Nov 14 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: Republican Class Warfare: The Next Generation

The other day, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, admitted to The New York Times that he “misspoke” when he declared that his party’s tax plan wouldn’t raise taxes on any middle-class families. But he misspoke when he said “misspoke”: The proper term is “lied.”

McConnell was forced into his sort-of-kind-of admission by a new report from the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s own scorekeeper, which found that millions of middle-class families would see higher taxes under the Senate Republican proposal. But this wasn’t some kind of narrow, technical mistake on his part.

Both the Senate proposal and the similar proposal from House Republicans offer huge tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy, then try to limit the impacts of these tax cuts on the budget deficit by clawing back tax credits and exemptions that mainly benefit the middle class. Of course many in the middle class would see their taxes go up.

But focusing on how many would face tax increases gets at only a small part of what’s going on here.

Eugene Robinson: What happens when you replace the president with a clown?

We are running a terribly unwise experiment: What happens when you replace U.S. presidential leadership with the slapstick antics of a clown?

On Saturday, President Trump issued the following statement: “Why would Kim Jong Un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe someday that will happen!”

There is a natural tendency to become inured to Trump’s gushing stream of nonsense. Resist the urge. Read that statement again. The president of the United States, in the midst of a trip to Asia, taunted the nuclear-armed dictator of North Korea in a manner most sixth-graders would consider juvenile.

There was a time when the world looked to the U.S. president to speak clearly in defense of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. I refer to the entirety of modern U.S. history before January, when Trump assumed the high office he now dishonors.

Catherine Rampell: If the tax bill is so great, why does the GOP keep lying about it?

Nearly every claim Republicans are using to market their tax plan is at best a distortion, at worst a deliberate falsehood.

Which raises the question: If their plan is really so great, why not sell it on the merits?

Consider just a few of the Republicans’ key talking points and their tenuous relationship to reality. [..]

So: Why all the falsehoods? Why not just sell their tax agenda on the merits?

Presumably because Trump and Republican lawmakers know they’re offering a plan the public doesn’t want. Ergo, they need to promise things the tax plan doesn’t do.

Paul Mason: This weekend’s march in Poland proves the far right isn’t going away without a fight

My friend was late for Sunday brunch in Berlin so I decided to wander the streets of Neukölln, Googling sites of historic interest. After a few minutes, I wished I hadn’t. Although 40% of its population are migrants, mainly from Turkey, Neukölln is gentrifying fast: the cobbled streets bordering the old Tempelhof airfield are buzzing with upmarket cafes, interior-design stores and the retro bicycles of the middle class.

But this is the place where, on 11 November 1926 Josef Goebbels began the Nazi takeover of Berlin. As a gesture of intent, he led 300 of the party’s brownshirt stormtroopers into what was then a stronghold of the left: “Four seriously injured, four slightly hurt, but we’re on the march,” recorded the future war criminal in his diary.

Jonathan R. Goodman: Fear over healthcare locks Americans in jobs – and throttles creativity

Millions of Americans are stuck in what some economists call “job-lock” or the inability to leave employment because of the risk of losing health insurance. A 2001 paper from Princeton’s Center for Economic Policy Studies showed, for example, that self-employed people are 25% less likely to have health insurance than office workers.

Uncertainty surrounding the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), widely known as Obamacare, has left many people feeling too scared to risk leaving full-time employment to attempt something on their own. After several failed attempts to repeal the ACA, the current administration may, in its latest tax plan, get rid of the individual mandate that requires most Americans be insured.

The cost of job-lock may, however, be more damaging than keeping people glued to full-time work: America may be becoming a less creative place – and a less attractive place for creative people.