Opinion | Why Was Trump’s Tax Cut a Fizzle? – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Last week’s blue wave means that Donald Trump will go into the 2020 election with only one major legislative achievement: a big tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. Still, that tax cut was supposed to accomplish big things. Republicans thought it would give them a big electoral boost, and they predicted dramatic economic gains. What they got instead, however, was a big fizzle.

The political payoff, of course, never arrived. And the economic results have been disappointing. True, we’ve had two quarters of fairly fast economic growth, but such growth spurts are fairly common — there was a substantially bigger spurt in 2014, and hardly anyone noticed. And this growth was driven largely by consumer spending and, surprise, government spending, which wasn’t what the tax cutters promised.

Meanwhile, there’s no sign of the vast investment boom the law’s backers promised. Corporations have used the tax cut’s proceeds largely to buy back their own stock rather than to add jobs and expand capacity.

But why have the tax cut’s impacts been so minimal? Leave aside the glitch-filled changes in individual taxes, which will keep accountants busy for years; the core of the bill was a huge cut in corporate taxes. Why hasn’t this done more to increase investment?”

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Sherrod Brown: Rumpled- Unvarnished and Just Maybe a Candidate for President – The New York Times

By Sydney Ember
Nov. 15, 2018

“COLUMBUS, Ohio — One after another, the Democratic candidates in Ohio fell.

But there was Senator Sherrod Brown celebrating his re-election last Tuesday night at a hotel ballroom before a crowd of anxious revelers.

“Let our country — let our nation’s citizens, our Democratic Party, my fellow elected officials all over the country — let them all cast their eyes towards the heartland,” Mr. Brown said from the stage, dispelling the sense of disappointment that had begun to descend.

Then, his gravelly voice rasping out a crescendo, he made it clear where he thought his party could forge its path to success: his triumphant campaign, he said, was the “blueprint for America for 2020.” The revelers roared.

If his victory speech seemed to double as a calling card for a possible presidential run, there was good reason. Not only had Mr. Brown won his third term in this crucial battleground that President Trump claimed by eight points, he was the only major Democrat to win a statewide seat in Ohio.”

David Lindsay: This piece by Ember flunks. No mention of climate change. It misses the big story, that Sherrod Brown is a leader to fight climate change, while protecting manufacturing.  See post before this one.

Climate bill hinges on Ohio’s Sen. Brown | TheHill

“In early May, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) predicted climate change legislation would be more difficult to pass than healthcare reform, noting that the biggest obstacle would come from Democrats in states “down the middle of this country.”

Brown is weighing all of that while answering questions in his office on the seventh floor of the Hart Building, which until last year was occupied by then-Sen. Obama (D-Ill.).

For starters, he thinks the Senate climate change bill needs to invest significantly more to help U.S. manufacturers, which face a competitive disadvantage with companies in China and other countries with less strict environmental rules.

Brown wants Boxer to increase the size of rebates to manufacturers that consume large amounts of energy, and give more assistance to small- and midsized manufacturers trying to retool their businesses to compete in the clean-energy economy.

Perhaps most controversially, Brown wants the Senate to consider imposing tariffs on foreign competitors operating in countries with lax rules for greenhouse gas emissions.

“Carbon dioxide emissions expand if a company closes down in Toledo, Ohio, and moves to Shanghai, where the emissions standards are weaker,” he said. Brown describes this phenomenon as “carbon leakage.”

Democrats such as Sens. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Carl Levin (Mich.) and Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.) say they have the same concerns as Brown and acknowledge that he has been a leading advocate for industrial states.

“His voice on manufacturing is really important,” said Stabenow of Brown.”

Source: Climate bill hinges on Ohio’s Sen. Brown | TheHill

Gov. John Hickenlooper signs on to U.S. Climate Alliance – By BRUCE FINLEY | The Denver Post 

Photo from NYT:

 

By BRUCE FINLEY | bfinley@denverpost.com | The Denver Post
PUBLISHED: July 11, 2017 at 12:25 pm | UPDATED: July 16, 2017

“Colorado on Tuesday joined the growing number of states and cities committed to meeting or exceeding greenhouse gas reduction targets set in the international Paris climate agreement that President Donald Trump rejects.

Gov. John Hickenlooper issued an executive order compelling a greenhouse gas emissions cut before 2025 by at least 26 percent below 2005 levels. Hickenlooper also declared Colorado will sign on to the U.S. Climate Alliance of states and companies countering the Trump administration by shifting more quickly to wind and solar energy. This move added Western heft to widening efforts to try to ease the impacts of rising temperatures.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signs an …Andy Cross, The Denver PostColorado Governor John Hickenlooper signs an executive order at Red Rocks Park, July 11, 2017, committing the state to climate action to reduce greenhouse gases by more than 26 percent by 2025, reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector by 25 percent by 2025, and 35 percent by 2035.
Colorado will accelerate work toward climate goals “regardless of what the federal government decides to do,” Hickenlooper said before signing the order at Red Rocks Park, overlooking metro Denver.”

