As usually is the case when Uncle Sam has to tighten his belt, efforts will be made to dump as much of the burden as possible on state governments, so the federal establishment can avoid political pain.
The debt ceiling-deficit reduction plan expected to be approved this week will trim $2 trillion from federal spending during the next decade. Expect both Congress and President Barack Obama's administration to attempt to reduce federal funding for the states, as well as state reimbursements for programs such as Medicaid. The latter would come even as the new national health care law forces states to accept millions of new Medicaid clients.
Governors and state legislatures should use the power of the bully pulpit to make the public aware of such attempts to shift the pain away from Washington - and more directly onto state taxpayers. Then, Americans should make it very clear to Obama and Congress that the idea is to cut spending in Washington, not merely dump the burden elsewhere.
With many Americans focused on the debt ceiling argument in Washington, time may be running out for President Barack Obama to take action on an equally - if not more - important matter.
Douglas E. Lute, Obama's top adviser on Pakistan, suggested Friday the United States should step up action to deliver "a knockout blow" to al-Qaida terrorist leaders in that country.
Speaking at a security forum in Colorado, Lute said al-Qaida leadership remains in turmoil as a result of the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2. "This is a period of turbulence for our enemy. This is the time to double down on the opportunity to defeat al-Qaida," he explained. He estimated the United States has a window of about six months to take advantage of confusion in al-Qaida leadership.
Though Lute did not go into detail, he clearly is suggested more attacks against al-Qaida targets in Pakistan by U.S. drone aircraft, and perhaps more covert operations by units such as the SEAL team that killed bin Laden. No doubt Obama is worried about already troubled relations with the government of Pakistan. But if an opportunity to eliminate al-Qaida exists, it should be seized - forcefully and without delay.