Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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Paul Krugman: Bad Faith, Pathos and G.O.P. Economics
As 2018 draws to an end, we’re seeing many articles about the state of the economy. What I’d like to do, however, is talk about something different — the state of economics, at least as it relates to the political situation. And that state is not good: The bad faith that dominates conservative politics at every level is infecting right-leaning economists, too.
This is sad, but it’s also pathetic. For even as once-respected economists abase themselves in the face of Trumpism, the G.O.P. is making it ever clearer that their services aren’t wanted, that only hacks need apply.
What you need to know when talking about economics and politics is that there are three kinds of economist in modern America: liberal professional economists, conservative professional economists and professional conservative economists.
Kamala Harris: Everyone Gets Sick. And We Deserve Better.
In 2008, our mother asked my sister, Maya, and me to meet her for lunch. When we arrived, our mother didn’t seem like herself. We wondered what was going on. Then she took a deep breath and reached out to us both across the table.
“I’ve been diagnosed with colon cancer,” she told us.
I know that many can relate to the emotions I felt in that moment. Even just reflecting back on it now fills me with dread. It was one of the worst days of my life. [..]
She got sick before the Affordable Care Act became law, back when it was still legal for health insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. I remember thanking God she had Medicare.
That’s something I’ve been thinking a great deal about in the days since a federal district judge in Texas, ruling in a lawsuit filed by a group of Republican governors and state attorneys general, declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. This was not the first attack by Republicans on the law, but if upheld, it will be the most catastrophic.
Without the protections of the A.C.A., Americans with pre-existing conditions could be denied health insurance and insurance companies would once again be allowed to discriminate based on age and gender. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 50 million Americans could be rejected for coverage by health insurers if the A.C.A. were to disappear.
At the same time, people in their mid-20s would get kicked off their parents’ plans. Lifetime caps could come back. Out-of-pocket costs would no longer be capped. The expansion of Medicaid in dozens of states could be reversed. The human toll would be unthinkable, with some experts estimating that 20,000 to 100,000 people could die each year.
We must fight with everything we have to avert this catastrophe. And as we do so, let’s also accept the truth that even with the Affordable Care Act intact, our health care system still needs fixing. Let’s acknowledge that there are nearly 30 million Americans who still don’t have health insurance. And there are plenty more who have insurance but can’t actually afford the rising cost of health care.
After his first bizarre year, Donald Trump’s apologists told us he was growing into the job and that in his second year he would be more restrained and respectful of democratic institutions.
Wrong. He’s been worse.
Exhibit one: the “wall”. After torpedoing Mitch McConnell’s temporary spending deal to avert a shutdown, he’s holding hostage more than 800,000 government employees (“mostly Democrats”, he calls them, disparagingly) while subjecting the rest of America to untoward dangers.
On-site inspections at power plants have been halted. Hazardous waste cleanup efforts at Superfund sites are on hold. Reviews of toxic substances and pesticides have been stopped. Justice department cases are in limbo.
Meanwhile, now working without pay are thousands of air traffic controllers and aviation and railroad safety inspectors, nearly 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents, 42,000 coast guard employees, 53,000 TSA agents, 17,000 correctional officers, 14,000 FBI agents, 4,000 Drug Enforcement Administration agents, and some 5,000 firefighters with the US Forest Service.
This is not normal.
In the age of President Donald Trump, it is necessary to repeat this mantra constantly. The ways in which Trump breaks norms and shocks the conscience overwhelm America’s capacity to process each event with the appropriate level of outrage and accountability. America’s attention too often moves from one story to the next like sports highlights. Slowly, surely, America’s norms are stripped away.
The legal system is beginning to hold Trump and his associates accountable, evidenced by the guilty pleas, convictions and indictments emanating from the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference in 2016. Other Trump actions and policies have sparked countless lawsuits, from those challenging emoluments to the travel and asylum bans. However imperfect the system, breaking the law can have consequences.
The penalty for breaking norms, however, isn’t so simple. Presidents are not supposed to continue their private business while in office, attack the media as the “enemy of the people” or talk about throwing political opponents in jail. None of this is normal. But it’s not necessarily illegal.
Natasha Elena Uhlmanm: The US government deliberately made the desert deadly for migrants
This month, Jakelin Caal Maquin, a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl, died less than 48 hours after being detained at a remote New Mexico border crossing. Felipe Gómez Alonzo, an eight-year old Guatemalan boy, spent his final days in custody before tragically passing on Christmas Eve. Both were brought to the United States by families seeking a better life for their children. In the United States, all they found was death. [..]
When trying to make sense of these two tragic deaths – and while details are still emerging – one thing is clear: the journey they undertook is designed to be deadly. In the 1990s, then president Bill Clinton introduced Prevention Through Deterrence, a border security policy which closed off established migrant routes. This forced migrants like Jakelin and her father through more remote and trying terrain. Jakelin and Felipe would probably not have died had it not been for the extreme conditions that Prevention Through Deterrence forces migrants to withstand.