1. President Obama this week will lay out “a new approach to reducing the nation’s soaring debt,” The Washington Post reports, “proposing reductions in spending on entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid and renewing his call for tax increases on the rich.”
2. The U.S. economic recovery is expected to grow at a more rapid clip over the rest of the year, despite a sharp pullback in growth during the just-finished first quarter, according to economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal. Presumably, this means these economists are expecting oil prices to stabilise if not decline.
3. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says that “the nation wants — and more important, the nation needs — a president who believes in something, and is willing to take a stand. And that’s not what we’re seeing.” The bulk of Mr. Krugman’s column is devoted to criticising Republican budget plans and the Obama Administration’s tepid response to those plans.
4. President Obama has struggled to define liberalism in an age of massive debt and deep division. The absence of a strategic framework for governance has enabled the Obama White House to be more “flexible” in its political maneuverings. But it also has enhanced the notion that President Obama doesn’t really stand for anything, save his own re-election.
5. Columnist Paul Samuelson details the dependency of Americans on government benefits: “The Census Bureau reports that in 2009 almost half (46.2 per cent) of the 300 million Americans received at least one federal benefit: 46.5 million, Social Security; 42.6 million, Medicare; 42.4 million, Medicaid; 36.1 million, food stamps; 3.2 million, veterans’ benefits; 12.4 million, housing subsidies. The Census list doesn’t include tax breaks. Counting those, perhaps three-quarters or more of Americans receive some sizable government benefit.”
6. House Speaker John Boehner, in the wake of Friday’s last-minute budget deal, says the next budget fight in Washington will be over trillions not billions of dollars. The Speaker endorsed Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” 2012 budget plan as the official House GOP position.
7. Clive Crook notes that the run-up to Friday’s budget agreement was a farce. “The shutdown punch-up was a nuisance and proof of Washington’s recklessness, but little apart from political advantage was at stake. Mostly, it was theatre. But a real fiscal crisis is coming.”
8. The level-headed and eerily prescient Wolfgang Munchau writes that Spain will be the next Eurozone member to experience significant sovereign debt “issues” and that EU politicians who insist otherwise are delusional.
9. Mr. Munchau, in a bracing review of the European Union published in Foreign Policy magazine, says the eurozone was born of wishful thinking and, to this day, remains encumbered by it.
10. In an ongoing effort to diminish her stature, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said this yesterday about Donald Trump’s “investigation” of President Obama’s place of birth: “More power to him. He’s not just throwing stones, you know — from the sidelines. He’s digging in there. He’s paying for researchers to know why President Obama would have spent $2 million to not show his birth certificate. So more power to him.”
11. Unemployment may be high around the country, but jobs are plentiful in Washington, DC. This fact is just part of what fuels voter rage against the permanent government.
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