Nov 17 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: Everybody Hates the Trump Tax Plan

Looking at the reactions to Republican tax plans, I found myself remembering what people used to say about former Senator Phil Gramm, whose presidential ambitions never went anywhere but who did help cause the 2008 financial crisis: “Even his friends don’t like him.”

So it is with G.O.P. tax “reform,” especially the Senate version, which would raise taxes on most individuals, especially in the middle and working classes, and add around 13 million Americans to the ranks of the uninsured, all to pay for big cuts in corporate taxes. The general public strongly disapproves — by a 2-1 majority, according to Quinnipiac, although the majority would be even bigger if people really understood what’s going on. But surely at least C.E.O.s like the plan, right?

Actually, not so much. A few days ago Gary Cohn, Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, met with a group of top executives. They were asked to raise their hands if lower taxes would lead them to raise capital expenditures; only a handful did. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” asked Cohn, plaintively.

Timothy Egan: We’re With Stupid

It would be much easier to sleep at night if you could believe that we’re in such a mess of misinformation simply because Russian agents disseminated inflammatory posts that reached 126 million people on Facebook.

The Russians also uploaded a thousand videos to YouTube and published more than 130,000 messages on Twitter about last year’s election. As recent congressional hearings showed, the arteries of our democracy were clogged with toxins from a hostile foreign power.

But the problem is not the Russians — it’s us. We’re getting played because too many Americans are ill equipped to perform the basic functions of citizenship. If the point of the Russian campaign, aided domestically by right-wing media, was to get people to think there is no such thing as knowable truth, the bad guys have won.

Richard Wolffe: Is the Trump administration afflicted with ‘Moscow memory’?

For so many people who are close to Donald Trump, Russia is the Bermuda Triangle of their memory.

Conversations and meetings seem to pass through this mysterious quadrant of their brains and simply disappear. Even when the wreckage is found on some server or other, they profess ignorance, confusion or innocence. And sometimes all three at once.

On Tuesday the synapses inside the skull of attorney general Jeff Sessions magically reconnected around a March 2016 campaign meeting in which he heard Trump’s point man on Russian policy discuss how the candidate could get together with one Vladimir Putin.

This is kind of awkward since Sessions had sworn, like the honorable southern gentleman that he is, that there were no absolutely no such contacts with the Russians, no siree.

Catherine Rampwell: And the biggest loser in the GOP’s tax plan is . . . humans

Corporations are people, my friend. Both Mitt Romney and the Supreme Court told us so years ago.

Still, they left out one key fact: It’s way better to be a corporate-person than a person-person. At least when Republicans are reshaping the tax code.

Republicans love cutting taxes. They’d cut all the taxes in the world if they could. But the rules that allow senators to pass their tax agenda with only 51 votes require setting priorities for who gets the most generous cuts, or any cuts at all. This week, the party made its top priority abundantly clear.

It chose corporations. By a long shot.

Both the House tax bill — which passed handily Thursday — and the Senate version are heavily weighted toward business. Both bills would slash rates on regular corporate profits, “pass-through” business income (currently taxed at regular individual rates) and overseas profits that get repatriated. They also provide other tax breaks for companies, such as allowing full and immediate expensing for qualified investments.

Senator Richard Blumenthal: Congress must end its complicity with the gun lobby

The Sunday before last, a convicted domestic abuser used an illegally obtained AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to murder 25 parishioners worshipping at the First Baptist church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.

The Sutherland Springs shooter was far from the first killer to have a history of domestic violence. According to a July report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of female homicide victims are murdered by their intimate partners. Women are five times more likely to die as a result of domestic violence when there is a gun in the home.

The correlation between the presence of a gun and the loss of a life in domestic disputes is undeniable. Guns turn dangerous disputes into deadly ones, and there are commonsense steps Congress can take today to save lives.

The federal background check program can prevent the sale of firearms to people who are a danger to themselves or others. But the program is only as good as the information that is provided to it – a tragic truth we have seen far too many times, including in my own state of Connecticut.