Opinion | The Party of No Ideas – by Paul Krugman – NYT

Democrats will almost certainly receive more votes than Republicans in the midterm elections. But gerrymandering and other factors have severely tilted the playing field, so they would need to win the popular vote by a wide margin to retake the House, and a huge margin to retake the Senate. I don’t know how it will turn out — or what will happen to the perceived legitimacy of the federal government if all three branches are controlled by people the voters rejected. Neither does anyone else.One thing we do know, however, is that Republicans have decisively lost the battle of ideas. All of their major policy moves, on health care, taxes and tariffs, are playing badly with voters.In fact, Republican policies are so unpopular that the party’s candidates are barely trying to sell them. Instead, they’re pretending to stand for things they actually don’t — like protecting health coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions — or trying to distract voters with culture war and appeals to white racial identity. The G.O.P. has become the party of no ideas.

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Opinion | A Smorgasbord Recession? (Wonkish) – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“The 2008 financial crisis is (duh) a decade in the past; employment has been growing steadily since early 2010. Since nothing is forever, and proclamations that the business cycle is over have always ended in embarrassment, lots of people are looking for the sources of the next recession.

The thing is, there’s nothing out there as obvious as the housing bubble of the mid-2000s, or even the tech bubble of the late 1990s. So here’s my thought: maybe the next recession won’t be caused by one big shock but instead by the combined impact of several smaller shocks. There are arguably several mid-sized bubbles out there, from private equity debt to emerging markets. Stocks are priced as if there’s no risk despite omens of trade war, consumer confidence similarly seems to discount dangers. There’s probably other stuff I’m missing.

The point, anyway, is that we might be looking at a smorgasbord recession, one that involves a mix of smallish things rather than a single dominant item. And there’s a model for that kind of recession: the slump of the early 1990s.”

Opinion | Botching the Great Recession – by Paul Krugman – NYT

” . . . Why, then, didn’t we get the fiscal policy we should have had? There were, I’d say, multiple villains in the story.

First, we can argue whether the Obama administration could have gotten more; that’s a debate we’ll never see resolved. What is clear, however, is that at least some key Obama figures were actively opposed to giving the economy the support it needed. “Stimulus is sugar,” snapped Tim Geithner at Christina Romer, when she argued for a bigger plan.

Second, Very Serious People pivoted very early from concern about the unemployed — hey, they probably lacked the necessary skills — to hysteria over deficits. By 2011, unemployment was still over 9 percent, but all the Beltway crowd wanted to talk about was the menace of the debt.

Finally, Republicans blocked attempts to rescue the economy and tried to strangle government spending every step of the way. They claimed that this was because they cared about fiscal responsibility — but it was obvious to anyone paying attention (which unfortunately didn’t include almost anyone in the news media) that this was an insincere, bad-faith argument. As we’ve now seen, they don’t care at all about deficits as long as a Republican is in the White House and the deficits are the counterpart of tax cuts for the rich.

The end result was that policy moved quickly and fairly effectively to rescue banks, then turned its back on mass unemployment. It’s a story that’s both sad and nasty. And there’s every reason to believe that if we have another crisis, it will happen all over again.”

David Lindsay:  It is all true. I remember when Obama became president, and Krugman spent the year after the melt down begging for a much bigger stimulus. He called for a second trillion ( or 800 billion)  dollars of spending, to get the giant aircraft carrier which was the US economy moving again through the water.

Opinion | Democrats Are Credible on Health Care – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“It’s worth remembering what Republicans said would happen before the A.C.A. went online: that it would fail to reduce the number of uninsured, that it would blow a giant hole in the budget, that it would lead to a “death spiral” of rising premiums and declining enrollment.

What actually happened was a dramatic fall in the uninsured, especially in those states that expanded Medicaid. The budget costs of expanding Medicaid and subsidizing other insurance have been significant, but estimates for 2019 suggest that these costs will be around $115 billion — much less than half the revenue lost due to the Trump tax cut.

What about that death spiral? Premiums on the health exchanges established by the A.C.A. initially came in much lower than expected, then rose sharply when the people signing up for those exchanges turned out to be fewer and sicker than insurers had hoped. But the markets have now stabilized, with only modest premium increases for 2019 and insurers returning to the exchanges.

