Jun 13 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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Dean Baker: Going Private: The Trump Administration’s Big Infrastructure

The Trump administration’s “infrastructure week” ended whatever hope any of us had that something positive could come out of this administration. It’s clear that his promise for rebuilding the country’s infrastructure is just another Trump scam.

During his campaign, Trump repeatedly complained about the poor state of the country’s infrastructure. He had a point, as both the federal and state and local governments have cut back spending in recent years.

In the case of state and local governments, there was often little choice. Loss of tax revenue due to the recession and slow recovery, coupled with balanced budget requirements in state constitutions and city charters, meant that there was little money to spend.

In the case of the federal government, the deficit hawks insisted that we reduce the deficit, even though there is no evidence that high deficits are pushing up interest rates and/or leading to inflation. Interest rates continue to be extraordinarily low in both real and nominal terms. In fact, they were far lower than they were in the late 1990s when the federal government was running budget surpluses.

Eugene Robinson: Trickle-down economics is a nightmare. Kansas proved it.

The Republican gospel of cutting taxes and government services to the bone doesn’t lead to economic growth; it leads to crisis and decline. Just ask the people of Kansas, who finally have seen the light.

If House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) don’t heed the Kansas lesson, they deserve to have their majorities stripped away in next year’s midterms. And they won’t be able to claim they weren’t warned. [..]

It ended up being a shot of poison. Growth rates lagged behind those in neighboring states and the nation as a whole. Deficits mounted to unsustainable levels. Services withered. Brownback had set in motion a vicious cycle, not a virtuous one.

Last week, finally, the legislature — still controlled by Republicans — overrode Brownback’s veto of legislation restoring taxation to sane levels. The nightmare experiment is coming to an end.

David Leonhardt: The Halfhearted Opposition to the G.O.P.’s Health Care Misery

The Republican health care bill now sneaking its way through the Senate has a good chance of becoming law, even though it would do miserable damage. And it has a good chance partly because some of the bill’s most influential opponents have not had the courage of their convictions.

I realize that sounds harsh. These opponents generally have good intentions. But they haven’t been very effective so far, and they don’t have much time to summon the courage to become more effective.

The opponents I’m talking about include almost every major health care interest group: the lobbying groups for doctors, nurses and hospitals as well as advocates for patients with cancer, diabetes, lung disease, heart disease or birth defects. Each understands that the bill would deprive millions of Americans of insurance. Each has criticized the bill, and some, including AARP, have done more, like organizing phone calls.

But they have not come close to the sort of public campaign that would put intense pressure on senators. History shows what such a campaign would look like:

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The GOP is working stealthily to shred health and financial protections for ordinary Americans

The bars opened early in Washington and elsewhere last Thursday, as more than 19 million Americans tuned in when the networks and cable news channels carried live former FBI director James B. Comey’s riveting testimony in the intensifying scandals around President Trump. The media covers Trump’s derelictions 24/7. Not surprisingly, Democrats tend to talk about what grabs the most airtime.

Lost amid the din are true infamies — legislation that the Republican Congress is pushing that poses a direct threat to millions of Americans. In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) reportedly may have the Republican votes to pass a Senate replacement for Obamacare. House Republicans just passed sweeping bank deregulation. While the media fixates on Trump, Republicans are rushing through legislation that will deprive millions of Americans of health insurance coverage and open the way for another Wall Street wilding.

Richard North Patterson: Trump’s Toxic War On Muslims — At Home And Abroad

President Trump’s antecedents shared his primitive credo: Certain groups are too suspect to become Americans. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1892 banned virtually all immigration from China. The Immigration Act of 1924 targeted immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, particularly Jews, Italians, and Slavs, and culminated in barring Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust from entering America. The belief that Japanese-Americans could never be loyal citizens bred internment camps.

Into the 1960s, many Americans believed that Catholics placed the pope above patriotism. The early-to-mid-20th century featured efforts to repatriate Mexican immigrants. Not until 1965 did Congress abolish quotas based on race and national origin.

This seemed to augur more enlightened times. Strikingly, George W. Bush responded to 9/11 by embracing American Muslims, while distinguishing Al Qaeda from Islam at large.

But now, Trump. His proposed Muslim ban breaks new ground — never before has America barred immigrants because of their religion and, by so doing, endangered itself.