Opinion | Trump Is Terrible for Rural America – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By Paul Krugman
Opinion Columnist      May 9, 2019, 844

“Economists, reports Politico, are fleeing the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service. Six of them resigned on a single day last month. The reason? They are feeling persecuted for publishing reports that shed an unflattering light on Trump policies.

But these reports are just reflecting reality (which has a well-known anti-Trump bias). Rural America is a key part of Donald Trump’s base. In fact, rural areas are the only parts of the country in which Trump has a net positive approval rating. But they’re also the biggest losers under his policies.

What, after all, is Trumpism? In 2016 Trump pretended to be a different kind of Republican, but in practice almost all of his economic agenda has been G.O.P. standard: big tax cuts for corporations and the rich while hacking away at the social safety net. The one big break from orthodoxy has been his protectionism, his eagerness to start trade wars.

And all of these policies disproportionately hurt farm country.

The Trump tax cut largely passes farmers by, because they aren’t corporations and few of them are rich. One of the studies by Agriculture Department economists that raised Trumpian ire showed that to the extent that farmers saw tax reductions, most of the benefits went to the richest 10 percent, while poor farmers actually saw a slight tax increase.”

Opinion | The Zombie Style in American Politics – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By Paul Krugman
Opinion Columnist

April 29, 2019, 632

“Russia didn’t help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. O.K., it did help him, but the campaign itself wasn’t involved. O.K., the campaign had a lot of Russian contacts and knowingly received information from the Russians, but that was perfectly fine.

If you’ve been trying to follow the Republican response to revelations about what happened in 2016, you may be a bit confused. We’re not even talking about an ever-shifting party line; new excuses keep emerging, but old excuses are never abandoned. On one side, we have Rudy Giuliani saying that “there’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.” On the other side, we have Jared Kushner denying that Russia did anything beyond taking out “a couple of Facebook ads.”

It’s all very strange. Or, more accurately, it can seem very strange if you still think of the G.O.P. as a normal political party, one that adopts policy positions and then defends those positions in more or less good faith.

But if you have been following Republican arguments over the years, you know that the party’s response to evidence of Russian intervention in 2016 is standard operating procedure. On issue after issue, what you see are multiple levels of denial combined with a refusal ever to give up an argument no matter how completely it has been discredited.”

Opinion | Trump’s Kakistocracy Is Also a Hackistocracy – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“It’s no secret that Donald Trump has appointed a lot of partisan, unqualified hacks to key policy positions. A few months ago my colleague Gail Collins asked readers to help her select Trump’s worst cabinet member. It was a hard choice, because there were so many qualified applicants.

The winner, by the way, was Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary. That looks like an even better call now: Ross’s department has reportedly prepared a report declaring that imports of European cars threaten U.S. national security. This is both ludicrous and dangerous. It gives Trump the right to start a new phase in his trade war that would inflict severe economic damage while alienating our allies — and, as a result, undermine national security.

Until recently, however, one agency had seemed immune to the continuing hack invasion: the Federal Reserve, the single institution most crucial to economic policymaking. Trump’s Fed nominees, have, by and large, been sensible, respected economists. But that all changed last week, when Trump said he planned to nominate Stephen Moore for the Fed’s Board of Governors.

Moore is manifestly, flamboyantly unqualified for the position. But there’s a story here that goes deeper than Moore, or even Trump; it’s about the whole G.O.P.’s preference for hucksters over experts, even partisan experts.”

Opinion | The Power of Petty Personal Rage – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By Paul Krugman
Opinion Columnist

March 11, 2019

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Image: “Captain Marvel,” starring Brie Larson, was bombarded with negative reviews before the movie was released.
Credit Disney-Marvel Studios

” “Captain Marvel,” starring Brie Larson, was bombarded with negative reviews before the movie was released.CreditCreditDisney-Marvel Studios
Today’s column is about plastic straws, hamburgers and dishwashing detergent. Also Captain Marvel.

No, I haven’t lost my mind, or at least I don’t think so. But quite a few other people have — and their rage-filled pettiness is a more important force in modern America than we like to think.

My starting point is a weekend tweet from Representative Devin Nunes of California, who headed the House Intelligence Committee until the House changed hands after the midterms. In that role, he basically acted as Donald Trump’s stonewaller in chief, doing everything he could to prevent any real investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin.

But his tweet wasn’t about that. It was about a waitress who, citing the “straw police,” asked his dining party if they wanted straws. “Welcome to Socialism in California!” Nunes thundered.

