a majority of this nation's children younger than 18. In just 29 years, most working-age Americans will be black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American. This nation will be hard-pressed to remain the world's leading economy if a sizeable — and growing — share of its potential workforce is slipping through the gaping holes in our education system.
Esther Cepeda says one group is MIA in the media and elsewhere on immigration:
"It is really frustrating to be mostly left out of the conversation," said Karen Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center, which advocates for the rights and interests of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities. "Mostly it's because the Asian-American vote is missing — the media do not sample the Asian vote to tell what we're really voting on."
Yikes and a half. Chuck Norris - yep, besides selling Total Gym, he writes a column - is hyping the flat tax:
First, because the Internal Revenue Service is an unconstitutional system that is totally overreaching and overpowering for our republic, as well as a bureaucratic nightmare for anyone caught in its auditing web. It has no checks or balances; it can't be held accountable by we the people.
Edward Ashworth is not too impressed with Bobby Jindal's "real leadership" strategy.