Opinion | Republicans, the Time Has Come – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By 

Opinion Columnist

“To the Republican members of the United States Senate:

You have always told us that you believe in the distinctive greatness of the United States of America. “America is different,” as Senator Marco Rubio has said. Ben Sasse likes to say that “America is an idea” — a commitment to universal dignity over brute power.

You have also told us that you went into politics to serve a higher purpose. Well, your moment has arrived.

The president of the United States is betraying his oath of office in the most fundamental way, by using the presidency for personal gain at the country’s expense. He has corrupted our foreign policy with grubby attempts to help himself that his own White House staff immediately recognized as improper. He is telling the world that America does not, in fact, stand for any higher ideal. Can you for a moment imagine the icons of your party, like Ronald Reagan or Dwight Eisenhower, risking the security of a country threatened by Russia, for the sake of smearing a political rival?

President Trump must go, and you — only you — have the power to make it happen.

You can start to distance yourself from him slowly, if it will help bring along your political base. A couple of you — like Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who called Trump’s behavior “inappropriate,” and Mitt Romney of Utah, who used the word “troubling” — have begun to do so. But more of you should be moving in this direction, for the sake of the country and, ultimately, yourselves.”

Opinion | Why I Changed My Mind About Impeachment – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“Impeachment is an inherently political process. The framers designed it that way. It is the ultimate way that one branch of the federal government can hold another branch accountable.

Impeachment is not like a criminal trial, in which a jury or judge is supposed to base a verdict only on what happens inside the courtroom. The Constitution’s standard for impeachment — “high crimes and misdemeanors” — is deliberately vague. The decisions about whether the House should impeach and whether the Senate should convict have always involved a mixture of law, politics and public opinion.

For this reason, I have long thought Democrats would be making a mistake by starting impeachment proceedings against President Trump, even though I also believed Trump was manifestly unfit for office.”

Opinion | Donald Trump vs. the United States of America – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“Sometimes it’s worth stepping back to look at the full picture.

He has pressured a foreign leader to interfere in the 2020 American presidential election.

He urged a foreign country to intervene in the 2016 presidential election.

He divulged classified information to foreign officials.

He publicly undermined American intelligence agents while standing next to a hostile foreign autocrat.

He hired a national security adviser who he knew had secretly worked as a foreign lobbyist.

He encourages foreign leaders to enrich him and his family by staying at his hotels.

He genuflects to murderous dictators.

He has alienated America’s closest allies.

He lied to the American people about his company’s business dealings in Russia.

He tells new lies virtually every week — about the economy, voter fraud, even the weather.

He spends hours on end watching television and days on end staying at resorts.

He often declines to read briefing books or perform other basic functions of a president’s job.

He has aides, as well as members of his own party in Congress, who mock him behind his back as unfit for office.”

Opinion | Elizabeth Warren’s Plan for Social Security Looks Smart – by David Leonhardt – The New York Times

“When I was a teenager, my mom showed me a statement that she had received in the mail from the Social Security Administration. It included an annual history of her earnings, which showed a big string of zero’s covering the years when she was in her late 20s and early 30s. “That’s you and your sister,” she explained, laughing.

My mom is doing just fine these days, but anyone who spends years as a stay-at-home parent — or an unpaid caregiver of any kind — faces a financial penalty when it comes time to retire. Our Social Security system doesn’t recognize parenting as the socially and economically valuable job that it is.

That’s not the system’s only inequity, either. It also punishes teachers, police officers, firefighters and other government employees. Their Social Security benefits are cut if their pension is large enough, unlike private-sector workers, who can keep their full Social Security benefit regardless of the size of their private pension.

Elizabeth Warren has become famous for her plans, and her latest one, out this morning, is meant to address this unfairness. It would let public-sector workers keep their full Social Security benefits and increase benefits for people who spend at least 80 hours a month as unpaid caregivers for young children, the elderly or the disabled.

The biggest part of the plan, however, is an across-the-board increase in monthly Social Security payments. Every current and future beneficiary will receive at least $200 more per month than under the current plan, and many low-income workers will receive at least $600 more.”

