The internet at my home is not working this morning, so I am writing from the nearby Starbucks. In the event, the same people who provide Internet are coming this morning to install a new cable television box, so hopefully they can fix the internet problem. If not, as soon as they are gone, I will head to the office and post more items later today. I apologize.
The so-called, and unhappily named, “Gang of Six” has devised a bipartisan plan to reduce the deficit over the long-term and raise the debt ceiling in the short-term. Details, if this morning’s Washington Post is any guide, are sketchy but they key question is not if this is the best deal possible, or the best way to address the nation’s finances, but if this proposal can, and should, pass both houses of Congress.
The most significant part of the plan has to do with taxes. It would simplify the tax code radically, eliminating many special interest tax breaks and corporate loopholes. Some of the revenue saved by closing the loopholes, about $1 trillion over ten years, would go towards long-term debt reduction but most of it would go into lowering both corporate and individual tax rates. This kind of simplification has many benefits. It levels the economic playing field so that small business are not paying the full tax rate while those corporations with lobbyists capable of getting favorable tax treatment pay miniscule taxes or avoid them altogether. So far, so good.
Fordham theology professor Charles Camosy has a post up at "Catholic Moral Theology" about the appointment of Archbishop Chaput to Philadelphia. He tries to parse some of Chaput's comments in John Allen's interview with Chaput, pointing out that if Chaput really thinks that if we do not do all we can for the poor we are going to Hell, how can gay marriage then be the "issue of our time"?
The always smart and almost always correct Bill Galston has an article up at the New Republic about steps the President can take to deal with the housing crisis.
Of course, DC is focused almost exclusively on the budget, which makes sense given the looming deadline to raise the debt ceiling. But what they should be focusing on is jobs, but it is hard to stimulate job growth while consumers remain wary about over-spending. And consumers will remain wary about spending until they feel that their investments in their homes are not going to deteriorate. So, whenever Congress and the White House finally get their act together on the debt, they should look at important proposals like these.
I just completed an hour long interview on WHYY's "Radio Times" discussing the appointment of Archbishop Charles Chaput to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I was joined on the program by Professor Matthew Schmalz of Holy Cross in Worcester and Barbara Blaine of SNAP. You can catch the audio here.
I try to check in with Fox News every night while surfing the channels. Last night I watched Sean Hannity preside over a discuss of the impending default crisis. Two of his panelists, unable to cite a single reputable economist, simply repeated the Tea Party talking point that a failure to raise the debt ceiling need not cause economic catastrophe or a government default. Mr. Hannity egged them on. None of the three had the honesty to point out that even Cong. Paul Ryan's budget, already passed by the House, would require Congress to raise the debt ceiling. None of the three engaged the warnings issued by the credit rating agencies. All they offered was a complete and thorough denial of reality. Hannity is unhinged from reality.
Next thing you know, Mr. Hannity and his acolytes will deny the reality of climate change.
Next thing you know, Mr. Hannity and his viewers will deny that President Obama was born in the U.S.
As I wrote last week, we should all pray for whoever was picked to take over the Archdiocese of Philadelphia which has been in meltdown since February when a second Grand Jury Report indicated that archdiocesan officials had failed to follow their own guidelines regarding the protection of children. In addition, Philadelphia has had few priestly vocations in recent years compared to comparably sized dioceses. And, still worse, the archdiocese is due for a reconfiguration, and closure, of many parishes, a process that is painful even if it is done well.
Danmiel Maguire of Marquette University has an article up at Religion Dispatches in which he shows how Congressman Paul Ryan's attempts to invoke Catholic social teaching in defense of his budget proposals are mere window dressing, and, in the event, window dressing that is directly at odds with any truthful account of Catholic social teaching.
The New York Times has a look at "reparative therapy" in which some Christian psychologists try to turn gay people straight, and how it is or is not practised at the clinic run by Michelle Bachmann's husband.
Normally, a spouse's work is way down on the list of things with which the voters, and the media, should concern themselves. But, Congresswoman Bachmann has been touting the fact that this clinic is a small business and listing it among her credentials for the office of the presidency. Mind, friends of mine who work at clinics do not usually refer to them as small businesses. They seem them primarily as aiming at goal other than profit. Be that as it may, reparative therapy is to psychology what climate change denial is to geology. This is kookie stuff. And, it is another indication of how far off the tracks the far right has gone.
Dear Mr. President,
I was thrilled to vote for you in 2008. I admired your intelligence and your self-confidence. I thought your calls for a post-partisan future were naïve, but well-meant. And, you spoke in a language, a morally driven language, that evoked the strong words of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, language about the common good and the least of our brethren. I thought in voting for you not only that my vote – and millions of others – would help free our nation from the idolatry of laissez-faire economic theory, but that you stood with FDR, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson, in their commitment to keeping the Democratic Party as the champion of the working class.
The news reports about your desire for a “grand bargain” now fill me and others like me with dread. So, let me start by saying what I was not voting for when I voted for you in 2008.