Steven Rattner | Washington Should Quit Its Budget Gimmicks – The New York Times

Mr. Rattner served as counselor to the Treasury secretary in the Obama administration.

“Americans of a certain age may remember J. Wellington Wimpy, a droll character from Popeye cartoons. “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today,” Wimpy would periodically implore passers-by.

That pretty much summarizes the opaque budget math behind the two huge spending plans now before Congress, one aimed at fixing our physical infrastructure and the other targeted at everything from child care to the climate crisis.

Unlike earlier pandemic rescue efforts, Democratic leaders have promised that these new bills would not add to the country’s enormous deficits. “It is zero price tag on the debt,” President Biden said recently. “We’re going to pay for everything we spend.”

Except they won’t. Take, for example, the bipartisan infrastructure bill. When it was unveiled with great fanfare at the end of July, a group of Democratic and Republican senators proudly proclaimed that its costs would be fully offset by new revenues.

“This is paid for,” said Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia. “Our infrastructure bill is all paid for.”

Just a few days later, the Congressional Budget Office — the official scorekeeper — delivered its verdict: The $550 billion in new spending would, in fact, mostly add to the deficit, with just $173 billion of offsets. A separate analysis by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Budget Model pegged the 10-year shortfall at $351 billion.”

Gail Collins | Robocalls Are Not Even the Worst of It – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“I am happy to inform you that the federal government is revving up the war on robocalls.

I checked on how things were going just after hanging up on a tinny-voiced woman who wanted to warn me that my car’s extended warranty was going to expire unless I pressed 1. In case I didn’t really care, she could take me off the calling list forever if I pressed 2.

Public service announcement: People, do not press 2. It’s press 1’s evil twin sister.

Robocalls refer to anything that comes to your phone via automated dialing. Which might include legal stuff you want to hear about, like a snow day.”

Nicholas Kristof Leaves The New York Times as He Weighs Political Bid – The New York Times

“After 37 years at The New York Times as a reporter, high-level editor and opinion columnist, Nicholas Kristof is leaving the newspaper as he considers running for governor of Oregon, a top Times editor said in a note to the staff on Thursday.

Mr. Kristof, 62, has been on leave from The Times since June, when he told company executives that he was weighing a run for governor in the state where he grew up. On Tuesday, he filed to organize a candidate committee with Oregon’s secretary of state, signaling that his interest was serious.

In the email to the staff announcing his departure, Kathleen Kingsbury, The Times’s opinion editor, wrote that Mr. Kristof had redefined the role of opinion columnist and credited him with “elevating the journalistic form to a new height of public service with a mix of incisive reporting, profound empathy and a determination to bear witness to those struggling and suffering across the globe.” “

Paul Krugman | A Deserved Nobel Economics Prize Reminds Us Facts Matter – The New York Times

“Nobel Memorial Prizes in economics are given for long-term research, not for economists’ role in current debates, so they don’t necessarily have much bearing on the political moment. You might expect the disconnect to be especially strong when the prize is given mainly for the development of new research methods.

And that’s the case for the latest prize, awarded Monday to David Card, Joshua D. Angrist and Guido W. Imbens, leaders in the “credibility revolution” — a change in the way economists use data to assess theories — that has swept economics over the past generation.

It turns out, however, that the credibility revolution is extremely relevant to current debates. For studies using the new approach have, in many though not all cases, strengthened the argument for a more active government role in addressing inequality.

As I’ll explain, that’s not an accident. But first, what’s this revolution all about?”

Charles M. Blow | The Democrats Are in Danger of a Midterm Rout – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“The Democrats are staring down real danger.

They just aren’t getting enough done. They aren’t moving quickly enough on President Biden’s major campaign promises.

The warning signs are all around.

Democrats are still wrangling over their infrastructure and social spending bills. And the longer the fight drags on, the uglier it looks. Washington watchers are right — to a degree — to say that this is simply the way that large legislation is worked through. It’s a slog.

In the end, I believe that the Democrats will have no choice but to pass something, no matter the size, because the consequence of failure is suicide. Democrats must go into the midterms with something that they can call a win, with something that at least inches closer to the transformations Biden has promised.

But the budget isn’t the only issue.

