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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 7, 2010/ 29 Tishrei, 5771

Sumo wrestling with deficits

By George Will



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the four-term Texas Republican, hopes it is true that, as has been said, Americans invariably do the right thing -- after exhausting all the alternatives. Regarding the fiscal imbalance that is driving the national debt toward 90 percent of gross domestic product, Americans are running out of alternatives.

Remember, deficits are supposed to add $8.5 trillion to the nation's debt in this decade. This is the plan -- based on an optimistic assumption of 10 years of 3.4 percent economic growth. This year's second-quarter growth rate was half that -- 1.7 percent.

President Obama established the 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, on which Hensarling serves, with, he says, "high hopes and low expectations." Thus far, Hensarling doubts that the commission is a "stalking horse for a VAT" -- a value-added tax, essentially a national sales tax. He is, however, agnostic about whether the president's purpose in creating the commission was to enable Democrats to tiptoe past next month's elections without talking about deficits.

The commission is not, Hensarling thinks, "well designed for success." Two-thirds of its members were appointed by Democrats, and any recommendations must be supported by 14 members, meaning a minimum of two Republican appointees.

The commission's co-chairman, Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, has suggested that the commission should endorse balancing federal revenue (it has averaged 18 percent of GDP over the past 30 years) and outlays at 21 percent of GDP. Republicans could embrace this because spending is now 25 percent and, under current law, on reasonable assumptions, will reach 35 percent by 2035.

Hensarling says Bowles has been fairly successful in getting the commission members to accept "a similar set of facts," less so concerning goals. The commission's deliberations so far have, he says, resembled sumo wrestling -- there has been much staring at one another and the problem, "but the moment of contact has not arrived."

The commission's near-term mandate is to propose recommendations designed to balance the budget by 2015 -- excluding debt service. That is no mean exclusion: Interest on the debt is projected to be $739 billion in 2015.


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If this is all the commission does, Hensarling says, it may do more harm than good because it will take the focus off the need to address the long-term structural debt caused by the big three entitlements.

Fixing Social Security's approaching insolvency is, Hensarling says, "child's play" compared with dealing with Medicare and Medicaid, the primary drivers of the government's fiscal imbalance. Democrats, however, must pretend that they and Obama have fixed health care.

The commission could ensure Social Security's solvency for at least another generation by quickly raising the retirement age to 68 (it is being raised in imperceptible increments to 67 by 2027) and by indexing benefits to inflation rather than to wage increases. Of course, Hensarling says, any changes will "grandfather the grandparents."

The commission's other mandate is to recommend measures "that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook," including the gap between projected federal revenue and expenditures, particularly regarding entitlement programs. A "road map" to fiscal responsibility written by another commission member, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), does that. But Hensarling is one of only 13 co-sponsors. The other 164 House Republicans flinched. They fear, not without reason, that voters are ideologically conservative but operationally liberal -- that voters' cognitive dissonance makes them ardently in favor of shrinking the deficit and as ardently opposed to any measures commensurate with the problem. Keynesian economics gave government an easy conscience about doing what it has a metabolic urge to do: spend. The theory was that developed industrial economies tend to save too much, causing the underutilization of labor and capital. Therefore government spending must compensate. Hence deficits can be virtuous and do become routine.

But Hensarling says that "judging from my 1/435th of the nation" -- he represents part of Dallas, plus some suburbs and rural areas -- the people have never been more alarmed about deficits. Not even in 1992, when another man from Dallas, Ross Perot, made deficit reduction the rationale of his presidential campaign, which netted 19 percent of the vote.

Today's anxiety is one reason why, when the commission reports in December, the lame-duck session of Congress will contain many zombie members -- politically dead but still ambulatory. Having no political future, they may have the gumption to do difficult things but, having been repudiated, will lack the requisite legitimacy.

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