Five Best Thursday Columns
Michael Bloomberg on the fiscal cliff, Ezra Klein on conservative fiscal policies, Amy Davidson on Antonin Scalia, Michael Mazza on North Korea, and Xu Zhiyong on Tibet.
Michael Bloomberg in The Washington Post on the fiscal cliff The independent mayor of New York has weighed in on the fiscal cliff talks, and he's siding with the Republicans—and the White House. "The White House is dead set on raising taxes, and Republicans are dead set on cutting spending—both for their own ideological reasons," Bloomberg writes. "As it happens, doing both things is also one of the best possible ways to spur job growth. Call it accidental economics."
Ezra Klein in Bloomberg View on conservative fiscal policies Ezra Klein isn't so sure that a bargain with the Republicans is a good idea, though. Take their approach to health spending, Klein suggests: "One policy Republicans are pushing is an increase in the Medicare eligibility age. This is not a good sign. Raising the Medicare age is a particularly dumb cut. It’s disconnected from any coherent theory of restraining health spending, such as encouraging competition, ending fee-for-service payments or using Medicare’s bargaining power to wring efficiencies from the system. Worse, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, it doesn’t even save money."
Amy Davidson in The New Yorker on Antonin Scalia During a recent talk at Princeton, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia compared gay marriage to murder. Scalia wouldn't backtrack on his opinions when a gay student asked him to explain, responding, "It's a type of argument that I thought you would have known ... I'm surprised you aren’t persuaded." Amy Davidson thinks that Scalia's thoughts on the moral basis for opposing gay marriage wear thin. She writes, "Scalia clings to hate—what he calls animus—because he’s got nothing else; what he is missing, though, is that an increasing number of Americans have found that when legal strictures and open discrimination are stripped away they are left not with the reprehensible, but with neighbors, friends, and family members whom they love, and see loving each other. Little wonder, then, that two-thirds of those under thirty support same-sex marriage."
Michael Mazza in The Diplomat on North Korea Now that it looks like North Korea has successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Michael Mazza wonders how U.S. foreign policy let this happen. "While ineffective policies date back to the previous Bush and Clinton administrations," Mazza writes, "President Obama made a serious error when he failed to order that the rocket launched in April be shot down—if not destroyed on the launch pad, admittedly a highly provocative act. Had he done so, he would have deprived the North Koreans of the lessons it learned from that missile’s failure and we might not be where we are today."
Xu Zhiyong in The New York Times on Tibet Self-immolations in Tibet continue to rise, with protests demanding that China liberate the region heating up. "I am sorry we Han Chinese have been silent as Nangdrol and his fellow Tibetans are dying for freedom," writes Xu Zhiyong, a Chinese lawyer and human rights advocate reflecting on the 18-year-old Tibetan who recently set himself on fire. "We are victims ourselves, living in estrangement, infighting, hatred and destruction. We share this land. It’s our shared home, our shared responsibility, our shared dream—and it will be our shared deliverance."