And while the exchanges are covering fewer people than projected, Medicaid is covering more than expected, so that overall gains in coverage have been surprisingly on target. In early 2014, the Congressional Budget Office projected that under the A.C.A., by 2018 there would be 29 million uninsured U.S. residents. The actual number is … 29 million.”

Opinion | Kavanaugh Will Kill the Constitution – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

I have watched almost half of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. He is a great salesman, and a terrific friend, and listener. But, I think he is too extreme to be on our Supreme Court. As usual, Paul Krugman sharpens my knowledge and analysis. He wrote:
“Remember, Kavanaugh cut his teeth working for the Starr investigation into Bill Clinton — a genuine witch hunt that consumed seven years and tens of millions of dollars without finding any evidence of wrongdoing. And he personally spent years obsessively pursuing crazy conspiracy theories about the suicide of Vince Foster.

Then he spent time working in the George W. Bush White House, which made torture a routine part of policy. In his 2006 confirmation hearing for an appellate court judgeship he declared that he played no role in those decisions. Was he telling the truth? The answer might lie in those thousands of pages of records the Trump administration is refusing to release.

Strange to say, however, he emerged from that experience as someone who believes that presidents can’t be subject to legal investigations.

Meanwhile, Kavanaugh accumulated a record as an appellate judge — one that places him far to the right on everything from the environment, to labor rights, to discrimination. His anti-labor views are especially extreme, even for a conservative.

So who is Brett Kavanaugh? If he looks like a right-wing apparatchik and quacks like a right-wing apparatchik, he’s almost surely a right-wing apparatchik. Which brings us to the coming constitutional crises.”

I was deeply moved by the testimony of three children on day three. One was shot at in Florida by an assault rifle. She pulled a dead student over her body for protection. Kananaugh ruled that assault rifles could not be banned. One was an asthmatic in Maine. Kavanaugh ruled multiple times to role back clean air regulations.

Opinion | Stop Calling Trump a Populist – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“Message to those in the news media who keep calling Donald Trump a “populist”: I do not think that word means what you think it means.

It’s true that Trump still, on occasion, poses as someone who champions the interests of ordinary working Americans against those of the elite. And I guess there’s a sense in which his embrace of white nationalism gives voice to ordinary Americans who share his racism but have felt unable to air their prejudice in public.

But he’s been in office for a year and a half, time enough to be judged on what he does, not what he says. And his administration has been relentlessly anti-worker on every front. Trump is about as populist as he is godly — that is, not at all.

Start with tax policy, where Trump’s major legislative achievement is a tax cut that mainly benefits corporations — whose tax payments have fallen off a cliff — and has done nothing at all to raise wages. The tax plan does so little for ordinary Americans that Republicans have stopped campaigning on it. Yet the administration is floating the (probably illegal) idea of using executive action to cut taxes on the rich by an extra $100 billion.”

DL: Yes, Thank you. And here is a top comment I recommended:
Pono
Big IslandAug. 2
Times Pick
The term “Populist” was never, and will never be, accurate in describing him.
The word “demagogue” is the shoe that fits.
Defined as:
“a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument”
Sound familiar?

Reply 738 Recommended

Opinion | Return of the Blood Libel – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“The speed of America’s moral descent under Donald Trump is breathtaking. In a matter of months we’ve gone from a nation that stood for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to a nation that tears children from their parents and puts them in cages.What’s almost equally remarkable about this plunge into barbarism is that it’s not a response to any actual problem. The mass influx of murderers and rapists that Trump talks about, the wave of crime committed by immigrants here (and, in his mind, refugees in Germany), are things that simply aren’t happening. They’re just sick fantasies being used to justify real atrocities.

And you know what this reminds me of? The history of anti-Semitism, a tale of prejudice fueled by myths and hoaxes that ended in genocide.

First, let’s talk about modern U.S. immigration and how it compares to those sick fantasies.”

David Lindsay: Here is my favorite comment, and it is important.

Randomonium
Far Out WestJune 21
Times Pick

These immigrants are being used as scapegoats to distract us from what is really happening. Trump brags about the health of our economy, yet he is doing all he can to disrupt it with tariffs and potential for trade wars with China and Europe. He is attacking our closest allies while snuggling up to the tyrants Putin and Kim. He is tearing down our intelligence community, Justice and FBI, military and other Federal institutions. These are much more serious issues than working to develop a humane and fair process for accepting asylum-seekers, who only want a chance to live in peace and work to support their families.