Sep 13 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: Trump Hits the Panic Button

Why is he calling for emergency monetary stimulus? Politics.

Donald Trump marked the anniversary of 9/11 by repeating several lies about his own actions on that day. But that wasn’t his only concern. He also spent part of the day writing a series of tweets excoriating Federal Reserve officials as “Boneheads” and demanding that they immediately put into effect emergency measures to stimulate the economy — emergency measures that are normally only implemented in the face of a severe crisis.

Trump’s diatribe was revealing in two ways. First, it’s now clear that he’s in full-blown panic over the failure of his economic policies to deliver the promised results. Second, he’s clueless about why his policies aren’t working, or about anything else involving economic policy. [..]

Why is Trump panicking?

After all, while the economy is slowing, we’re not in a recession, and it’s by no means clear that a recession is even on the horizon. There’s nothing in the data that would justify radical monetary stimulus — stimulus, by the way, that Republicans, including Trump, denounced during the Obama years, when the economy really needed it.

Furthermore, despite Trump’s claims that the Fed has somehow done something crazy, monetary policy has actually been looser than Trump’s own economic team expected when making their rosy forecasts.

Eugene Robinson: House Democrats can’t have it both ways

House Democrats can’t have it both ways. Either they’re impeaching President Trump or they’re not — and it looks like they’re not.

Why Congress is not fulfilling what would seem to be its constitutional duty has nothing to do with the merits of the case against Trump, who adds to the list of his impeachable offenses almost daily. It has everything to do with a political calculation that I hope Democrats do not come to regret.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said this week his panel is “examining the various malfeasances of the president with the view toward possibly . . . recommending articles of impeachment to the House.” But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said this is just a “path of investigation” that might lead to a formal impeachment inquiry or, presumably, might not. Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday the House has not launched an impeachment inquiry, but later clarified that he fully supports the “investigation” whose subject, according to Nadler, is impeachment.

On Thursday, Nadler’s committee approved procedural guidelines for its investigation or inquiry or whatever anyone wants to call it. “I salute them for that work,” Pelosi said later. But she added that “people are saying it’s good to be careful about how we proceed.”

Enough with the oh-so-subtle semantic distinctions. Do something or don’t — and be prepared to explain why.

John Podesta: rump wants to spoil Alaska’s pristine environment. We can’t let it happen.

The Trump administration’s rush to allow oil companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the last unspoiled wildlands in the world, has, to no one’s surprise, become a complete fiasco.

The fossil-fuel lobbyists who run President Trump’s Interior Department have bullied government scientists, ignored public opposition and cut every imaginable corner to hold an auction — this year — that will threaten the largest concentration of polar bears in the United States, the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd and a place of unparalleled natural beauty.

To add public insult to the injury of shameless self-dealing, Trump’s point man who was tasked with selling off the refuge to oil companies, Joe Balash, just took a top job at a foreign oil company that — no kidding — has reportedly been “weighing” a bid at the auction that Balash himself organized when he was at the Interior Department.

Investigations and court challenges are sure to come soon. Regardless, the Trump administration’s climate calamity in Alaska must be stopped.

Jennifer Rubin: A big loss in court for Trump

On Friday, a Second Circuit appeals court revived a lawsuit filed by businesses that claim President Trump’s unconstitutional receipt of foreign emoluments negatively impacted their business. This is the second emoluments lawsuit that is back on track, the other brought by more than two hundred members of Congress.[..]

The importance of the ruling is two-fold. First, it sets in motion a second court case in which plaintiffs might gain access to Trump’s financial records, including tax returns. Unless he can get the Supreme Court to stay the order, he’ll have to produce documents or defy legal subpoenas. Second, the ruling underscores the need for the House of Representatives to refocus impeachment hearings on Trump’s alleged financial improprieties — taking foreign money, self-dealing, directing the Air Force flights to Scotland so crews would patronize his hotel. Trump’s finances and his insatiable greed have always been his Achilles’ heel. His self-enrichment is exceedingly easy for anyone to understand and, if supported by evidence, would make it exceptionally hard even for Republicans to defend. The Judiciary Committee would be wise to put out a road map detailing potential financial improprieties, putting Trump and the country on notice that their president might be a crook.


Catherine Rampell: Trump’s plan for the economy: Make Drinking Water Dirty Again

The Trump administration recently revealed its grand plan for turbocharging economic growth: Make Drinking Water Dirty Again.

The talking heads who get trotted out to defend President Trump frequently tout his supposedly stellar economic record. He’s unleashing gangbusters growth, they claim. You might not like the tweets, but you can’t deny that his tax cuts and deregulation have jump-started the economy.

But those tax cuts, so far, have been a bust, never delivering the sustained surge in business investment that Trump surrogates promised. In fact, business investment shrank  last quarter, and recent indicators suggest it could weaken further. That’s partly because of Trump’s trade wars, of course.

Major independent forecasters predict that the economy will grow about 2.2 percent in 2019. As I noted in a recent column, that means we added $2 trillion to federal deficits to get us to . . . the average growth rate we saw during President Barack Obama’s second term.

Well done, Mr. President.

Moreover, Trump surrogates have never provided actual evidence for the assumed straight line between the president’s deregulatory agenda and economic growth.

So let’s consider the kinds of federal regulations that Trump has been rolling back, the ones that are supposedly boosting the economy.

Christine Emba: American children are under attack — but not from flavored vapes

There have been 22 shootings at U.S. schools in 2019 alone. Active-shooter drills are a back-to-school activity. America’s children are under attack.

And President Trump has moved to protect them by banning … flavored vape pods?

Apparently, it’s a mint-flavored Juul that stands as the biggest threat to children today.

On Sept. 11, a day on which we memorialize lives lost to senseless violence, the administration announced plans to ban most flavored e-cigarettes after a rash of vaping-related lung illnesses claimed six lives. The exact cause of illness has yet to be pinpointed, but the looming threat apparently spooked the Trump administration into rapid action. As of this week, the Department of Health and Human Services is publicizing its intention to “clear the market” of flavored vapes, hoping to finalize a plan in the next several weeks that would likely go into effect a month later. [..}

It’s something of a shock, then, to remember that this administration and the Republicans that back it can’t even bring themselves to cast a sideways glance at a gun, even though firearms cause an average of 1,500 children’s deaths each year. According to the University of Michigan, middle- and high-school-age children are now more likely to die as the result of a firearm injury than from any other single cause of death. Every day an average of 100 Americans are killed by guns. What about the youths affected by that?