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IT SEEMS TO US . . .
ALBANY SHOWS ITS BRASS, A TOUGH BANKER AND BONO'S POLITICALLY STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

CAP THIS: Too bad Albany can't tax chutzpah. There was a prime example in the seat of government last week, when state lawmakers worried that if they put a cap on the growth of Medicaid spending -- thus averting probable insolvency not only in Erie County but every county across the state -- county governments might become complacent about helping the state control Medicaid costs.

This from a Legislature that put just about every possible option on the state's Medicaid menu, secure in the knowledge that half of New York's cost could be passed on to the counties and therefore wouldn't "cost" the state anywhere near its real obligation. That's kind of unique to New York. It made the Legislature complacent about controlling Medicaid costs, for years.

Here's hoping the voters won't remain complacent about Albany.

WORKING PRO BONO: They used to march to the beat of different drummers, but now they're working for the same global rock star with a serious political message.

Helping run DATA, the Washington-based policy shop started by U2 lead singer Bono, are lobbyists Scott Hatch and Tom Sheridan. Hatch used to work for arch-conservative Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Sheridan is a Democrat linked politically to Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Bono is getting great credit for being both prepared and articulate in arguing for the poor in developing countries (DATA stands for Debt, AIDS, Trade and Africa). He also must be some diplomat.

WEAPONS OF MASS DEVELOPMENT: Third World nations might be forgiven a little timidity in asking help from the World Bank these days; Paul Wolfowitz, a Bush administration foreign policy hard-liner widely viewed as the architect of the Iraq war, takes over as president of the 184-nation development bank this June.

Wolfowitz was one of the guys who saw a quick and decisive victory followed by a flower-strewing public Iraqi welcome of liberators who would uncover vast caches of mass-destruction weaponry. We're betting the war on poverty will never be the same.