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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New York Times Editorial: Trump’s Shutdown Is Not About Border Security
For a sense of the true cost of his government shutdown, now deep into its second week, President Trump should spend less time rage-tweeting about Democrats’ refusal to throw money away on his wasteful border wall and more time perusing the #shutdownstories making the rounds.
With even a quick peek beyond his bubble, the president could learn much about the legions of government employees and contractors who spent the holiday season agonizing over how to cover their next mortgage payment or electric bill or trip to the grocery store if this political charade drags on much longer. [..]
Let’s be clear: This fight is not about security. Contrary to Mr. Trump’s claims, there is no flood of savage foreigners pouring across the border. Even so, reasonable Democrats and Republicans acknowledge a need for some mix of a bigger staff, better technology and, yes, fencing — as well as humane and sensible immigration and asylum policies. Achieving all of that has proved a tall order even for competent administrations. But it’s why Congress, on a bipartisan basis, has already been allocating more money for border security — money this administration hasn’t even managed to spend so far.
Paul Krugman: The Trump Tax Cut: Even Worse Than You’ve Heard
The 2017 tax cut has received pretty bad press, and rightly so. Its proponents made big promises about soaring investment and wages, and also assured everyone that it would pay for itself; none of that has happened.
Yet coverage actually hasn’t been negative enough. The story you mostly read runs something like this: The tax cut has caused corporations to bring some money home, but they’ve used it for stock buybacks rather than to raise wages, and the boost to growth has been modest. That doesn’t sound great, but it’s still better than the reality: No money has, in fact, been brought home, and the tax cut has probably reduced national income. Indeed, at least 90 percent of Americans will end up poorer thanks to that cut.
Let me explain each point in turn.
Jennifer Rubin: Trump doesn’t understand his leverage is gone
One wondrous result of the 2018 election, we will discover, is the near-total irrelevance of Trump’s tweets. He can say whatever wacky thing he wants, throw out whatever insults he pleases, but Pelosi (D-Calif.), the incoming House speaker, is not going to be thrown off track or even alarmed. She takes his tweets as confirmation he is clueless and unstable.
Of course, Pelosi would like nothing better than to demonstrate Democrats can govern and the Republican Senate cannot. (“Pelosi responded to Trump’s ‘let’s make a deal’ invitation by tweeting that the president had “given Democrats a great opportunity to show how we will govern responsibly & quickly pass our plan to end the irresponsible #TrumpShutdown — just the first sign of things to come in our new Democratic Majority committed to working #ForThePeople.”)
Pelosi has her plan ready to go: Pass a clean resolution for six of the seven appropriations bills to fund through the end of the fiscal year and the Homeland Security appropriations through Feb. 8. Trump cannot prevent her from doing it, nor can Freedom Caucus gadfly Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who declared the move a “non-starter” — as if his consent were necessary.
If you took your history lessons from the street names and the names of bridges and buildings, rivers and towns, you would believe men, mostly white Protestants, did nearly everything that ever mattered. But that is slowly changing: our public landscape is undergoing a deep transformation. And it reflects the shift that is under way in our society, from Alaska to Florida. It’s not enough or comprehensive or complete – but it’s a beautiful start and a powerful foundation for more change to come.
In the spring of this year, New York City removed a statue of racist gynecologist J Marion Sims from Central Park, and in the fall, the city announced that a statue to Shirley Chisolm, the first black woman to serve in Congress, will be erected in Brooklyn. San Francisco removed a much-loathed monument that showed a Native American man being dominated by a Spanish priest this fall. And a month later, the city renamed the international terminal at San Francisco international airport after the Jewish gay rights leader Harvey Milk.
Mitt Romney isn’t even sworn in as a U.S. Senator yet, and he’s already triggered the heck out of President Stompy-Foot, the Toddler-In-Chief. Within hours of Romney’s searing op-ed in the Washington Post, Trump’s itchy Twitter finger got the best of him, leading to this eminently mockable tweet:
Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2019
A team player? The irony hit most higher mammals like a cast-iron frying pan to the face. “Team player” isn’t in Trump’s political lexicon. Trump has always reserved his most bitter ire, vicious personal attacks, and gratuitous smears for Republicans, particularly those who dare to question his execrable judgment, daily outrages against conservatism, or hand size. Just as Trump insults and belittles our allies while offering Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and the rest of the Lil Dictator’s Club things like foot massages and sweet love notes, he attacks Republicans with a spleen rarely displayed toward Democrats.
After President Donald Trump’s first bizarre year, his apologists told us he was growing into the job and that in his second year he’d be more restrained and respectful of democratic institutions.
Wrong. He’s been worse.
Exhibit one: the “Wall.” After torpedoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s temporary spending deal to avert a shutdown, he’s holding hostage over 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 U.S. Forest Service.