For an entirely predictable event, retirement is going to come as a shock to tens of millions of Americans — a financial shock, that is. Many people in their 50s and 60s are about to find that the money they’ve set aside for retirement is too meager to support the standard of living they’d hoped for. Soon, the long-expected U.S. retirement crisis will no longer be a forecast; it’s becoming a brutal fact.
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More than a dozen years after the attacks of 9/11, it is time to treat government decisions made in the aftermath as history — to be debated and learned from. This is especially true of the misguided program of interrogation and torture carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency. In the years after the attacks, so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” that did not measure up to American values nor international law were brought to bear on detainees. We need to know the full story of how that happened.
Marijuana legalization was a hot topic at the recent meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, for obvious reasons — among them the prospect of raising much-needed revenue by taxing pot sales. “With all the bad weather we’ve had back home and all the potholes, we ought to have the revenue go to infrastructure — ‘pot for potholes,’” Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, I, said.
It was just bad luck that President Barack Obama unveiled his fiscal 2015 budget in the midst of the most dangerous geopolitical tensions Europe has faced since the end of the Cold War. The Obama administration began working on the document long before the recent upheaval in Ukraine; Obama had no way of knowing that its unveiling would compete for headlines with a Russian invasion of the Crimean Peninsula.
Surreptitiously recorded videos of Supreme Court proceedings that surfaced on YouTube last week aren’t much of a viewing experience. The most revealing video, which captures a few moments from two oral argument sessions, is a jerky affair that makes Abraham Zapruder’s amateur footage of the Kennedy assassination look like the work of an auteur.
The stakes are changing rapidly in Ukraine. The people have spoken in Kiev. But now Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken more loudly.
Nearly three years into his term, Haitian President Michel Martelly has yet to hold parliamentary or local elections. Endless negotiations with a fractured political opposition amid an atmosphere of mutual suspicion and recrimination have produced tentative progress, for which Martelly was rewarded with an Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama this month. Yet there is still no agreement on electoral rules or a voting date set in a country whose fragile institutions can ill afford what amounts to a moratorium on democracy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration broke new ground in consumer protection when it required, more than 20 years ago, the now-familiar nutrition labels on virtually every bit of packaged food. Now, the labels are being revamped — in ways that have both benefits and downsides.
As the situation in Kiev has calmed, a standoff has developed in Crimea, raising the risk of a wider Ukrainian conflict. How this unfolds is impossible to predict, but it can end well only if the country’s new leaders make it clear that their revolution was about ousting a corrupt and abusive regime, not putting down pro-Russians in the east.
In a properly functioning Washington, the tax reform plan unveiled Wednesday by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich. would kick off a major debate over how to fix the federal government’s inefficient system of revenue collection. Camp proposes to overhaul both the corporate and individual tax codes, based on the principle that lower rates should be applied to a broader base of income — that is, one that is purged of many loopholes and deductions that litter current law. The Camp plan would reduce the corporate rate to 25 percent from a maximum of 35 percent and replace the seven marginal rates for individuals with three: 10, 25 and 35 percent.
Let’s go ahead and concede that Mt. Gox, the bitcoin exchange that went offline Tuesday and seems to have misplaced about 365 million of its customers’ dollars, might be “the worst-run business in the history of the world,” as one bitcoin investor recently said.
In the ideal scenario, the advance of democracy is simple and happy. A dictatorship falls, the people gain the right to choose their rulers, a modern constitution comes into being and a pluralistic civil society emerges. But in many places, it doesn’t work out quite that way. Democracy is sometimes merely a detour between one oppressive government and another.
There’s hardly an ingredient in that candy bar you just unwrapped that the government didn’t have a strong, distorting hand in producing — the peanuts, the sugar, the milk, to name a few. U.S. sugar companies, for example, benefit from a series of overlapping trade protections that the last “reform” farm bill left untouched. If you’re drinking a soda while reading this editorial, you’re probably consuming large amounts of high-fructose corn syrup. Corn farmers are unfairly coddled, too. This supposed economic policy, with its roots in a time when large numbers of impoverished farmers were perpetually one bad harvest away from ruin, is now socialized agriculture that largely benefits wealthy agribusinesses at the expense of taxpayers and consumers.
You have to give new Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler credit: He moves fast for a bureaucrat. Wheeler announced Wednesday that the commission would not appeal a recent court decision that invalidated most of the “open Internet” rules championed by his predecessor. Instead, he said, he would propose new ones to achieve the same thing: barring Internet service providers from blocking legal content or playing favorites among websites and services. It’s not clear yet how he’ll reach that goal, but he’s chosen the quickest and least controversial way there.
Three federal judges have now ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage violate the Constitution’s “equal protection” clause. President Barack Obama seems to disagree.