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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 December 17, 2013 / 14 Teves, 5774

The exhausted parties: What have politicians accomplished?

By Michael Gerson



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The bipartisan budget deal was a welcome exception to congressional gridlock. It was not, unfortunately, an indication that gridlock has been broken in any lasting or fundamental way.

House Speaker John Boehner publicly lost his temper with tea party groups because their political strategy — demonstrated in the manifest failure of the government shutdown — neglected to specify a path to victory. In selling the budget deal to Republican lawmakers, Boehner and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposed such a path: Keep the public spotlight on the cascading failures of the Affordable Care Act instead of drawing attention to GOP brinkmanship and internal divisions.

This was the appeal — avoid self-destruction while your opponent is self-destructing — that ended up persuading two-thirds of the Republican Study Committee (the House’s conservative caucus) and should secure the requisite number of Senate Republican votes. It is a perfectly rational political argument. But it is hardly the prelude to future legislative ambition.

Put another way: The budget agreement was passed by the House precisely because it was small — small in its discretionary spending increases, in its entitlement adjustments and in controversial ideological content. It was not a precedent for grand compromises on immigration or tax reform. We are seeing a truce in the budget wars, not the emergence of a centrist governing coalition.

The budget agreement was also notable for the role played by President Obama — which was pretty much none at all. He was marginal to the deal, which had almost nothing to do with his policy priorities.



Given the inherent powers of the office, a president is never fully or finally irrelevant. President George W. Bush, for example, was at a low ebb of popularity and political influence when he pursued the troop surge in Iraq. For a consequential foreign policy decision, or at a time of national crisis, the chief executive makes a sudden return to indispensability.

But Obama now risks permanent damage to his standing as a leader. His main legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is broadly tarnished or politically toxic. Polls indicate growing questions about Obama’s credibility and competence — mainly because of the contrast between the way Obamacare was sold and the way it has been implemented. (In a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, just 37 percent of Americans gave Obama high marks for being “honest and straightforward.”) Though the midterm elections are still a ways off, control of the Senate could easily switch. A Republican Senate majority would make Obama the lamest of ducks.

The relatively minor White House personnel adjustments the president has so far announced convey little sense of urgency. And his main problem is not personnel-related. It is the messy, unfolding reality of Obamacare. Uptake remains anemic — at last official count, about 3 million short of the administration’s 3.3 million year-end goal. New regulations have caused disruptions in health insurance markets, including lost and restricted coverage and premium increases. The president did little to prepare Americans for these predictable outcomes, making it difficult for him to credibly argue that these costs are worth the benefits (which, for some Americans, they are). And speaking of costs, Obamacare’s new taxes begin to bite this coming year.

So, the president (with suspect credibility and competence) is weakened, while Republicans in Congress (with doubts about their compassion and willingness to compromise) are highly unpopular. American politics seems like a contest of two exhausted boxers. Both have made serious mistakes. Both have been unable (so far) to deliver a decisive blow. Sometimes (as in the budget deal) they hang on to each other to keep from falling down.

Over the years, the policy effects of this political exhaustion have been surprisingly mixed. On fiscal issues, the legislative clinches have added up. In recent years, the two parties have agreed to just more than $2 trillion in reduced spending (over 10 years) and raised taxes by about $700 billion during the same period — cutting the 10-year deficit in half. In the absence of serious entitlement reform, America’s long-term fiscal prognosis remains disastrous. But the shorter-term deficit is in significantly better shape.

Yet on domestic policy — including immigration and issues related to economic opportunity and mobility — little gets accomplished. Democrats have few results to show since the 2010 election. Republicans, meanwhile, have conducted a debilitating, internal debate over whether the crafting of domestic policy is even an appropriate federal role.

America is a nation with serious public challenges — and a political class exhausted by minimal exertions.

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Previously:



12/06/13 My numbered days: My cancer diagnosis gave me the clarity of mortality
11/22/13 C.S. Lewis: Rescuing desire
11/19/13 Former bridge burner starting to build them to save GOP
11/15/13 Entrepreneurs of outrage: Fear and anger sweep up policy issues
11/01/13 What Obamacare has cost Dems
10/29/13 In 6 months will this column prove prophetic?
10/22/13 Obamacare repair: It could become a crisis for modern liberalism
10/04/13 The GOP should speed Obamacare's demise. Right now, it's not
10/03/13 The tea party's revolt
09/30/13 The end of compromise?
09/17/13 A state of paralysis: Congress, Obama need to act
09/12/13 In full retreat on Syria
09/10/13 Obama misunderstands wartime leadership
09/09/13 Rallying around a gesture
08/30/13 The preacher and the politician
08/27/13 Is Obama's oft-cited best-case scenario in Syria still even possible?
08/23/13 Jordan's wary welcome
08/20/13 The hardest goodbye: A parent letting go
08/16/13 For GOP, opposition shouldn't only mean obstruction
08/13/13 Crazy, humane determination creates breakthrough for millions
08/09/13 America's bubble of complacency
07/01/11 The GOP's ideal America
03/04/11 The last doughboy and the emergence of a great nation
03/01/11 Conservatives shouldn't be so surprised by freedom
02/22/11 The progression of pain
02/18/11 The seriousness primary
02/11/11 Do Egypt's protests mean American decline?
01/27/11 No-bend Obama
01/21/11 Two good arguments for civility -- and passion -- in politics
01/11/11 Obama's staff changes give him a second chance
01/11/11 Is Arizona shooting an empty search for meaning?
01/07/11 WikiLeaks gives dangerous ammunition to a tyrant
01/04/11 Michael Vick: Symbol of the second chance
12/28/10 Social Security reform is the answer to Obama's problems --- and the nation's
12/21/10 When foreign policy realism isn't realistic
12/17/10 When it comes to politics, Obama's ego keeps getting in the way
11/26/10 Libs resort to conspiracy theories to explain Obama's problems
11/19/10 With Holder at the helm, detainee policy is a disaster
11/12/10 Blue-state budget crises spell even more trouble for Dems
10/19/10 Obama the snob
10/12/10 Seeds of victory in Afghanistan
10/05/10 Believers' remorse
10/04/10 Pound-foolish on national security
09/28/10 Babylon on the Potomac
09/27/10 Our reluctant commander in chief
09/21/10 Blue strongholds are becoming Democratic graveyards
09/17/10 For the GOP, a bittersweet brew from the Tea Party
09/15/10: Insanity's great enablers
09/13/10: The lost communicator
09/08/10: Will 2010 midterms be 1994 all over again?
09/01/10: Obama's economic wandering
08/27/10: Miracles from abroad
08/25/10: Address these issues in order to strengthen the Tea Party
08/20/10: The lost promise of Barack Obama
07/23/10: Obama's greatest nightmare
02/04/09: The Reality of Innocence
01/07/09: The Risks in Obama's Ambitions
12/31/08: Support Obama Will Need
06/13/08: Prince Charles, Organic Conservatism Icon
06/11/08: No longer a bankrupt political joke but still overshadowed
04/23/08: McCain's anger management
04/10/08: A Country for Old Men
03/06/08: Does the America Need a Hug?
03/06/08: Obama's First 100 Days
02/29/08: Words Aren't Cheap
02/22/08: He Said, They Said
02/20/08: Dying silently in Zimbabwe
02/15/08: Hillary's Unappealing Path
02/13/08: NATO's Afghan Stumbles
02/08/08: Why McCain Endures
02/06/08: One surge that led to another
02/01/08: In North Korea, Process Over Progress
01/30/08: Compassionate to the end


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