Jewish World Review August 10, 2011 / 10 Menachem-Av, 5771
From Crisis to Malaise
By Paul Greenberg
The big news last week was what didn't happen.
What did happen was bad enough. The politicians in
Whereupon U.S. debt was downgraded. The markets opened, then dived off a cliff. The economic news out of
Imagine the reaction a coupla-three years ago if people had been told, come 2011, Americans would be shaken because the Dow had fallen to "only" 11,000. How soon we forget -- to take the long view.
Last week's crisis was not so much averted as postponed. A super-committee of
Behind all the political posturing in
The president and
It's not as if no one knows what to do. Constructive suggestions abound. If you picked a few from Menu A and a few more from Menu B, you'd have the makings of a healthy fiscal diet. All we need do is follow it: Cut and simplify tax rates, especially on capital investment. Eliminate loopholes and sacrifice some sacred cows, not excluding untouchables like the household mortgage deduction. Tax revenue would increase as tax rates decreased, just as it did after the Kennedy-Johnson, Reagan, Clinton and Bush tax cuts.
Then update entitlement programs like
All it would take is a little courage, but of course that's the quality most missing in
Standard and Poor's took notice of where all this was leading, and downgraded this country's credit rating accordingly. It was only acknowledging what most Americans have been feeling for some time: a lack of confidence, which is what credit, national or personal, really is.
There can be little doubt who had the worst week in
Far from exulting, the president of
The president's big gamble during the nigh-eternal negotiations over the debt ceiling was to appeal to the American people in a televised address to the nation. The nation yawned. Does anybody recall that speech a week later?
Remarkable: The president of
Adding chutzpah to failure, our current president could think of nothing better to recommend last week than to finally enact those free-trade treaties negotiated by his predecessor. Yes, the same treaties that have been piling up on his desk for years. He's been holding them hostage to the demands of his labor-union backers for still another government subsidy, still more spending.
Once again reality has obliged
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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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