- The Washington Times - Monday, September 14, 2009

LOOKING AHEAD

“I began this year doubtful that we’d see much excitement in the 2010 elections. I’m quickly changing my tune,” Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.

“After two big elections, Democrats didn’t have many opportunities left in the House. GOP Senate retirements seemed to open the door to more Democratic gains, but with the Democrats controlling 59 (then 60) seats, additional party gains, quite frankly, wouldn’t be regarded as significant,” Mr. Rothenberg said.

“But growing public concern about spending, taxes and the size of government has started to shift the national landscape away from the Democrats to a more neutral position, and quite possibly toward the GOP. The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has even found that Republicans have regained their historic advantage as the party better suited to deal with spending and taxes.

“The change in the political landscape has encouraged Republican candidates and prospects. But Democratic recruiting remains on track, with a list of strong candidates.

“Even now, a number of top-shelf contests are developing, making for a surprisingly interesting 2010 election.

“Open Senate seats in competitive states seem to guarantee feisty contests in Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois, while vulnerable (or potentially vulnerable) incumbents in Connecticut, Louisiana and North Carolina create uncertainty. And of course, there is Pennsylvania, where one of the nastiest, meanest and bloodiest primaries in recent history seems inevitable, and where too many people are underestimating the chances of a competitive general election.

“Indeed, the large number of competitive Senate primaries can only make the cycle more volatile.”

HOLIER THAN THOU

“When, exactly, did the bloom come off the rose?’ Sherman Frederick asks in the Las Vegas Review-Journal

“For a good many, I’ll bet it was 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 9, just after President Barack Obama delivered another ‘sounds good, less filling’ speech before a joint session of Congress,” Mr. Frederick wrote.

“After nine months, Americans have begun to make up their minds about this president, and the growing conclusion is this: On the menu of competency, this leader of the free world is one taco short of a full combination plate. He’s undisciplined, snooty and less gifted than initially thought, making him ill-prepared to grasp greatness, even when history offers it.

“Time and again, in a pinch, this president has shown himself a pedestrian thinker unable to move himself, much less anyone else, beyond partisan politics. Because of that (and I’m sorry to say it), his presidency is likely to fall short at a time when America could use a healthy dose of excellence.

“His speech on health care ‘reform’ last week before Congress illustrated the point perfectly.

“That topic has devolved into a public brawl. Blame that on mean-ol’ Republicans or wild-eyed governors from Alaska or ‘evil-mongers’ from the rest home, if you like. But we can all agree that hardly any constructive conversations on health care have taken place in this country in the past 30 days. And that goes on the heads of leaders from both parties.

“Now, enter the president. He steps up to deliver a ‘major’ speech on the topic. People anxiously hope the president will recoup his legendary oratory skills to pull the debate out of the woods, onto a path of civil discourse and maybe, just maybe, to common ground. Citizens stand on tip-toe to hear their young leader cut through the rancor and lead the way.

“And he makes things worse.

“Instead of inspiration and consensus, he bared his ideological fangs and called his way the ‘moral imperative’ highway to ‘real’ (translation: ‘radical’) change. He couldn’t have been more holier-than-thou as he slipped into his trademark snotty tone to dismiss critics and further ignite partisanship. Instead of elevating the debate, he widened the divide, which I suspect now dooms a health care ‘reform’ bill from passing Congress with any kind of bipartisan support.”

TRUTH TELLER

Rep. Bart Stupak isn’t the type to yell ‘You lie!’ while the president is addressing a joint session of Congress. But according to the soft-spoken pro-life Michigan Democrat, Barack Obama isn’t telling the full truth when he says, as he did last Wednesday night, ‘no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions’ in the congressional health care plan,” John McCormack writes in the Weekly Standard.

” ‘There certainly is public funding for abortion’ in the House bill, Stupak told me the day after Obama’s speech. The bill would allow both the public health insurance plan and federally subsidized private plans to cover elective abortions. Stupak has asked repeatedly for a meeting - or even a few minutes on the phone - with Obama to clear up any misunderstanding, but the White House hasn’t granted his requests. ‘I just jumped Rahm Emanuel again this morning’ to ask for a meeting, Stupak said Thursday.

“The White House might want to reconsider its cold shoulder, because Stupak may have enough votes to keep the health care bill from making it to the floor of the House. Stupak says that if Nancy Pelosi and Rules Committee Chairman Louise M. Slaughter do not allow an up-or-down vote on his amendment to explicitly ban coverage for elective abortions in the bill, he’s going to lead a coalition of Democrats to vote with the Republicans ‘to try to take down the rule.’ That would keep the bill from moving out of the committee to the floor.”

ADVERSE TREND

“For years now, many businesses and individuals in the United States have been relying on the power of government, rather than competition in the marketplace, to increase their wealth. This is politicization of the economy. It made the financial crisis much worse, and the trend is accelerating,” Tyler Cowen writes in the New York Times.

“Well before the financial crisis erupted, policymakers treated homeowners as a protected political class and gave mortgage-backed securities privileged regulatory treatment. Furthermore, they allowed and encouraged high leverage and the expectation of bailouts for creditors, which had been practiced numerous times, including the precedent of Long-Term Capital Management in 1998. Without these mistakes, the economy would not have been so invested in leverage and real estate, and the financial crisis would have been much milder,” said Mr. Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University.

“But we are now injecting politics ever more deeply into the American economy, whether it be in finance or in sectors like health care. Not only have we failed to learn from our mistakes, but we’re repeating them on an ever-larger scale.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.

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