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Apr 02 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: Republican Health Care Lying Syndrome

Even Trump supporters don’t believe the party’s promises.

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and Republican claims about health care.

O.K., it’s not news that politicians make misleading claims, some more than others. According to a running tally kept by Daniel Dale of The Toronto Star, as of Monday morning, Donald Trump had said 4,682 false things as president.

But G.O.P. health care claims are special, in several ways. First, they’re outright, clearly intentional lies — not dubious assertions or misstatements that could be attributed to ignorance or misunderstanding. Second, they’re repetitive: Rather than making a wide variety of false claims, Republicans keep telling the same few lies, over and over. Third, they keep doing this even though the public long ago stopped believing anything they say on the subject.

This syndrome demands an explanation, and I’ll get there eventually. Before I do, however, let’s document the things that make G.O.P. health care lies unique.

Laurence H. Tribe: Congress must investigate Trump. But it must also be strategic about it

Rarely have the demands of constitutional democracy and the rule of law been in greater tension with the imperatives of progressive politics. Fidelity to the constitution and the primacy of law over naked power call for a determined effort by Congress to unearth the full truth about Donald Trump’s actions leading up to the election, and since assuming office.

Congress has a duty to look into the president’s offenses in seizing the White House and whether, having arrived at the pinnacle of power, he obstructed efforts to uncover the details of his corrupt ascent and to disclose the many facets of his interference with investigations into those details.

At the same time, one would have to be politically blind not to see that the vast majority of voters care far less about those matters than about kitchen table issues like health care and economic opportunity for this generation and the next. People have become all but immune even to undeniable evidence that Donald Trump is guided not by our national interest but by his own greed for power and by the leverage that hostile foreign nations are able to exert over his decisions. Ironically abetted by the daily barrage of frightening revelations about their leader, Americans have become so eager to move on that they have little patience left for seemingly abstract matters of legal principle and democratic legitimacy.

Leo Gerard: Republicans want to do vast harm on health care because it’s only a right for the rich

This week, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, a Republican, announced that his predecessor, Jeff Sessions, just hadn’t gone far enough when he asked a federal judge to kill the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions—that is, stuff like asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Barr told an appeals court that he does not want it to merely murder that one provision but, instead, will insist that it massacre the ACA’s entire 1,990 pages—death to every clause protecting patients from insurance company abuses, every portion devoted to containing costs, every phrase extending health care to the nation’s young adults and working poor.

It is essential, Barr contends, that the court rip insurance from 21 million people covered by the ACA health insurance marketplaces and Medicaid expansion; that the court deny insurance to 2 million young adults covered by their parents’ plans; that the court foreclose substance abuse treatment to 800,000 Americans suffering opioid addiction.

 

Karen Tumulty: Joe Biden needs to cut it out. So does the mob.

Joe Biden needs to cut it out. And so does the mob that is after him.

The former vice president — and presumed front-runner-to-be in the 2020 Democratic primary — has a long history of putting his hands all over pretty much anyone who comes within reach. Women. Men. Children. Longtime friends. Perfect strangers.

He calls it the trait of a “tactile politician.” Longtime aides say it is simply “Biden being Biden.” But a quick Google search of “creepy Uncle Joe” finds an avalanche of video proof that his space-invading overtures are not always received with delight. [..]

What we all are learning, we should hope, is that we should respect women who have the courage to come forward about their experiences with unwanted physical contact. They deserve the benefit of the doubt both about their versions of events and about how they were made to feel.

But it is also important — and a sign that a social movement is maturing into a social norm — to recognize that not every offense is of equal severity.

Also worth factoring in is whether an alleged perpetrator was acting with malevolence or just cluelessness. Flores indicated that she believed Biden’s actions were demeaning and disrespectful, but not violent or sexual. Nor does it sound like a power move on Biden’s part.

To lose that sense of proportion is to dishonor the victims of the worst kinds of sexual abuse, and to abandon any hope that there can be a path to redemption for those who commit lesser ones and grow to understand the hurt they have caused.

Catherine Rampell: Friendly reminder: We still haven’t seen Trump’s tax returns

With Tax Day approaching and a potentially Swiss-cheesed Mueller report due out soon, a friendly reminder: Yes, we still need to see President Trump’s tax returns.

Because we still need to know whether Trump has been running the executive branch in America’s interest or his own.

Jimmy Carter famously placed his peanut farm in a blind trust during his presidency to avoid any conflicts of interest. Trump, by contrast, has a sprawling, multibillion-dollar, multinational firm from which he has not divested, and says his sons are running the day-to-day operations. Not only has he defied norms about divestment, he has also defied norms about disclosure — including by refusing to release his tax returns despite a four-decades-long expectation for presidents to do so.

As a result, we know precious little about Trump’s financial relationships, including his business partners, sources of income, or who holds callable loans. What Trump does tell us about his company — including whether it was still negotiating Trump Tower Moscow late into the 2016 presidential campaign — often turns out to be false.

True, there is no legal requirement for presidents to release their tax documents. Congress, however, has the power and duty to demand them as part of its oversight responsibilities. In fact, under a century-old law, the House Ways and Means chairman need only send a request to the treasury secretary, who “shall furnish” them. As my colleague Harry Litman has explained, “shall” means “shall,” not “may” or “might.”