Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield | Ben & Jerry’s Founders on the Company’s Israel Policy – The New York Times

Bennett Cohen and 

Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenfield founded Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings in 1978.

“We are the founders of Ben & Jerry’s. We are also proud Jews. It’s part of who we are and how we’ve identified ourselves for our whole lives. As our company began to expand internationally, Israel was one of our first overseas markets. We were then, and remain today, supporters of the State of Israel.

But it’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the U.S. government. As such, we unequivocally support the decision of the company to end business in the occupied territories, which a majority of the international community, including the United Nations, has deemed an illegal occupation.”

Paul Krugman | Should Only the Little People Pay Taxes? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“I yield to no one when it comes to cynicism about politicians who see tax cuts for the rich as the answer to every problem. Indeed, the claim that tax cuts can perform magic is a prime case of a zombie idea — an idea kept alive, despite overwhelming evidence against it, because its survival serves the interests of wealthy donors.

Yet even I was caught by surprise when Republicans negotiating over a possible infrastructure bill ruled out paying for it in part by giving the Internal Revenue Service more resources to go after tax evasion.

This is a big deal. The Treasury Department believes that there is a “tax gap,” taxes owed but not paid, of more than $500 billion every year; some estimates put the number much higher. And the Biden administration proposes giving the I.R.S. enough resources to reduce this gap as a way to help pay for investment in America’s future.

But if the administration goes this route, it will apparently do so with little, if any, Republican support.”

Richard H. Pildes | In Nearly All Other Democracies, This Is Not Normal – The New York Times

Mr. Pildes has spent his career as a legal scholar analyzing the intersection of politics and law and how that affects our democracy.

“The ability of the American political system to deliver major policies on urgent issues is hampered by features of our institutions that we take for granted and rarely think about. Take the Constitution’s requirement that House members serve for only two-year terms.

Just a few months into a new administration, as the country grapples with issues of economic recovery and renewal, Congress’s actions are being shaped not by the merits of policy alone but also by the looming midterm elections. It’s not just the fall 2022 election; many incumbents are also calculating how best to position themselves to fend off potential primary challenges.

In nearly all other democracies, this is not normal.

The two-year House term has profound consequences for how effectively American government can perform — and too many of them are negative. A longer, four-year term would facilitate Congress’s ability to once again effectively address major issues that Americans care most about.”

Binyamin Appelbaum | Good Riddance, TurboTax. Americans Need a Real ‘Free File’ Program. – The New York Times

Mr. Appelbaum is a member of the editorial board.

“Intuit, the tax preparation giant, performed a public service last week by announcing its exit from a federal program that let some Americans use a free version of its TurboTax software.

With this move, the company is making clear what has always been true. Intuit and the rest of the tax prep industry want Americans to pay to file their taxes.

By abandoning the pretense of good citizenship, Intuit is clearing the way for the federal government to do what it should have done long ago: create a public website where most Americans can prepare and file income tax returns at no cost.

In countries including Japan, the Netherlands and Britain, most taxpayers don’t file tax returns. The government withholds taxes from wage income and handles the paperwork. People with more complicated finances still need to fill out forms and submit them, but everyone else can simply check the government’s math and move on with their lives.” . . .

Thomas B. Edsall | ‘Lean Into It. Lean Into the Culture War.’ – The New York Times

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C., on politics, demographics and inequality.

“Should responsibility for the rampant polarization that characterizes American politics today be laid at the feet of liberals or conservatives? I posed that question to my friend Bill Galston, a senior fellow at Brookings and a columnist at The Wall Street Journal.

He emailed me his reply:

It is fair to say that the proponents of cultural change have been mostly on offense since Brown v. the Board of Education, while the defenders of the status quo have been on defense.

Once the conflict enters the political arena, though, other factors come into play, Galston argues:

Intensity makes a huge difference, and on many of the cultural issues, including guns and immigration, the right is more intense than the left.”

David Lindsay: Good piece, and good comments. Here are two I really liked.

RRockySeattle9h ago

Jacob Hacker has the essence of it: “It strains credulity to argue that Democrats have been pushing culture-war issues more than Republicans. It’s mostly Republican elites who have accentuated these issues to attract more and more working-class white voters even as they pursue a plutocratic economic agenda that’s unpopular among those voters.” The culture war is a mostly manufactured and manipulated divisiveness, handy to distract the populace from the wholesale economic looting of the country by the 1%. And though its roots in modern times go back to Joe McCarthy’s demagoguery, it really got fed by the onset of Reaganism and the Reagan Restoration (of the plutocracy). Reagan’s right-wing business patrons were very happy to utilize his fearmongering and racebaiting B-actor’s shtick in their seizure of power over the last half-century (while witless or craven “Democratic” neoliberals either stood down or acted complicitly).

15 Replies 533 Recommended

AAaron BertramUtah5h agoTimes Pick

I’m less concerned about whether Democrats have moved further to the left than Republicans have to the right (though the idea is laughable to me when we have no livable minimum wage, no universal healthcare and no universal childcare). What concerns me more is that the right is moving further away from the truth. The fountain of lies issuing from the ex-president, members of Congress and Fox News personalities has no parallel anywhere else on the political spectrum and is paralyzing our ability to cope with present and looming crises.

4 Replies 455 Recommended

Nelson Lichtenstein | Biden’s Executive Order Restores U.S. Antitrust – The New York Times

Mr. Lichtenstein is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy.

“On Friday, President Biden signed a sweeping executive order intended to curb corporate dominance, enhance business competition and give consumers and workers more choices and power. The order features 72 initiatives ranging widely in subject matter — net neutrality and cheaper hearing aids, more scrutiny of Big Tech and a crackdown on the high fees charged by ocean shippers.

