5 Best Thursday Columns

The taxman cometh

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  • David Broder on Obama's Slow Change  Taking a macro view of the Obama presidency, the Washington Post columnist makes a keen insight: "The Obama presidency will be an era of substantial but deferred accomplishments." From health care to the nuclear summit, Obama has employed "deferred satisfaction," eschewing immediate dividends in favor of long-run returns. Broder champions this approach to governing and argues Obama has the ability to "cultivate adult patience" in voters hungry for immediate change. "I think it is welcome to have a president whose vision extends beyond the duration of his own term of office, though it entails a political risk that he could be cut off by the voters before any of his hopes are realized," he argues.
  • E. J. Dionne Salutes the IRS  The Washington Post columnist pens a piece for The New Republic championing the virtues of IRS employees. Far from their common depiction as "jackbooted thugs," tax collectors are "patriots" who enable America to pay for just about everything it does. "If you support our troops, you have to support the work of the Internal Revenue Service," Dionne declares. Mourning the death of Vernon Hunter, who was killed in Joseph Stack's suicide attack on an IRS building, Dionne ends with a verbal salute. "Vernon Hunter was a patriot who died serving his country. We should be grateful to him and to those who carry on his work."
  • Jack Valero on Pope Benedict's Innocence  Responding to a recent column by Richard Dawkins (and echoing a few points lately made by Ross Douthat), Valero mounts a lengthy defense of Pope Benedict XVI in The Guardian. The pontiff "is not responsible for cover-up, collusion, turning a blind eye, institutional idolatry or any of the other accusations" that have been leveled, Valero explains. He girds this argument with a detailed explanation of church protocols and Benedict's specific role in the response to various reports of abuse. Far from shouldering the majority of the guilt, Valero concludes, Benedict is in fact "the one who has acted most consistently and energetically to improve the church's handling of these cases."
  • Matthew Yglesias on Collateral Damage  At The American Prospect, Yglesias ties together three separate events--Americans shooting at a civilian bus in Afghanistan, the accidental death of a bicycle commuter in Washington, D.C., and the Wikileaks video where an American helicopter fires on several Baghdad civilians and two Reuters journalists--and offers a balanced meditation on the inevitably bloody nature of war. "Any military force composed of normal human beings is going to err on the side of killing too many innocent people," Yglesias points out. What's odd, he says, is the degree to which public officials act as though a way to conduct combat without accidental tragedy is even possible.
  • Robert Samuelson on 'The Best Tax Day Ever' In a web exclusive for Newsweek, the Washington Post columnist explains how today might just be the best tax day "of the rest of your life." While Samuelson is ebullient over the 47 percent of households who are not paying federal income taxes this year, his enthusiasm turns to dread as he forecasts substantial tax hikes to combat the "daunting" budget outlook for the future. The cause? "An aging America:"
As almost everyone knows, the huge baby-boom generation is edging—or collapsing—into retirement. Its first members, born in 1946, turn 65 in 2011, when they will qualify for Medicare. Some have already taken Social Security as early as 62 at a reduced rate. Boomers collecting benefits, combined with uncontrolled health costs, are the underlying engine for rising federal spending and endless budget deficits.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.