Sep 03 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.

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Robert Reich: 5 Biggest Corporate Lies About Unions

Don’t believe the corporate lies. Today’s unions are growing, expanding, and boosting the wages and economic prospects of those who need them most.

Wealthy corporations and their enablers have spread 5 big lies about unions in order to stop workers from organizing and to protect their own bottom-lines. Know the truth and spread the truth.

Don’t believe the corporate lies. Today’s unions are growing, expanding, and boosting the wages and economic prospects of those who need them most. They’re good for workers and good for America.

Paul Krugman: The Great Tax Break Heist

The many, many fiascos of policy by tax cut.

Tax scams are the tribute policy vice pays to policy virtue.

A few days ago The Times reported on widespread abuse of a provision in the 2017 Trump tax cut that was supposed to help struggling urban workers. The provision created a tax break for investment in so-called “opportunity zones,” which would supposedly help create jobs in low-income areas. In reality the tax break has been used to support high-end hotels and apartment buildings, warehouses that employ hardly any people and so on. And it has made a handful of wealthy, well-connected investors — including the family of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law — even wealthier.

It’s quite a story. But it should be seen in a broader context, as a symptom of the Republican Party’s unwillingness to perform the basic functions of government. [..]

First of all, the opportunity-zone debacle isn’t the only example of abuse enabled by the Trump tax cut, which is full of destructive loopholes. That is, after all, what’s bound to happen when you ram a multitrillion-dollar bill through Congress without a single hearing, presumably out of fear that it would have been rejected if anyone had had time to figure out what was in it. The bill’s drafting was so rushed that many provisions were actually written in by hand at the last minute.

Among other things, the bum’s rush meant that much of the bill was drafted by lobbyists on behalf of their clients. Given that, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a provision sold as a policy to help the poor has actually ended up being a giveaway to hedge funds and real estate developers.

Eugene Robinson: It’s still Biden’s race to lose

The big news in the Democratic presidential race is that not much has changed since Joe Biden jumped in.

To be sure, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) has steadily gained ground, according to polls. Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) rose sharply after the first debate but then gradually slid back into single-digit land. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has held on to his sizable base, while South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg has kept most of the support he won in his impressive spring debut.

But national and state polling shows that the basic shape of the race has remained the same: Biden has a solid lead, and nobody else is particularly close. [..]

For me, the striking thing is how little the race changed over the summer. Since late May , Biden’s support has never gone below 26 percent — his nadir after getting sliced and diced by Harris in the first debate — and no other candidate has climbed as high as 19 percent.

Polls in the key early primary and caucus states tell the same story. The RealClearPolitics average shows Biden with a solid lead in Iowa, a slim lead in New Hampshire, and huge leads in both Nevada and South Carolina. If those numbers hold and he wins all four of those states, it’s pretty much game over.

Jennifer Rubin: Trump has angered the wrong people: Farmers

We have gotten so used to the formulaic story — interview member of President Trump’s base, find he still loves Trump, conclude Trump is invincible — that we wind up surprised when the logical and predictable laws of political gravity hit. This is certainly true of farmers.

You know the setup — a sturdy farmer suffering from Trump-imposed tariffs grits his teeth and says he’s hurting but, by josh, he’s not parting with Trump whom he trusts to do the right thing. We are to conclude that Trump possesses magical political power, that farmers are too dumb to know what’s good for them or both.

Well, it turns out Trump has no magic, and farmers know exactly what the president is doing to them. MSNBC on Monday interviewed Bob Kuylen, vice president of the North Dakota Farmers Union, who explained that his wheat farm, which depends on overseas markets, has lost $400,000 because of the administration’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and subsequent trade wars. During another interview, Christopher Gibbs, a soybean and corn farmer in Ohio, ridiculed Trump’s farm bailouts — which he called “hush money” intended to “sedate” farmers — and made clear that taxpayers are paying for this, not China. He, too, is losing money.

Likewise, the Associated Press reports from Lincoln, Neb.: “The Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association issued a joint statement criticizing the Trump administration for continuing to issue oil refinery waivers that thwart ethanol production and for a trade policy that they said has damaged agriculture. ‘Many of our corn farmers have stood with Trump for a long time, but that may soon change,’ Dan Nerud, a Dorchester farmer and president of the 2,400-member Nebraska Corn Growers Association, said in a release.” The statement also said, “As harvest approaches after an extremely difficult year for agriculture, many Nebraska corn farmers are outraged by the Trump administration’s lack of support for the American farmer.”

Jessie Jackson: As Climate Crisis Thrashes Planet, Never a Leader So Divorced From Reality as Trump

President Donald Trump not only denies the threat posed by manmade climate change, he consciously, purposefully and perversely works to accelerate it.

Last month was the hottest month is recorded history.

Catastrophic climate change is already costing tens of billions in damage, displacing more and more people, causing more and more casualties from California fires to the increasing force of hurricanes, the spread of desert and drought.

It is real, accelerating and poses what literally is an existential threat.

And the commander-in-chief of the most powerful nation in the world remains in denial.

President Donald Trump not only denies the threat posed by manmade climate change, he consciously, purposefully and perversely works to accelerate it.

This week, the administration announced that it would roll back regulations to limit methane emissions from natural gas sites on public lands. Methane is a potent gas, more destructive than carbon dioxide in trapping the earth’s heat, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

It now represents about 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — but the administration is intent on making that worse.

Trump’s rationale is consistent. He hates all things Obama, particularly in the area of the environment, so he’s made reversing Obama’s achievements — leaving the Paris Climate Accord, rolling back auto mileage standards, and weakening greenhouse gas controls — a first priority.

He is ideologically committed to deregulation, claiming that it will unleash growth and blind to the damage caused to clean water, air, much less to the threat to our existence.