A few pieces in the papers today on themes near and dear to the OTE heart.
First, while Gov. Romney’s proposed increase in defense spending became an important Obama talking point, the fact is that the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about remains alive and well, as discussed compellingly here. One point the author makes really hit home for me from a few interactions I myself had in my White House days: the knee-jerk calculus on military spending by civilian politicians.
Obviously, Ike’s authority came from his military experience, but it’s rare, though thankfully increasingly less so, for civilian policy makers to question military spending. It’s considered a stroke of boldness, if, like the President, you propose to slow its growth.
None of which is to say we should indiscriminately cut, but that, as I discuss at the end of this post, we should listen to people like Ike, who have the insider experience to make educated calls on what’s needed and what isn’t (follow the link to the Larry Korb piece, e.g.).
BTW, I recently cited Ed Luce’s book, Time to Start Thinking, about America’s current denial about many of our economic challenges. He’s especially good on this one, talking to many defense experts who recognize the defense spending problem documented in the oped and how it is weakening the nation rather than strengthening it.
Next, a theme I haven’t visited for a while here is the old OTE saw that health care isn’t a normal market such that you’d expect competition to work the way Republican voucher plans presume it will. Here’s a great example of a highly educated health care expert who herself has serious health needs trying to negotiate the system.
And if it’s this hard for her, imagine what it would be like for the average Joe and Jane. For the life of me, I’ll never understand why “Instead of guaranteed coverage under Medicare as its currently structured, we’ll let you shop for your insurance plan!” is a selling point.
Finally, here’s a piece amplifying the fact-abuse in this election cycle that struck many of us who’ve been around for a while as beyond the usual limits. There’s a difference between bending and breaking facts, and I agree with the author here that the Romney team were terrible fact breakers. More so than any campaign I’ve ever seen, they worked from a playbook that tried to take advantage of today’s “truthiness” zeitgeist—the idea that making stuff up is fine if it’s part of your “narrative” even if it’s belied by the facts.
Romney’s whole campaign can be usefully understood in this light: say what you will to win the severely conservatives hearts of Republican primary voters and then drop it all to capture the independents who will decide this thing.
And today we’ll learn if it worked.