The website Akhbar al-Arab said that Gamal Mubarak, Egyptian President’s son and successor, has fled to UK from an airport in western Cairo with his wife, his daughter and 97 pieces of luggage. The decision seems to be a response to the protests that are being held over the last days in the Egyptian capital. Inspired by the Tunisian revolts, which ended up with the former Presiden Ben Ali removed from power, over 30,000 protesters congregated in one of Cairo’s main squares asking for Hosni Mubarak’s resignation after 30 years of governance. The protests in Cairo caused the death of a police officer and around 600 people were arrested in the numerous congregations all around the country. Mubarak has been very untolerant with other protests in the past and this is why it is shocking the support that the opposition movement is getting in a country were freedom of association is strongly repressed. This events might give hopes to those citizens that oppose to Mubarak’s regime and turn Egypt in the second Arab country that overthrows its ruler on the last month.
Harsh V. Pant
The long partnership between India and Indonesia is deepening against the backdrop of a more menacing China. The basis of the India-Indonesia partnership dates to the founding of these nation’s founders–Jawaharlal Nehru and Sukarno–who offered a distinct worldview that drew on their shared colonial experiences. Economic engagement between New Delhi and Jakarta is growing rapidly and has gained further momentum with the signing of the India-Asean free-trade agreement last year. Pant concludes that by wooing Indonesia, India is signaling that it is indeed serious about its presence in Southeast Asia.
Pant is a professor of defense studies at King’s College, London.
The Obama administration is taking a Clintonian approach to the deficit problem, particularly with regard to health-care price controls. The Congressional Budget Office will likely report cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and other health-care costs as huge savings over the years (a perk that is feasible on paper but not in reality), while Republicans propose cutting discretionary domestic spending without touching Medicare. But Medicare reform is essential to America’s fiscal future, leaving Republicans with a political dilemma. Obama’s plan, neatly laid out on paper, is far more politically palatable (even if it does cause “immediate pain”) than a more gradual Republican plan that subsidizes citizens to buy their own health insurance and leaves those over 55 unaffected. However, the unsustainable nature of Obama’s plan could affect his credibility in the long run.
Gerson is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in the Washington Post.
Brooks says it will be interesting to see if President Obama talks about economic growth and competitiveness in the standard or visionary way tonight in his state of the union address. He considers what a visionary speech might encompass, including a look at how America’s position in the world is changing moving from the Big Dog nation of the 20th century to a different world today. In order to thrive America must become the crossroads nation where global talent congregates and collaborates. He says the nation with the most diverse creative hot spots will dominate the century and government’s role will be like at a university: it must establish an overall climate with competitive tax rates, predictable regulations, and fiscal balance. It should actively concentrate talent and then work aggressively to reduce the human capital inequalities that occur in an innovation economy.
Brooks is a New York Times columnist.
Regarding the Tucson tragedy, Egan looks at the response to arguments that people who are armed can defend themselves against assassins. In fact several people were armed at the scene and one person who thought of firing at the alleged murderer almost fired at the wrong person. In addition, most citizens are not trained well enough to react well in a violent confrontation. This is not enough reason to disarm citizens, but it is enough to discredit the canard that we need more guns in society. He cites studies that show that states with higher rates of gun ownership have much higher gun death rates.
Egan is a New York Times columnist.
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Based on his experience at two regulatory agencies during the Reagan years, Rubin is not optimistic that the president’s recently announced deregulatory initiative will be a success. He writes that without managers with a strong interest in deregulation and with the backing of senior administrators, there will be no serious power to buck the staffs. The current executive order seems to impose a cost-benefit analysis, but it has enough loopholes (“equity, human dignity, fairness”) so that agencies will be able to do whatever they want.
Rubin is a professor of economics at Emory University.
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As HR 2 (Republican health-care repeal) comes up for debate, Democrats are touting a “$230 billion deficit reduction” as a selling point for Obamacare, when in fact the “reduction” is merely a mathematical difference between a massive increase in spending and a bigger increase in taxes. A similarly elusive “surplus” is also supposed to be created as entitlement to long-term care (CLASS Act) is achieved by paying for benefits now that won’t kick in for a decade. Krauthammer encourages Republicans to expose the “flimflammery” upon which the health-care bill was built and to explain the phony numbers or have the Congressional Budget Office director explain them. The “insanely complicated” and deceptive health-care bill is beyond reform; it must be repealed, concludes Krauthammer, and only then can Republicans present their own plan.
Krauthammer is a weekly columnist for The Post, writing on foreign and domestic policy and politics.
American reporters had a unique opportunity on Wednesday to question Chinese President Hu Jintao directly on his country’s human rights record. The very first question at the state dinner press conference addressed the matter and Hu Jintao attempted to deflect by claiming difficulty in translation. But a persistent press corps forced him to address the matter, however mildly, in a way that would have been plainly impossible in any other circumstance.
Milbank writes about political theater in the nation’s capital.
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There are deeply rooted reasons–from banking habits to government policy–why the Chinese are unlikely to increase consumption anytime soon. For starters, China lacks the infrastructure of modern consumer finance and is years–possibly decades–away from building it to the standards of the developed world. Its banks face significant structural and regulatory barriers to offering more consumer-finance products. China needs to reallocate capital and labor to orient itself toward producing goods and services that its consumers want. China’s investment-driven growth may already be witnessing declining marginal returns. Shifting to a new model for GDP growth will require changes at every level, right down to the bank branch.
Sternberg is an editorial page writer for the Wall Street Journal Asia.