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Aug 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: Why Was Trumponomics a Flop?

Neither tax cuts nor tariffs are working.

Donald Trump has pursued two main economic policies. On taxes, he has been an orthodox Republican, pushing through big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, which his administration promised would lead to a huge surge in business investment. On trade, he has broken with his party’s free(ish) trade policies, imposing large tariffs that he promised would lead to a revival of U.S. manufacturing.

Donald Trump has pursued two main economic policies. On taxes, he has been an orthodox Republican, pushing through big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, which his administration promised would lead to a huge surge in business investment. On trade, he has broken with his party’s free(ish) trade policies, imposing large tariffs that he promised would lead to a revival of U.S. manufacturing.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates, even though the unemployment rate is low and overall economic growth remains decent, though not great. According to Jay Powell, the Fed’s chairman, the goal was to take out some insurance against worrying hints of a future slowdown — in particular, weakness in business investment, which fell in the most recent quarter, and manufacturing, which has been declining since the beginning of the year. [..]

To be fair, the economy remains pretty strong, which isn’t really a surprise given the G.O.P.’s willingness to run huge budget deficits as long as Democrats don’t hold the White House. As I wrote three days after the 2016 election — after the shock had worn off — “It’s at least possible that bigger budget deficits will, if anything, strengthen the economy briefly.” And that’s pretty much what happened: There was a bit of a bump in 2018, but at this point we’ve basically returned to pre-Trump rates of growth.

But why has Trumponomics failed to deliver much besides trillion-dollar budget deficits? The answer is that both the tax cuts and the trade war were based on false views about how the world works.

Harry Littman: Two big reasons the Senate should swiftly reject John Ratcliffe

John Ratcliffe, President Trump’s nominee to serve as the next director of national intelligence, faces two high hurdles to earning Senate confirmation.

The first is the Republican representative’s well-earned reputation as a political partisan and a toady to the president, an attribute particularly ill-suited to the job of director of national intelligence (DNI), who must provide objective national security information as opposed to what he or she thinks the president wants to hear.

The second involves charges of Ratcliffe dramatically exaggerating his own experience prosecuting terrorism cases. The allegation is worrisome in itself, but also again particularly with respect to the DNI, who is required by law to have “extensive national security experience.”

As to the charge of toadyism, it is established, and disqualifying in itself.

Jennifer Rubin: First, the GOP shrinks. Next it should get crushed.

Sane Senate Republicans and critics of President Trump, including Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) as well as a slew of House Republicans, retired in 2018 rather than face the challenge of reelection in the Trump era. Over the past two weeks, six Republican House members — including one of only 13 women (Susan Brooks of Indiana) and the only African American (Will Hurd of Texas) — have announced their retirement, bringing the total to eight. [..]

While Hurd told The Post he objected to Trump’s racist tweets (“When you imply that because someone doesn’t look like you, in telling them to go back to Africa or wherever, you’re implying that they’re not an American and you’re implying that they have less worth than you”), he insists that he will still vote for him, the perfect pathetic encapsulation of Republicans’ moral vacuousness. They know he’s a racist, they know racism is despicable and anti-American, but, by gosh, he’s their man for president.

Pramila Jayapal: It’s time for Democrats to get their facts right on Medicare-for-all

In the wake of the second Democratic presidential debate, it is clear that Medicare-for-all has become a defining issue of the 2020 election. Earlier this year, when I introduced our comprehensive, 120-page “Medicare for All Act of 2019,” I expected attacks from big pharma and for-profit insurance companies. But I did not expect misrepresentations from Democratic presidential candidates about what the bill is and is not.

Let’s be clear about the scale of this crisis. The United States currently spends an astronomical $3.6 trillion per year on health care — almost double what peer countries spend — and it is set to increase within 10 years to $6 trillion annually. Pharmaceuticals such as basic insulin cost up to 10 times less in Canada for the exact same drugs. Approximately 500,000 Americans turn to bankruptcy each year because they cannot afford medical costs — and that includes people with insurance.

With so much at stake, facts matter. So let’s get them right.

Richard Neal: Why my committee needs the president’s tax returns

I’m an institutionalist. I respect Congress, for all its imperfections. As chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, I am responsible for congressional oversight of the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service’s administration of the federal tax code. The tax code gives the committee chairman the power to request taxpayer information from the IRS. The committee has exercised this power at various times in the past and has never been denied by the IRS or the Treasury Department.

In early April, I requested the president’s tax returns to fulfill a legitimate congressional oversight responsibility: Our voluntary tax-compliance system hinges on the public’s faith that our tax laws are administered fairly and without favor to those in power. The president is unique: No other American has the power to sign bills into law and direct an entire branch of government. That power, and the extent to which the IRS can audit and enforce federal tax laws against a current or future president, merits closer legislative scrutiny.

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