Cutting Edge: New ideas / Sharp opinions
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As the political discussion turns to Medicare, let's not worry too much about the financial health of senior citizens, writes Charles Lane in The Washington Post.
Only 9 percent of Americans over 65 live in poverty, he points out, versus 13.7 percent of the general population. The elderly lost 13 percent of their net worth during the housing crisis -- bad, but the smallest decrease among any age group. As for Social Security, today's seniors get more in benefits than they paid in taxes.
"Sooner or later," Mr. Lane argues, "politicians are going to have to treat older voters not as potential victims but as secure and fortunate citizens who can and should contribute their fair share to resolving the country's fiscal predicament. In other words, to treat them as what they are."
At AnitaFinlay.com, author Finlay scorches The New Republic, "whose literary editor once referred to Hillary Clinton as a 'hellish housewife,' " for running a Jonathan Rauch article last week that lauds President Barack Obama's foreign policy accomplishments -- which include isolating Iran, strengthening America's brand and prosecuting the war on terror -- while making no mention of his highly regarded secretary of state.
Mr. Rauch wrote that one of the "major surprises" of Mr. Obama's presidency is that "the greenhorn candidate who had barely any experience of, or interest in, foreign policy has proved to be an impressively adept presidential diplomat. On almost every front internationally, he has improved the country's position since 2008."
Ms. Finlay asks, "An adept presidential 'diplomat'? He is no diplomat. He is the president. His chief diplomat has a name and her name is Hillary Clinton. The 'adept diplomat,' widely recognized by left and right alike to be a superb secretary of state, is arguably the one improving our position around the world, if anyone is, putting out fires with a toughness that has her nicknamed 'the iron fist in the velvet glove.' "
The Allegheny Institute scorches the office of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl for blaming the state for the city's pension problems. After the controller said the city had not yet sufficiently cut spending or dealt with its pension liabilities to be relieved of state fiscal oversight, the mayor fired back: "The controller knows all too well that the city's inherited pension problem can only be solved at the state level."
The Allegheny Institute said "there are two huge obvious fallacies in [this] one sentence."
1. "The city did not inherit the pension problem. ... Pittsburgh created the pension crisis through its own behavior of overpromising and underfunding the pension plans over the course of many years. ...
2. As for only the state being able to fix the problem: "[The city] must deal with its self-inflicted wound by adequately funding the pensions, curbing all expenses and supporting meaningful labor regulation changes and lobbying for authority to offer 401(k) type plans to all unvested employees."
Sara Pepitone investigates MojitoGate for the New York Post and finds that bartenders are doing all they can to avoid making mojitos, such as claiming not to have the ingredients:
" 'It's a matter of basic economics, says Freddy Thomas, 41, a bartender at a bustling downtown spot where groups of tourists and high-heeled young women often order the drink en masse, much to his chagrin. 'Time is money. You can make six or seven other drinks in the same time [it takes to] make three mojitos,' he says.
"Another issue: Once one person is seen with a mojito, others are inspired to order it. 'It's like a disease,' says Thomas."
First Published August 19, 2012 12:00 am