Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● Had the Obama administration delivered on swine flu vaccine, it could claim credit for success in halting the spread of the illness. Across the nation, and in Georgia, it’s fading away, even though the vaccine never arrived for most. Democrats in Congress and the administration porked-out $789 billion in “stimulus,” and while the jobs saved or created are pure fiction, the administration will claim credit when the economy recovers, as it eventually will. Economic recovery, swine flu. Same-same.
● Linking Ga. 400 north of Atlanta to I-675 on the south by tunneling, and making it a toll road, is a cracker-jack idea. It’s one of the top toll projects the state Department of Transportation is pitching to private investors and road-construction companies. But watch how quickly opponents will inject race, a staple of Atlanta policy-making. Already, it’s cast that way because the tunnel would go under old, established neighborhoods and then surface south of I-20 “where demographic data show the population is less wealthy and less white.” Ah, Atlanta. What might we have achieved had every public policy decision not devolved into race?
● The state DOT reverses course and lifts the ban on tolls for existing lanes. The Downtown Connector is a potential candidate for higher taxes, which is what tolls are when the money’s not buying added capacity, and therefore traffic congestion relief, on the tolled road.
● Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was considered a shoo-in for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. Until he endorsed the $789 billion pork-a-rama. Since then, his support has plummeted, and in the latest Rasmussen poll, he’s now tied with Marco Rubio, a conservative 38-year-old Cuban American lawyer from Miami and former Florida House speaker who has attracted support from conservatives across the country. Some have taken shots at Rubio because he would have taken the money while opposing the bill. Me, too. The money is being taken from Floridians and should go back, even if the spending was lousy public policy.
● Within the decade, liberals in the Georgia General Assembly were working to expand eligibility for unemployment benefits because the fund was flush with cash. They failed. Good thing, too. Now the state’s forced to borrow money from the feds to pay next week’s benefits, says Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond.
● The White House wants DeKalb residents to forward ideas on job creation. OK. Send this: Stop spreading uncertainty in taxation and employee benefit and regulatory costs. As an employer, I’d have to be pushed to the wall before I’d hire permanent full-time workers. Temps, yes. Part-timers, yes. Contractors, yes. All workers I could dump when Congress kills markets and profits. Which largely explains these two recent stories from one day’s AJC business pages: “More CEOs plan to cut staff than to hire more” and “Layoffs are shrinking, but hiring isn’t growing.”
● Iran tests a missile capable of reaching Europe or, more likely, Israel. That provoked what was described as “immediate rebukes from the White House.” Those immediate rebukes were in the form of rhetoric that such provocative acts “increase the seriousness and resolve of the international community to hold Iran accountable.” One day while the dreamers mumble emptiness, Israel will have to act. Alone or with the “international community,” it can’t allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
● The worst mistake Republicans made when they came to power in Georgia was their failure to make themselves the party of ethics and open government. Now they own the culture they inherited. Plus, they did their part. Many of those new-to-power partied like school boys on spring break. I long for legislators like, among others, former state Sen. Clay Land of Columbus, now a federal judge, who drove 100 miles home to be with his family at night. One more thing: Stop treating lobbyists like daddy’s ATM for party boys.