The president called his order a return to the “antitrust traditions” of the Roosevelt presidencies early in the last century. This may have surprised some listeners, since the order offers no immediate call for the breakup of Facebook or Amazon — none of the trustbusting that is antitrust’s signature idea.

But Mr. Biden’s executive order does something even more important than trustbusting. It returns the United States to the great antimonopoly tradition that has animated social and economic reform almost since the nation’s founding. This tradition worries less about technocratic questions such as whether concentrations of corporate power will lead to lower consumer prices and more about broader social and political concerns about the destructive effects that big business can have on our nation.”

Karen Petrou | Only the Rich Could Love This Economic Recovery – The New York Times

“Conventional wisdom has it that the lower a central bank sets interest rates, the faster the economy grows. But the longer rates stay ultra-low, it’s not the economy that grows — it’s inequality.

There are signs of worsening inequality across the U.S. economy. But recent surges trace back to a major change after 2008, which transformed how America fights economic recessions.”

Maureen Dowd | The Ascension of Bernie Sanders – The New York Times

“. . . At 79, Bernie Sanders is a man on a mission, laser-focused on a list that represents trillions of dollars in government spending that he deems essential. When I stray into other subjects, the senator jabs his finger at his piece of paper or waves it in my face, like Van Helsing warding off Dracula with a cross.

“Maureen, let me just tell you what we’re trying to do here,” he says. “We’re working on what I think is the most consequential piece of legislation for working families since the 1930s.”

Sanders, long a wilderness prophet in Washington, a man who wrote a memoir bragging about being an outsider, admits that it is strange to be a key member of The Establishment. As the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, the democratic socialist is now pulling the levers in the control room.

He has changed the whole debate in the nation’s capital. He is the guy trying to yank his party back to its working-class roots and steer President Biden in a bolder, more progressive direction.

Mirabile dictu: A president and senator who are both pushing 80, men who were underestimated and dismissed for years in Democratic circles, are now teaming up to transform the country. It’s the Bernie and Joe show.

Sanders passionately believes that the only way to undo the damage done by Donald Trump and Trumpism is by showing that government can deliver, that good policy can overcome dangerous conspiracy theories and lies.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

So many comments about how Bernie is or might be a saint. There is some truth to this notion, but he never got my vote for saint or president. I do not forget that he withheld his support from Hillary Clinton, after she beat him in the primary, and was partly responsible for the election of Donald Trump. For that, he has blood on his hands. Sanders has been a shoddy act compared to the greats, like Abraham Lincoln. Biden is more in the Lincoln mold, knowing that you can not get too far away from the majority of the public, or they will not follow you. Unlike Bernie, these other two leaders have a record of accomplishment. Bernie does deserve a lot of credit for popularizing his positions, and pushing them into the mainstream of American politics. It’s fine to love and respect him, without putting him on a pedestal or failing to note his shortcomings.

Gabriel Zucman and Gus Wezerek | This Is Tax Evasion, Plain and Simple – The New York Times

By Gabriel Zucman and Gus Wezerek

Gabriel Zucman is an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the authors of “The Triumph of Injustice.” Gus Wezerek is a writer and graphics editor for Opinion.

“In the decades after World War II, close to 50 percent of American companies’ earnings went to state and federal taxes. Economically, it was a golden period. Middle-class incomes grew at roughly the same rate as those of the richest Americans.

But as globalization gave companies the ability to choose where they recorded profits, Congress scrambled to keep their business by lowering corporate taxes. In 2018, American companies were taxed at an average effective rate of less than 14 percent, by our calculations.

Corporate tax breaks have helped business owners amass inconceivable amounts of money over the past few decades. Meanwhile, middle-class Americans have footed the bill, as Congress has propped up the budget by raising taxes on wages.”

Paul Krugman | It’s Morning in Joe Biden’s America – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Last Tuesday President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers published a blog post warning everyone not to make too much of any one month’s employment report. It presumably released this in advance of Friday’s report to fend off possible accusations that it was just trying to make excuses for a weak number. As it happened, however, the report came in strong: The economy added an impressive 850,000 jobs.

The job gain was especially impressive given widespread claims that businesses couldn’t expand because generous unemployment benefits were discouraging workers from taking jobs. (Recent benefit cuts in many states came too late to have affected this report.) Well, somehow employers are managing to hire a lot of people anyway.

Oh, and so much for Donald Trump’s warnings that there would be a “Biden depression” if he weren’t re-elected.

That said, the council’s points were well taken. Covid-19 created huge dislocations in the economy, and as we recover from these dislocations economic data are unusually noisy — largely because the standard adjustments statisticians make to smooth out things like seasonal variation don’t work well in an economy still distorted by the pandemic.”

David Lindsay:

This is another great essay by Paul Krugman, economist and political commentator extraordinaire. Many of popular comments are cheerful and thoughtful. Too bad someone at the NYT put up a cropped photo or Joe Biden, just showing his nose and teeth. The photo is impolite, possibly mocking, whereas all the Krugman essay and the following comments are cheering our worldclass leader.
I too am proud to have been an early supporter of Joe Biden, back, two years before he became President, or was it only a year, when the Nate Cohn in the NYT showed polls showing that of all the Democrats running for President, only Joe Biden could beat Donald Trump in the six most critical swing states to win the electoral college. That day, I dropped my support of Pete Buttigieg, and began supporting Joe Biden.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs mostly at InconvenientNews.Net.