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Mar 14 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“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”.

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Paul Krugman: Trumpcare vs. Obamacare: Apocalypse Foretold

The Congressional Budget Office report on Trumpcare is out, and it’s devastating: 14 million people losing insurance in the first year, 24 million over time, with premiums soaring for older, lower-income Americans — in many cases, the very people who went strongly for President Trump. The C.B.O. thinks it would reduce the deficit, but only marginally, around $30 billion a year in a $19 trillion economy.

Let me offer one assertion and ask two questions.

The assertion is that something like this was to be expected. The C.B.O. came in even worse on coverage than most predicted, but it was obvious that the news would be terrible because that’s what the logic of the situation told us. Obamacare imposes a mandate to induce healthy people to sign up, offers means-tested subsidies to make insurance affordable and expands Medicaid to take care of people with really low incomes. Trumpcare eliminates the mandate, slashes subsidies overall and redirects them to those who don’t need them and sharply cuts Medicaid. Of course that leads to a huge drop in coverage.

Or to put it differently, Obamacare is actually an intelligently designed system, and Republican claims that they could do much better even while slashing funding so they could cut taxes on the rich were always obvious nonsense. Trumpcare is a slapdash, incompetent piece of legislation; but even a much more competent set of people couldn’t have done better given the constraints of Republican Party ideology.

Eugene Robinson: White supremacism is ready to roar

White supremacism was never banished from American political thought, just shoved to the fringe and hushed to a whisper. Now, in the Age of Trump, it’s back in the mainstream and ready to roar.

Witness the words of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on the subject of immigration: “Culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” King offered these sentiments Sunday in a tweet expressing solidarity with Geert Wilders, an openly racist and Islamophobic Dutch politician who has a chance of becoming prime minister in elections this week. Wilders is someone who “understands,” King wrote.

And we understand just what King meant. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke certainly got the message, using his vile Twitter account to proclaim, “GOD BLESS STEVE KING!!!”

Just so there’s no confusion, King went on CNN Monday to say that “I meant exactly what I said.” He added: “I’ve been to Europe and I’ve spoken on this issue and I’ve said the same thing as far as 10 years ago to the German people and any population of people that is a declining population that isn’t willing to have enough babies to reproduce themselves. I’ve said to them, ‘You can’t rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies. You’ve got to keep your birthrate up and you need to teach your children your values.”

Why am I hearing faint strains of “Deutschland über alles”? And why am I not hearing a loud chorus of condemnation from King’s Republican colleagues?

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The GOP Health Bill Is An Assault On People Of Color

The American Health Care Act is a rich person’s bonanza. Under the plan proposed by House Republicans, each of the nation’s 400 richest families will save $7 million per year, as part of a tax giveaway. The plan offers no benefits at all to those who earn $200,000 or less a year. And the burden from this cynical wealth grab falls disproportionately on the nation’s black, brown and poor households.

To be clear, people of color cannot be stereotyped.  Most black Americans are not poor, and most live in the suburbs. Donald Trump made repeated assertions on the campaign trail that African-Americans live in a “hell” of poverty and violence. Those remarks were rightly condemned as implicitly racist. Wherever they reside, people of color don’t live in “hell.” They live in humanity.

Nevertheless, our economy is divided along racial lines. While more than half of all Americans experience poverty at some point in their lifetimes, people of color are far more likely to be poor than whites.  The poverty rate is nearly 25 percent for black Americans and more than 21 percent for Hispanic Americans. By contrast, the white poverty rate is 9.1 percent. Any rate above zero is unacceptable, but the level of racial disparity is striking.

Thom Nartmann: Right-wing billionaires want to rewrite our Constitution — and they’re frighteningly close to pulling it off

Imagine if the U.S. Constitution barred the EPA and Department of Education from existing. All union protections are dead, there are no more federal workplace safety standards, and even child-labor laws are struck down, along with a national minimum wage.

Imagine that the Constitution makes it illegal for the federal government to protect you from big polluters, big banks and even big food and pharma—all are free to rip you off or poison you all they want, and your only remedy is in state courts and legislatures, because the Constitution prevents Congress from doing anything about any of it. The federal government can’t even enforce voting or civil rights laws.

To add injury to insult, the federal government has to shut down Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, because all of these programs (along with food stamps, housing supports and any programs that help the middle class, the less fortunate or disabled) are “beyond the reach” of what the federal government can do.

A few years ago, it would have been a thought experiment; now it’s nearly reality. Billionaires and the groups they fund are working to rewrite our Constitution to provide corprations and the rich with more and more protections and benefits, and chop away at anything smelling of “socialism” like Social Security or child labor laws.

The fact is that they’re just a few states away from meeting their goal, and have already held dress rehearsals in Washington D.C.—with representatives from all 50 states—for a Constitional Convention that would change America forever.

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