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.”

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.

Peter Beinart | In Biden’s Foreign Policy, What Is ‘Rules-Based Order?’ – The New York Times

Mr. Beinart is a contributing Opinion writer who focuses on American foreign policy.

“Anyone who slogs through the diplomatic verbiage generated last week by President Biden’s inaugural overseas trip will notice one phrase again and again: “rules-based.” It appears twice in Mr. Biden’s joint statement with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, four times each in the communiqués the United States issued with the governments of the Group of 7 and the European Union, and six times in the manifesto produced by NATO.

That’s no surprise: “Rules-based order” (or sometimes, “rules-based system”) is among the Biden administration’s favorite terms. It has become what “free world” was during the Cold War. Especially among Democrats, it’s the slogan that explains what America is fighting to defend.

Too bad. Because the “rules-based order” is a decoy. It’s a way of sidestepping the question Democrats should be asking: Why isn’t America defending international law?”

In Rift With Biden, a Dramatic Show of Force by a Conservative Catholic Movement – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Pope Francis and President Biden, both liberals, are the two most high-profile Roman Catholics in the world.

But in the United States, neither of these men is determining the direction of the Catholic Church. It is now a conservative movement that decides how the Catholic Church asserts its power in America.

That reality was unmistakably declared last week, when the country’s bishops voted overwhelmingly to draft guidelines for the Eucharist, advancing a conservative push to deny Mr. Biden communion over his support for abortion rights.

“There is a special obligation of those who are in leadership because of their public visibility,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who heads the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in Indiana, said after the vote.”

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT comment:

Thank you Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham for an excellent report, and for disturbing my wa, or tranquility. I enjoyed also, the many most recommended comments. I heartily agree that the the Catholic Church continues in right wing politics, and should lose it’s tax exempt status in the US as soon as possible. What a sad bunch of medieval misogynists, more famous for protecting child molesters, than following the teachings of Jesus Christ. I have been an Episcopalian all my life, but I discovered I also feel close and comfortable with the best of Buddhists, Hindus, Shintos, Moslems, Jews and pagan nature worshippers. On most days, I believe in a higher power. I once entered a Unitarian Society or Church, and discovered that I was essentially a Unitarian, someone who focuses on good works rather than dcrines claiming the truth. Part of me looks forward to the collapse of the Catholic Church, but then, in researching my historical fiction, The Tay Son Rebellion, on 18th century Vietnam, I discovered Pierre Pigneau de Behaine, who was a great scholar, a saint, and a military leader, who deeply influenced the 30 civil year war started by the Tay Son Rebellion. In recent years, my Lady gave me a copy of Eager to Love, The Alternative way of Francis of Assisi, by Richard Rohr, and I discovered that I am, in fact, a Christian, as in a follower of Jesus through Saint Francis of Assisi, who insisted that all all life forms are equally sacred David also blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Paul Krugman | Biden and the Future of the Family – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/03/opinion/biden-family-aid.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

Opinion Columnist

“Like many progressives, I like the Biden administration’s plan to invest in infrastructure, but really love its plans to invest more in people. There’s a good case for doing more to improve physical assets like roads, water supplies and broadband networks. There’s an overwhelming case for doing more to help families with children.

To Republican politicians, however, the opposite is true. G.O.P. opposition to President Biden’s infrastructure plans has felt low-energy, mainly involving word games about the meaning of “infrastructure” and tired repetition of old slogans about big government and job-killing tax hikes. Attacks on the family plan have, though, been truly venomous; Republicans seem really upset about proposals to spend more on child care and education.

Which is not to say that the arguments they’ve been making are honest.

How do we know that we should be spending more on families? There is, it turns out, a lot of evidence that there are big returns to helping children and their parents — stronger evidence, if truth be told, than there is for high returns to improved physical infrastructure.

For example, researchers have looked into the long-term effects of the food stamp program, which was rolled out gradually across the country in the 1960s and 1970s. Children who had early access to food stamps, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth concluded, “grew up to be better educated and have healthier, longer and more productive lives.” Researchers have found similar effects for children whose families received access to the earned-income tax credit and Medicaid.

Paul Krugman | Good Luck to Republicans if Biden’s Family Plan Becomes Law – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/29/opinion/child-care-biden.html

Mr. Krugman is an Opinion columnist.

“Conservatives beware: If the main elements in Joe Biden’s American Family Plan become law, they’ll be very hard to repeal. Why? Because they’ll deliver huge, indeed transformational benefits to millions.

I mean, just imagine trying to take away affordable child care, universal pre-K and paid leave for new parents once they’ve become part of the fabric of our society. You’d face a backlash far worse than the one that followed Republican attempts to eliminate protection for coverage of pre-existing health conditions in 2017. And that backlash quickly gave Democrats control of the House and set the stage for their current control of the Senate and White House as well.

So what’s the Republican counterargument? Well, much of the party appears uninterested in debating policy, preferring to lash out at imaginary plans to ban red meat or give immigrants Kamala Harris’s children’s book.

The official G.O.P. response to Biden’s speech on Wednesday, by Senator Tim Scott, seemed low-energy; Scott is still complaining about “big government” and denouncing Biden for spending money on things other than roads and bridges. The closest thing to a real argument was the claim that Biden is proposing “the biggest job-killing tax hikes in a generation” — presumably a reference to Bill Clinton’s tax increase in 1993.

Indeed, Biden intends to pay for his proposals with higher taxes on corporations and high-income individuals, including a dastardly plan to give the Internal Revenue Service enough resources to crack down on wealthy tax cheats.

It’s important, then, to realize that the family plan would, if enacted, be a major job creator. That is, it would increase the number of Americans — women in particular — in paid employment substantially, probably by several million.

