Mar 08 2021

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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Amanda Marcotte: Biden’s stimulus bill gives progressives a big win. Now they must celebrate it

Losing the fight to up the minimum wage upset progressives, but the big picture view should leave Democrats hopeful

During the Senate debate over the coronavirus relief bill and in the hours after it finally passed, I was angry.

I was angry at Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., for reducing the size of unemployment checks from $400 to $300 and moving up their expiration date for no other apparent reason than his egotistical need to flex his power. I was angry at the eight Senate Democrats who voted down a $15 minimum wage, and especially angry at Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., for doing a jaunty little hip dip while she did it. I engaged in text chains and Gchats with friends, expressing our anguish and outrage about all of this. The anger from progressives may seem outsized, as it certainly drew a lot of accusations on social media that the left reflexively hates everything the Democrats do, no matter what. And no doubt, there are a large number of grifters in the media — and their gullible followers — who brand themselves “leftists” but mostly just exist to undermine Democrats at every turn. But most people who were upset by these setbacks on unemployment and the minimum wage aren’t kneejerk Democrat-haters. They are deeply worried about the future of the party, correctly believing that a failure to pass important bills on voting rights, worker’s rights, and other big-ticket issues will open the door up to big Republican wins in 2022 and 2024 — and that Republicans will use those wins to rig elections to ensure permanent minority rule.

The fight over the coronavirus bill, and the immense power demonstrated by a small number of conservative Democrats, leaves progressives worried that Democrats aren’t going to be able to get it together in order to do what needs to be done to save their own party. But, as someone who shares those worries, I can safely say that, for the first time in a long time, there’s also good reason for progressives to feel hope about not just the progressive agenda but about the future of the Democratic party.

Charles M. Blow: The Allies’ Betrayal of George Floyd

Did the summer’s protests reflect a racial reckoning or seasonal solidarity?

Something happened this summer in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, and maybe only history will be able to fully explain what it was.

Millions of Americans — many of them white — poured into the streets to demand justice and assert that Black Lives Matter. It’s clear now that the summer protests, which took place during a pandemic during which congregation was discouraged, were for some participants less a sincere demand for justice than they were a social outlet.

As some semblance of normal life began to inch back, enthusiasm for the cause among whites quickly grew soft, like a rotting spot on a piece of fruit.

As FiveThirtyEight has noted, support for Black Lives Matter “skyrocketed” after Floyd was killed, but much of that support ended sometime before Jacob Blake was shot in Kenosha, Wis., three months later. [..]

The real mystery is why some people will go to any end to rationalize state violence against Black bodies. In fact, that is a misstatement. It’s not a mystery. This kind of rationalization is a feature of our society. We have made blackness synonymous with aggression and the police synonymous with protection. Anything that challenges that precept must be put down.

In this equation, to far too many Americans, Floyd is just collateral damage, an unfortunate accident, while a noble defender of peace and order attempts to do his duty. In this equation, Floyd is dehumanized. In it, he is betrayed. What is revealed is the bottomless American capacity to countenance cruelty.

Donna F. Edwards: The $15 minimum wage is not dead

Democrats need to find a way to keep their promise to raise the minimum wage

The stage is set for a defining battle among Democrats over increasing the minimum wage.

On Feb. 27, House Democrats passed their version of the American Rescue Plan, including an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Last week, eight Democratic senators voted to support the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling requiring the removal of the wage increase from the measure. This is a setback, but the debate over the minimum wage is far from over.

That’s because Democrats cannot afford to let the fight for $15 die. Raising the minimum wage is not some gift or reward to anyone. It is a moral commitment to make sure hard-working people are paid enough in America to take care of themselves and their children. [..]

The American Rescue Plan may have been the first fight, but it will not be the last. A second reconciliation bill is expected this year, and it’s time for Senate Democrats to find a way to get this done. Whatever the strategy, there are options: Bring recalcitrant Democrats in line. Use the upcoming infrastructure bill to incentivize them. Or, bring it on, overrule the parliamentarian or end the filibuster.

House Democrats balanced the equities and made the choice in favor of reducing poverty and valuing the lives of low-wage workers. Senate Democrats must do the same — and soon.

Jennifer Rubin: What happens when the government attacks inequality

Democrats have long talked about rising inequality. Now they are doing something about it.

Raise economic inequality with Republicans and they will likely bristle, insisting you are engaging in “class warfare” or want to “soak the rich.” President Biden’s covid-19 rescue plan is the first challenge to that mischaracterization and a test as to whether a shift in economic policy can narrow income inequality. [..]

In short, policy matters. Growing income is vital to reducing poverty and providing upward mobility, but if we continue using income tax cuts to “generate growth” (which the 2020 tax cuts, in the long run, did not do), the vast majority of the savings will benefit the top end, and income inequality will increase.

If we want to boost the lower- and middle-income earners, we will need to look to the spending side — e.g., expansion of the earned-income tax credit, child tax credits, education, job training, broadband expansion. Republicans’ hypocritical concern about the cost of spending but not the cost of tax cuts conveys a willingness to increase federal debt for the sake of those already well off. Democrats will need to consider just how much debt we can incur, but their preference for doing so on behalf of those who need assistance the most is morally sound and politically smart.

Ruth Marcus: ‘I didn’t realize’ may be Cuomo’s best defense, but it’s a weak and offensive one

The governor wasn’t being obtuse; he thought he was being clever.

Andrew Cuomo didn’t get it, but now he does. Or so the embattled, endangered New York governor insists.

“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said at a news conference Wednesday. “I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable.”

Pathetic — no, make that enraging. Cuomo, a Democrat, likes to talk about his daughters, so let’s just ask: Governor, if one of your daughters — daughters who, as it happens, are the age of Charlotte Bennett — came to you and told you that her boss had behaved toward her as you did toward Bennett, what would you say?

That maybe this boss didn’t realize he was making you feel uncomfortable? That he was just joking? Or that he is an abusive jerk who was coming on to you and deserves a punch in the nose?

“I didn’t realize” may be Cuomo’s best defense, but it’s a weak and offensive one. [..]

Cuomo’s cascading responses — ever more contrite yet still entirely inadequate — speak to the political peril in which he has placed himself. Saturday’s non-apology was to deny that he “made advances” toward her. Sunday’s version was to acknowledge that “some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.” Wednesday’s slightly improved version was for Cuomo to put the onus on himself — “I now understand” — rather than his victim.

Bennett’s not buying it. Neither should anyone else.