Source: John Hickenlooper signs on to U.S. Climate Alliance

Opinion | Save Us Al Gore – by Frank Bruni – The New York Times

“Time and Donald Trump do interesting things to a man.

They make Al Gore glitter.

It’s almost impossible not to be thinking of Gore this week, with the words “Florida” and “recount” so prominent in the news, and it’s hard not to credit him with virtues absent in Trump and increasingly rare in politics these days.

Grace in defeat, for one. For another: a commitment to democracy greater than a concern for self.

Sure, the review of ballots that Gore’s campaign demanded in 2000, as he and George W. Bush waited tensely to see who would get the Sunshine State’s electoral votes and become president, was a rancorous affair lousy with recriminations.

But after the Supreme Court halted it, Gore didn’t reject that ruling as partisan, rant about rigged systems, rail about conspiracies or run around telling Americans that he was their rightful leader, foiled by dark forces. He felt that the stability of the country hinged on the calmness of his withdrawal. So he told Americans to move on.

Then he did likewise, a decision that seems positively exotic in retrospect.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Al Gore is an important leader. Frank Bruni, thank you for another sparkling piece of writing. I owe a debt to Al Gore. His movie, of his slide show and interviews of scientists, An Inconvenient Truth, was what woke me up on Climate Change. It cleared out the confusion caused by articles in the right wing business press, about how equally scientists were divided. We now know that that idea was disinformation, inserted into politics by a few scientists on the payroll of the oil, gas and coal industry.
I hope Al Gore runs again for president. I will work hard for him. I worked for Hillary Clinton, but I do not support any woman candidate in this next election. We need beyond anything, to win, to get the country back on track with a host of problems. Climate Change and overpopulation are probably the greatest threats to our democracy and way of life. Al Gore’s big negative, that he is such an ardent environmentalist, has become a plus, now that the predictions of global warming are coming to pass before our very eyes. Al Gore, please run for the presidency again.

Opinion | Truth and Virtue in the Age of Trump – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman
By Paul Krugman, Opinion Columnist
Nov. 12, 2018, 423 comments
Image above:
At a rally in West Virginia a few days before the midterms, President Trump did as he had more than 100 times a week in the run-up to the elections: lie.              CreditCreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

“Remember when freedom was just another word for nothing left to lose? These days it’s just another word for giving lots of money to Donald Trump.

What with the midterm elections — and the baseless Republican cries of voting fraud — I don’t know how many people heard about Trump’s decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Miriam Adelson, wife of casino owner and Trump megadonor Sheldon Adelson. The medal is normally an acknowledgment of extraordinary achievement or public service; on rare occasions this includes philanthropy. But does anyone think the Adelsons’ charitable activities were responsible for this honor?

Now, this may seem like a trivial story. But it’s a reminder that the Trumpian attitude toward truth — which is that it’s defined by what benefits Trump and his friends, not by verifiable facts — also applies to virtue. There is no heroism, there are no good works, except those that serve Trump.

About truth: Trump, of course, lies a lot — in the run-up to the midterms he was lying in public more than 100 times each week. But his assault on truth goes deeper than the frequency of his lies, because Trump and his allies don’t accept the very notion of objective facts. “Fake news” doesn’t mean actual false reporting; it means any report that hurts Trump, no matter how solidly verified. And conversely, any assertion that helps Trump, whether it’s about job creation or votes, is true precisely because it helps him.”

Editorial: Ned Lamont for governor – GreenwichTime – Hearst (Newspapers)

“By just about any account, Connecticut is in an unhappy, uncertain place.

Look at most ranking lists titled “Best place in America to… (pick your topic)” and you will likely have to read down until you find “Connecticut” in a mediocre — or worse — position.

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Its roads are congested, corroding factors in a stagnant economy. Its rail system is balky, detracting considerably from a now-frayed selling point that the state is “conveniently” situated between New York City and Boston.

The state’s finances are critically out of whack — $4.5 billion short in the biennium budget set to go into effect on July 1, 2019; pensions underfunded by some $100 billion and demanding annual state contributions so large they choke the state’s ability to spend on other needs.

How did we get here? It’s easy — and completely inaccurate — to pin it all on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the 63-year-old Democrat who has held office the last eight years and who will turn the power — and the headaches — over to a successor on Jan. 9.

Today’s problems are rooted in decisions — and inaction — dating back at least to the 1990’s, including labor agreements, made during the tenure of former Republican Gov. John G. Rowland.

The challenges will not be solved in a short time. Nor will they be wrestled to the ground by imposed will alone.

All three candidates for governor are businessmen, none with state-wide governing experience.