If this seems like a weird aberration — he wasn’t even denied a straw, just asked if he wanted one — you need to realize that rage explosions over seemingly silly things are extremely common on the right. By all accounts, the biggest applause line at the Conservative Political Action Conference — eliciting chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A!” — was the claim that Democrats are coming for your hamburgers, just like Stalin. (They aren’t, and for the record, Stalin was a mass murderer, but objectively pro-burger.)”

Opinion | Tariff Man Has Become Deficit Man – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“Beyond that, however, Trump is completely wrong about what causes trade deficits in the first place. In fact, his own policies have provided an object lesson in the falsity of his vision.

In the Trumpian universe, trade deficits happen because we made bad deals — we let foreigners sell their stuff here, but they won’t let us sell our stuff there. So the solution is to throw up barriers to foreign products. “I am a Tariff Man,” he proudly proclaimed.

The reality, however, is that trade deficits have almost nothing to do with tariffs or other restrictions on trade. The overall trade deficit is always equal to the difference between domestic investment spending and domestic saving (both private and public). That’s just accounting.

The reason America runs persistent trade deficits isn’t that we’ve given away too much in trade deals, it’s that we have low savings compared with other countries.”

Opinion | Why Can’t Trump Build Anything? – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Image
President Trump being presented with a hard hat at a convention of electrical contractors in Philadelphia.CreditCreditEvan Vucci/Associated Press

By Paul Krugman
Opinion Columnist

Feb. 18, 2019, 245

“Donald Trump isn’t the first president, or even the first Republican president, who has sought to define his legacy in part with a big construction project. Abraham Lincoln signed legislation providing the land grants and financing that created the transcontinental railroad. Theodore Roosevelt built the Panama Canal. Dwight Eisenhower built the interstate highway system.

But Trump’s wall is different, and not just because it probably won’t actually get built. Previous big construction projects were about bringing people together and making them more productive. The wall is about division — not just a barrier against outsiders, but an attempt to drive a wedge between Americans, too. It’s about fear, not the future.

Why isn’t Trump building anything? Surely he’s exactly the kind of politician likely to suffer from an edifice complex, a desire to see his name on big projects. Furthermore, during the 2016 campaign he didn’t just promise a wall, he also promised a major rebuilding of America’s infrastructure.

But month after month of inaction followed his inauguration. A year ago he again promised “the biggest and boldest infrastructure investment in American history.” Again, nothing happened.”

“. . . Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are aggressively uninterested in any kind of public investment program. During Trump’s first two years in office, they first bullied him into submitting a plan that actually provided hardly any money for new investment, then invented excuses for not dealing even with that emasculated proposal.

The truth is that modern conservatives hate the idea of any kind of new public spending, even if it would make Americans better off — or perhaps it would be more accurate to say especially if it would make Americans better off, because a successful spending program might help legitimize a positive role for government in general. And while Trump may not fully share his party’s small-government ideology, all his limited energy is going into finding ways to punish people, not help them.”

– -Opinion | Democrats- Debt and Double Standards – By Paul KrugmanThe New York Times

By Paul Krugman
Opinion Columnist

Feb. 11, 2019

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Deficit scolds were mute in 2017 when the Democratic congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi fought the Republican tax cuts.
Credit
Tom Brenner/The New York Times

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Deficit scolds were mute in 2017 when the Democratic congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi fought the Republican tax cuts. CreditCreditTom Brenner/The New York Times
Much of Donald Trump’s State of the Union address was devoted to describing the menaces he claims face America — mainly the menace of scary brown people, but also the menace of socialism. And there has been a lot of discussion in the news media of what he said on those topics.

There has, however, been little coverage of one of the most revealing aspects of the SOTU: what Trump said about the menace of America’s historically large government debt.

But wait, you may object — he didn’t say anything about debt. Indeed he didn’t — not one word. But that’s what was so revealing.

After all, Republicans spent the entire Obama administration inveighing constantly about the dangers of debt, warning that America faced a looming crisis unless deficits were drastically reduced. Now that they’re in power, however — and with the deficit surging thanks to a huge tax cut for corporations and the rich — they’ve totally dropped the subject.”

Opinion | The Empty Quarters of U.S. Politics – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman
By Paul Krugman, Opinion Columnist

Feb. 4, 2019, 606
Howard Schultz, the coffee billionaire, who imagined that he could attract broad support as a “centrist,” turns out to have an approval rating of 4 percent, versus 40 percent disapproval.

Ralph Northam, a Democrat who won the governorship of Virginia in a landslide, is facing a firestorm of denunciation from his own party over racist images on his medical school yearbook page.

Donald Trump, who ran on promises to expand health care and raise taxes on the rich, began betraying his working-class supporters the moment he took office, pushing through big tax cuts for the rich while trying to take health coverage away from millions.