Opinion | ‘Steve Bullock Is the Most Important Person on the Planet’ – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditCharlie Neibergall/Associated Press

 

I love David Leonhardt. Whenever I feel I should work much harder at researching and writing an article, I discover I can just repost David Leonhardt, such as his piece today:
“Steve Bullock is the most important person on the planet,” Robert Frank, the economist and author, recently wrote to me in an email.

Bullock is the populist Democratic governor of Montana who’s running a lackluster campaign for president. But he’s so popular in Montana, despite its deep conservatism, that he is the only Democrat with any reasonable chance of beating the state’s incumbent Republican senator, Steve Daines, next year. That’s why Frank thinks Bullock is the most important person on the planet.

“The window of opportunity for effective action on the climate crisis is rapidly closing,” Frank wrote. “Absent robust measures to curb greenhouse gases, climate scientists forecast steadily more frequent and intense storms, droughts, flooding, and wildfires. Alone among major political parties worldwide, Republicans have refused even to admit the existence of climate change, much less enact meaningful legislation for dealing with it.” And seemingly the only way the United States will take meaningful climate action in the next couple years is if the Democrats control both Congress and the White House.”

x
DL: Taking back the Senate is as impportant as winning the White House. That is why Beto O’Rourke is a misguided egotist. He could and should challenge John Cornyn in Texas for his Senate seat.

Opinion | Let the People (of Florida) Vote – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditJoe Raedle/Getty Images

“Winning civil rights is never easy. The fight can stretch on for decades and include setbacks that feel like utter defeat. An enduring lesson of the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century is the need for persistence, because social progress doesn’t come without a fight.

I’d encourage you to keep this idea in mind as I tell you this morning about the fight for voting rights in Florida. Parts of the story are depressing. Yet I think optimism is still the right attitude.

Last year, Florida voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 4, a ballot initiative restoring voting rights to 1.4 million state residents previously convicted of a felony. It seemed like one of the biggest victories for voting rights in years, especially because almost 20 percent of black adults in the state had previously been prevented from voting. In May, however, the state legislature — controlled by Republicans — passed a bill that undermined the amendment, and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill in June.”

Opinion | Get It Together- Democrats – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

After an effective 2018, the party is struggling.

David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

The dome of the Capitol is reflected in a puddle in Washington last December.CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

“The Democratic Party is having a rough summer so far:

  • Congressional Democrats have a weak, confusing message about Robert Mueller’s findings.

  • Congressional Republicans outfoxed Democrats on a border funding bill.

  • Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, needlessly criticized a group of young House progressives — and those progressives responded by accusing her, without evidence, of racism. (President Trump’s ugly remarks yesterday were a reminder of what actual racism looks like.)

  • Several top-tier Democratic presidential candidates have staked out unpopular positions on immigration and Medicare.

  • A few candidates who could have helped the party in other ways are instead running quixotic presidential campaigns. For example, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana could have run for Senate, and the billionaire Tom Steyer could have financed voter registration drives.

  • An otherwise impressive Senate candidate who’s hoping to unseat Mitch McConnell — Amy McGrath, in Kentucky — started her campaign with an embarrassing flip-flop about how she would have voted on Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

I don’t want to exaggerate the impact of these events. Trump’s approval rating has moved up only about two percentage points in recent weeks, according to the polling from Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight. Between 42 and 45 percent of Americans approve of his performance.”

Opinion | The Democrats Are Confused on Immigration – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

A patchwork made by Roberto Marquez representing an American flag hangs on a portion of the United States-Mexico border in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, earlier this month.CreditGuillermo Arias/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“The Democratic Party no longer has a clear policy on immigration.

It used to, not so long ago. The party’s leaders knew what they favored and felt comfortable saying so. Their platform generally included: 1) a path to citizenship for immigrants who came to this country illegally but had since obeyed the law; 2) deportation of undocumented immigrants who had since broken the law in significant ways; 3) fairly robust border security and investigation of companies employing undocumented immigrants, to hold down current and future levels of illegal immigration.

Besides favoring these policies, Democrats were also willing to talk about the benefits of limiting immigration and of assimilation.”

