Opinion | Just Saying Yes to Drug Companies – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Last week we learned that Novartis, the Swiss drug company, had paid Michael Cohen — Donald Trump’s personal lawyer — $1.2 million for what ended up being a single meeting. Then, on Friday, Trump announced a “plan” to reduce drug prices.

Why the scare quotes? Because the “plan” was mostly free of substance, controlled or otherwise. (O.K., there were a few ideas that experts found interesting, but they were fairly marginal.) During the 2016 campaign Trump promised to use the government’s power, including Medicare’s role in paying for prescription drugs, to bring drug prices down. But none of that was in his speech on Friday.

And if someone tries to convince you that Trump really is getting tough on drug companies, there’s a simple response: If he were, his speech wouldn’t have sent drug stocks soaring.

None of this should come as a surprise. At this point, “Trump Breaks Another of His Populist Promises” is very much a dog-bites-man headline. But there are two substantive questions here. First, should the U.S. government actually do what Trump said he would do, but didn’t? And if so, why haven’t we taken action on drug prices?”

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Opinion | Let Them Eat Trump Steaks – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“In general, Donald Trump is notoriously uninterested in policy details. It has long been obvious, for example, that he never bothered to find out what his one major legislative victory, the 2017 tax cut, actually did. Similarly, it’s pretty clear that he had no idea what was actually in the Iran agreement he just repudiated.

In each case, it was about ego rather than substance: scoring a “win,” undoing his predecessor’s achievement.But there are some policy issues he really does care about. By all accounts, he really hates the idea of people receiving “welfare,” by which he means any government program that helps people with low income, and he wants to eliminate such programs wherever possible.”

Opinion | Politicians Don’t Need New Ideas – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“The 2020 election is still two and a half years away, but the Big Sneer is already underway. Name a potential Democratic candidate, and you know how pundits will react: the same way they reacted to Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. He/she (especially she), they’ll say, is tired, boring, annoying. Above all, they’ll complain, he/she doesn’t offer any new ideas.

Somehow it’s always Democrats who get this kind of criticism, even though every prominent Republican for the past three decades has espoused the same three bad ideas: tax cuts for the rich, slashed benefits for the poor, and more pollution. Paul Ryan 2010 was basically Newt Gingrich 1995 with a lower BMI, yet he got praised endlessly as an innovative thinker.

But let’s leave the asymmetric treatment of the parties aside, and ask a simple question: why, exactly, do we demand that politicians have new ideas?

I’m not saying that politicians shouldn’t be open to new thinking and evidence about policy. But a political party isn’t like Apple, which needs to keep coming up with glitzier products to stay ahead of Android. There are huge problems with U.S. policy on many fronts, but very few of these problems come from lack of good new ideas. They come, instead, from failure to act on what we already know – and, for the most part, have known for a long time.”

DL: Keep reading. Hallelujah for Paul Krugman.

Opinion | How’s That Tax Cut Working Out? – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“. . . To get major wage gains before, for example, the 2024 election — never mind 2020 — we’d need to have a huge near-term boom in business investment, mainly financed by inflows of capital from overseas. I mean really, really huge. And there’s no sign that this is happening.True, business investment as a share of G.D.P. is up slightly over the past year, but it’s still well below its level before the financial crisis — let alone the heights it reached in the 1990s.

Is it just too soon to expect results? Are businesses getting ready to ramp up investment, so that we’ll see them laying out the big bucks in the near future? Not according to a survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. A vast majority of businesses say either that the tax law has had no effect on their investment plans, or that they are planning only a modest increase.

In short, the effects of the Trump tax cut are already looking like the effects of the Brownback tax cut in Kansas, the Bush tax cut and every other much-hyped tax cut of the past three decades: big talk, big promises, but no results aside from a swollen budget deficit.

You might think that the G.O.P. would eventually learn something from this experience, realize that tax cuts aren’t magical, and come up with some different ideas. But I guess it’s difficult for a man to understand something when his campaign contributions depend on his not understanding it.”

Opinion | Scam I Amn’t: Voters and the Tax Cut – by Paul Krugman – NYT

I don’t know what will happen in the midterm elections. But if Republicans pull it out – that is, if they lose the popular vote by a small enough margin that gerrymandering and the geographic concentration of nonwhite voters frustrate the public’s will – it will be the result of tribalism. It won’t be because the G.O.P. won voters over with a tax cut.That’s not what they expected. The people who rammed through a massive tax cut without hearings or analysis thought they could sell it to voters as free money for everyone; never mind the big bucks for corporations and the wealthy, look at the extra cash we’re putting in your pocket.

Opinion | Unicorns of the Intellectual Right – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“The hiring-then-firing of Kevin Williamson followed a familiar script. A mainstream media organization hires a conservative in the name of intellectual diversity, then is shocked, shocked to discover that he’s dishonest and/or holds truly reprehensible views – something that the organization could have discovered with a few minutes on Google. But when the bad hire is let go, the right treats him as a martyr, proof of liberal refusal to let alternative viewpoints be heard. Why does this keep happening?

As others have pointed out, the real problem here is that media organizations are looking for unicorns: serious, honest, conservative intellectuals with real influence. Forty or fifty years ago, such people did exist. But now they don’t.”

Yes. And here is the most popular comment:

Socrates
Downtown Verona. NJ

In 1993, Kudlow predicted that Bill Clinton’s tax increases would dampen economic growth.

