Feb 11 2020

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media 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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Paul Krugman: How Trump Got Trickled Down

He pretended to be different. He was lying.

One thing many people forget about the 2016 election is that as a candidate, Donald Trump promised to be a different kind of Republican. Unlike the mainstream of his party, he declared, he would raise taxes on the rich and wouldn’t cut programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that ordinary Americans rely on. At the same time, he would invest large sums in rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

He was lying.

Trump’s only major legislative achievement, the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, was absolutely standard modern Republicanism: huge tax cuts for corporations, plus tax breaks that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy. The only unconventional aspect of the legislation was the variety of new tax scams it made possible, like the benefits for investors in “opportunity zones,” which were supposed to help poor communities but have actually enriched billionaire real estate developers.

And there has, of course, been no infrastructure bill; in fact, the Trump administration’s repeated proclamations of “Infrastructure Week” have become a running joke.

Charles M. Blow: A Solution to the D.N.C.’s Iowa Problem

Involve all regions of the country in a shared first round of voting.

After the debacle last week in Iowa and the reporting of the results there, even more people began to speak openly about how anachronistic and antiquated it is for Iowa and its problematic caucuses to continue to have such an outsize influence on the Democratic nominating process.

When CNN’s Jake Tapper grilled the Democratic National Committee chairman, Tom Perez, about whether Iowa should remain the first contest, Perez said, “That’s the conversation that will absolutely happen after this election cycle.”

It’s about time. And, it needs to be far more than a conversation. Action must be taken. [..]

This is not the way the modern Democratic Party should choose its nominee. As an alternative, I make this proposal: Have the first four contests — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — on the same day. In the spirit of Super Tuesday, you could call them the pacesetter primaries.

The benefits are multiple.

Eugene Robinson: There is only one question for Democratic primary voters: Who can win?

I like ideological purity as much as anyone. But not this year. Not this election. The Democrats contending to square off with President Trump face less an opportunity than an imperative. Nuanced policy differences among the various hopefuls could not be less important. Winning in November isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.

It is ridiculous to argue the merits of Medicare-for-all vs. Medicare-for-all-who-want-it vs. expanding the Affordable Care Act while President Trump is taking a blowtorch to the norms that allow our political system to function and bind our society together. His nasty little “Friday Night Massacre” — vindictively ousting officials who testified at his impeachment hearings — was a mere taste of what we can expect in the coming months. He has gone full thug.

For Democrats, electability is the whole ballgame. Primary voters need to be as cold-eyed as possible in choosing a nominee who can not only beat Trump but also help generate blue-wave turnout that keeps control of the House and takes back the Senate. That’s going to require compromise from someone: flipping Obama-to-Trump voters and stoking flagging Democratic enthusiasm may demand very different approaches and qualities. But whoever that compromise falls on most heavily must be prepared to make it. There is no choice but to take a deep breath and do what needs to be done.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Don’t fall for Trump’s lie. Democrats have been very productive.

President Trump, master of the purposeful falsehood, complains that instead of attending to the people’s business, Democrats do nothing but investigate the president. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) echoes such claims. It has become a conventional critique of conservatives: Columnist David Brooks tweeted after the impeachment vote, “Instead of spending the past 3 years on Mueller and impeachment suppose Trump opponents had spent the time on an infrastructure bill or early childhood education? More good would have been done.”

With media coverage fixated on the Trump circus and on impeachment, voters have little sense that anything is being accomplished. But Trump’s insult of Democrats is a lie.

The reality is that House Democrats have been extraordinarily productive, passing nearly 400 bills by mid-November. About 275 of them have bipartisan support and are sitting on the desk of Republican leader McConnell, who will not allow debate or votes. The majority leader boasts that he is the “https://twitter.com/senatemajldr/status/1126154769641480193” of House legislation. McConnell’s obstruction of President Barack Obama’s agenda was infamous; now, he is doubling down against measures passed by the Democratic House majority.

Republican politicians argue that Washington is dysfunctional — and then prove their case by making it so. This serves their ideological interests and rewards their special interest supporters. Consider, by contrast, that many House-passed bills would make a real difference in the lives of ordinary Americans.

George T. Conway III: Trump is right. We might have to impeach him again.

“So we’ll probably have to do it again.”

So said the already-once-impeached President Trump on Thursday in the East Room, musing about the possibility he could become the first president to be impeached more than once. And on the very next day, as though he were competing for it, Trump showed precisely why he could be destined to achieve that ignominious fate.

With essentially no pretense about why he was doing it, the president brazenly retaliated Friday against two witnesses who gave truthful testimony in the House’s impeachment inquiry. He fired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. And he also fired a third man, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, merely for being the brother of the first. Trump essentially admitted his retaliatory motive on Saturday, when he tweeted that he sacked Vindman in part for having “reported contents of my ‘perfect’ calls incorrectly.”

If this were a criminal investigation, and Alexander Vindman and Sondland had given their testimony to a grand jury, this Friday Night Massacre could have been a crime. At the very least, it ought to be impeachable: If Richard M. Nixon was to be impeached for authorizing hush money for witnesses, and Trump himself was actually impeached for directing defiance of House subpoenas, then there should be no doubt that punishing witnesses for complying with subpoenas and giving truthful testimony about presidential misconduct should make for a high crime or misdemeanor as well.

But it’s really not about this one day, or this one egregious act. It’s about who Trump is, who he always was and who he always will be. It’s about the complete mismatch between the man and the office he holds.