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Nov 27 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: Voodoo Too: The GOP Addiction to Financial Deregulation

The big economic policy story for this week will be the attempt to ram through the Republican tax bill, which manages both to raise taxes on middle- and lower-income Americans even as it blows up the debt, all in the service of big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. To the extent that there’s any intellectual justification for this money grab, it lies in the conservative insistence that cutting taxes at the top will magically produce huge economic growth.

That is, it’s still voodoo economics after all these years, and nothing — not the boom after Clinton raised taxes, not the failure of the Bush economy, not the debacle in Kansas — will change the party’s commitment to a false economic doctrine that serves its donors’ interests.

But just behind the tax story is the effort to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and this too needs to be understood in the context of a broader GOP commitment to a demonstrably false but useful narrative.

E. J. Dionne Jr.: McCain could save the country from this terrible tax bill

Does our country face a big problem with deficits? Is it a mistake to add to them?

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) certainly thinks so. Or he used to. In 2010, he told Fortune magazine that the nation was “sleep-walking toward a debt crisis,” and he foresaw calamity on a grand scale. “Within a few years a sale of government bonds will fail,” he said. “The capital markets will go crazy, and the Fed and Treasury will run to Capitol Hill demanding a giant bailout.” Wow. [..]

But the man whose voice most needs to be heard is Arizona Sen. John McCain. Over the past few months, he really has been the conscience of the Senate. This summer, he gave a remarkable speech during the Obamacare debate in which he chided the party’s leadership for “asking us to swallow our doubts and force [the bill] past a unified opposition.

Dean Baker: Janet Yellen and Barack Obama’s Economy Is Looking Good

As Congress debates plans to give even more money to the country’s richest people, it is worth briefly recounting where the economy is now, before we feel the effects of any tax plan. Basically, it is a pretty good story.

The overall unemployment rate for October was 4.1 percent. This is the lowest unemployment rate since 2000. And that was an extraordinarily good year for the labor market. We would have to go back to 1970 to find the last time the unemployment rate had been this low. [..]

The good news on the unemployment rate must be qualified given the large number of people who have left the labor market. If we look at the employment rate (EPOP), the percent of people who are employed, it is still down for prime age workers (ages 25 to 54) by 1.5 percentage points from its pre-recession peak and by 3.1 percentage points from the high hit in 2000.

Jill Richardson: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/42712-washington-s-war-on-poor-grad-students

The Republican tax plan winding its way through Congress includes a special middle finger to the nation’s graduate students.

It’s a little bit wonky, so stay with me here. I’ll explain how it affects me, since I’m an actual graduate student.

Going to grad school would’ve been entirely out of reach for me if I had to pay full tuition for my education. Getting a PhD takes at least five years and often more. I don’t have a spouse, trust fund, or parents to cover my cost of living or my tuition.

If I had to pay for my own education, it would’ve been simply out of the question. This is hardly uncommon.

How many adults do you know can forego five or more years of income while simultaneously paying thousands of dollars in college tuition each year?

Jeffrey Sachs: How Trump is slowly destroying America’s national security agencies

The Guardian has reported that John Le Carré, the famed British spy novelist, recently said of the Trump presidency: “Something truly, seriously bad is happening and we have to be awake to that.” Chillingly, he expressed alarm about the “toxic” parallels between the rise of Donald Trump and hard right regimes in Poland and Hungary and the rise of fascism in the 1930s.

Le Carré may be overstating the risk of rising fascism but he is surely right to warn that many of Mr Trump’s early actions and words challenge fundamental tenets of democracy.

These challenges include his assertion that the media is “the enemy of the people”, that news he doesn’t like is “fake news”, that there were “good people” among the neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville, and that the Senate should change its rules to abolish the requirement for 60 votes to end a filibuster, thus eliminating the single most important protection of minority interests in our system of government.

At the same time, the Trump administration has mounted a systematic effort to “deconstruct the ‘administrative state’”, as his recently departed chief strategist, Steven Bannon, was fond of saying.

 

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