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Governments and the Economy

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It must be somewhat unnerving, for the campaign staffs of both President Obama and his would-be opponents, to realize that the fate of November’s election may be determined largely by events over which they have no control. Corporations are recording record profits, but they are hesitant to invest in new plant and equipment and, most especially, in new employees, so the success of the business community is not “trickling down” to the millions of Americans who are out of work or under-employed. No one knows if the government of Greece will be able to negotiate new debt terms with its lenders. Will the economy of Italy respond to the “austerity” plans of the current government, even though austerity has never once worked before to stave off a foreign-debt crisis? What impact will the faltering economies of Greece, Italy and Spain have on the Eurozone and what will be their impact on the US economy?

Big Pro-Life Win

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Pro-life leaders are hailing a decision by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to support a resolution banning euthanasia, specifically as regards advance directives and living wills.

This is a fight we can antipiate coming to these shores: Indeed, the fight is on in Massachusetts. I have written before that protecting the elderly is a cause to which all Catholics, from the left or the right, should be willing to sign on to. Whether the assault on the elderly is from misguided euthanasia advocates or from those who wish to slash the social safety net by cutting Medicare, we RCs need to protect the human dignity of the elderly no matter who a=or what the threat.

Nate Silver on the Debate

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The NYTimes' Nate Silver argues in a strongly reasoned post this morning that Newt Gingrich, the most well paid historian in the country, failed to take account of recent history in devising his strategy for the debates this week in Florida. Just as Romney, wanting to appear above the fray and presidential after his New Hampshire win, got clobbered by Gingrich in both South Carolina debates, Gingrich was decidedly less aggressive in the two debates this week in Florida.

The Debate: Gingrich and Romney in a Draw

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Last night’s GOP debate in Jacksonville, Florida displayed a surprisingly pugnacious Mitt Romney, a performance by Newt Gingrich that was strong but not dominating as he had been in earlier contests, some funny lines from Ron Paul, and a very strong, but seemingly irrelevant, performance by Rick Santorum. The question is whether anything said last night will make a difference in next Tuesday’s vote.

Meyerson on Manufacturing

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Harold Meyerson, who is one of my favorite columnists, looks at the way candidates on both sides of the aisle are advocating reindustrialization. The fact is that not all Americans go to college, not all Americans will find work in the high-tech field, but they are still Americans and still entitled to partake of the American Dream. The future of America should belong to Americans, not just to multinational corporations that looked out only for their own profit and not for America's workers.

Really Good News: Geithner Going

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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has announced that if President Obama is re-elected, Geithner will not stay on as Treasury Secretary in a second term. Geithner, who never met a plutocrat for whom he felt anything but sympathy, has been a complete and total drag on the kind of economic populism that formed the historical core of FDR's Democratic Coalition. The first thing a Democratic Treasury Secretary should ask is not how a decision will affect the markets, important as markets are. The first question should be, how does this affect the average American? I am not sure Geithner has given any evidence of having ever met an average American, let alone grasping their sense of anger and astonishment at the ways of Wall Street.

Must-Attend Event at Nat'l Press Club

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Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, where I am a visiting fellow, is teaming up with the good people at the Public Religion Research Institute for a panel discussion on the role of religion in the 2012 election at the National Press Club, January 30, from 9:30-11:00 a.m.
The panel will be moderated by Barbara Bradley Hagerty, an author and National Religion Correspondent for NPR and will include:
•tDr. Melissa Deckman, Associate Professor of Political Science and Louis L. Goldstein Associate Professor of Public Affairs at Washington College
•tDr. Robert P. Jones, CEO, Public Religion Research Institute
•tDr. Mark Rozell, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University
•tDr. Stephen Schneck, Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America

Immigration Front & Center

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As the GOP contest heads to Florida, and later to Nevada, New Mexico and other states with large Hispanic populations, watching the candidates tie themselves into a pretzel over the issue of immigration reform will be like the scene in “Men in Black II” when the worms engage in a game of Twister. It ain’t going to be pretty.

Mitt Romney has the toughest assignment and not because he once, by mistake, used a slogan associated with Fidel while campaigning four years ago. Romney’s burden has been that immigration is the one issue where he saw an opening to try and outflank Newt Gingrich on the right. Romney’s insistence that all undocumented immigrants “self-deport,” that there be no pathway to citizenship for those who came here without papers, and his fierce opposition to the DREAM Act all guarantee that he will have a tough time convincing Latinos that he understands the challenges facing them.

Time for Civil Disobedience?

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In 2006, Cardinal Roger Mahony, the most prominent carrier of the social justice tradition of Cardinal Bernardin, said that he would call upon his flock to practice civil disobedience in the face of a proposed law that would have banned Catholic charities from assisting undocumented workers. Mahony rightly invoked the right of the Church to pursue its Gospel-mandated ministries without interference from the State.

Mahony delivered a sharp rebuke to the Obama administration following last week's announcement that it refused to enlarge the conscience exemption from HHS mandated health insurance coverage of procedures the Church opposes.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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