These are, it turns out, related stories, all of them tied to the two great absences in American political life.

One is the absence of socially liberal, economically conservative voters. These were the people Schultz thought he could appeal to; but basically they don’t exist, accounting for only around, yes, 4 percent of the electorate.

The other is the absence of economically liberal, socially conservative politicians — let’s be blunt and just say “racist populists.” There are plenty of voters who would like that mix, and Trump pretended to be their man; but he wasn’t, and neither is anyone else.

Understanding these empty quarters is, I’d argue, the key to understanding U.S. politics.”

David Lindsay on Facebook: I’ve just posted some excellent articles about the enviromnent to blogs 1 & 2, which are now set up to repost at my Facebook pages for those same blogs, listed under pages I manage. Here is a Paul Krugman piece I enjoyed immensely, though commenters are tearing it apart by disecting its small imperfections, rather than appreciating his deeper truths. What I liked most, was a comment to Krugman’s swashbuckling analysis that expressed my deep concern that the Democrast are destroying themselves, when they decide to hound Governor Northam out of office in Virginia:
Trajan The Real Heartland Times Pick
“Democrats love to eat their own. We have one of the most racist presidents to ever hold office in modern times, yet some Democrats are going after Northam over some dumb stunt that happened decades ago. Is he a good leader NOW? Does he support good policies NOW? Is Northam’s behavior really any worse (blackface versus sexual misconduct) than someone who just got a seat on the Supreme Court? Wow, this is like watching an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Republicans have a strategic advantage because, while Democrats get all twisted up in identity politics, Republican leaders are only tightly focused on serving the rich and powerful at the expense of average Americans. No party disunity there.

Democrats need to start focusing on the basic, kitchen table issues that average Americans care about, like affordable health care, affordable housing and affordable higher education. With that strong streak of self-destruction that runs through Democrats, Nancy Pelosi is needed more than ever in the people’s House where badly needed legislation has to move forward.”

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Opinion | Elizabeth Warren Does Teddy Roosevelt – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman
By Paul Krugman
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 28, 2019, 633 c

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Elizabeth Warren at a campaign event in Iowa early this month.CreditCreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

“America invented progressive taxation. And there was a time when leading American politicians were proud to proclaim their willingness to tax the wealthy, not just to raise revenue, but to limit excessive concentration of economic power.

“It is important,” said Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, “to grapple with the problems connected with the amassing of enormous fortunes” — some of them, he declared, “swollen beyond all healthy limits.”

Today we are once again living in an era of extraordinary wealth concentrated in the hands of a few people, with the net worth of the wealthiest 0.1 percent of Americans almost equal to that of the bottom 90 percent combined. And this concentration of wealth is growing; as Thomas Piketty famously argued in his book “Capital in the 21st Century,” we seem to be heading toward a society dominated by vast, often inherited fortunes.

So can today’s politicians rise to the challenge? Well, Elizabeth Warren has released an impressive proposal for taxing extreme wealth. And whether or not she herself becomes the Democratic nominee for president, it says good things about her party that something this smart and daring is even part of the discussion.”

Opinion | The Economy Won’t Rescue Trump – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman
By Paul Krugman
Opinion Columnist

Jan. 21, 2019, 724 c

“Although there have been approximately 100,000 media profiles of enthusiastic blue-collar Trump supporters in diners, the reality is that Donald Trump is extraordinarily unpopular. A recent Pew analysis found only one other modern president with such a low approval rating two years into his administration.

On the other hand, that president was Ronald Reagan, who went on to win re-election in a landslide. So some Trump boosters are suggesting their champion can repeat that performance. Can he?

No, he can’t. And it’s worth understanding why, both to assess current political prospects and to debunk the Reagan mythology still infesting U.S. conservatism.

Let’s talk first about the Reagan story.

Reagan was indeed unpopular in January 1983, mainly because of the economic situation. Despite a huge tax cut in 1981 and a sharp rise in military spending, more than 10 percent of the labor force was unemployed.

Although many voters blamed Reagan for this economic distress, the truth was that it had little to do with his policies; it was, instead, the consequence of the Federal Reserve’s attempts to bring down inflation, which had driven interest rates as high as 19 percent.

By mid-1982, however, the Fed had reversed course, sharply reducing rates. And these rate cuts eventually produced a huge housing boom, which in turn drove a rapid economic recovery.

Like the earlier slump, this boom had little to do with Reagan’s policies, but voters gave him credit anyway. Unemployment was still fairly high — more than 7 percent — in November 1984, but what matters for elections is whether things are getting better or worse, not how good they are in absolute terms. And in 1983-84, unemployment fell fast, so Reagan won big.”