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Archive for July, 2007

The Politics of the Bush Tax Cuts

July 27th, 2007

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In today’s LA Times, I’m quoted – accurately and fairly – commenting on the Bush tax cuts and saying that the big challenge for Democrats in explaining why they don’t want to extend the cuts is to respond to the charge that they support the biggest tax increase in history.

I do believe that this is the challenge facing Democrats. Republicans only have one dusty old playbook, and on page one is their equivalent of the run off-tackle: charge the Democrats with engineering “the biggest tax increase in history.” It’s an easy play to run, and it often yields big results with little risk. With the Bush tax cuts set to expire in 2010, you don’t have to be Heath Shuler to know that play is coming.

But just to be clear: I view this as a challenge that Democrats must find a way to meet. The Bush tax cuts were ruinous and grossly irresponsible, and they must be repealed in significant part.

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The Peter Pandemic Takes Its Toll: HR McMaster is Passed Over

July 24th, 2007

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George W. Bush may be the purest example of “the Peter Principle” in all of human history. Call him “The Peter Principal.” Rarely before has someone risen, with such spectacularly dreadful consequences, to his own “level of incompetence.”

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Lessons from a Loser

July 24th, 2007

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I grew up in Philadelphia and also happen to be a lifelong Red Sox fan, so I know a little bit about losing. In Philadelphia, losing is handed down from generation to generation. I remember the day some 30 years ago when my father bestowed upon me four single World Series tickets from 1964 – games 1 and 2 and 6 and 7 (if necessary) for the Phillies. Tickets issued when they had a 6 ½ game lead with 12 to go. Tickets issued with Jim Bunning and Chris Short leading the rotation and Richie (“call me Dick”) Allen, Johnny Callison and Tony Taylor anchoring an offensive juggernaut. Tickets issued before a rookie second baseman named Joe Morgan blooped a game-winning single, before a steal of home stole another game, before they dropped 10 of 12. No, games 6 and 7 weren’t necessary and neither were games 1 and 2. The Cardinals won the pennant that year, defeating Jim Bouton’s New York Yankees.

But with losing comes optimism. I believed in the Phillies every year as well as my adopted Red Sox. I believed during the “you gotta believe” Tug McGraw years and the “Yes we can” Dave Cash years. I believed when Dave Henderson took Donnie Moore over the fence only to see Mookie Wilson ground one through the legs in 1986. And occasionally that belief is rewarded. The 1980 Phillies won the World Series in improbable fashion (I cried). The 2004 Red Sox came from 0-3 to sweep four from the Yanks and deliver a world championship (I matured to gloating). Good things do happen.

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Abortion Reduction Has Its Day

July 23rd, 2007

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The Democrats are showing signs of change on abortion. Yesterday, the Democratically controlled House easily passed an appropriations bill that contains a major – and brand new – abortion initiative. But unlike Democratic abortion bills of yore, this one brings together both sides of the debate and is aimed squarely at abortion reduction.

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Oh…Canada?

July 9th, 2007

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Two weeks after hitting theaters, Michael Moore’s new movie on the American health care system, Sicko, stands among the country’s top 10 box office releases (way behind the Transformers but ahead of Shrek III). Not bad for a summer flick with no explosions or Bruce Willis.

For advocates of major health care reform, this uptick in public interest is yet more evidence that times are ripe for a new discussion about the way we do health care in this country.

After Iraq, health care is once again the number one topic of concern for potential voters. Polls show growing public discontent with the current system and a seeming eagerness for change. A March 2007 CBS/New York Times poll, for example, found 59% of Americans to be “very dissatisfied” with health care costs in general, and 52% to be “very concerned” about future costs. Numerous other polls show strong majorities in favor of more government involvement in regulating health care costs.

Optimists for major reform may say the only big question left is this: Canada or Britain?

Or maybe not.

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