Opinion | Useful Idiots and Trumpist Billionaires – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

“Whoever came up with the phrase “useful idiots” — it’s often credited to Lenin, but there’s no evidence he ever said it — was on to something. There are times when dangerous political movements derive important support from people who will, if these movements achieve and hold power, be among their biggest victims.

Certainly I found myself thinking of the phrase when I read about the Trump fund-raiser held at the Hamptons home of Stephen Ross, chairman of a company that holds controlling stakes in Equinox and SoulCycle.

Most reporting on the Ross event has focused on the possible adverse effects on his business empire: The young, educated, urban fitness fanatics who go to his gyms don’t like the idea that their money is supporting Donald Trump. But the foolishness of Ross’s Trump support goes well beyond the potential damage to his bottom line.

I mean, if you’re a billionaire who also happens to be a racist, supporting Trump makes perfect sense: You know what you’re buying. But if you’re supporting Trump not because of his racism but despite it, because you expect him to keep your taxes low, you’re being, well, an idiot.”

Opinion | Trump’s Secret Foreign Aid Program – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman

By 

Opinion Columnist

“Donald Trump often complains that the media don’t give him credit for his achievements. And I can think of at least one case where that’s true. As far I can tell, almost nobody is reporting that he has presided over a huge — but hidden — increase in foreign aid, the money America gives to foreigners. In fact, the hidden Trump program, currently running at around $40 billion a year, is probably the biggest giveaway to other nations since the Marshall Plan.

Unfortunately, the aid isn’t going either to poor countries or to America’s allies. Instead, it’s going to wealthy foreign investors.

Before I get there, let’s talk for a second about a claim Trump often makes about a highly visible part of his economic strategy, the tariffs he has imposed on imports from China and other countries. These tariffs, he has insisted again and again, are being paid by China and represent billions in gains to the United States.

This claim is, however, demonstrably false. Tariffs are normally paid by consumers in the importing country, not exporters. And we can confirm that this is what’s happening with the Trump tariffs: Prices of goods subject to those tariffs have risen sharply, roughly in line with the tariff increases, while prices of goods not subject to the new tariffs haven’t gone up.”

Opinion | Why Was Trumponomics a Flop? – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditChristopher Lee for The New York Times

“Donald Trump has pursued two main economic policies. On taxes, he has been an orthodox Republican, pushing through big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, which his administration promised would lead to a huge surge in business investment. On trade, he has broken with his party’s free(ish) trade policies, imposing large tariffs that he promised would lead to a revival of U.S. manufacturing.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates, even though the unemployment rate is low and overall economic growth remains decent, though not great. According to Jay Powell, the Fed’s chairman, the goal was to take out some insurance against worrying hints of a future slowdown — in particular, weakness in business investment, which fell in the most recent quarter, and manufacturing, which has been declining since the beginning of the year.

Obviously Powell couldn’t say in so many words that Trumponomics has been a big flop, but that was the subtext of his remarks. And Trump’s frantic efforts to bully the Fed into bigger cuts are an implicit admission of the same thing.

To be fair, the economy remains pretty strong, which isn’t really a surprise given the G.O.P.’s willingness to run huge budget deficits as long as Democrats don’t hold the White House. As I wrote three days after the 2016 election — after the shock had worn off — “It’s at least possible that bigger budget deficits will, if anything, strengthen the economy briefly.” And that’s pretty much what happened: There was a bit of a bump in 2018, but at this point we’ve basically returned to pre-Trump rates of growth.”

Opinion | Trump- Tax Cuts and Terrorism – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“Why has the Republican Party become a systematic enabler of terrorism?

Don’t pretend to be shocked. Just look at G.O.P. responses to the massacre in El Paso. They have ranged from the ludicrous (blame video games!) to the almost honest (who would have expected Ted Cruz, of all people, to speak out against white supremacy?). But as far as I can tell, not one prominent Republican has even hinted at the obvious link between Donald Trump’s repeated incitements to violence and the upsurge in hate crimes.

So the party remains in lock step behind a man who has arguably done more to promote racial violence than any American since Nathan Bedford Forrest, who helped found the Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organization if there ever was one — and who was recently honored by the Republican governor of Tennessee.

Anyway, the party’s complicity started long before Trump came on the scene. More than a decade ago, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning about a surge of right-wing extremism. The report was prescient, to say the least. But when congressional Republicans learned about it, they went on a rampage, demanding the resignation of Janet Napolitano, who headed the agency, and insisted that even using the term “right-wing extremism” was unacceptable.

