Apr 18 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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Michael Winship: The White House is desperate to keep secret all that’s destructive to the nation

Years ago, I worked for a wealthy television executive in Washington, DC, who had a posh Georgetown townhouse with a courtyard.

In the center of his courtyard was a small fountain, and he became obsessed with getting hold of a certain dye for it that the National Park Service used in fountains and pools at various historic sites around the capital.

The dye turned the water an opaque black, so murky you couldn’t see to the bottom. The park service claimed it was more aesthetically pleasing.

I think you can see this blunt instrument of a metaphor coming: the waters of Washington intentionally made shadowy and dark, secrets hidden. That’s what is happening right now. The Trump White House and its congressional allies are doing their best to obscure the truth, darkening the waters as black as they can to hide what’s really going o

Robert Reich: The Only Real “Centrist” Agenda

With Steve Bannon on way out, official Washington is jumping for joy that Gary Cohn – the former president of Goldman Sachs who’s now running Trump’s National Economic Council, along with Dina Powell, another influential Goldman Sachs alumnus,  – seems to be taking over Trump’s brain.

As CNBC puts it, Cohn will push “more moderate, business-friendly economic policies.” The Washington Post says Cohn is advocating “a centrist vision.” The Post goes on to describe “The growing strength of Cohn and like-minded moderates” as revealed in Trump’s endorsement of government subsidies for exports, and of corporate tax cuts. Says the Post: “The president’s new positions move him much closer to the views of … mainstream Republicans and Democrats.”  [.].

These views aren’t “centrist,” and they’re not sustainable. More tax breaks for the rich and more subsidies for big corporations aren’t much better for America than xenophobia.

Eugene Robinson: Trump’s cake and golf presidency

President Trump’s spending of public money on his own ease and c

President Trump’s spending of public money on his own ease and comfort is lavish and wasteful. His attitude toward taxpayers seems to be, roughly: Let them eat “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen.”

That is how the president described the dessert he shared with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida estate, which has become his weekend White House. Trump chose that moment of indulgence to inform Xi that U.S. cruise missiles had been fired into Syria. War is hell, but I guess Trump also sees it as an opportunity to indulge his sweet tooth.

I don’t begrudge Trump his empty calories. But his frequent trips to Florida, complete with the entourage that necessarily attends the modern presidency, have put him on pace to spend roughly as much on leisure travel in one year as Barack Obama spent in eight.

Catherine Rampell: Sorry, Republicans, but most people support single-payer health care

Despite the rise of the tea party and unified Republican control of government, one decidedly anti-free-market idea appears ascendant: single-payer health care.

And it’s no wonder, given that a record-high share of the population receives government-provided health insurance. As a country, we’ve long since acquiesced to the idea that Uncle Sam should give insurance to the elderly, veterans, people with disabilities, poor adults, poor kids, pregnant women and the lower middle class.

Many Americans are asking: Why not the rest of us, too?

A recent survey from the Economist/YouGov found that a majority of Americans support “expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American.” Similarly, a poll from Morning Consult/Politico showed that a plurality of voters support “a single payer health care system, where all Americans would get their health insurance from one government plan.”

Dean Baker: Tax Day And The Killer Instinct In Economic Policy

We seem poised for a great debate over tax policy in the next few months. Donald Trump and the Republican Congress are likely to push for various plans to reduce taxes on the wealthy. Progressives, and hopefully most of the Democrats, will be fighting back. While concerns over deficits are hugely exaggerated, at the end of the day we will need some revenue, and it makes much more sense that it come from people like Donald Trump and his cabinet members than ordinary workers.

While the tax debate is undoubtedly important, it is less important than the rules of the game that determine before-tax income distribution. This is an arena in which the right has been active for decades, and progressives have been largely absent.

In a wide variety of policy areas, the Right has pushed policies that have the predicted and actual effect of redistributing income upward. The most obvious and unambiguous one is its efforts to weaken unions. They have pushed measures such as bans on contracts requiring that all who benefit from a union share in the cost of maintaining the union (a.k.a. “right to work”) in both the public and private sector. This leads to fewer and weaker unions and lower pay.

They also have pushed deregulation in sectors where workers once enjoyed reasonably good wages and benefits, such as trucking, telecommunications, and air travel. In each case the result has been downward pressure on pay and the weakening of unions.

If progressives want to score real and lasting victories against the Right, it can’t just focus on taxes, like the Right it has to contest the rules of the game. Fortunately, there are lots of rules that can be contested to our advantage.