When the economy boomed in the late-1990s, Kudlow credited it to tax cuts enacted during the Reagan administration (1981-1989).

Kudlow was a strong advocate of George W. Bush’s substantial tax cuts, and argued that the tax cuts would lead to an economic boom of equal magnitude.

After the implementation of the Bush tax cuts, Kudlow insisted year after year that the economy was in the middle of a “Bush boom”, and chastised other commentators for failing to realize it.

Kudlow firmly denied that the United States would enter a recession in 2007, or that it was in the midst of a recession in early to mid-2008. In December 2007, he wrote: “The recession debate is over. It’s not gonna happen. Time to move on. At a bare minimum, we are looking at Goldilocks 2.0. The Bush boom is alive and well. It’s finishing up its sixth splendid year with many more years to come”.

In a May 2008 column entitled “‘R’ is for ‘Right'”, Kudlow wrote: “President George W. Bush may turn out to be the top economic forecaster in the country”.

By July 2008, Kudlow continued to deny that the economy was looking poor, saying “We are in a mental recession, not an actual recession.”

The most important Republican political talent is a sociopathic combination of pathological liars, congenital greedsters, and award-winning incompetents.

Republicans adore manmade catastrophe.

Grand Old Psychopaths are in the cockpit.

Opinion | What’s the Matter With Trumpland? – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Take, for example, the case of Mississippi, America’s poorest state. In the 1930s, per-capita income in Mississippi was only 30 percent as high as per-capita income in Massachusetts. By the late 1970s, however, that figure was almost 70 percent — and most people probably expected this process of convergence to continue.

But the process went into reverse instead: These days, Mississippi is back down to only about 55 percent of Massachusetts income. To put this in international perspective, Mississippi now is about as poor relative to the coastal states as Sicily is relative to northern Italy.

Mississippi isn’t an isolated case. As a new paper by Austin, Glaeser and Summers documents, regional convergence in per-capita incomes has stopped dead. And the relative economic decline of lagging regions has been accompanied by growing social problems: a rising share of prime-aged men not working, rising mortality, high levels of opioid consumption.

An aside: One implication of these developments is that William Julius Wilson was right. Wilson famously argued that the social ills of the nonwhite inner-city poor had their origin not in some mysterious flaws of African-American culture but in economic factors — specifically, the disappearance of good blue-collar jobs. Sure enough, when rural whites faced a similar loss of economic opportunity, they experienced a similar social unraveling.”

Opinion | Is It Policy- or Just Reality TV? – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“The other day the Trump administration announced a new trade deal with South Korea. It also announced that President Trump was nominating the White House physician to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. What do these announcements have in common?

The answer is that both are indicators of how Trump views his job. He doesn’t seem to see actual policymaking as important; instead, he treats it all as an exercise in reality TV.

Unfortunately, what looks good on TV isn’t necessarily good for America, or the world.Ronny L. Jackson, the veterans affairs nominee, certainly looks good on TV, as we saw when he gave Trump an excellent bill of health, including a declaration that the president, while overweight, is just shy of being officially obese — thanks to having apparently grown an inch in office.

However, girtherism isn’t the real issue here; as David Axelrod says, “a waist is a terrible thing to mind.” The point, instead, is that running veterans’ health is a management, not medical, job — and Jackson has no managerial experience.”

Putting the Ex-Con in Conservatism – Paul Krugman – NYT

“And this sustained reliance on the big con has, over time, exerted a strong selection effect both on the party’s leadership and on its base. G.O.P. politicians tend disproportionately to be con men (and in some cases, con women), because playing the party’s political game requires both a willingness to and a talent for saying one thing while doing another. And the party’s base consists disproportionately of the easily conned — those who are easily fooled by claims that Those People are the problem and don’t notice how much the true Republican agenda hurts them.

The point is that Trumpism was more or less fated to happen. Trump’s crude racism and blatant dishonesty are only exaggerated versions of what his party has been selling for decades, while his substantive policy agenda — slashing taxes on corporations and the wealthy, taking health care away from lower-income families — is utterly orthodox.

Even his protectionism is less of a departure from Republican norms than people imagine. George W. Bush put tariffs on steel, while Reagan limited imports of Japanese autos. Cutting taxes on the rich is a fundamental G.O.P. principle; free trade isn’t.Once you realize the extent to which Republican politics has been shaped by the big con, three implications follow.”

Nasty- Brutish and Trump – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“On Wednesday, after listening to the heart-rending stories of those who lost children and friends in the Parkland school shooting — while holding a cue card with empathetic-sounding phrases — Donald Trump proposed his answer: arming schoolteachers.

It says something about the state of our national discourse that this wasn’t even among the vilest, stupidest reactions to the atrocity. No, those honors go to the assertions by many conservative figures that bereaved students were being manipulated by sinister forces, or even that they were paid actors.Still, Trump’s horrible idea, taken straight from the N.R.A. playbook, was deeply revealing — and the revelation goes beyond issues of gun control. What’s going on in America right now isn’t just a culture war. It is, on the part of much of today’s right, a war on the very concept of community, of a society that uses the institution we call government to offer certain basic protections to all its members.

Before I get there, let me remind you of the obvious: We know very well how to limit gun violence, and arming civilians isn’t part of the answer.No other advanced nation experiences frequent massacres the way we do. Why? Because they impose background checks for prospective gun owners, limit the prevalence of guns in general and ban assault weapons that allow a killer to shoot dozens of people before he (it’s always a he) can be taken down. And yes, these regulations work.”