Dec 06 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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Dean Baker: Tax Cuts Boost Growth, and Other Things They Tell Children

It is a bit incredible that we are again being told that tax cuts directed primarily toward the wealthy will create a surge of investment and growth, thereby benefitting everyone. The Republicans may have the power to push their tax cut through Congress, but the claim that ordinary workers will benefit is not the sort of thing that serious people should take seriously.

The GOP’s basic story is that a cut in the corporate income tax will lead to a huge burst of investment. More investment will lead to gains in productivity, which will allow workers to have higher pay.

There are theoretical models that show this sort of result. But there are also all sorts of assumptions in these models that clearly do not correspond to the real world.

Lawrence Douglas: Can the US president obstruct justice? Yes he can

The president has not obstructed justice because the president cannot obstruct justice. Such was the astonishing argument advanced on Monday by the president’s personal lawyer, John Dowd. On its face, the claim looks patently ridiculous, contradicted by history, law and elemental logic.

If the president cannot obstruct justice, what on earth did Congress think it was doing when it drafted articles of impeachment against presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton on precisely these grounds? If a president destroys evidence germane to a criminal investigation, what is that if not obstruction of justice? The answer seems so obvious that it’s hard to take seriously claims to the contrary. But claims there are, and they come from some notable authorities.

Dowd’s statement would provide a good starting point to evaluate these claims were there not powerful reasons to question not simply his objectivity, but his basic lawyerly reasoning.

Richard Eskow: “Every Darn Penny”: The GOP’s Philosophy on Death and Taxes

Republican Senator Charles Grassley tells the Des Moines Register his party’s plan for deep tax cuts to the rich “recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

Perhaps Sen. Grassley is replaying an old record from his youth. “Cigarettes, whiskey, and wild wild women,” sang the Sons of the Pioneers in 1947. “They’ll drive you crazy, they’ll drive you insane.”

So much for that newfound Republican populism we’ve been hearing so much about. So why, Senator Grassley, can’t we all just be rich, like you?

Phyllis Bennis: No “Peace Process” Exists to Destroy, But Trump’s Jerusalem Decision Dangerous as Hell

Trump’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and potentially to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is not going to undermine peace efforts—because there are no peace efforts underway. Protests have already begun, and anger is rising not only among Palestinians but across the Arab and Muslim worlds, among numerous governments including key U.S. allies, and among people across the globe. Understanding what this move represents means viewing it from two different perspectives.

Taken at face value, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital reflects Trump’s need to placate his key Israel-backing donors, particularly the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and the Christian Zionist component of his rightwing evangelical base. Pro-Israel partisans in Congress orchestrated a law in 1995 mandating the embassy move, but giving the president a way out—the president could waive the requirement if national security might be at stake. Every president since has taken advantage of that waiver—including Donald Trump six months ago. Congressional Israel-backers could blame the president, the White House could lament that security threats prevented the move… everyone was happy. But Trump’s campaign commitment to move the embassy is more important to more influential supporters than was true of earlier presidents. Plus Trump’s failure to win legislative victories (until the recent potential disaster known as the “GOP Tax Scam”) meant he had more incentive to make good on his Jerusalem promise.

Kristin Miller: President Trump Starts a Conservation War

Yesterday we reported on a move by President Trump that many predict will change the course of conservation and preservation in the United States, perhaps forever.

The president announced that “he would dramatically reduce the size of a vast expanse of protected federal land in Utah on Monday, a rollback of some 2 million acres that is the largest in scale in the nation’s history.” This unprecedented rollback of Obama- and Clinton-era designations was much greater than anyone, including Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, had predicted earlier this year. Trump’s plan would reduce the Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and the Grand Staircase-Escalante by half.