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: Who’s Afraid of the Budget Deficit?
On Thursday, the best House speaker of modern times reclaimed her gavel, replacing one of the worst. It has taken the news media a very long time to appreciate the greatness of Nancy Pelosi, who saved Social Security from privatization, then was instrumental in gaining health insurance for 20 million Americans. And the media are still having a hard time facing up to the phoniness of their darling Paul Ryan, who, by the way, left office with a 12 percent favorable rating. But I think the narrative is finally, grudgingly, catching up with reality.
There’s every reason to expect that Pelosi will once again be highly effective. But some progressive Democrats object to one of her initial moves — and on the economics, and probably the politics, the critics are right.
The issue in question is “paygo,” a rule requiring that increases in spending be matched by offsetting tax increases or cuts elsewhere.
You can argue that as a practical matter, the rule won’t matter much if at all. On one side, paygo is the law, whether Democrats put it in their internal rules or not. On the other side, the law can fairly easily be waived, as happened after the G.O.P.’s huge 2017 tax cut was enacted.
But adopting the rule was a signal of Democratic priorities — a statement that the party is deeply concerned about budget deficits and willing to cramp its other goals to address that concern. Is that a signal the party should really be sending?
The U.S. Capitol really was “the people’s house” on Thursday. The sky may have been overcast and the temperature chilly, but still there was the feeling of dawn.
The new Congress was being sworn in, and the building was thronged with friends and family who came to fill the galleries. Because of the unprecedented diversity of the incoming House majority, the crowd looked more like America than in years past. Beginnings beget optimism. The day of ceremony was a welcome respite from the mean-spirited buffoonery found at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. [..]
“I will take the mantle of shutting down,” Trump promised in December. As trash piles up in our majestic national parks, border agents perform their dangerous work without pay and affected agencies run out of emergency funds, the mantle of shame is Trump’s alone.
It is only fitting, after the past two years of bumbling dysfunction, that the new Democratic majority in the House — led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — debuts amid a crisis Republicans managed to create all by themselves.
Catherine Rampell: If we’re going to waste billions on a wall, let those billions be Trump’s
President Trump wants a wall. Democratic lawmakers don’t want to pay for it.
Here’s an elegant compromise: If Trump truly thinks building a wall is such a brilliant idea, he should pay for it himself.
I’m actually not the first to propose this. Last week, Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) suggested that our builder in chief pledge “some of his own funds” toward the wall, though Jones emphasized that a fiscally responsible approach would primarily rely on offsetting cuts to “wasteful federal spending.”
Now, saying you’re going to pay for a border wall by eliminating “wasteful federal spending” is a bit of an oxymoron.
The wall, after all, is a non-solution to a non-crisis. Or as Trump budget director and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney put it in a recently resurfaced 2015 interview, wall-as-immigration-policy is “absurd and almost childish.”
Jochen Bittner: Britain Needs a Brexit Insurance Plan
I learned by mail the other day that Brexit poses a risk to my life insurance. My Britain-based insurance company, unsure about whether it would legally be able to cover European Union citizens like me once Britain leaves the 28-nation bloc, wrote me that it intends to transfer my policy to a subsidiary in Dublin.
So far, most of the news and commentary about Brexit has been over how London and Brussels are going to manage their unprecedented divorce. Less attention has been paid to how European governments, companies and everyday citizens are wrestling with the hundreds of ways things will change for them at 11 p.m. on March 29, when Britain officially leaves the union, with or without a deal in place. My insurance transfer is just one answer to a particularly difficult question: What happens once the hundreds of millions of European Union citizens are cut off from Europe‘s most powerful finance pump, the City of London?
Richard North Paterson: Mike Pompeo Is The Spineless Personification Of Donald Trump’s Nihilist Foreign Policy
The gulf between a coherent foreign policy and President Donald Trump’s narcissistic nihilism is captured by the distance between departed Secretary of Defense James Mattis and ascendant Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ― and their reactions to Trump’s precipitous withdrawal from Syria.
The Syria decision was quintessential Trump: abrupt, peremptory, unmoored from strategy, contemptuous of advisers and allies, and rooted in a lie ― that America had won a final victory over the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State. In response, Mattis submitted a stinging resignation letter to Trump, telling the president he should “have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours.”
Though he, too, objected to the decision, Pompeo issued a feeble defense of the Syria withdrawal, cementing his role as the State Department’s Paul Ryan. Indeed, Trump assigned Pompeo the exquisitely demeaning task of telling Mattis to leave the Pentagon prior to his stated resignation date.