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Jul 31 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: Who Ate Republicans’ Brains?

When the tweeter-in-chief castigated Senate Republicans as “total quitters” for failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, he couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, they showed zombie-like relentlessness in their determination to take health care away from millions of Americans, shambling forward despite devastating analyses by the Congressional Budget Office, denunciations of their plans by every major medical group, and overwhelming public disapproval.

Put it this way: Senator Lindsey Graham was entirely correct when he described the final effort at repeal as “terrible policy and horrible politics,” a “disaster” and a “fraud.” He voted for it anyway — and so did 48 of his colleagues.

So where did this zombie horde come from? Who ate Republicans’ brains?

As many people have pointed out, when it came to health care Republicans were basically caught in their own web of lies. They fought against the idea of universal coverage, then denounced the Affordable Care Act for failing to cover enough people; they made “skin in the game,” i.e., high out-of-pocket costs, the centerpiece of their health care ideology, then denounced the act for high deductibles. When they finally got their chance at repeal, the contrast between what they had promised and their actual proposals produced widespread and justified public revulsion.

But the stark dishonesty of the Republican jihad against Obamacare itself demands an explanation. For it went well beyond normal political spin: for seven years a whole party kept insisting that black was white and up was down.

Joseph Stiglitz: Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the rich won’t make America great again

Although America’s rightwing plutocrats may disagree about how to rank the country’s major problems – for example, inequality, slow growth, low productivity, opioid addiction, poor schools, and deteriorating infrastructure – the solution is always the same: lower taxes and deregulation, to “incentivise” investors and “free up” the economy. Donald Trump is counting on this package to make America great again.

It won’t, because it never has. When Ronald Reagan tried it in the 1980s, he claimed that tax revenues would rise. Instead, growth slowed, tax revenues fell, and workers suffered. The big winners in relative terms were corporations and the rich, who benefited from dramatically reduced tax rates.

Trump has yet to advance a specific tax proposal. But, unlike his administration’s approach to healthcare legislation, lack of transparency will not help him. While many of the 32 million people projected to lose health insurance under the current proposal don’t yet know what’s coming, that is not true of the companies that will get the short end of the stick from Trump’s tax reform.

Charles M. Blow: Satan in a Sunday Hat

Donald Trump’s foul-mouthed, preening, narcissistic flack, Anthony Scaramucci, made a string of jaw-dropping statements last week — including accusing chief strategist Steve Bannon of using the president for rapacious self-aggrandizement, comparing this impulse in Bannon to autofellatio — but perhaps none were more telling and important than this statement on White House leaks Scaramucci made last week on CNN:

“There are people inside the administration that think it is their job to save America from this president.”

There are countless Americans — among them the nearly 74 million American voters who voted for someone other than Trump in November, and likely an increasing number of those who did vote for him — who have taken it as their mission to save America from Trump.

But the idea that, in addition to liberals, progressives, resisters, and, oh, I don’t know, anyone with an inkling of patriotism, this desire to protect the country may well exist among some rock-ribbed Republicans and may in fact extend all the way to the corridors of the White House offers some solace.

Michelangelo Signorile: Jeff Sessions’ Assault On Gay Workers Revealed Yet Another Lie He Told At Confirmation Hearings

Donald Trump is angry with Jeff Sessions for recusing himself in the Russia collusion investigation. But that hasn’t stopped Trump from giving Sessions carte blanche to enforce his brutal hard-right agenda ― one reason why, in fact, conservatives have defended Sessions against Trump’s attacks ― and that includes what are clearly his plans to dismantle LGBTQ rights.

The reason Sessions had to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, of course, is because it became known that he had several meetings with Russian officials during the election, while serving in the Trump campaign, though he claimed during his confirmation hearings that he hadn’t ever met with such officials.

But now we know that’s not the only thing Sessions lied about.

In his opening statements back in January, Sessions said, ”I understand the demands for justice and fairness made by our LGBT community.” He vowed to “ensure … protecting their rights and their safety,” which he said would be “fully enforced.”

Robert Kuttner: Trump’s Coming Saturday Night Massacre

Donald Trump’s vendetta against Attorney General Jeff Sessions has gone underground for a few days, as the president savors the firing of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. But Trump’s rancor at Sessions has not gone away.

His obvious motive in wanting Sessions out is getting an attorney general willing to do Trump’s bidding and fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller. In this chess game, key Republican senators have indicated their support for Mueller, even warning Trump that they would refuse to confirm a successor and that they would block a recess appointment by keeping the Senate technically in session during the August break. [..]

For Trump to oust Sessions and then Mueller would be reckless, and ultimately self-annihilating, for it would undermine what’s left of Republican loyalty to this president. But everything in Trump’s character and recent behavior suggests he will try to force Mueller out anyway. And that could indeed be the beginning of the end.