02 December 2009

Grabbing Stuff from the Inbox

Chris Stirewalt
Good Stuff

New York Times -- Between the Lines, an Expansion in Pakistan
The president went to great pains to explain to the cadets at West Point and a skeptical American public how Afghanistan is not like Vietnam. He might have also explained what Pakistan isn’t like.It may seem surprising since he threw in most everything else – his domestic agenda, his avoidance of past American failures, his wish for a world without war, etc. But Pakistan – the world’s largest Islamic republic – is hard for President Obama to discuss.He has been escalating the clandestine American war in Pakistan for months, even as the nation’s 181 million residents become more suspicious of American involvement and of the American-backed government in Islamabad. As writers David Sanger and Eric Schmitt point out that while Obama did not say much about Pakistan Tuesday night, the thrust of his efforts in the region are focused there.“In recent months, in addition to providing White House officials with classified assessments about Afghanistan, the C.I.A. delivered a plan for widening the campaign of strikes against militants by drone aircraft in Pakistan, sending additional spies there and securing a White House commitment to bulk up the C.I.A.’s budget for operations inside the country. The expanded operations could include drone strikes in the southern province of Baluchistan, where senior Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding, officials said. It is from there that they direct many of the attacks on American troops, attacks that are likely to increase as more Americans pour into Afghanistan.‘The president endorsed an intensification of the campaign against Al Qaeda and its violent allies, including even more operations targeting terrorism safe havens,’ said one American official. ‘More people, more places, more operations.’”

Washington Post -- The puzzle for Congress: How to pay for plan
President Obama was very frank in saying that one of the reasons he had to end his Afghan surge in 18 months is that otherwise the cost will interfere with his domestic agenda.“The nation I’m most interested in building is our own,” Obama said. But even a short surge in Afghanistan might cost as much as another $45 billion on top of the $55 billion a year we’re already spending there.On the subject of how to get that money and press forward with the most expensive domestic agenda in generations, Obama was less frank.Writer Paul Kane looks at how war opposition, crippling debt, and a massive entitlement expansion will complicate Obama’s request for more funds.Conservatives want to divert domestic spending to the war, liberals want new taxes, and the president won’t say where he thinks the money should come from.As Examiner colleague Susan Ferrechio points out, opposition to the plan is spreading on the Right, further complicating the politics of paying for the president’s second surge.“Obama's proposal would place more than 200,000 troops altogether in Afghanistan and Iraq. If the troop level across both nations averages 75,000 through the next decade, the operations will cost an additional $867 billion -- more than the $848 billion health-care legislation the Senate is considering.”

New York Times -- Senators Pitch to Women and Elderly on Health Bill
The first proposed Democratic amendment to the Senate health bill would add almost $1 billion in taxpayer costs and outlaw low cost, bare-bones health insurance for women. The addition is intended to allay fears among women that government health care means fewer mammograms, etc.The first Republican amendment would eliminate cuts to popular government insurance programs for senior citizens. It was pandering too, but actually designed to kill the whole bill by eliminating half the source of its funding.Writers Robert Pear and David Herszenhorn show us what a long, dreadful process finishing this Senate bill will be.“Another centrist Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, said he would propose three amendments. One would impose tougher restrictions on the use of federal money for insurance covering abortions. Another would give states more control over any new government-run health plan. A third would eliminate a proposed new federal program providing insurance for the costs of long-term care.”

Wall Street Journal -- Climate Scientist Steps Down
The scandal surrounding the suppression of scientific doubts about man-made global warming by top climate researchers continues to roll along, now with resignation of Phil Jones, head of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.With the president eight days away from his remarks at the international carbon summit in Denmark, it seems a bad time for a meltdown in the climate control sector.“On Wednesday, President Barack Obama's top science adviser -- John Holdren, a climate scientist who sent one email among those hacked and posted -- is due to testify on Capitol Hill. The House committee holding the hearing has billed it as a way to explore ‘the urgent, consensus view...that global warming is real, and the science indicates that it is getting worse.’ Dr. Holdren's office declined to comment. Dr. Holdren has long spoken of the ‘overwhelming’ evidence of man-made global warming.”

Wall Street Journal -- ObamaCare at Any Cost
The latest swoon on Capitol Hill is over a Congressional Budget Office report that shows only 20 percent of Americans would see big increases in their health insurance premiums while taxpayer-funded subsidies will hold down increases for most consumers.The Journal editorial page does a thorough job of debunking the notion that higher premiums for some and subsidized premiums for others is a good value. “We have now reached the stage of the health-care debate when all that matters is getting a bill passed, so all news is good news, more subsidies mean lower deficits, and more expensive insurance is really cheaper insurance. The nonpolitical mind reels.Consider how Washington received the Congressional Budget Office's study Monday of how Harry Reid's Senate bill will affect insurance costs, which by any rational measure ought to have been a disaster for the bill. CBO found that premiums in the individual market will rise by 10% to 13% more than if Congress did nothing. Family policies under the status quo are projected to cost $13,100 on average, but under ObamaCare will jump to $15,200.

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