This backlash was effective: Homeland Security drastically scaled back its efforts to monitor and head off what was already becoming a major threat. In effect, Republicans bullied law enforcement into creating a safe space for potential terrorists, as long as their violent impulses were motivated by the right kind of hatred.”

 

“. . . So how do Republicans win elections? By appealing to racial animus. This is such an obvious fact of American political life that you have to be willfully blind not to see it.

For a long time, the G.O.P. establishment was able to keep this game under control. It would campaign using implicit appeals to racial hostility (welfare queens! Willie Horton!) but turn postelection to privatization and tax cuts.”

Opinion | A Racist Stuck in the Past – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditFrances Roberts 

“Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. Yes, Donald Trump is a vile racist. He regularly uses dehumanizing language about nonwhites, including members of Congress. And while some argue that this is a cynical strategy designed to turn out Trump’s base, it is at most a strategy that builds on Trump’s pre-existing bigotry. He would be saying these things regardless (and was saying such things long before he ran for president); his team is simply trying to turn bigoted lemons into political lemonade.

What I haven’t seen pointed out much, however, is that Trump’s racism rests on a vision of America that is decades out of date. In his mind it’s always 1989. And that’s not an accident: The ways America has changed over the past three decades, both good and bad, are utterly inconsistent with Trump-style racism.

Why 1989? That was the year he demanded bringing back the death penalty in response to the case of the Central Park Five, black and Latino teenagers convicted of raping a white jogger in Central Park. They were, in fact, innocent; their convictions were vacated in 2002. Trump, nevertheless, has refused to apologize or admit that he was wrong.

His behavior then and later was vicious, and it is no excuse to acknowledge that at the time America was suffering from a crime wave. Still, there was indeed such a wave, and it was fairly common to talk about social collapse in inner-city urban communities.

But Trump doesn’t seem to be aware that times have changed. His vision of “American carnage” is one of a nation whose principal social problem is inner-city violence, perpetrated by nonwhites. That’s a comfortable vision if you’re a racist who considers nonwhites inferior. But it’s completely wrong as a picture of America today.

For one thing, violent crime has fallen drastically since the early 1990s, especially in big cities. Our cities certainly aren’t perfectly safe, and some cities — like Baltimore — haven’t shared in the progress. But the social state of urban America is vastly better than it was.

On the other hand, the social state of rural America — white rural America — is deteriorating. To the extent that there really is such a thing as American carnage — and we are in fact seeing rising age-adjusted mortality and declining life expectancy — it’s concentrated among less-educated whites, especially in rural areas, who are suffering from a surge in “deaths of despair” from opioids, suicide and alcohol that has pushed their mortality rates above those of African-Americans.”

David Lindsay: Thank you Paul Krugman. I didn’t want to read this piece, because I’m getting tired of going over Trump, who gets too much attention. But Krugman doesn’t disappoint. Here is top comment I heartily endorsed:

Jonathan
Olympia

Paul Krugman is, currently, and has been for some long while, the best opinion columnist in America. Not only are his analyses of problems almost inevitably deeply, penetratingly, accurate, recognizing and illuminating a host of ideas and issues related to the main issue and showing how they are related – usually social problems are complex, let alone political and economic ones – he is also a superb writer, able to articulate all manner of complex notions in simple, clear language. Today’s column is spectacularly good – and merely the normal for him. He is a gift to the nation.

6 Replies1211 Recommended

Opinion | Biden and Sanders Behaving Badly – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Krugman

By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

“Health care was a key factor in Democrats’ victory in the 2018 midterm elections, and it should be a big plus in 2020 as well. The shared Democratic position — that every legal resident should have access to affordable care, regardless of income or health status — is immensely popular. The de facto Republican position — that we should go back to a situation in which those whose jobs don’t come with health benefits, or who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions, can’t get insurance — is so unpopular that G.O.P. candidates consistently lie about their own proposals.

But right now, two of the major contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, are having an ugly argument about health care that could hurt the party’s chances. There are real, important differences between the two men’s policy proposals, and it’s fine to point that out. What’s not fine is the name-calling and false assertions. Both men are behaving badly. And for their party’s sake, and their country’s, they need to stop it.

