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Aug 04 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: Obamacare Rage in Retrospect

I guess it ain’t over until the portly golfer sings, but it does look as if Obamacare will survive. In the end, Mitch McConnell couldn’t find the votes he needed; many thanks are due to Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain (who turns out to be a better man than I thought), not to mention the solid wall of Democrats standing up for what’s right. Meanwhile, all indications are that the insurance markets are stabilizing, with insurer profitability up and only around 0.1 percent of enrollees unserved.

It’s true that the tweeter in chief retains considerable ability to sabotage care, but Republicans are basically begging him to stop, believing — correctly — that the public will blame them for any future deterioration in coverage. [..]

Which raises a big question: Why did the prospect of health reform produce so much popular rage in 2009 and 2010?

Eugene Robinson: Trump is delusional about his popularity

Enough, already, with all the takeouts and think pieces about how President Trump’s loyal base continues to support him. That’s neither surprising nor impressive — and it’s certainly not the point about this shameful and appalling presidency.

Also, it’s not entirely true. Trump won 47 percent of the popular vote in November’s election. That’s less than Hillary Clinton’s 48 percent but means nevertheless that nearly half the country put its trust in a man who had already shown himself to be a liar, a buffoon, a demagogue and a self-proclaimed sexual harasser.

This week, Gallup reported Trump’s approval rating at 36 percent, with 60 percent of those polled disapproving of the job he’s doing. Since the advent of polling, no president has been so unpopular at this point in his tenure. Clearly, some who voted for Trump have had second thoughts. But most have not, and why, at this point, should anyone expect otherwise?

David S. Cohen: Trump is trying to politicize intelligence to support his Iran policy. That’s dangerous.

The relationship between the intelligence community and President Trump surely has been tested in the first six months of this administration. But the president’s reported demand for intelligence to support his policy preference to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal risks politicizing intelligence analysis, with potentially grave consequences not only for national security decision-making but also for our ability to address a wide range of international threats.

Under a 2015 law governing the Iran nuclear agreement, the president is required to certify every 90 days whether Iran “is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement,” “has not committed a material breach with respect to the agreement,” and “has not taken any action, including covert activities, that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons program.”

Although this certification is a political call, it necessarily is based on an intelligence assessment. Intelligence analysts, who are privy to our clandestine collection as well as the intelligence shared with us by key liaison intelligence services, and who are trained in applying proper analytic tradecraft, are in the best position to judge whether Iran is spinning too many centrifuges, holds too much enriched uranium or is secretly pursuing a nuclear weapon.

Catherine Rampell: Based on the immigration system he endorsed, Trump would not get a green card

How might President Trump fare in the “merit-based” immigration scheme he just endorsed?

If he were an immigrant, there’s a decent chance he’d get kicked out of the country.

The economy-crippling bill that Trump embraced this week includes much to dislike. It would cut legal immigration levels in half, flouting Trump’s prior pledges not to reduce legal immigration or be unfair to those who’ve patiently waited in line — some for years

Despite what he and the bill’s Senate sponsors suggest, it also wouldn’t increase the number of skilled or merit-based immigrants. Instead, it would change how “skills” and “merit” are defined, replacing our current employer-centered system with a points-based one — and then scaling back eligibility for almost everyone else.

For insight into how thoughtfully designed this new system is, let’s try a high-profile test case: the leader of the free world.

Dean Baker: A Better Deal Than What?

The Democratic Party was badly ripped off by the consultant(s) who came up with the name for their new economic agenda, “A Better Deal,” unveiled last week. After all, it is not hard to come up with a better deal than the reality TV show star president who is handing as much money as possible to the rich, while taking away people’s health care and using his office to line the pockets of his family members.

The Democrats have set a very low bar for themselves. Nonetheless, the agenda does offer some basis for hope that the Democrats may be prepared to reverse some of the upward redistribution of the past four decades, if they ever regain power.