The front of Wednesday's Business section is dominated by chief economics writer David Leonhardt's recap of 2010, "In the Rearview, A Year That Fizzled - The Recovery Sputtered, but 2011 Offers Reasons for Optimism ." Among his more outlandish opinions: Describing global warming (defined as an apparent warming trend over the last decade) as a long-term problem "for the planet and its economy," and insisting that Obama-care will reduce the growth in health care costs, despite all indications to the contrary.
Making matters worse, many of the economy's long-term problems also became more severe this year. Health care costs continued to rise faster than inflation, and the number of uninsured continued to grow. The most recent climate data suggested 2010 would be the hottest or second-hottest year ever recorded; the 10 hottest have all occurred in the last 13 years, creating serious risks for the planet and its economy. The federal budget deficit ballooned further (though it should grow during an economic slump).
On the longer-term issues, the recent work by President Obama's bipartisan deficit commission suggested that Democrats and Republicans might eventually find some common ground on the issue. And the health care overhaul passed in March - assuming it survives legal challenges - is likely to cut the number of uninsured sharply and to reduce cost growth modestly. The one issue that offers little reason for optimism is climate change.
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