Nov 28 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: The Biggest Tax Scam in History

Donald Trump likes to declare that every good thing that happens while he’s in office — job growth, rising stock prices, whatever — is the biggest, greatest, best ever. Then the fact-checkers weigh in and quickly determine that the claim is false.

But what’s happening in the Senate right now really does deserve Trumpian superlatives. The bill Republican leaders are trying to ram through this week without hearings, without time for even a basic analysis of its likely economic impact, is the biggest tax scam in history. It’s such a big scam that it’s not even clear who’s being scammed — middle-class taxpayers, people who care about budget deficits, or both.

One thing is clear, however: One way or another, the bill would hurt most Americans. The only big winners would be the wealthy — especially those who mainly collect income from their assets rather than working for a living — plus tax lawyers and accountants who would have a field day exploiting the many loopholes the legislation creates.

Eugene Robinson: We will all pay a price for Trump’s nihilism

The Trump administration’s approach to governance is that of a bratty toddler confronting a neat stack of blocks: Knock it down and scatter the pieces. It may take years to rebuild what President Trump and his minions are destroying.

This is not the systematic move toward small government that conservatives have long sought. It’s a lurch toward bad government, inadequate government, incompetent government. In some cases, it’s driven by spite; in others, by sheer cluelessness. Ultimately, we will all pay a price for Trump’s nihilism. [..]

Trump claimed in a weekend tweet that “Financial Institutions have been devastated” by the CFPB. That is nonsense. The much more likely reason for his criticism of the bureau is that it was established while Barack Obama was president. Trump has been unable to establish a proper legacy of his own, so he is intent on erasing his predecessor’s.

Jameel Jaffer and Alexander Abdo: Supreme court cellphone case puts free speech – not just privacy – at risk

On Wednesday, the supreme court will consider whether the government must obtain a warrant before accessing the rich trove of data that cellphone providers collect about cellphone users’ movements. Among scholars and campaigners, there is broad agreement that the case could yield the most consequential privacy ruling in a generation.

Less appreciated is the significance of the case for rights protected by the first amendment. The parties’ briefs make little mention of the first amendment, instead framing the dispute – for understandable reasons – as one about the right to privacy. Yet the court’s resolution of the case is likely to have far-reaching implications for the freedoms of speech, press and association.

Michelle Goldberg: Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump

Three months ago, The Washingtoned Post report that even as Donald Trump ran for president, he pursued plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The next day, The New York Times published excerpts from emails between Felix Sater, a felon with ties to Russian organized crime, and Michael Cohen, one of Donald Trump’s lawyers and Sater’s childhood friend, about the project. Sater was apparently an intermediary between Trump and Russia, and in a Nov. 3, 2015, email to Cohen, he made the strange argument that a successful deal would lead to Trump’s becoming president. Boasting that he was close enough to Vladimir Putin to let Ivanka Trump sit in the Russian president’s desk chair, Sater wrote, “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.”

These stories were, at the time, bombshells. At a minimum, they showed that Trump was lying when he said, repeatedly, that he had “nothing to do with Russia.” Further, Sater’s logic — that Putin’s buy-in on a real estate deal would result in Trump’s election — was bizarre, suggesting that some part of the proposed collaboration was left unsaid.

Catherine Rampell: Why are Republicans in such a rush to pass tax reform? To outrun the truth.

There are lots of pressing issues Congress could be focusing on right now.

Lawmakers could work on reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which expired Sept. 30 , leaving the 9 million kids who depend on it in limbo.

Or maybe they could find a solution for so-called “dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants brought here as children, who will lose their protected status soon unless Congress acts.

Or, hey, they could try to prevent the U.S. government from setting off a worldwide financial crisis. That’s something that might happen in less than two weeks, when we hit the debt ceiling.

Instead, Republican senators have a different priority: jamming through their plutocratic, sloppy tax overhaul as quickly as possible. By “as quickly as possible,” I mean as soon as this week, which would be a mere month after the first draft of the GOP tax bill was introduced in the House.