There is still a crisis at the border.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Hi Charles, you made some good points, but you basically lost me. I don’t think Manchin and Sinema are the biggest problem, even if they are too far right for me. I see the left wing of the party as the ones responsible for endangering Biden’s presidency and legacy. Are you in that group, who who wouldn’t let the the wonderful, bipartisan infrastructure bill sail through congress, after supported by both parties in the Senate. It isn’t enough to be right, you have to also have the votes in the right places.
I agree with Bret Stephens, who wrote today: “More to the point, I’m a fan of anything that gives Biden a bipartisan legislative win that will be popular with middle-of-the-road voters and arrest the decline in his poll numbers. On that front, I was struck by a fascinating column by our colleague Ezra Klein, based on his interviews with the superstar data analyst David Shor. The long-and-short of it, as Ezra paraphrases Shor, is that “Democrats are sleepwalking into catastrophe.” Shor thinks the Senate will soon slip out of Democratic hands, largely because the party has lost touch with both its white and nonwhite working-class voters. Many Democratic strategists think the way to shore up the Democratic majority is by offering statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., but I think that would just further alienate the very voters Dems need to win back.”
Climate change is an existential threat. We can’t afford to blow our leadership in congress.
David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Margaret Renkl | Halting Extinction Is an Issue We Actually Agree On – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/11/opinion/extinction-bipartisan-conservation.html

Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.

“NASHVILLE — If you’re a certain age, you may remember the snail darter, a small fish in the Little Tennessee River that caused an environmental firestorm when it was listed as endangered in 1975. At the time, the Tennessee Valley Authority was already in the midst of building a dam on the Little Tennessee. Snail darters require free-flowing water to reproduce, and the only known habitat for the entire species was about to be dammed.

The ensuing legal battle made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which sided with the fish. But Congress, pressed by Tennessee politicians, responded by making the Tellico Dam project exempt from the provisions of the Endangered Species Act. The little fish seemed doomed.

You may be wondering why I would resurrect the story of an ancient battle that ended badly for environmentalists. Why bring up the snail darter’s sad tale, especially now, with 22 species in the U.S. newly listed as extinct and one million others on track for the same grim future worldwide?

Those lost creatures are exactly why.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 garnered the kind of bipartisan Congressional support that we can hardly imagine today. The House voted 355-4 in favor of passage. It was signed into law by President Richard Nixon, a Republican. Since then, it has saved dozens of iconic species like the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon, the Yellowstone grizzly and the American alligator, and it remains extremely popular. Despite near constant challenges from business interests and a great many elected Republicans, at least 80 percent of Americans, including 74 percent of self-identified conservatives, support it.”

Thomas L. Friedman | A Scary Energy Winter Is Coming. Don’t Blame the Greens. – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Every so often the tectonic geopolitical plates that hold up the world economy suddenly shift in ways that can rattle and destabilize everything on the surface. That’s happening right now in the energy sphere.

Several forces are coming together that could make Vladimir Putin the king of Europe, enable Iran to thumb its nose at America and build an atomic bomb, and disrupt European power markets enough that the upcoming U.N. climate conference in Glasgow could suffer blackouts owing to too little clean energy.

Yes, this is a big one.

Natural gas and coal prices in Europe and Asia just hit their highest levels on record, oil prices in America hit a seven-year high and U.S. gasoline prices are up $1 a gallon from last year. If this winter is as bad as some experts predict — with some in the poor and middle classes unable to heat their homes — I fear we’ll see a populist backlash to the whole climate/green movement. You can already smell that coming in Britain. . . .

. . . .  Sadly, in an overreaction to the Fukushima nuclear accident, Germany decided in 2011 to phase out all of its nuclear power by 2022 — nuclear power stations that in the year 2000 generated 29.5 percent of Germany’s power generation mix. All of that has to be replaced by wind, solar, hydro and natural gas, and there is just not enough now.

As Bill Gates points out in his smart book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” the only way to reach our climate targets is to shift production of all the big heavy industries, like steel, cement and automobiles, as well as how we heat our homes and power our cars, to electricity generated from clean energy. Safe and affordable nuclear power has to be part of our mix because, Gates argues, “it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day.” “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Thomas Friedman, for this entire essay. I read Bill Gate’s book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” and I recommend to to all Americans who can read. For the others, there is already an audio book. Gates has a team of scientists that have reinvented a new nuclear power plant that cannot explode or melt down, and runs on old nuclear waste. What is holding them up, is that no one will let them build the first one. I nominate Connecticut to step up and be first. Gate’s book doesn’t go into his nuclear plant work. My reference for that is a documentary on Netflix called, Inside Bill’s Brain, part three.
David lives in Connecticut, and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | What’s a Little Disagreement Among Factions? – The New York Times

Gail Collins and 

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are Opinion columnists. They converse every week.

