Getting Older, Growing Poorer

The basic outlines of poverty in America are sadly familiar. At last count, 46.5 million people were poor — 15 percent of the population. Women and children, especially in single-mother families, were, as always, hit hardest. Another group, people 65 and older, now seems vulnerable as well. In analyzing the recent Census Bureau report on…

Fixing Immigration From the Ground Up

The immigration marches and vigils that took place across the country on Saturday, uniting tens of thousands of people in more than 40 states, were a plaintive reminder that immigration reform — remember immigration reform? — is among the many pieces of business that remain unfinished while Congress is in lockdown. Reform in the shape…

Now Republicans Want a ‘Dialogue’

Republicans are now simply flailing. Because they lack any plausible explanation for their irresponsible conduct in creating and prolonging the government shutdown, they are inventing new demands by the hour. “Defund Obamacare!” they cried at the beginning, stating their condition for reopening the government. Then they moved to delaying health care reform, delaying the individual…

John Boehner’s Shutdown

By midnight on Tuesday, the leadership failure of Speaker John Boehner was complete. By encouraging the impossible quest of House Republicans to dismantle health care reform, he pushed the country into a government shutdown that will now begin to take a grievous economic toll. At any point, Mr. Boehner could have stopped it. Had he…

A Diplomatic Proposal for Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry may not have expected his casual suggestion that Syria avert American military action by giving up its chemical weapons to be taken seriously. But it may have created a diplomatic way out for President Obama, who has insisted that a military strike is the only way to respond after concluding…

The Two Bloombergs

There is the Mayor Michael Bloomberg who is hailed for his vision, for being farsighted in the best sense. Then there is the Mayor Bloomberg with the billionaire’s view of New York and its problems who accused Bill de Blasio of practicing “class warfare” and racial politics in his campaign for mayor, just because Mr.…

The Artist’s Grave

The abstract logo for the Group of 20 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, last week was said to be inspired by the work of Kazimir Malevich, the great Russian modernist. But Malevich’s grave has gotten no such respect. Malevich, who died in 1935, wanted to be buried under a magnificent oak tree in the countryside…

Federal Oversight on Public Defense

The Justice Department recently signaled that it may be taking on a greater role in assuring the quality of indigent defense in state criminal systems. It filed a brief last month in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington against two towns for failing to provide adequate legal assistance for poor…

When Jobs Are Not Plentiful

The widespread notion that the economy would pick up in the second half of 2013 was always overly optimistic. A rebound would require the replacement of this year’s ruinous federal budget cuts with a government spending plan for job creation. It would require a sustained recovery in the housing market to reduce debt and restore…

The Group of 20 Tackles Tax Avoidance

The Group of 20 nations on Friday took an important step toward curbing tax avoidance by committing to exchanging information automatically on tax matters by the end of 2015. The growth of multinational businesses and international finance has made it easy for people and companies to get away with not paying the taxes they owe,…

From Flooded Homes to Saltwater Marsh

Ten months after Hurricane Sandy, there still are residents of shoreline communities in New York who are waiting for more government help. But in one vulnerable neighborhood, Oakwood Beach in Staten Island, the best possible result is finally starting to happen. The residents of Oakwood Beach, a stretch of small houses built across what was…

The Stakes in Congress

The divided 10-to-7 vote on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday authorizing a strike against Syria for the use of chemical weapons showed there is no strong consensus yet on this critical question. While the committee’s resolution — which limits military action to 60 days, with a possible 30-day extension, and specifically prohibits the…

Britain’s Syria Vote in Perspective

While President Obama tries to persuade Congress to support his plan for punitive airstrikes against Syria, Britons are still debating the meaning of Parliament’s 285-to-272 vote last week not to authorize Prime Minister David Cameron to commit British military forces to join in those strikes. With military action excluded, at least for now, Mr. Cameron…

Can Mr. Obama Avoid Mission Creep?

President Obama is scheduled to address the nation Tuesday on his plans for using military force in Syria. He will have a hard time persuading a skeptical Congress and an equally skeptical American public. There are numerous reasons that so many Americans are opposed to or ambivalent about bombing Syria, even when they can agree…

Banning a Pseudo-Therapy

A discredited therapy that purports to convert homosexuals to heterosexuals was repudiated again late last month. This time, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously upheld a California law preventing licensed therapists from counseling minors to change their sexual orientation from gay to straight. So-called “conversion therapy”…

Deportees, Then and Now

Congress returns from recess this week with the immigration system still failing and repairs still undone. President Obama is still promising solutions, but his administration remains a huge part of the problem. Last Tuesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, wrote to Janet Napolitano, the departing secretary of homeland security, imploring the administration to stop…

Stop-and-Frisk in Public Housing

Judge Shira Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan made the right decision last week when she granted class-action status to a lawsuit brought by public housing residents and visitors who say they were illegally stopped or arrested by the police in their buildings. The ruling in Davis v. the City of New York clears…

Editorial: Taxes, Benefits and Equality

Under new rules announced on Thursday by the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service, all same-sex couples who are legally married will be treated the same as opposite-sex married couples for federal tax purposes — even if they live in a state that doesn’t recognize their union. Generally, the I.R.S. has followed a “place…