To understand why, the first thing you need to know is that while Republicans always claim that raising taxes on the rich will destroy jobs, they have never yet been right. Scott’s rejoinder to Biden appeared to suggest that the 1993 Clinton tax hike killed jobs; in reality, the United States added 23 million jobs on Clinton’s watch. People also seem to forget that Barack Obama presided over a significant hike in high-end taxes at the beginning of his second term; the economy continued to add jobs rapidly, at the rate of about 2.5 million a year.

Oh, and employment in California boomed after Jerry Brown raised taxes on the wealthy in 2012, defying conservative declarations that the state was committing economic suicide.

It’s also instructive to compare the United States with other advanced countries, almost all of which have higher taxes and more generous social benefits than we do. Do they pay a price for these policies in the form of reduced employment?

Many Americans would, I suspect, be surprised to learn that the truth is that many high-tax, high-benefit countries are quite successful at creating jobs. Take the case of France: Adults between the ages of 25 and 54, the prime working years, are more likely to be employed in France than they are in America, mainly because Frenchwomen have a higher rate of paid employment than their American counterparts. The Nordic countries have an even larger employment advantage among women.  . . . “

Chuck Schumer Looks to Bring Biden’s Vision to Life – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — President Biden laid out his ambitious vision for a post-pandemic America on Wednesday night. Now it is up to Senator Chuck Schumer to make it a reality.

Mr. Schumer, a New York Democrat and the majority leader, insists that he is willing to negotiate with Republicans on the president’s second monumental piece of legislation, seeking a consensus that some of the moderate Democrats, including Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, are demanding.

But it is already clear that the odds of such a compromise are vanishingly slight, leaving Mr. Schumer with an exceedingly difficult path to delivering on Mr. Biden’s promises.

With Republicans suffering sticker shock from more than $4 trillion in new spending proposals outlined by Mr. Biden, and offering their own infrastructure package that is a tiny fraction of the cost, the gulf between the two parties could not be larger. Yet a handful of Democrats who could be crucial swing votes believe it is misguided and politically dangerous to pass legislation this big without buy-in from the other party.  . . . “

Paul Krugman | Helping Families Will Help Create Jobs – The New York Times

Mr. Krugman is an Opinion columnist.

“Conservatives beware: If the main elements in Joe Biden’s American Family Plan become law, they’ll be very hard to repeal. Why? Because they’ll deliver huge, indeed transformational benefits to millions.

I mean, just imagine trying to take away affordable child care, universal pre-K and paid leave for new parents once they’ve become part of the fabric of our society. You’d face a backlash far worse than the one that followed Republican attempts to eliminate protection for coverage of pre-existing health conditions in 2017. And that backlash quickly gave Democrats control of the House and set the stage for their current control of the Senate and White House as well.

So what’s the Republican counterargument? Well, much of the party appears uninterested in debating policy, preferring to lash out at imaginary plans to ban red meat or give immigrants Kamala Harris’s children’s book.

The official G.O.P. response to Biden’s speech on Wednesday, by Senator Tim Scott, seemed low-energy; Scott is still complaining about “big government” and denouncing Biden for spending money on things other than roads and bridges. The closest thing to a real argument was the claim that Biden is proposing “the biggest job-killing tax hikes in a generation” — presumably a reference to Bill Clinton’s tax increase in 1993.  . . . “

Michelle Cottle | Biden Underpromises, Overdelivers – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/27/opinion/biden-100-days.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

“Like any employee, President Biden has to suffer through periodic performance reviews. Thursday marks his 100th day in office — a time-honored if vaguely arbitrary milestone at which a president’s early moves are sliced, diced and spun for all the world to judge. How many bills has he gotten passed? Whom has he appointed? How many executive orders has he signed? Which promises has he broken? Which constituencies has he ticked off?

Mr. Biden took office under extraordinary circumstances, with the nation confronting what he has called a quartet of “converging crises”: a lethal pandemic, economic uncertainty, climate change and racial injustice. Bold policy action was needed. So, too, was an effort to neutralize the toxic politics of the Trump era — which, among other damage, spawned a large reality-free zone in which the bulk of Republicans buy the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

All of which feels like a lot for one mild-mannered 78-year-old to tackle in his first three or so months. Then again, Mr. Biden is built to keep chugging along in the face of adversity, tragedy and lousy odds. That’s how he rolls. And while his first 100 days have been far from flawless, they reflect a clear understanding of why he was elected and what the American people now expect of him.

The president moved fast and went big on his signature challenge: confronting the one-two public-health-and-economic punch of the pandemic. He asked Congress for a $1.9 trillion relief package, and Congress basically gave him a $1.9 trillion relief package. Did Republican lawmakers sign on? No, they did not. But the ambitious bill — which went so far as to establish a (temporary) guaranteed income for families with children — drew strong bipartisan support from the public. That was good enough for the White House.  . . . “

Inside Biden’s Reversal on Refugees – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/20/us/politics/biden-refugees.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

“Last Friday, that wait was finally over. But it was not what anyone outside the White House expected: Mr. Trump’s cap would remain in place.

“The admission of up to 15,000 refugees remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest,” Mr. Biden wrote in a presidential memo to the State Department. Once Mr. Trump’s cap was filled, the memo said, the ceiling could be raised again “as appropriate.”

Instead of making good on his promise to significantly expand refugee entry into the United States, Mr. Biden was sticking to the cap engineered by Stephen Miller, the architect of Mr. Trump’s immigration policies.

“This reflects Team Biden’s awareness that the border flood will cause record midterm losses,” Mr. Miller tweeted, adding that if it were still up to him, “Refugee cap should be reduced to ZERO.”

The idea that Mr. Miller and Mr. Biden were in agreement about anything was anathema to most of the president’s supporters, many of whom flew into a rage.   . . . “