Aug 07 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: What’s Next for Progressives?

For now, at least, the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act appears dead. Sabotage by a spiteful Trump administration is still a risk, but there is — gasp! — a bipartisan push to limit the damage, with Democrats who want to preserve recent gains allying with Republicans who fear that the public will blame them for declining coverage and rising premiums.

This represents a huge victory for progressives, who did a startlingly good job of marshaling facts, mobilizing public opinion, and pressuring politicians to stand their ground. But where do they go from here? If Democrats regain control of Congress and the White House, what will they do with the opportunity?

Well, some progressives — by and large people who supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries — are already trying to revive one of his signature proposals: expanding Medicare to cover everyone. Some even want to make support for single-payer a litmus test for Democratic candidates.

Dean Baker: The Zika Vaccine: The Miracle of Government-Funded Research

The prescription drug industry ranks as one of the most dysfunctional sectors of the US economy. Martin Shkreli has made himself a celebrity as the “pharma bro”: a hedge fund boy who jacked up prices on drugs produced by a company he controlled by more than 5,000 percent. Unfortunately, this sort of pricing is typical of the industry, even if most companies tend to be a bit less flamboyant in profiting off patients than Mr. Shkreli.

The underlying problem is that drug companies are given monopolies on the drugs they sell by the government in the form of patents and other protections. These protections allow drug companies to charge huge mark-ups over the free market price. (In Shkreli’s case the monopoly actually was a failure of government competition policy. His company was the sole licensed manufacturer of a drug with a relatively limited market.)

Charles M. Blow: America’s Whiniest ‘Victim’

Donald Trump is the reigning king of American victimhood.

He is unceasingly pained, injured, aggrieved.

The primaries were unfair. The debates were unfair. The general election was unfair.

“No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly,” he laments.

People refuse to reach past his flaws — which are legion! — and pat him on the back. People refuse to praise his minimal effort and minimal efficacy. They refuse to ignore that the legend he created about himself is a lie. People’s insistence on truth and honest appraisal is so annoying. It’s all so terribly unfair.

It is in this near perfect state of perpetual aggrievement that Trump gives voice to a faction of America that also feels aggrieved. Trump won because he whines. He whines in a way that makes the weak feel less vulnerable and more vicious. He makes feeling sorry for himself feel like fighting back.

David Leonhardt: Democrats Still Need a Story

The leaders of the Democratic Party recently laid out their economic agenda. It is their attempt to respond to President Trump’s election — and give Americans an alternative to Trumpism.

It’s also the beginning of the Democratic agenda for the 2018 and 2020 campaigns. Their aim is to be able to implement the agenda once they have returned to power.

The plan, called “A Better Deal,” has several promising ideas on infrastructure, corporate consolidation and other subjects. It is also intended to be a thematic argument that is more than the sum of its parts.

Robert Kuttner:

Robert Mueller’s investigation of Donald Trump has kicked into higher gear, with witnesses being called before a grand jury, new demands for information from the White House, probes of the connection between the Trump family business operations and his official decisions as president, as well as a deepening investigation of ties with Russia. One can only imagine how all this grates on Trump.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, directly contradicting Trump’s fishing expedition claim, says Mueller can investigate any crime that he uncovers in the course of investigating Russian influence in the 2016 campaign.

As the water keeps rising around Donald Trump, it is impossible to believe that Trump will not escalate his campaign of vilification of Mueller and his associates. Trump is happiest firing people who get in his way. The intriguing question is what the new White House chief of staff, John Kelly, will do if Trump cannot stand it any more and impulsively tries to fire Mueller.