As the healthcare reform debate roars on, Uncle Sam resembles a restless college senior who is flunking economics, finance, and management. Despite a report card full of Fs, he suddenly announces: "I want to go to medical school!"
Similarly, President Barack Obama stood before a joint session of Congress Wednesday night and re-embraced a government option for health insurance. As he explained, "sometimes government has to step in to help deliver" on the promise that "hard work and responsibility should be rewarded by some measure of security and fair play."
Alas, too often when Washington steps in, failing grades follow:
President Barack Obama used only-in-Washington accounting Wednesday when he promised to overhaul the nation's health care system without adding "one dime" to the deficit. By conventional arithmetic, Democratic plans would drive up the deficit by billions of dollars.
The president's speech to Congress contained a variety of oversimplifications and omissions in laying out what he wants to do about health insurance.
A look at some of Obama's claims and how they square with the facts or the fuller story:
OBAMA: "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits either now or in the future. Period."
Economic activity is stabilizing or improving in the vast majority of the country, according to a government survey released Wednesday. The findings indicate that the worst recession since the 1930s may be over.
The Federal Reserve's snapshot of economic conditions backs predictions by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and most other analysts that the economy has started to grow once again in the current quarter.
There may be a lesson plan for grown-ups in the contrived controversy about Barack Obama's back-to-school pep talk to students. It would be to do your homework, just as the president told the pupils.
That way, the people who protested the Obama speech before they knew what was in it would have realized there is nothing unusual about a president appearing at a public school as the classroom year begins. The previous three Republicans have and there wasn't any stir, aside from some Democratic nitpicking about White House expenses, proving that neither party has a monopoly on pettiness. It was routine. As, in the end, Obama's Tuesday talk was.
In what could be a landmark case involving members of the George W. Bush administration and abuses of constitutional rights after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a federal appeals court ruled Friday that former Attorney General John Ashcroft (left) can be sued by those who say they were wrongfully detailed in the days, weeks and months following the attacks.
The court ruling called the government's actions "repugnant to the Constitution."
"We find this to be repugnant to the Constitution and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history," wrote Judge Milan D. Smith Jr.
Fox News Network will not broadcast President Barack Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday night.
It's not the first time the network, owned by right-wing news magnate Rupert Murdoch, has opted for reality shows instead of a nationally-televised appearance of the nation's first African-American president.
Odds are, it won't be the last. Fox will air the speech on its "news" channel and business network.
After a slight drop last month, unemployment rose to 9.7 percent in August, the highest since June 1983. Employers eliminated a net total of 216,000 jobs last month, bringing the total loss since December 2007 to 6.9 million.
Private economists and the Federal Reserve predict the unemployment rate will top 10 percent by the end of the year. Most financial analysts say businesses will not start hiring again until they believe the economy is on a firm path to recovery.
The American public is tired of the failing war against the Taliban in Afghanistan but military planners still insist the battle can be won while also warning that time is running out.
In London, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown also defends his country's role in Afghanistan while public unease from Brits is on the rise.
With troop deaths reaching record highs, Defense Secretary Robert Gates claimed Thursday the war is not "slipping through the administration's fingers."
Whatever the outcome of the health-care-reform debate, one fact seems practically irrefutable: President Obama's honeymoon is over.
Although he remains generally popular, with around 53 percent approval, public opinion polls show that Obama's support among moderates and independents has plunged dramatically. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey published Sept. 1 found that 53 percent of independents disapprove of how the president is doing his job. That's up from 43 percent disapproval a month earlier. A Zogby International poll last month reported that 59 percent of independents disapproved of Obama's job performance.
One thing seems increasingly clear about President Obama's ambitious plan to reform the health-care system. The nation can't afford it, and even if it could, polls show that a growing number of Americans aren't ready for reform.
A recent survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies shows that opposition to Obama's health care proposals is virtually the same as that for President Clinton's in 1994 with 37 percent against to 25 percent in favor. Although generally connected with the Republicans, the polling organization's findings are substantially in line with that of others, including those associated with the Democrats. The poll found that opposition to the plan cuts across party lines and includes diverse interest groups like seniors, women and independents.