The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take

On President Obama’s imminent announcement of his Afghanistan decision:

I think the key word here is — phrase — is “It is my intention to finish the job.” And what he will have to do next week is explain what he thinks the job is. That’s the real issue. How does he define the objective?

Now, he has been all over the map during this deliberative period. . . . The last time that he spoke openly about this in public, he seemed to define the mission very narrowly — keeping al-Qaeda out, not rebuilding the Afghan nation. . . .

The [troop] level he is talking about — that we’re hearing about — is near what McChrystal is asking. I’m certain that if the number you said earlier [34,000] is the number he announces, he will announce that NATO will close the gap in some ways so it will be near the McChrystal number.

But the McChrystal idea is a counterinsurgency, which is essentially rebuilding the nation, at least to the extent of establishing our presence, staying in the villages, and taking our casualties as we did heavily in the surge in Iraq.

If the president announces that’s his strategy, then I think we are going to have something that is coherent. If he buys the troop level of McChrystal but announces a narrower strategy, it’s going to be hard to understand what his objective is.

On certain senior congressional Democrats pushing a “war tax”:

I’m not against a war tax. We have a war, we ought to fund it. I’m not against a national service draft.

But these are people who oppose the war. It is just [sending] a message. And it is utter hypocrisy. Here are people who have spent trillions of dollars and who are going to spend trillions more on health care who all of a sudden have discovered fiscal discipline over national security — over the safety of our nation.

It is completely disingenuous.

On the Democrats’ zeal for health care at a time of economic stagnation:

In fact, in the version unveiled in the Senate, there is an increase in the Medicare payroll tax, which is precisely the opposite of what you want when you have over 10 percent unemployment. It discourages employment.

And the whole health-care obsession, which is essentially what the Democrats have been involved with over the entire year, [comes] at a time when people want the administration and the Congress to be looking at in addressing the economy as a whole. [Instead,] they spent all this effort on health care.

In and of itself, it [health-care reform] is retarding hiring, because if you are a small or medium-sized business, you are not going to hire while you have hanging over your head a bill that could increase health-care costs for every employee, or you might have to pay a penalty if you don’t subsidize health insurance for your employees.

Already, you’ve got employers holding back because of the general economic conditions and the threat of higher taxes, and now you add on to that the uncertainty of the health-care proposal.

The administration is doing everything it can to discourage hiring at a time when it is deploring the high unemployment rate and touting, as we saw in the clip with poor old Joe [Biden], the robust growth rate, which is [now calculated to be] a lot less robust than the administration had announced.

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