Thoughts on a snowy day: How to clean up economy
Under 23 inches of snow came 10 thoughts on the state of the economy:
• What hideous fate would have befallen us had Congress not raised the national debt ceiling to a new, numbing level of $14.6 trillion• Would government "grind to a halt?" No way. The very best workers, including troops on foreign soil, would get to the job as usual, figuring Uncle Sam eventually will be good for it. The irony is, repeatedly raising the ceiling casts doubt on that.
• The Obama administration has crossed out "stimulus" to identify its economic strategy. Good riddance. Now it's a "jobs bill." That would be a good riddance too. How about just "keeping it simple." Cut taxes 10 percent, and watch business and jobs flourish.
• Are Republicans up to the test of President Obama's invitation to bring their ideas on health care reform to a White House tele-showdown• Malpractice reform and insurance competition across state lines are good starters. And high-deductible insurance (against medical catastophes) linked to pre-tax health savings accounts for the petty stuff already exist. They just need selling, Mr. President.
• Here's to workers who "get there," never mind the snowdrifts: ambulance and emergency crews, power linemen, police and fire forces, food store employees. And many more unsung but hopefully not unthanked.
• If Americans had it to do all over again, would we adopt the same Constitution and Bill of Rights• That's easy. What we'd have to figure out this time, though, is getting the politicians to stick to it.
• Old river town Braddock is losing its hospital with the imminent defection of UPMC, but retains two institutions to build on: Andrew Carnegie's gem of a library-community center. And U.S. Steel's Edgar Thomson plant. Can't blame "the collapse of steel" for Braddock's hard luck. "ET" survived it.
• Well, maybe there two things Americans would do differently if granted a rerun of history. We'd probably not allow public employee unions nor government-run schools. Absurdly rich pension plans are bankrupting states and cities. And school taxes ought to be turned around and sent home, to let parents find private schooling for every child.
• Best defense against weather that keeps us stay-at-homes is a good book. As the snow piled up last weekend, somebody dug into a biography of Walter Chrysler the carmaker (1875-1940). Little-known fact: before his mid-career switch to autos he ran a locomotive works in Pittsburgh.
• A double-dip recession• Give it a 50-50 chance. Long-term economic problems haven't gone away despite a full year of dunking deeper - much deeper - in the national red-ink bath. But if it comes, the second dip won't be as shocking to investors, whose IRA and 401(k) values got hit hard but partially came back. They will again.
• The president is better positioned to preach to the poor than soak the rich, which is always counter-productive. Tell poor families how much they could do on their own to alleviate and even escape poverty without distorting the economy at all. Some things are obvious, but it's up to the man in the bully pulpit to name them. Wonder why he doesn't.