Opinion | The Rich Really Do Pay Lower Taxes Than You – David Leonhardt – The New York Times

“Almost a decade ago, Warren Buffett made a claim that would become famous. He said that he paid a lower tax rate than his secretary, thanks to the many loopholes and deductions that benefit the wealthy.

His claim sparked a debate about the fairness of the tax system. In the end, the expert consensus was that, whatever Buffett’s specific situation, most wealthy Americans did not actually pay a lower tax rate than the middle class. “Is it the norm?” the fact-checking outfit Politifact asked. “No.”

Time for an update: It’s the norm now.

For the first time on record, the 400 wealthiest Americans last year paid a lower total tax rate — spanning federal, state and local taxes — than any other income group, according to newly released data.”

Opinion | How Impeachment Shifted – by David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Leonhardt

By 

Opinion Columnist

CreditCreditNicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“One week ago, it was already clear that President Trump, among his many unconstitutional misdeeds, had pressured Ukraine to smear Joe Biden. And yet the chances that the House Democratic Caucus was going to impeach Trump looked minuscule.

Today, the chances look significantly better. So what changed?

For the first time in a long time, Trump committed an act of lawlessness so extreme that it created a news story that managed to feel both fresh and surprising: A whistle-blower came forward to file a complaint about Trump lobbying the president of Ukraine during a phone call. The inspector general for the nation’s spy agencies found the complaint credible enough that he tried to refer it to Congress. It now seems Trump was using American foreign aid to threaten the Ukrainian President.

Appearances matter in politics.

Yes, Robert Mueller’s report contained extensive evidence of impeachable wrongdoing by Trump. Yet it didn’t contain as much evidence as many people expected. And Mueller was sufficiently feckless in his presentation of the report that Trump’s attorney general was able to misrepresent it.

As a result, Mueller’s evidence ended up resembling a lot of dry kindling that lacked a spark. The phone call to Ukraine, along with Trump’s potential refusal to let Congress investigate it, could well provide the spark.

[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning, with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]

Some observers believe impeachment is now more likely than not. As Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post write, “many [House] leadership aides who once thought Trump’s impeachment was unlikely now say they think it’s almost inevitable.” In part, that’s because a growing list of people who have been somewhere between skeptical of impeachment and opposed to it — including Representative Adam Schiff and several House members from swing districts (as well as, much less significantly, me) — seem to be reassessing their views.”

Opinion | The Real State of the Union, in Charts – By David Leonhardt – The New York Times

David Lindsay: David Leonhardt is my new go to guy for American politics. Here is a perfect example.

By David Leonhardt
Opinion Columnist

Feb. 5, 2019, 174 c
“My fellow Americans, the state of our union is far weaker than it should be.

The economy’s growth isn’t benefiting most families very much. Life expectancy has been falling. The planet is warming. The rest of the world is less enamored of America than it has been in the past.

But I can offer you one major piece of good news: Our country’s urgent and growing problems have inspired more Americans to vote and to otherwise get involved in politics. And that sort of engagement is the best hope for restoring our country to its rightful strength.

Here, then, is the true state of the union, in charts:

The last few years — including 2018 — have brought some good economic news. Paychecks for most workers are rising faster than inflation. But the gains are still modest, and they don’t come close to erasing years in which pay gains trailed economic growth: (GDP has risen more than average wages. You must go to the NYT for the full chart.)

Inflation adjusted. Earnings are the median for full-time workers. G.D.P. rate for 2018 is prorated based on first three quarters.

Opinion | Some Good News — (universal pre-kindergarten for Chicago — Virginia accepts medicaid expansion) – by David Leonhardt

“First, Chicago announced that it would make pre-kindergarten universal. By 2021, the city’s 4-year-olds will be able to go to school full time. The pre-K classes will have a student-to-staff ratio of 10:1, as experts recommend.

Many economists believe that good preschool programs are the single most effective way to lift living standards. Research by Dartmouth’s Elizabeth Cascio has found that universal pre-K — while more expensive than targeted, income-based programs — particularly helps poor children. They benefit from being in a diverse classroom.

Of course, pre-K also helps parents with child care. “If you’re working class, your kids are getting the shaft,” Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who taught preschool in his 20s, told me. “You’re basically put in the position of choosing between being a good employee and a good parent.”

Best of all, Chicago fits a national pattern, and a bipartisan one. Other cities and states — BaltimoreMemphis and New York; Florida, Vermont and West Virginia — have also expanded pre-K. Nationally, about 33 percent of 4-year-olds were in state-funded pre-K last year, with another 11 percent in other public programs. It’s a major increase since the start of this century:…”