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Jul 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: The Cruelty and Fraudulence of Mitch McConnell’s Health Bill

A few days ago the tweeter in chief demanded that Congress enact “a beautiful new HealthCare bill” before it goes into recess. But now we’ve seen Mitch McConnell’s latest version of health “reform,” and “beautiful” is hardly the word for it. In fact, it’s surpassingly ugly, intellectually and morally. Previous iterations of Trumpcare were terrible, but this one is, incredibly, even worse.

Before I get to what makes it worse, let’s talk about the one piece of the new bill that may sound like a step in the right direction, and why it’s largely a scam.

The original Senate bill got a lot of justified bad press for slashing Medicaid while offering big tax cuts for the rich. So this version rolls back some though by no means all of those tax cuts, which sounds like a concession to moderates.

At the same time, however, the bill would allow people to use tax-favored health savings accounts to pay insurance premiums. This effectively creates a big new tax shelter that mostly helps people with high incomes who (a) can afford to put a lot of money into such accounts and (b) face high marginal tax rates, and hence get big tax savings.

So this is still a bill that takes from the poor to give to the rich; it just does so with extra stealth.

Catherine Rampell: Everything is a distraction from something much, much worse

Americans, you need to start paying attention. Like, really paying attention — to the issues that actually matter.

Stop getting distracted!

Take this Russian collusion nonsense. Lots of Americans are obsessed with it, but it’s just a shiny distraction.

Yeah, sure, it looks as though members of the Trump campaign lied repeatedly, including on live TV and in Senate testimony and on security clearance forms, about their contacts with Russians. It looks as though they may have been eager to get their hands on possibly illegally obtained information from a hostile nation. “I love it,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote when offered dirt on Hillary Clinton explicitly offered as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

But that’s merely what the nine-dimensional-chess players in the White House want you to be obsessing over.

Trevor Timm: Here’s a reality check: this Trump Jr storm will not lead to impeachment

The latest New York Times blockbuster revealing the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, knowingly accepting a meeting in 2016 with a Russian lawyer in the hope of getting damaging information on Hillary Clinton is making waves across Washington DC. But if people think that this latest story is definitely going to lead to criminal charges against Trump Jr, or force the president from office, it’s time for a reality check.

The journalism displayed by the Times and the Washington Post pushing the Trump-Russia story forward has unquestionably been laudable, but the real question is where does this leave the Trump administration.

Jessica Valenti: Why is Betsy DeVos enabling rape deniers?

On Thursday, education secretary Betsy DeVos carried on in the grand American tradition of treating rape survivors like garbage, meeting with accused rapists and organizations that publish photos of women they claim are “false victims”. Just another day in the era of Trump, where disdain for women and their rights trickles down from the “pussy-grabbing” president to all corners of his administration.

As part of her effort to examine the Obama administration’s widely lauded programs on campus rape, DeVos is meeting with survivors of sexual assault and organizations like the National Women’s Law Center and End Rape on Campus.

But in addition to meeting with groups dedicated to eradicating sexual assault at universities, the education secretary will also talk with dangerous anti-feminist groups that claim rape statistics are overblown and that women regularly lie about assault.

Eugene Robinson: Ivanka and Jared begin the plunge from grace

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have tried their best to soar gracefully above the raging dumpster fire that is the Trump administration. Unhappily for the handsome couple, gravity makes no allowances for charm.

Kushner, already reported to be a “person of interest” in the Justice Department probe of President Trump’s campaign, is arguably the individual with the most to lose from the revelation that the campaign did, after all, at least attempt to collude with the Russian government to boost Trump’s chances of winning the election.

The president’s hapless eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — who convened the June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer for the purpose of obtaining dirt on Hillary Clinton — had no operational role in the campaign. Paul J. Manafort, who also attended, was the campaign’s chairman, but his many shady business dealings with several Ukrainian and Russian characters were already under scrutiny, so the encounter with attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya could be seen as just another item on the list.