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Jan 18 2019

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 Real Governments of Blue America

Officially, a big part of the federal government shut down late last month. In important ways, however, America’s government went AWOL almost two years earlier, when Donald Trump was inaugurated.

After all, politicians supposedly seek office in order to get stuff done — to tackle real problems and implement solutions. But neither Trump, who spends his energy inventing crises at the border, nor the Republicans who controlled Congress for two years have done any of that. Their only major legislative achievement was a tax cut that blew up the deficit without, as far as anyone can tell, doing anything to enhance the economy’s long-run growth prospects.

Meanwhile, there has been no hint of the infrastructure plan Trump promised to deliver. And after many years of denouncing Obamacare and promising to provide a far better replacement, Republicans turned out to have no idea how to do that, and in particular no plan to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Why can’t Republicans govern? It’s not just that their party is committed to an ideology that says that government is always the problem, never the solution. Beyond that, they have systematically deprived themselves of the ability to analyze policies and learn from evidence, because hard thinking might lead someone to question received doctrine.

Eugene Robinson: Nancy Pelosi steals the spotlight

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is driving President Trump nuts — a very short drive indeed — by doing something he simply cannot abide: She’s stealing the spotlight.

She is also seizing the initiative in the trench warfare over Trump’s government shutdown and his imaginary border wall, audaciously telling the president that the State of the Union address should be postponed, or perhaps forgone altogether, for reasons of security. It would be both unfair and unwise to ask Secret Service agents and other officers to protect the VIP-packed event, she contends, while they are not being paid their salaries. Trump retaliated Thursday by denying Pelosi military aircraft for her planned trip to Brussels and Afghanistan.

Pelosi’s play was a stiletto -sharp reminder of how much power she wields — and an illustration of how deftly she is wielding it. Democrats who demanded new leadership in the House should be thankful that they didn’t get their wish. It is hard to imagine anyone better matched to the moment and the task.

Ross Barkin: Republicans’ lack of alarm over the shutdown reveals a disturbing truth

The government shutdown, now in its fourth miserable week, shows few signs of ending. Donald Trump, obsessed with curtailing immigration at all costs, wants money for a border wall House Democrats won’t give to him. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, has been content to do Trump’s bidding, twice blocking Democratic bills to reopen the government.

This is now the longest shutdown ever and it’s striking how little Trump and the Republican Senate majority care. McConnell has turned into a political phantom. Trump gloats about ordering fast food for football players because the cooks in the White House have been furloughed.

It’s easy to see the shutdown as another symptom of Trump’s instability and hatred of Mexican immigrants – and it is. The lack of alarm from his Republican peers is, just as importantly, revelatory of another disturbing truth: the rightwing, anti-government forces which first took root in the GOP more than 40 years ago are now in full bloom and Trump is their willing avatar.

Catherine Rampell: The risks of a recession are rising — and Trump might be to blame

Presidents get too much credit when the economy is good, too much blame when the economy is bad.

That has been my mantra for months and months whenever people ask about unemployment, stock markets or any other economic or financial measure, and how President Trump stacks up to his predecessors. Presidents can’t power-steer economies, I always say: They can affect things on the margins, through policy choices and leadership, but ultimately, business cycles are driven by forces beyond their control.

But given how many serious policy mistakes Trump has made lately, I’m starting to rethink that response.

To be clear, the economy today still looks strong, according to most headline economic measures (well, at least the few measures not suspended by the government shutdown — more on that in a bit). Unemployment remains close to a 50-year low, for instance.

Even so, the risks of a recession in the near term appear to be rising. In a recent Wall Street Journal survey of economists, more than half said they expected a recession to start in 2020. The risk of recession in the next year predicted by the Treasury spread — the difference in yields of government bonds of different maturities — has climbed to 21 percent.

Michelle Goldberg: The Heartbreak of the 2019 Women’s March

This year’s Women’s March, set to happen on Saturday in cities across the country, has become extraordinarily messy. In 2017, the marches that took place in Washington and nationwide — the largest protests in American history — were radiant symbols of hope and resistance at a bleak, terrifying historical juncture. Two years later, the Women’s March organization has become a depressing study in how left-wing movements so often implode in the digital age.

Serious allegations of anti-Semitism have dogged some of the Women’s March’s leaders for over a year, but they’ve lately reached a crisis point. In December, Tablet Magazine published a 10,000-word article about anti-Jewish bigotry (as well as alleged financial mismanagement) among the Women’s March’s leadership. Many Jewish women have publicly agonized about joining this year’s demonstration.