Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● This president is a one-trick pony. He’s absent, and he shows up to string together empty words and phrases that are often highly partisan and polarizing. At this week’s news conference, he demonstrates that the 2012 campaign is under way. Said he: “If we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires … then that means we’ve got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship. That means we’ve got to stop funding certain grants for medical research …” And, using a phrase invented by the left to “balance” recipients’ claims to somebody else’s money: “We’re going to have to tackle spending in the tax code.” If you believe that government owns all your earnings, then, yes, your income tax deduction is government’s spending.
● Decidedly good sense emanates from a three-judge panel on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The panel rules that Congress certainly intended drinking water to be an intended use for Lake Lanier, along with power generation, navigation and recreation. It would have been the height of government absurdity if metro Atlanta had been denied drinking water to preserve downstream barge traffic.
● The mush-mouth middle position taken by a George W. Bush appointee to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upholding Obamacare’s mandate to buy health insurance should not comfort the law’s supporters. “The novelty of the individual mandate may indeed suggest a bridge too far, but it also may offer one more example of a policy necessity giving birth to an inventive (and constitutional) congressional solution,” wrote Judge Jeffrey Sutton. The case brought by 26 states that’s now before the 11th Circuit is the key challenge — though it’s still certain to go to the Supremes, probably this fall.
● Atlanta city politicians are touting their effort to contain public pension costs as a model for other cities across America. Maybe. But it won’t solve their problems — just as it won’t solve Atlanta’s. Yes, with the revisions, new hires will held to a benefit “multiplier” of 1, which is up to two-thirds less than existing plans, and current employees will pay 5 percent more of their salary to reduce fund shortfalls. New employees won’t much care — until a decade or more from now when they start calculating their own retirement benefits. That’s when they start pressuring the politicians to be “fair” and raise their “multipliers” back to what current employees have. And when the public’s not looking, politicians will. The self-praise is exaggerated — and without changing to defined-contribution systems, it will permanently fix nothing in other cities.
● Once upon a time, the Georgia Department of Transportation did a marvelous job of planning highway needs and addressing congestion before it got to gridlock. Then the neighborhood/parochial interests started messing with the DOT’s head, blocking traffic-flow solutions in Atlanta while demanding “alternatives.” It’s been a circus since. That historical observation is a prelude to noting the death this week of an important figure in Georgia DOT history, Emory C. Parrish. A Georgia Tech engineer, Parrish spent 34 years with the DOT, the last 16 as deputy commissioner. He was a visible, professional and highly competent leader.
● South Georgia cucumber farmers who now complain that HB 87 cripples their ability to harvest their crop should, actually, have paid attention to the debate in the Legislature and made provisions for harvesting before putting their money in the ground. Cucumbers require about two months from planting to harvest; those who complain weren’t blindsided. They planned poorly and made the bad choice to rely on illegal immigrants.