Lawrence Summers in The Washington Post on the truth about a smaller government The former Clinton administration Treasury secretary and Obama economic adviser writes that structural reasons prevent the government from shrinking, as both Republicans and Democrats have assumed is possible. Demographic changes mean too many Americans will need public healthcare and Social Security. A return to nominal interest rates means interest payments must rise. Costs of things the government has always paid for, such as scientific research, will rise faster than the GDP, meaning more spending. "Even preserving the amount of government functions that predated the financial crisis will require substantial increases in the share of the U.S. economy devoted to the public sector," Summers says.
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Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast on the need for a public debate about war with Iran Israel wants Americans to go to war with Iran because an American strike would set back Iran's nuclear progress more. Pundits have debated whether a strike would be good for Israel, but not about whether it would be good for American interests. The public needs to discuss the possibility of war, even if--as recent history suggests--the president starts a war instead of Congress. "The Bush administration’s sales job for the Iraq War may have been deeply misleading, but at least the White House made a public case," Beinart writes. "The Obama administration, by contrast, seems to be offering ever more concrete pledges of war while making barely any sustained public case at all."
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Anita Isaacs in The New York Times on the real reason Ecuador housed Julian Assange Ecuador doesn't care about Assange's right to a fair trial or relations with Britain, where Assange is in the Ecuadorian Embassy. It's more about Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa's attempt "to settle old scores with the United States." Ecuador and the U.S. were fine until 2011, when Correa expelled the American ambassador for accusing him of appointing a corrupt police chief. Things are still not the same. And with the poor health of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, there's an opening in Latin America for a leftist opposition to the U.S. "Granting Mr. Assange asylum provides a politically timely reminder of Mr. Correa’s leadership style at home — and his potential for regional leadership beyond Ecuador’s borders."
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Elena Marks in Bloomberg View on the flexibility of insurance exchanges A handful of Republican governors are rejecting the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges. But even though the assumption is more federal control with exchanges, states actually have a lot of flexibility. The exchanges give private insurance options. In Utah, it mostly provides info and also bans plans that offer abortion coverage. In Massachusetts and Vermont, the insurance market is highly regulated with the exchange. "If they don’t create the exchanges, they will bring about precisely what they oppose: a federal takeover of a major part of their states’ insurance systems," Marks writes.
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Ahmed Zewail in the Los Angeles Times on scientific research in the U.S. The 1999 Nobel Prize-winner in chemistry laments the increased bureaucracy and decreased funds that inhibit exploration of the unknown in scientific research. "Curiosity-driven research is no longer looked on favorably," Zewail writes. "Research proposals must specifically address the work's 'broad relevance to society' and provide 'transformative solutions' even before research begins." And while Zewail sees his students being excited by the prospect of research, many are turned off by the lack of jobs in the field partly due to fewer government grants. The U.S. can still have enviable research institutions, but "it would be hubristic and naive to think that this position is sustainable without investing in science education and basic research," Zewail says.