Dec 22 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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Richard W.Painter and Robert L. Eisen: The Four Threats to Robert Mueller

At least for the moment, it seems that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, may keep his job. President Trump declared this week that he does not currently intend to fire him — a concession, perhaps, to the overwhelming public opposition to such a move. But that doesn’t mean Mr. Mueller’s investigation is free from peril. The inquiry remains in great danger, facing four looming threats from Mr. Trump and his allies. [..]

The drumbeat of distortions and threats will, sadly, continue and must be promptly rebutted by commentators, Congress and the public. Democracy demands defense with analysis, opinion and the readiness for public protest (one of the co-authors, Mr. Eisen, has been involved in organizing these efforts). Peaceful force is something that Mr. Trump has made clear he understands. We must continue to deploy it, lest the president achieve by debasement what our collective efforts have thus far prevented him from doing directly: stopping Robert Mueller’s investigation.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of the massive, slapdash tax bill that President Trump and Republican lawmakers celebrated at the White House on Wednesday will be, wait for it . . . President Trump. What a coincidence!


Paul Krugman: Tax-Cut Santa Is Coming to Town

But the rules have changed a bit this time, at least as far as the federal government is concerned. The St. Nick you knew is on vacation, possibly permanently. In his place we have Republican Tax-Cut Santa, who has different priorities.

You see, thenew guy doesn’t care whether you’re naughty or nice. In fact, he’ll actually reward you if you’re naughty in the right ways. But mainly he cares whether you’re rich, especially if your wealth comes from property (preferably inherited property), not hard work. In that case, you ge t a really big gift. If you’re an ordinary working family, not so much — and eventually you get that lump.

So let’s talk about whose stockings will be stuffed by the tax bill Republicans just rammed through without a single hearing or a single Democratic vote.

Eugene Robinson: A sweetheart tax deal — for the Trumps

One of the biggest beneficiaries of the massive, slapdash tax bill that President Trump and Republican lawmakers celebrated at the White House on Wednesday will be, wait for it . . . President Trump. What a coincidence!

The rest of Trump’s wealthy family will benefit lavishly as well, including his son-in-law and all-purpose adviser, Jared Kushner. And, of course, it’s not a coincidence at all. The chance that this president would preside over a revision of the tax code without lining his own pockets was zero. Anyone who believed Trump’s claim that the tax bill would “cost me a fortune” hasn’t been paying attention.

It is not possible to calculate precisely how much money the president will save, because he — unlike all other recent presidents — refuses to release his tax returns. But the figure is surely in the millions, assuming Trump is anywhere near as wealthy as he claims. His extended clan will have plenty of liquidity for Donald Jr. and Eric to jet off to Africa and kill more leopards and water buffaloes; for Jared and Ivanka to disappear on ski trips whenever they need to claim deniability regarding the latest administration outrage; and for the president himself to consume as many Big Macs, Filet-o-Fishes and chocolate shakes as his constitution can bear.

Catherine Rampell: You own this tax bill, Republicans. Good luck.

If a tax falls in a forest and no one notices, does it make a sound?

That’s no idle existential musing. The answer may determine whether President Trump’s tax plan ever becomes non-toxic to the Republican Party.

Right now the public hates, hates, hates the tax bill. It’s less popular than any major piece of legislation of the past several decades, less popular even than tax hikes passed under Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. Only about a third of Americans view it favorably, based on an average of nine polls this month.

Republicans are hoping that once the public sees their plan in action, though, everyone will be pleasantly surprised.

After all, most Americans don’t believe they personally will benefit from the law. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that only 17 percent expect their taxes to go down.

Richard Eskow: The Tax Bill Is a Lifeline for Democrats. Will They Sink or Swim?

This simple rule of thumb has rarely failed: When Democrats get confident, I get nervous. That’s true, even when Republicans inflict disaster on the country – and potentially on themselves.

“This tax bill will be an anchor around the ankles of every Republican,” says Sen. Chuck Schumer. “If they haven’t learned it yet, they’re going to learn it next November.”

It must have been satisfying image for Schumer to conjure up: legions of Republicans dragged down to Davy Jones’ locker, like a spectral corpse crew from The Pirates of the Caribbean. And it certainly should be true of the bill currently being finalized by Republicans.

After all, we’re at a crossroads in American history. We are experiencing historic levels of inequality, where two families – the Waltons and the Koch brothers – own more wealth than 115 million people, or more than a third of the population. Over 40 million Americans live in poverty, more than 27 million are without health insurance, wages for most people have stagnated, and the middle class is dying.

This bill will make those problems much, much worse, and the ensuing disaster should offer Democrats a historic opportunity to win in 2018, and in 2020.  But for that to happen, Democrats need to do something they’ve been reluctant to do so far. In the face of elitist piracy, they must become economic populists.