Gregg Easterbrook

July 29, 2010


1. The main column does not note that some federal taxes will rise in 2011 regardless of what happens with the Bush cuts. President Barack Obama’s health care bill raises Medicare taxes to 3.8 percent from 2.9 percent for many filers, and imposes Medicare taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest income earned by the top three percent or so of households. Thus taxes are on well-to-do are already headed up.

On top secrets and climate change

July 23, 2010


The Washington Post has done a great job with its series showing that in the wake of 9/11, hundreds of private companies and nearly 854,000 people have gone to work in classified areas. Are they doing a great job? Maybe. There hasn’t been another 9/11. Are they trampling civil liberties? Maybe.

The next bubble: short selling

July 22, 2010


Tech stocks drove off the cliff in 2000. Real estate went poof in 2007. Financial stocks melted down in 2008. So what’s the next bubble to burst? Short selling.

Obama’s new air quality regulations are exactly like Bush’s

July 14, 2010


President Barack Obama is being praised for proposing new air quality regulations to reduce smog and acid rain. Obama’s proposal is a good idea — and strikingly similar to air quality regulations that were proposed in 2002 by George W. Bush, then fought with white fury by Democrats and environmentalists.

July 14, 2010


* In 2001, the FDA warned pregnant women not to eat Great Lakes fish because airborne mercury settles on the Great Lakes. Since then, according to daytime talk shows and to some environmentalists, airborne mercury from U.S. power plants has been an incredible menace. Mercury emissions from power plants should be regulated. But perspective is missing from the debate.

Why we let our young soldiers die in Iraq and Afghanistan

July 8, 2010


In Afghanistan and Iraq, United States forces are trying to fight a shadowy enemy that does not wear uniforms, while being told to protect corrupt governments. But here is the really disturbing parallel between the current conflicts and Vietnam: Washington is drawing out the troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq long after any justification has expired, in order to postpone that moment when it must be admitted we did not succeed.

July 1, 2010


Russian Spies

It’s not clear in what sense the “Russian spies” were spies, since they are not charged with espionage and, according to this Washington Post report, were specifically instructed by their government to avoid classified material. They’re been charged with failing to declare employment by a foreign power, which essentially means they were unregistered lobbyists.

Supreme Court’s best decision ever on gun regulation

July 1, 2010


Even people who don’t like guns ought to be happy about this week’s Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment – the “keep and bear arms” clause of the Constitution – binds state and local governments, in addition to the federal government. Way too much time and energy has been wasted arguing about the Second Amendment: it’s obvious the Framers expected private ownership of guns.

McChrystal ‘scandal’ is phony

June 23, 2010

McChrystalWashington, D.C., is the world capital of phony. Even by Washington’s low standards, the Stanley McChrystal “scandal” now in progress gives phoniness a bad name.

June 23, 2010


* The 1981 controversy regarding OMB director David Stockman’s comments to The Atlantic involved genuine points of policy. President Ronald Reagan had said supply-side economics, and supply-side tax cuts, were fundamentally intended to help the poor: Stockman told The Atlantic that everyone in the White House knew supply-side was a gift to the rich – that White House rhetoric was “a Trojan horse” to conceal what the Republican Party’s wealthy donors wanted. Top-rate income tax reduction may have been justified, but that’s a separate issue from whether the president was being honest with the public. Compared to the dustup over McChrystal, the Stockman controversy was substantive.
* The 1951 firing of Douglas MacArthur involved policy disagreements and statements far worse than a worst-case reading of the Obama-McChrystal situation. MacArthur publicly accused President Harry Truman of advocating “appeasement and defeatism” regarding China, attempted to order his units into military actions that civilian leadership had forbidden, and demanded the Korean War end with China surrendering to him personally – the latter suggesting MacArthur had come unglued.
Truman made himself seem weak by flying out to Wake Island to meet MacArthur, rather than recalling him to the White House. It’s a long trip from Washington to Wake Island even today, via jet; imagine doing this in a prop plane, for the convenience of your disobedient general. In the White House, the president has the home-field advantage. Barack Obama was right to meet McChrystal there.
*Wasn’t there some kind of oil spill? The McChrystal confabulation gives BP a few days’ vacation from the front page. “They will never forget you/till somebody else comes along,” as the song goes. And we’ve already forgotten who BP pushed off the front page — Toyota and Goldman Sachs. Sources tell me Toyota sent BP a big box of fancy chocolates, while Goldman Sachs sent flowers and a card that reads, “BP, luv u 4-ever! {signed} Goldy S.”
* This sort-of-scandal needs a name, and the “XXXX-gate” formulation is exhausted. Propose your names for the scandal using the reader comment space below.