Aug 23 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: From Voodoo Economics to Evil-Eye Economics

Are Democrats hexing the Trump boom with bad thoughts?

Almost four decades ago then-candidate George H.W. Bush used the phrase “voodoo economic policy” to describe Ronald Reagan’s claim that cutting taxes for the rich would pay for itself. He was more prescient than he could have imagined.

For voodoo economics isn’t just a doctrine based on magical thinking. It’s the ultimate policy zombie, a belief that seemingly can’t be killed by evidence. It has failed every time its proponents have tried to put it into practice, but it just keeps shambling along. In fact, at this point it has eaten the brains of every significant figure in the Republican Party. Even Susan Collins, the least right-wing G.O.P. senator (although that isn’t saying much), insisted that the 2017 tax cut would actually reduce the deficit.

During the 2016 campaign Donald Trump pretended to be different, claiming that he would actually raise taxes on the rich. Once in office, however, he immediately went full voodoo. In fact, he has taken magical thinking to a new level.

True, whenever tax cuts fail to produce the predicted miracle, their defenders come up with bizarre explanations for their failure.

Charles M. Blow: A Lust for Punishment

President Trump continues to inflict pain on minorities in this country because it supports the white supremacist patriarchy.

There seems to be no limit to the cruelty Donald Trump and his administration are willing to exhibit and exact when it comes to immigrants and asylum seekers from Latin America.

And then conservatives in this country cheer, in much the same way that the Roman mobs in the Colosseum did as people were ripped to shreds by lions.

On Wednesday, Trump’s administration announced new rules that would allow migrant families to be held indefinitely. As The New York Times reported, “The new regulation would codify minimum standards for the conditions in family detention centers and would specifically abolish a 20-day limit on detaining families in immigration jails.”

The day before, the administration announced that immigrant families being held at the border wouldn’t be given flu vaccines. CBS News noted, “The U.S. will not provide vaccines for migrants — even after three migrant children have died in the past year from the flu.”

Eugene Robinson: Trump is increasingly untethered from reality

The flood of bizarre pronouncements and behavior from President Trump is likely to get worse, I fear. He is now completely unfiltered — and, apparently, increasingly untethered to reality.

Quick, can you name the White House press secretary? Do you have any idea what she looks or sounds like? Stephanie Grisham has held that job for nearly two months now, but if her name doesn’t ring any bells, it’s because she hasn’t yet given a single official press briefing. Trump has foolishly decided to act as his own exclusive spokesman, putting all his prejudices, misconceptions, resentments, insecurities, grudges and fears on ugly display.

The result is what we witnessed Wednesday on the White House lawn. On his way to the waiting Marine One chopper, Trump paused and took questions from reporters for 35 minutes, unfazed by the midday 89-degree heat and smothering humidity. He made much news and little sense. [..]

The nation and the world need a competent, capable White House but won’t have one anytime soon. Instead, we’ve got a teetotaling president who sounds like the angry guy at the end of the bar, mouthing off about whatever he sees when he looks up at the television. Closing time can’t come fast enough.

Harry Litman: Trump just bought himself months of court frustration with his latest immigration rule

In its announced plan to ask a U.S. district court judge on Friday to terminate the Flores Settlement Agreement, which for nearly three years has stymied a key part of the Trump agenda on immigration, the administration has bought itself 18 to 24 months of litigation with prospects for success that are cloudy at best. [..]

The Trump administration moved last year for permission to detain children longer than 20 days as a way out of this restriction, but Dolly M. Gee, the U.S. district judge in California overseeing the Flores case, rejected the motion, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit later affirmed that decision.

The Trump administration has responded to that court defeat by preparing a new regulation. By its terms, it would permit the administration to detain families in residential centers (which needn’t be state-licensed, as required under Flores) for as long as it takes their immigration cases to be decided, and also would loosen the required standard of care.

The administration sent the regulation out for notice and comment in September 2018, and it will issue the final version, along with the motion to terminate the agreement, on Friday. Barring a court challenge, it would go into effect in 60 days.

That court challenge, however, is assured — and will be potent.

Catherine Rampell: Trump’s tendency to double down on bad ideas doesn’t bode well for the economy

There are lots of reasons to worry about how President Trump would handle a recession, should we tip into one. There’s his incompetent economic team. Or the limited fiscal policy tools at his disposal, given that Republicans already spent nearly $2 trillion on tax cuts. Or his efforts to discredit the Federal Reserve just when we’ll need it most.

One underrated concern: Trump’s tendency to double down on stupid and destructive ideas, despite — perhaps because of? — overwhelming evidence of their stupidity and destructiveness.

Trump’s worst policies, economic or otherwise, tend to follow a pattern. First, he posits something like: Sure, the experts say that has predictably high costs and bad consequences. But ignore them! Believe me, it’s a great idea, and it’ll be completely costless.

To wit: Tax cuts will pay for themselves, without injury to deficits. China will pay all the tariffs, without harm to U.S. importers, manufacturers, retailers, farmers. Mexico will pay for the wall, without costs to U.S. taxpayers or international relations.

Free lunches, all around.

Then when it becomes clear those lunches weren’t free — in fact, they were quite pricey — the pitch changes. Okay, Trump and his cronies admit, maybe we’re suffering some pain now. But that pain will be worth it, because eventually it will pay off.

Someday the tax cuts will pay for themselves. Someday the trade war will pay off. Someday Mexico will pay for the wall.