Let’s back up. There are, broadly speaking, two ways a country can try to achieve universal health insurance. One is single-payer: The government simply pays the bills. The other retains a role for private insurance but relies on a combination of regulations and subsidies to ensure that everyone gets covered.

We don’t have to speculate about how these systems would work in practice, because every advanced country except the U.S. has some form of universal coverage. Some, like Canada and Britain, use single-payer (in Britain the government also operates the hospitals and pays the doctors). Others, like Switzerland and the Netherlands, have a large role for private insurers.”

Opinion | Racism Comes Out of the Closet – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political operative, explained to an interviewer how his party had learned to exploit racial antagonism using dog whistles. “You start out in 1954 by saying ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’” But by the late 1960s, “that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, ‘forced busing,’ ‘states’ rights,’ and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.” ”

David Lindsay

While I love Paul Krugman, I was not going to post this op-ed, as not new enough. Then I came across the following comment, which changed my mind. I wish to report that last week I tried to post another comment that endorsed SwingLeft, and Facebook blocked my post repleatedly, saying I was participating in some sin, like fake hate. Facebook appears to be trying, but also to be incompetent.
Here is the today comment to the Krugman piece below on overt racism by Donald Trump and the GOP.
R
Richard Wilson
Boston,MAJuly 15
This is one of the best analyses I’ve read in quite a long time. This is NOT a Trump problem, this is a Republican party problem.

Every decent American must get involved in supporting a Democratic candidate across the nation. We must flip the Senate, hold the House, and of course boot Trump out of office.

Donations, volunteering, texting, phone banks all good ways to help candidates. Groups like SwingLeft and Sister District Project are excellent resources. We cannot stay on the sidelines and allow these corrupt races to cement their hold on power. It’s likely 2020 or bust.

43 Replies 1017 Recommended

Opinion | Trump and the Merchants of Detention – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

Every betrayal seems to profit the president and his friends.

Paul Krugman

By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

A sign left by a protester near the detention facility in Homestead, Fla., for immigrant children.CreditCarlo Allegri/Reuters

 

“Is it cruelty, or is it corruption? That’s a question that comes up whenever we learn about some new, extraordinary abuse by the Trump administration — something that seems to happen just about every week. And the answer, usually, is “both.”

For example, why is the administration providing cover for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, who almost surely ordered the murder of The Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi? Part of the answer, probably, is that Donald Trump basically approves of the idea of killing critical journalists. But the money the Saudi monarchy spends at Trump properties is relevant, too.

And the same goes for the atrocities the U.S. is committing against migrants from Central America. Oh, and save the fake outrage. Yes, they are atrocities, and yes, the detention centers meet the historical definition of concentration camps.

One reason for these atrocities is that the Trump administration sees cruelty both as a policy tool and as a political strategy: Vicious treatment of refugees might deter future asylum-seekers, and in any case it helps rev up the racist base. But there’s also money to be made, because a majority of detained migrants are being held in camps run by corporations with close ties to the Republican Party.”

DL: This is an ugly analysis. Unfortunately, it is probably true and accurate.

Opinion | The Moochers of Middle America – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“Last week’s debates clearly weakened Joe Biden and increased the odds that a more definitively progressive candidate — probably Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren — will win the nomination. And you can hear the wailing from much of the Beltway, the claims that Democrats are moving too far left.

So it’s worth parsing those claims. In what sense are the Dems moving too far left? What I’m seeing are three fairly distinct claims. First, that the party is endangering its electoral prospects. Second, that the party is being fiscally or economically irresponsible. Third, that Democrats are unfairly proposing to redistribute income from those who create wealth to those who don’t.

So you should know that the first claim is probably wrong, the second is definitely wrong, and the third ignores the extent to which we already do a lot of redistribution in this country — with Republican voters some of the biggest beneficiaries.”

Opinion | Donald and the Delusion Discount – by Paul Krugman – The New York Times

“But as I said, markets appear to be celebrating: As I write this, stock markets are up, while long-term interest rates — a better barometer of investor views about economic prospects — are off their recent lows. What’s going on?

The answer, I’d suggest, is that financial markets are basically discounting Trump’s rants; they’ve stopped treating evidence of his unfitness for office as news.

Yes, he’s deeply ignorant about policy. Yes, his rage-tweets constantly remind us of his egomania and insecurity. But we’ve known all that for a while; Trump’s personality is, in effect, already priced in.”