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Dec 15 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: Republicans Despise the Working Class

You can always count on Republicans to do two things: try to cut taxes for the rich and try to weaken the safety net for the poor and the middle class. That was true under George W. Bush, who sharply cut tax rates on the top 1 percent and tried to privatize Social Security. It has been equally true under President Trump; G.O.P. legislative proposals show not a hint of the populism Trump espoused on the campaign trail.

But as a terrible, no good, very bad tax bill heads for a final vote, something has been added to the mix. As usual, Republicans seek to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable, but they don’t treat all Americans with a given income the same. Instead, their bill — on which we don’t have full details, but whose shape is clear — hugely privileges owners, whether of businesses or of financial assets, over those who simply work for a living.

And this privileging of nonwage income isn’t an accident. Modern Republicans exalt “job creators,” that is, people who own businesses directly or indirectly via their stockholdings. Meanwhile, they show implicit contempt for mere employees.

Eugene Robinson: What Trumpists should really worry about

Who’s afraid of Trumpism-Bannonism? The noxious stew of nativism, xenophobia, misogyny, manufactured grievance and barely disguised white supremacy that put Donald Trump in the White House now appears less an all-conquering juggernaut than a paper tiger — one that Alabamians, bless their hearts, balled up and threw in the trash.

Incredibly, Trump managed to lose twice in a deep-red state he won by 28 points just a year ago. He supported Roy Moore’s opponent, Luther Strange, in the Republican primary, only to suffer a humiliating defeat. And then — prodded by his political “wizard,” Stephen K. Bannon — Trump reversed himself and went all-in for Moore in the days leading up to Tuesday’s general-election vote. As you might have heard, Moore lost to Democrat and now Sen.-elect Doug Jones.   [..]

It is the sweetest of ironies that Jones, when he was U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, successfully prosecuted two aging Ku Klux Klan members for their roles in one of the worst atrocities of the civil rights era — the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, in which four young African American girls, attending Sunday school, were killed. How wonderful it is that a man who struck such an important blow for racial justice defeated a charlatan who has actually expressed nostalgia for the olden days before the Civil War.

What should worry Trumpists, Bannonites and the quisling Republicans who go with the flow of this aberrant presidency is that Alabama cannot be seen in a vacuum. A trend is brewing.

Richard Eskow: ‘Wake Up Call’: Charles Barkley’s Wise Words to Democrats on Alabama

Before he became one of the great basketball players of his time, Charles Barkley was a son of the Alabama soil. He went home to help Doug Jones pull off his upset victory against Roy Moore in this week’s special Senate election. Here’s what he had to say on CNN after Jones was declared the winner:

This is a wake-up call for Democrats. Democrats, I told Mr. Jones this, and I love Doug, they’ve taken the black vote and the poor vote for granted for a long time. It’s time for them to get off their ass and start making life better for black folks and people who are poor. They’ve always had our votes and they have abused our votes .. This is a wake-up call for Democrats to do better for black people and poor white people.

Professional Democrats were not nearly as insightful. They overlook some of the most critical lessons of this election, including this one: They might not have won this election at all if Alabama Republicans like Richard Shelby had not encouraged voters to write in other names rather than vote for Roy Moore. As of this writing, the number of write-in votes is greater than Jones’ margin of victory.

In other words, Democrats were rescued by a conservative Republican politician. How often is that likely to happen?

Michael Tomasky: The G.O.P.’s Legislative Lemons

After a secretive, whirlwind negotiating session, Capitol Hill Republicans have agreed on a tax package. They’ve taken this from the Senate version and that from the House version, and it looks as if it’s going to become law.

But it doesn’t add up, and the American people know it. The bill is wildly unpopular: Approval for it languishes around 30 percent in polls. In fact, it’s the most disliked piece of major domestic legislation of the past quarter-century — most disliked, that is, except for the Obamacare repeal undertaken this past summer by this same Congress. That effort, which failed only because of Senator John McCain’s dramatic 1 a.m. thumbs down, was polling at 23 percent.

>On what basis do I assert that these two bills are the most unpopular pieces of major domestic legislation of the past quarter-century? On the results of research conducted by Chris Warshaw, a political scientist at George Washington University who specializes in studying the link between public opinion and political outcomes — whether the government is doing what its citizens want it to do.

Catherine Rampell: A feast for regulatory parasites

The GOP tax plan’s top beneficiaries aren’t actually rich people, or even corporations, though both groups will indeed benefit mightily. The biggest winners are the nation’s tax planners, thanks to the tax-sheltering bonanza this bill is about to unleash.

As my own CPA father likes to say: Congress has once again taken pity upon the nation’s poor accountants and guaranteed them all lifetime employment.

Tax-filing is already unbelievably resource-intensive. Every year, the nation collectively spends billions of hours and hundreds of billions of dollars on tax planning, compliance and preparation.

At many companies, tax departments have effectively become profit centers, where armies of accountants and tax attorneys devise ways to legally shortchange Uncle Sam.

With all due respect to my dad and his fellow “regulatory parasites” (his term, not mine), these are surely resources that could be more productively deployed elsewhere.