“Bret Stephens: Hi, Gail. I have a new grand theory of politics: The Stupid Party is whichever party happens to be in power. Fair?

Gail Collins: Bret, why do I think you have something specific in mind? Could it be … the Biden agenda? Preceded by … the Trump agenda? And, if my memory is correct, back in the day you didn’t think the Obama agenda was all that great either.

Bret: Well, I’m rooting for Biden to succeed, which wasn’t quite the way I felt about his immediate predecessor.

My point about the Stupid Party is that Democrats could have had a popular legislative win with a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. Instead, the Sandernistas in Congress effectively vetoed it for the sake of social spending that they aren’t likely to get. Now they’ve got nothing and may very likely end up with nothing — a classic case of two birds in the bush instead of one in hand. And Biden is going along with it! It’s political malpractice.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Is this a weak conversation, or do I just have a lot on my plate? A lot of repeats here. I’m sorry Bret needs population growth for economic growth, that is so 19th century. We are on a planet teeming with humans, 7.8 billion and counting, and our pollution is spoiling the garden from which we grow our food, and the oceans, which we try to fish. I’m disappointed with these two wonderful reporters, and their peers at the NYT and NPR, and the NewHours on PBS, for ignoring the harpy on the left, Jayapal. Bernie Sanders lost the primary to Joe Biden, and there is no mandate for all of his programs, at this immediate moment. She is willing to hand the government to theTrumpistas, if she can’t have her left wing utopia now. The infrastructure bill alone would strengthen the Democrats in the mid term elections in just over a year. The Family rehab bill, is great, only it has many moderate opponents. I liked Johnathan Capehart’s idea, do it for less than 10 years. Do it for two, three or four years. But get the infractucture bill passed and get it started. Please go after the lefty in Washington. “Pramila Jayapal United States Representative house.gov Pramila Jayapal is an American activist and politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, she represents most of Seattle, as well as some suburban areas of King County. Wikipedia Born: September 21, 1965 (age 56 years), Chennai, India Nationality: American Office: Representative (D-WA 7th District) since 2017 Education: Northwestern University (1990).”
She is also the leader of the House Democratic Progressive Caucus, that boasts 100 members, but most of these folks are from safe, blue states.

The Right to Health – By David Leonhardt- The New York Times

“The United States owes its existence as a nation partly toan immunization mandate.

In 1777, smallpox was a big enough problem for the bedraggled American army that George Washington thought it could jeopardize the Revolution. An outbreak had already led to one American defeat, at the Battle of Quebec. To prevent more, Washington ordered immunizations — done quietly, so the British would not hear how many Americans were sick — for all troops who had not yet had the virus.

It worked. The number of smallpox cases plummeted, and Washington’s army survived a war of attrition against the world’s most powerful country. The immunization mandate, as Ron Chernow wrote in his 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Washington, “was as important as any military measure Washington adopted during the war.” “

Thomas Friedman | Do Democrats Have the Courage of Liz Cheney? – The New York Times

“. . . Just listen to Cheney. Addressing her fellow Republicans on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, she noted that when they abet Trump’s delegitimization of the last election, “in the face of rulings of the courts, in the face of recounts, in the face of everything that’s gone on to demonstrate that there was not fraud … we are contributing to the undermining of our system. And it’s a really serious and dangerous moment because of that.”

This is Code Red. And that leads me to the Democrats in Congress.

I have only one question for them: Are you ready to risk a lot less than Liz Cheney did to do what is necessary right now — from your side — to save our democracy?

Because, when one party in our two-party system completely goes rogue, it falls on the other party to act. Democrats have to do three things at the same time: advance their agenda, protect the integrity of our elections and prevent this unprincipled Trump-cult version of the G.O.P. from ever gaining national power again.

It is a tall order and a wholly unfair burden in many ways. But if Cheney is ready to risk everything to stop Trump, then Democrats — both moderates and progressives — must rise to this moment and forge the majorities needed in the Senate and House to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill (now scheduled for a Thursday vote in the House), a voting rights bill and as much of the Build Back Better legislation as moderate and progressives can agree on.  . . . “