Oz Griebel, of Hartford, a former Republican running as an independent, is energetic, knowledgeable about transportation needs, and optimistic about the state’s potential. His idea to hold off on funding the state pensions for two years, though, is an approach that contributed to the present plight.

Republican Bob Stefanowski’s proposal to eliminate the state income tax over eight years is unrealistic. The tax — about $9.5 billion annually — represents more than half of Connecticut’s tax revenue. What’s replacing it?

Stefanowski’s style seems to be of the “imposed will” school.

The Hearst Connecticut Media Group Editorial Board believes the best person for the job is Ned Lamont, the 64-year-old Greenwich entrepreneur turned investor.”

Source: Editorial: Ned Lamont for governor – GreenwichTime

Editorial | America Needs a Bigger House – The New York Times

By The Editorial Board
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

“We’re nearly two decades into the 21st century, so why is America still operating with a House of Representatives built for the start of the 20th?

The House’s current size — 435 representatives — was set in 1911, when there were fewer than one-third as many people living in the United States as there are now. At the time, each member of Congress represented an average of about 200,000 people. In 2018, that number is almost 750,000.

This would shock the Constitution’s framers, who set a baseline of 30,000 constituents per representative and intended for the House to grow along with the population. The possibility that it might not — that Congress would fail to add new seats and that district populations would expand out of control — led James Madison to propose what would have been the original First Amendment: a formula explicitly tying the size of the House to the total number of Americans.

The amendment failed, but Congress still expanded the House throughout the first half of the nation’s existence. The House of Representatives had 65 members when it was first seated in 1789, and it grew in every decade but one until 1920, when it became frozen in time.”

“. . . . . There’s a better solution, which involves bringing America into line with other mature democracies, where national legislatures naturally conform to a clear pattern: Their size is roughly the cube root of the country’s population. Denmark, for instance, has a population of 5.77 million. The cube root of that is 179, which happens to be the size of the Folketing, Denmark’s parliament.

For all countries other than the United States, the size of the national legislature is calculated using only the larger chamber. For the United States, the number refers to the combined size of the House and the Senate. This is because the United States Senate is a more significant lawmaking body than the smaller chambers of other countries. Source: O.E.C.D.

This isn’t some crazy Scandinavian notion. In fact, the House of Representatives adhered fairly well to the so-called cube-root law throughout American history — until 1911. Applying that law to America’s estimated population in 2020 would expand the House to 593 members, after subtracting the 100 members of the Senate.

That would mean adding 158 members. To some, this might sound like 158 too many. But it’s an essential first step in making the “People’s House” — and American government broadly — more reflective of American society today.”

Opinion | The Midterm Results Are a Warning to the Democrats – by Bret Stephens – The New York Times

“For months we’ve heard from sundry media apocalypticians that this year’s midterms were the last exit off the road to autocracy. On Tuesday, the American people delivered a less dramatic verdict about the significance of the occasion.

In a word: meh.

Are you interested in seeing Donald Trump voted out of office in two years? I hope so — which is why you should think hard about that “meh.” This week’s elections were, at most, a very modest rebuke of a president reviled by many of his opponents, this columnist included, as an unprecedented danger to the health of liberal democracy at home and abroad. The American people don’t entirely agree.

We might consider listening to them a bit more — and to ourselves somewhat less.

The 28-seat swing that gave Democrats control of the House wasn’t even half the 63 seats Republicans won in 2010. Yet even that shellacking (to use Barack Obama’s word) did nothing to help Mitt Romney’s chances two years later. The Republican gain in the Senate (the result in Arizona isn’t clear at this writing) was more predictable in a year when so many red-state Democrats were up for re-election. But it underscores what a non-wave election this was.

It also underscores that while “the Resistance” is good at generating lots of votes, it hasn’t figured out how to turn the votes into seats. Liberals are free to bellyache all they want that they have repeatedly won the overall popular vote for the presidency and Congress while still losing elections, and that the system is therefore “rigged.””

Why Democrats’ Gain Was More Impressive Than It Appears – By Nate Cohn

Nate Cohn
By Nate Cohn, Nov. 7, 2018, 296 comments

“It wasn’t necessarily the night of either party’s dreams. The Democrats are poised to gain around 35 House seats after Tuesday’s elections. Republicans seem likely to gain a few seats in the Senate, and they triumphed in some high-profile governor’s races.

But Democrats faced formidable structural disadvantages, unlike any in recent memory. Take those into account, and 2018 looks like a wave election, like the ones that last flipped the House in 2010 and 2006.

In the House, where the Democrats had their strongest showing, it’s impressive that they managed to fare as well as they did. In a sense, Republicans had been evacuated to high ground, away from the beach.

At the beginning of the cycle, only nine Republicans represented districts that tilted Democratic in the previous two presidential elections. Even in a wave election, these are usually the only incumbents who are standing on the beach with a greater than 50 percent chance to lose.”

Nate Cohn says that under the circumstances, it was a blue wave.