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: The Economics of Soaking the Rich
I have no idea how well Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will perform as a member of Congress. But her election is already serving a valuable purpose. You see, the mere thought of having a young, articulate, telegenic nonwhite woman serve is driving many on the right mad — and in their madness they’re inadvertently revealing their true selves.
Some of the revelations are cultural: The hysteria over a video of AOC dancing in college says volumes, not about her, but about the hysterics. But in some ways the more important revelations are intellectual: The right’s denunciation of AOC’s “insane” policy ideas serves as a very good reminder of who is actually insane.
The controversy of the moment involves AOC’s advocacy of a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes, which is obviously crazy, right? I mean, who thinks that makes sense? Only ignorant people like … um, Peter Diamond, Nobel laureate in economics and arguably the world’s leading expert on public finance.
Shortly after the newly Democratic-controlled House was sworn in on Thursday, it held a vote on what rules it wants to play by. Among those rules was one known as “pay-go,” short for pay-as-you-go, requiring any legislation that would increase government spending to also include equal tax increases or budget cuts elsewhere to make up for it. Essentially, it indicates that Democrats put a high priority on keeping the deficit where it is, even as they try to increase government resources in desperately needed areas like infrastructure or health care.
It’s true that the rule can be waived at any time by a majority of lawmakers, or overridden if legislation is designated an “emergency,” allowing big-ticket items to come to the floor for a vote. There is also already a statutory version of pay-go on the books, making the House rule more symbolic than anything else. But therein is the problem.
Democrats are now in control of the House of Representatives, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi. After two years of Republican control over both chambers of Congress and the presidency, some balance has been restored to our democracy.
I know and have worked with many members of the 116th Congress. They are people of integrity who will strive to do what is right for America. Nancy Pelosi is tough and courageous. Were it not for her insistence, Barack Obama would not have pushed for the Affordable Care Act.
But they are not miracle workers. Republicans still control the Senate, Trump is still the president, and there is still a conservative majority in the supreme court. [..]
But they will do little to slow or reverse the growing imbalance of wealth and power in this country, unless they are pushed to do so.
Do not ever underestimate the influence of Wall Street Democrats, corporate Democrats, and the Democrats’ biggest funders. I know. I’ve been there.
We knew that the 116th Congress was going to be the most diverse in history, with 102 women, many more openly gay members, more blacks, more Latinos, the first two female Native Americans, a Somali immigrant and the first ever Palestinian American woman elected to the House. But it was an altogether different thing to actually see that blazingly colorful diversity assembled under the portraits of the older white men who have lorded over the House of Representatives for so long.
As Nancy Pelosi made her way through the chamber to reclaim the speaker’s gavel, stopping after almost every step to receive a hug, it was a very emotional scene and the first time since Donald Trump’s election that I felt lightness and happiness radiating from the Capitol.
Richard Wolffe: Will it be a black woman who turfs Trump out of the White House?
Life, as Donald Trump has known it for the last two years, has just changed forever. Quagmired in a government shutdown of his own making, Trump’s ability to manipulate his world is already severely constrained in this very new year. The more he struggles against his new surroundings, the more he sinks.
Last week the president could only watch his beloved cable news channels as a bystander to the biggest tectonic shifts, as the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and Senator Elizabeth Warren became the first candidate to officially emerge to run against him next year. And it won’t be long before the House launches several investigations into corruption and incompetence, while the Mueller investigation continues to tighten several nooses around all things Trumpian.