Viewpoints: ‘Scrappy’ Debate Offered Little New On Entitlement Programs; Staring Down The Fiscal Cliff
The Washington Post: The Second Debate: 90 Minutes Of Cross Talk
President Obama and Mitt Romney faced off Tuesday night in a scrappy, at times downright nasty town-hall debate that featured a feistier, more focused Obama than was seen in their first encounter and that broadened the discussion to social issues such as immigration, contraceptive coverage and gun control. ... In the end, on the domestic front, the debate performance of both has been about as disappointing as their dodging on the campaign trail. Mr. Romney's tax math is indeed suspect. Mr. Obama's silence on the subject of entitlement reform is disappointing. But Tuesday's town-hall debate at least offered a snapshot of the candidates' views on a wider array of issues, and a portrait of two men who are determined, in the homestretch, to prevail (10/17).
The Wall Street Journal: A President Without A Plan
President Obama bounced off the canvas with a more spirited debate at Hofstra University on Tuesday night, as everyone expected he would. He was animated and on the attack. The question we kept asking as the evening wore on, however, is what does he want to do for the next four years? ... But the biggest contrast in the agendas for the next four years is Mr. Romney's willingness to put ideas on the table -- Medicare reform, tax reform -- that meet the economic and fiscal problems of our time (10/17).
The New York Times: Mr. Obama Comes Back
The president even got off a few good lines, pointing out that his pension was considerably smaller than Mr. Romney's, and that his opponent was far more extreme than President George W. Bush in proposing to turn Medicare into a voucher system and to eliminate financing for Planned Parenthood. He finally took the opportunity to bring up Mr. Romney's dismissal of 47 percent of the country as people who consider themselves victims and do not take personal responsibility for their lives (10/17).
Kansas City Star/McClatchy: The Battle At The Fiscal Cliff's Edge
What’s it like to stand on the edge of the fiscal cliff? Look around. You're on it. ... But that’s what happens when members of Congress can’t work together, when they can’t compromise due to the disappearance of the middle in American politics. They keep delaying, hedging and dodging when it comes to truly dealing with the nation’s soaring debt. ... This won't surprise you either: The two parties appear to be as much at loggerheads over how to proceed as ever. Republicans are still balking at raising taxes. Democrats still insist taxes must rise to protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (Steve Kraske, 10/17).
Bloomberg: Slower Growth In Health Costs Saves U.S. Billions
If labor compensation hadn't fallen so much as a share of national income, American workers would be enjoying about $750 billion more in take-home pay. Yet estimates suggest we are currently spending about that much each year on health-care costs that don't improve health outcomes -- and this unnecessarily depresses take-home pay. There isn't much that policy makers can do to restore the $750 billion in lower labor compensation. But there is plenty they can do to get rid of waste in health care, which would fill in much of the gap in take-home pay (Peter Orszag, 10/16).
The Washington Post: Compounding Pharmacies Need FDA Oversight
It's painful enough when a disease like West Nile virus sweeps the country, as it did this summer, causing 168 deaths. But the current fungal meningitis outbreak is noteworthy for something else. It marks a lapse in the responsibility of government to protect against such a disaster. As of Tuesday, 15 people have died and 233 have been sickened by a contaminant in steroid injections for back pain, shipped to clinics in 23 states by the New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass. Other medications also may have been tainted (10/16).
Los Angeles Times: Research Firm Reaped Stem Cell Funds Despite Panel's Advice
Co-founded by an eminent Stanford research scientist, the Newark, Calif., firm has struggled financially while trying to push its stem cell products through the research-and-development pipeline. It collects about $1 million a year from licensing patents and selling cell cultures but spends well more than $20 million annually on R&D, so it runs deeply in the red. On the plus side, StemCells Inc. has had rather a charmed relationship with the California stem cell program, that $3-billion taxpayer-backed research fund known formally as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (Michael Hiltzik, 10/17).
The Wall Street Journal: The Better Solution For 'Pre-Existing Condition'
Early in 2010, as the climactic votes (on the health law) neared, a parade of the legislation's defenders -- from the House, Senate and Obama administration -- appeared across the media. All had the same message: pre-existing conditions. ... The message surely resonated, but how many people have actually been affected since the law passed? The Affordable Care Act established a federally funded risk pool -- the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan -- that allows individuals with such disqualifying conditions to buy a policy for the same premium a healthy person would pay. About 82,000 people have signed up as of July 31, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's statehealthfacts.org (John C. Goodman, 10/17).