In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Win, Lose, but No Compromise," would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman begins by asking, "Are we all just Shiites and Sunnis now?" Wow, I thought to myself after reading this query, a Times columnist is finally willing to consider Turkey's armored invasion of Syria and the battles it is has been waging there with the Kurds, America's most potent ally on the ground in its war against ISIS. I was also certain that Tom would bestow upon us his benighted wisdom concerning Iran's recent placement of a Russian-made S-300 air defense battery to protect its Fordo nuclear facility. (If Iran has no intention of violating its unsigned nuclear agreement with Obama, why should there be any need to install such a sophisticated missile system at this nuclear complex built into a mountain?) But in fact "Shiites and Sunnis" was only a lead-in to Friedman's take on the state of American politics:
"More and more of our politics resembles the core sectarian conflict in the Middle East between these two branches of Islam, and that is not good. Because whether you’re talking about Shiites and Sunnis — or Iranians and Saudis, Israelis and Palestinians, Turks and Kurds — a simple binary rule dominates their politics: 'I am strong, why should I compromise? I am weak, how can I compromise?'"
Given the unwillingness of Democrats and Republicans to compromise, Friedman goes on to ask:
"How will we improve Obamacare? How will we invest in infrastructure? How will we recreate the compromise on immigration that a few brave Republican and Democratic legislators tried in 2013? How will we get corporate tax reform, a carbon tax and some fiscal policy that we so desperately need to propel the economy and control the deficit?"
Improve Obamacare? Needless to say, no mention by Tom of Aetna's decision to eliminate a vast majority of its Obamacare business. In fact, more and more commentators are telling us that Obamacare has entered into a "death spiral."
How will we invest in infrastructure? Good question. By the time Obama leaves office, US debt will have reached some $20 trillion, and, as we were recently told by the Congressional Budget Office:
"In fiscal year 2016, the federal budget deficit will increase in relation to economic output for the first time since 2009, CBO estimates. If current laws generally remained unchanged—an assumption underlying CBO’s baseline projections—deficits would continue to mount over the next 10 years, and debt held by the public would rise from its already high level.
CBO’s estimate of the deficit for 2016 has increased since the agency issued its previous estimates in March, primarily because revenues are now expected to be lower than earlier anticipated. In contrast, the cumulative deficit through 2026 is smaller in CBO’s current baseline projections than the shortfall projected in March, chiefly because the agency now projects lower interest rates and thus lower outlays for interest payments on federal debt. Nevertheless, by 2026, the deficit is projected to be considerably larger relative to gross domestic product (GDP) than its average over the past 50 years."
Or stated otherwise, it's not only Obamacare that's in a death spiral.