Yet again the Postreports on the threat posed by �entitlement� spending, referring to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. To quickly repeat myself, this is dishonest. There are modest and manageable increases in projected Social Security spending due to the aging of the population. There are unmanageable projected increases in Medicare and Medicaid expenditures due to a projected explosion in health care costs. If the projected explosion in health care costs proves accurate, then it will devastate the economy, and cause serious budget problems.
The Times had an article examining the prospects of the Fed being able to successfully bring down the inflation rate, without also inducing a recession. While it is a thoughtful piece, the two experts whose views dominate the article, Robert Gordon and Lawrence Meyer, have the distinction of having been proven completely wrong on this topic by the events of the nineties.
The modest drop reported in the trade deficit in June is good news, the current deficit is unsustainable. A declining trade deficit will also help to boost economic growth, as noted in a Timesarticle this morning. However, the article missed an important part of the story.
JOE AND THE STOCK OPTIONS. In between writing a bunch of frightening posts about the burstinghousingbubble, Dean Baker took some time out yesterday to remind us of Joe Lieberman's ignominious and highly consequential '90s-era role in getting the Financial Accounting Standards Board to back down from requiring that stock options be treated as expenses against profit.
ADDICTED TO FAILURE. Bush says today's plots serve as a "stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists." If anything, it's a stark reminder of the reverse. A stark reminder that this isn't a "war" at all -- you don't foil a plot like this with armored personnel carriers and JDAMs. We're also not going to capture the capital city of "Islamic fascism" -- not Kabul, not Baghdad, not even Teheran and Damascus -- and force our adversaries to surrender.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: SPILLS OF WAR.Christopher Moraffreports on an ongoing environmental disaster in Lebanon: a gigantic oil spill off the Mediterrenean coast caused by Israel's bombing of a power plant three weeks ago. The total spill could rival the Exxon Valdez catastrophe of 1989 -- and the continuing war is preventing government and international agencies from fully addressing the situation or containing the damage. Read the whole thing.
GRATUITOUS SHOT. You'd think, having just complained that The Nation and other lefty media outlets ought to be more focused on the increasing influence of rightwing Christian Zionism than on AIPAC, that I'd be delighted by this new piece by Max Blumenthal. And I am pleased to see Blumenthal's comprehensive reporting on the influential new group Christians United for Israel (CUFI), and the Armageddon-based philosophy of its founder, John Hagee.
TERROR PLOT: NO OPPORTUNITY WASTED FOR POLITICAL GAIN. President George W. Bush could have moved to reassure the American people, in his statement from Green Bay, that their well-being is first and foremost in the minds of public officials -- that the government will leave no stone unturned in its quest to maintain the safety of American citizens. Instead, the president decided to play politics.
TOUGH NUT TO CRACK. As Haroldpoints out, the dawning realization on the part of the right that Iraq is facing a civil war puts enormous strain on the administration's justifications for U.S. policy there. A new National Revieweditorial provides an example of the kind of anguish and addled prescriptions that emerge when conservatives try to square the circle of remaining committed to the American occupation and the administration's war aims while also grappling with the reality of an Iraqi civil war in which we have no interest in picking a side: