“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.
Richard (RJ) Eskow: A Big Day for Trump’s Budget Pick, Social Security — and Millionaires
A full Senate vote is expected today on Donald Trump’s pick for White House Budget Director, Rep. Mick Mulvaney. That means that Mulvaney’s nomination could come up for a vote just as a group of lawmakers and experts are speaking on the Hill in support of Social Security — and on the same day that millionaires stop paying their Social Security taxes.
The timing is interesting, since Mulvaney has been trying to cut Social Security for years. [..]
After today, Thursday, February 16, people with million-dollar salaries will stop paying the Social Security payroll tax for the year. The annually adjusted payroll tax cap is $127,200 this year. No one earning more than that pay Social Security taxes for the income they take home in excess of the cap. For bigger earners, including Trump himself, the tax holiday comes much earlier.
If all goes as planned, Mick Mulvaney will become Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the very day that someone with a $1 million yearly salary stops paying into the Social Security trust fund.
But Mulvaney hasn’t been trying to get millionaires to pay their fair share for Social Security. Instead, he’s been busy trying to cut benefits for everyone else, saying, “You have to raise the retirement age, lower a pay-out, change the reimbursement system.”
Remember the final debate of the presidential campaign? That was when Donald Trump looked right at Hillary Clinton and growled, “If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception.” If he were president, he told her, “you’d be in jail.” Well, the worm has turned.
Trump may be president now, but one month into his presidency there are already calls for a special prosecutor and an independent bipartisan commission to investigate his ties to the Russian government and its involvement in the election. All this comes, of course, in the wake of the resignation of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn. There is also growing consternation over new Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ involvement in any investigation. Considering that he was heavily involved in Trump’s campaign — which would presumably be a central subject of that investigation — it is totally inappropriate for him to oversee the case.
Charles M. Blow: Drip, Drip, Drip
Every day there is a fresh outrage emerging from the murky bog of the Donald Trump administration.
Every day there is a new round of questions and a new set of concerns that raise anxieties and lower trust.
Every day it becomes ever more clear that it is right and just to doubt the legitimacy of this regime and all that flows from it.
The latest round involves the former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who this week was forced to resign following disclosures about his communications with the Russian ambassador on the same day that then-President Obama announced sanctions against Russia for its interference in our election to help Trump and damage Hillary Clinton. [..]
This is an office culture issue. If the boss — in this case Trump — is a pathological liar who forces underlings to repeat and bolster his lies, what signal does that send to everyone else who works in that environment? That lying is not only accepted but also valued, that lying is simply a rhetorical device, a propaganda tool that is inexcusable only when not exercised with skill.
Donald Trump’s top qualification for president was supposed to be his management prowess. On the campaign trail he repeatedly pledged to “hire the best people, not the biggest donors!” Less than a month into his presidency, the opposite appears to be true.
That was clear Monday with the departure of Michael Flynn, whose resignation as national security adviser so early in a presidential tenure was unprecedented. With just 24 days in office, Flynn is the shortest serving national security advisor in history, the average tenure being 2.6 years. And it was reaffirmed two days later, when Andrew Puzder, his pick to lead the department of labor, was forced to withdraw, making him only the 12th cabinet nominee ever to do so.
Trump built his entire brand on being an expert manager and hiring the best people, from The Art of the Deal to The Apprentice. Now he is failing at what was meant to be one of his core strengths.
E. J. Dionne, Jr.: Admit it: Trump is unfit to serve
Let’s not mumble or whisper about the central issue facing our country: What is this democratic nation to do when the man serving as president of the United States plainly has no business being president of the United States?
The Michael Flynn fiasco was the entirely predictable product of the indiscipline, deceit, incompetence and moral indifference that characterize Donald Trump’s approach to leadership.
Even worse, Trump’s loyalties are now in doubt. Questions about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia will not go away, even if congressional Republicans try to slow-walk a transparent investigation into what ties Trump has with Putin’s Russia — and who on his campaign did what, and when, with Russian intelligence officials and diplomats.