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Jun 30 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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New York Times Editorial Board: The False Premise Behind G.O.P. Tax Cuts

With the Senate effort to upend Obamacare suspended for the Fourth of July holiday, there’s a chance to step back and examine the assumptions behind Republicans’ longstanding objections to the social safety net — as well as the flaws in those assumptions.

From Ronald Reagan’s invocation of a “welfare queen,” to Mitt Romney’s derision of “takers,” to the House and Senate bills to cut taxes for the rich by taking health insurance away from tens of millions of people, the premise of incessant Republican tax cutting is that the system robs the rich to lavish benefits on the poor.

But here is an essential and overlooked truth: As a share of the economy, federal spending on low-income people, other than for their health care, has been falling steadily since it peaked in 2011, after the Great Recession, and while it’s still slightly above the long-term average, it is declining, according to a recent series of reports by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Trevor Timm: Donald Trump’s bloodlust for war in the Middle East risks chaos

Lostt among the deluge of stories about the Russia investigation and the Republicans’ push to take healthcare away from millions of people, the Trump administration is laying the groundwork for a disastrous regional proxy war against Iran in Syria, and possibly beyond.

Foreign Policy reported recently that key officials within the Trump administration are “pushing to broaden the war in Syria, viewing it as an opportunity to confront Iran and its proxy forces on the ground there”. The strategy was being advocated over objections from the Pentagon, but it doesn’t seem to be deterring the White House.

As the Washington Post made clear just a few days ago, Iranian and US forces have already been directly clashing in the region, and officials are busy planning the “next stage” of the Syria war once Isis is defeated – a plan that centers around directly attacking the Iranians.

Charles M. Blow: Trump’s Obama Obsession

Donald Trump has a thing about Barack Obama. Trump is obsessed with Obama. Obama haunts Trump’s dreams. One of Trump’s primary motivators is the absolute erasure of Obama — were it possible — not only from the political landscape but also from the history books.

Trump is president because of Obama, or more precisely, because of his hostility to Obama. Trump came onto the political scene by attacking Obama.

Trump has questioned not only Obama’s birthplace but also his academic and literary pedigree. He was head cheerleader of the racial “birther” lie and also cast doubt on whether Obama attended the schools he attended or even whether he wrote his acclaimed books.

Trump has lied often about Obama: saying his inauguration crowd size exceeded Obama’s, saying that Obama tapped his phones and, just this week, saying that Obama colluded with the Russians.

It’s like a 71-year-old male version of Jan from what I would call the Bratty Bunch: Obama, Obama, Obama.

Eugene Robinson: There Trump goes again

If you want to look at the bright side of things, at least we’ve learned that the nation can survive for half a year without a sane, functioning presidency.

We’ve had nothing of the sort since Inauguration Day. The man who works in the Oval Office is a walking, talking, tweeting advertisement for Ritalin and perhaps some calming therapeutic activity such as yoga. We are fortunate, in a sense, that President Trump’s lack of focus and his anger-management issues keep getting in the way of his policy agenda, given that the agenda is so wrongheaded. But that is an awfully thin silver lining in a very thick cloud.

As I’ve written before, I’m not qualified to assess Trump’s mental health. But there are moments when it would be dishonest not to raise questions about his stability. If the commander in chief of the most powerful military force in history has a problem with impulse control, the whole world has a problem.

Kate Aronoff: Trumpcare isn’t popular. But universal healthcare would be

The Congressional Budget Office predicts that 22 million people will be left uninsured by the Republican Senate healthcare plan, voting on which will now happen after the Fourth of July recess. “It’s not that people are getting pushed off a plan,” Paul Ryan told Fox & Friends after those numbers were released on Monday. “It’s that people will choose not to buy something that they don’t like or want.”

Ryan claims to have been dreaming of slashing social programs since his days doing keg stands, and when he and other Republicans managed to push the similarly disastrous American Health Care Act through the House, they wheeled out cases of beer to celebrate. Under that House bill, 23 million were expected to go without healthcare. These proposals and the Republicans backing them aren’t just “mean”, as Senate Democrats are calling Trumpcare. They’re sadistic.

Walter Shapiro: Obama stayed quiet on Russian interference. History will judge him for it

Presidential reputations oscillate for years after the moving trucks have pulled up to the White House. So it is with Barack Obama.

The Senate healthcare vote – now postponed until after the Fourth of July recess – may determine whether the Affordable Care Act crowns Obama’s legislative record or whether it will be mourned as a presidential road not taken, like Woodrow Wilson’s dreams for the League of Nations.

But any assessment of Obama’s presidential legacy now has to include his well-intentioned dithering in the face of Vladimir Putin’s deliberate effort to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.