Daily Archives: July 1, 2010

Selective concern about deficits

joblessKansas Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts are among the GOP lawmakers filibustering an extension of unemployment benefits because it would increase the federal deficit. They want the extension paid for with unused stimulus funds. After years of supporting bloated budgets, tax cuts and unfunded wars, it’s good that Brownback and Roberts are now concerned about deficits. But why is it that many GOP lawmakers seem to care about deficits only when Democrats are in charge or when the spending would go to help struggling citizens?

No easy exit from Afghanistan

US Iraq PetraeusIn a Washington Post commentary, author and former Post reporter Thomas Ricks explored why Afghanistan presents an even harder challenge for Gen. David Petraeus (in photo) than Iraq, noting “the two biggest problems the United States faces in Afghanistan are the Karzai government and the Pakistani government — and neither of those really can be addressed by military operations.” On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Ricks was more blunt, suggesting Petraeus may lobby Obama to give Afghan President Hamid Karzai ultimatums (such as “You want to end up hanging from your heels from a streetlight in Kabul, keep it up, Karzai”) and warning “leave Afghanistan right now, and you’ll find us having to go after al-Qaida again and again there for decades.” Ricks also had the last word on the depressing subject of Afghanistan: “We are dealing with phenomena in the Middle East that’s going to be crucial to this country as long as we’re dependent on Middle East oil. So the best exit strategy I can think of is emphasize alternative fuels.”

Open thread 7/1

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Lower health care costs by lowering weight

fruits,veggiesKansans who complain about rising health care costs may have themselves partly to blame. Kansas is now the 16th-fattest state in the country, with 28.2 percent of its adults considered obese, according to Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. What’s particularly troubling is that the state’s obesity rate has more than doubled since 1992. More obesity means more unnecessary disease and higher health care costs. Public policy plays a role in our growing waistlines, as subsidies can make unhealthy foods cheaper than fruits and vegetables. But individuals also have to make better choices about eating and exercising.