“My own view is that the country benefits from significant limits on immigration. As David Frum notes in a recent cover story for The Atlantic, immigration levels were quite low for much of the 20th century — from roughly the 1910s through the 1970s.

The slowdown helped many of the immigrants who arrived in the waves before 1910 (including parts of my family). They faced less competition in the labor market. Labor unions were more easily able to grow, because they were organizing an increasingly assimilated workforce. The immigration slowdown played a role in the great income surge of the post-World War II decades.

Today, I’d favor a policy with a lot of similarities to the Democrats’ platform of the Obama years, including humane treatment of immigrants already here plus tight border security. I’d change the mix of immigration, to let in fewer low-skills immigrants and more high-skills immigrants. Doing so has the potential to reduce inequality and lift economic growth.”

“If nothing else, I’d urge Democrats to look at public opinion on immigration with an open mind. The polling isn’t as favorable as some of the recent conversation on the left has suggested. In a recent Gallup poll, 47 percent of Americans called illegal immigration a critical threat and another 30 percent called it an important threat.”

David Lindsay: This is so important. Are the Democrats listening? In a recent Gallup poll, 77% of Americans think that illegal immigration is either a critical or an important threat.

Opinion | The Democrats’ Leftward Move – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

Too much? Or just enough?

David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Kamala Harris raised their hands when asked if their health care plans would abolish private insurance as Joe Biden looked on during a 2020 Democratic primary debate last week. Ms. Harris later moderated her position.CreditDrew Angerer/Getty Images

“After the Democratic debates last week, two of my more conservative colleagues — David Brooks and Bret Stephens — criticized the party for moving too far to the left for its own good. Many liberals reacted to the columns with either anger or disdain, saying that the Democrats don’t need to win over center-right elites in order to win the White House in 2020.

My own view falls somewhere in between that of my colleagues and their critics. On basic economic issues, I think Democrats have plenty of room to adopt a more progressive agenda. Substantively, that’s a smart agenda for an economy suffering from severe inequality and climate change. Politically, it fits with the populist, progressive views that most Americans hold on economic matters. Higher taxes on the rich, to take one example, are extremely popular.

But just because the Democrats have room to move to the left on some issues doesn’t mean they’re wise to move to the left on all of them. And I think the arguments — both substantively and politically — are much weaker for some of the policies Democrats are now pushing.

Free college for all ends up helping a lot of affluent families who don’t need help (as Pete Buttigieg has done a nice job of explaining). Trying to abolish private health insurance will lead to an epic political fight that will crowd out every other issue, including climate change. And abandoning the party’s traditional support for rigorous immigration enforcement would encourage more illegal immigration. (Here is a longer version of my thoughts about the Democrats’ strange new vagueness on immigration policy.)

I recognize that many progressives are to my left on at least one of these issues, and I respect their substantive arguments. But the political case strikes me as much weaker, especially on immigration and health care. Most Americans aren’t in favor of a more open immigration policy or the banning of private health insurance. And I’m skeptical that these issues are potent enough among occasional voters to inspire a turnout surge. The politics of free college are arguably better, but some polls suggest that it too is unpopular.

So I wonder: Are any of these priorities worth increasing the chances of President Trump’s re-election?”

David Lindsay:  I support all of the above.

Opinion | How to Fight Gerrymandering Now – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

Demonstrators protested against gerrymandering in front of the Supreme Court in March.CreditJoshua Roberts/Reuters

 

“John Roberts and the four other Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices last month gave their approval to extreme gerrymandering, which means that federal courts will no longer be able to reject political maps drawn for partisan reasons.

That’s a bad development for American democracy. Political parties will be able to entrench power by drawing legislative districts that allow them to win elections even when they receive fewer votes.

So what can opponents of gerrymandering do? I see several strategies:

1. Criticize the Roberts court for its partisanship. Both parties engage in shameful gerrymandering. But Republicans have done much more of it than Democrats. To be blunt, five Republican-appointed justices — including one who’s on the court only because Senate Republicans effectively stole a seat — delivered an enormous, anti-democratic gift to their own political party.”