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Jan 11 2018

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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Charles M. blow: ‘The Lowest White Man’

I guess Donald Trump was eager to counter the impression in Michael Wolff’s book that he is irascible, mentally small and possibly insane. On Tuesday, he allowed a bipartisan session in the White House about immigration to be televised for nearly an hour.

Surely, he thought that he would be able to demonstrate to the world his lucidity and acumen, his grasp of the issues and his relish for rapprochement with his political adversaries.

But instead what came through was the image of a man who had absolutely no idea what he was talking about; a man who says things that are 180 degrees from the things he has said before; a man who has no clear line of reasoning; a man who is clearly out of his depth and willing to do and say anything to please the people in front of him.

He demonstrated once again that he is a man without principle, interested only in how good he can make himself look and how much money he can make.

Greg Sargent: Trump just made another big move that could hit his voters hard

Donald Trump ran for president on a narrative of economic populism — pitched mainly to working-class whites — that was supposed to contrast sharply with decades of conventional GOP economic orthodoxy with its emphasis on the idea that the way to help economically struggling Americans is with tax cuts for job creators and liberation from dependence on the safety net.

Once in office, President Trump has fully embraced policies that rest firmly on that same economic orthodoxy — policies that are ostensibly designed to help economically struggling Americans with tax cuts for job creators and liberation from dependence on the safety net.

Here’s the latest example of this: The Trump administration has just announced that it will allow states to impose work and other requirements on recipients of Medicaid. This is a big change. After the failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, this is meant to begin rewriting the social contract at the core of government-sponsored medical insurance, and especially the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, shifting away from the notion that health coverage should be available to those who cannot afford it as a matter of societal right. As such, it may have a negative impact on untold numbers of Trump voters.

Dean Baker: Big Tax Game Hunting: Employer Side Payroll Taxes

The Republican Congress gave themselves and their contributors a huge Christmas present with the tax cut bill they pushed through at the end of last year. They decided to cover the costs in part by whacking Democratic states like California and New York, which have relatively high state and local taxes.

The big hit was limiting the amount of state and local taxes that could be deducted. As a result, many upper middle class families and rich families will be paying thousands more in taxes each year.

While most of these people probably can and should pay more in taxes, this tax increase was explicitly designed to make it more expensive for progressive states to provide services like health care and education to their people. In this context, it’s time to take the gloves off. These states absolutely should look to fight back by finding ways to avoid the tax increase.

Fortunately, there is a way. States can look to replace much of their income tax with an employer side payroll tax. This will effectively preserve the tax deductibility of the income tax and even extend this benefit to people who don’t itemize.

Bill McKibben: New York City just declared war on the oil industry

Over the years, the capital of the fight against climate change has been Kyoto, or Paris – that’s where the symbolic political agreements to try and curb the earth’s greenhouse gas emissions have been negotiated and signed. But now, New York City vaulted to leadership in the battle.

On Wednesday, its leaders, at a press conference in a neighborhood damaged over five years ago by Hurricane Sandy, announced that the city was divesting its massive pension fund from fossil fuels, and added for good measure that they were suing the five biggest oil companies for damages. Our planet’s most important city was now at war with its richest industry. And overnight, the battle to save the planet shifted from largely political to largely financial.

E. J. Dionne Jr., Trump’s accidental moment of truth

There is a reason bipartisan government is so hard these days. It’s not because “both parties” are intransigent or because “both parties” have moved to the “extremes.” It’s because what were once widely seen as moderate, common-sense solutions are pushed off the table by a far right that defines compromise as acquiescence to its agenda.

And since I don’t get to say it often, I want to thank President Trump for making this abundantly clear during the unexpectedly televised part of his meeting with congressional leaders on Tuesday. At one point, he stumbled into a sensible and compassionate approach to the plight of “dreamers”— immigrants brought here illegally by their parents when they were children. They have grown up entirely as Americans.

Temporarily, the “build a wall” president was transformed into a champion of what he called a “bill of love.”