Pondering the Pundits

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: Trump’s Plot Against Health Care Continues

He is still coming for your coverage — and lying about it.

Make no mistake: Health care will be on the ballot this November. But not in the way ardent progressives imagine.

Democrats running for president have spent a lot of time debating so-called Medicare for all, with some supporters of Bernie Sanders claiming that any politician who doesn’t demand immediate implementation of single-payer health care is a corporate tool, or something. But the reality is that whatever its merits, universal, government-provided health insurance isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

I say this because even if Democrats take the Senate in addition to the White House, the votes for eliminating private health insurance won’t be there; nor will the kind of overwhelming public support that might change that calculus. In practice, any of the Democratic candidates — even Sanders — will, if victorious, end up building on and improving Obamacare.

On the other hand, if Donald Trump wins, he will probably find a way to kill Obamacare, and tens of millions of Americans will lose health coverage.

Ali H. Soufran: Suleimani Is Dead, Iraq Is in Chaos and ISIS Is Very Happy

In 2016, Donald Trump, then a candidate for president, described Barack Obama as the “founder of ISIS.” In the end, it may be Mr. Trump who comes to be known not as the terrorist group’s founder, but as its savior.

The Islamic State has been weakened considerably since its peak in 2015, when it controlled a territory the size of Britain, but the Trump administration’s targeted killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani may have poised the group for a comeback. Just as the misguided American invasion of Iraq in 2003 revitalized Al Qaeda, some 17 years later, a return to chaos in the same country may yet do the same for the Islamic State.

Granted, the White House was correct to identify General Suleimani, the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, as an enemy of the United States. Using the militia groups he cultivated and controlled, he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of coalition soldiers in the late 2000s and early 2010s. But war in the Middle East is nothing if not complex; General Suleimani’s proxies also indirectly served American interests by fighting the Islamic State — to great effect.

Still, contrary to the breathless eulogies to him in Iran, he was not some indispensable hero who single-handedly defeated the Islamic State. Other commanders will fill his shoes, if not in star power then at least in strategic expertise. The real boon for the jihadists will be the second-order effects of his death.

Eugene Robinson: To lie or not to lie? The answer is easy for the GOP.

To lie, or not to lie? That’s a no-brainer for President Trump and his Republican enablers. They just go for it, making stuff up whenever they think it gives them an advantage. This utter shamelessness defines the political moment and will shape, or warp, the coming election.

It is an uncomfortable truth that one of our two major political parties, the GOP, lies boldly and constantly, while the other, the Democratic Party, does not. We in the media are still struggling to deal with this asymmetry. We urgently need to banish the “both sides” template from our coverage and give primacy to the facts, not to some Platonic ideal of fairness as always involving “on the one hand” and “on the other hand.” That works only if there are, indeed, two legitimate sides. [..]

It’s not good enough simply to abandon ridiculous “both sides” constructions, such as “Democrats say that water is wet, but Republicans say there is no scientific consensus on water’s wetness.” If Trump, McCarthy and other Republican officials publicly and repeatedly take the position of wetness-denial, it is impossible to report that fact without giving exposure to the lie.

Jamelle Bouie: Trump Likes Farmers Better Than Some Other Welfare Recipients

Now why would that be?

Donald Trump ran for president as a welfare chauvinist. He backed benefits for white natives and social exclusion for Muslim refugees and Hispanic immigrants. He trumpeted Social Security and Medicare — programs associated with whiteness and white recipients — and slammed Obamacare, which disproportionately benefited black and Hispanic Americans. Trump sensed the deep anxiety of some white Americans — their inextricable fear of racial and economic decline — and promised a government for them and against others.

In office, of course, this government hasn’t really worked for them. It has worked for the wealthy and their heirs; for industry and concentrated capital. Trump cut taxes for corporations and slashed regulations on polluters. But his supporters could relish in the anti-immigrant hostility of his administration, as if travel bans and detention camps could actually restore the lost wages of racial advantage rather than build a worse, more precarious world for everyone.

There is, however, at least one place where Trump’s welfare chauvinism has taken hold — his multibillion-dollar payments to farmers harmed by the president’s trade war with China. In the context of his larger attack on the social safety net, those payments, a direct subsidy to a narrow group of favored Americans, are the closest thing to the kind of help Trump promised during the campaign.

Robert Reich: American firms aren’t beholden to America – but that’s news to Trump

The president’s agreement with China is based on a misunderstanding of the corporate mindset. It’s time to invest in ourselves

Trump’s “phase one” agreement with China, to be signed on Wednesday, is intended partly to slow China’s move into new technologies like electric cars by protecting the intellectual property of American corporations.

Which lends a certain irony to Tesla’s first Model 3 electric sedans now coming off assembly lines at the firm’s new multibillion-dollar plant in Shanghai.

The Model 3 marks a huge milestone for Elon Musk’s company as it rapidly expands in the world’s largest electric-vehicle market. But it’s not a milestone for America. [..]

Trump is demanding China provide stronger patent and copyright protections. But the Chinese who are gaining valuable experience in firms like Tesla will take what they learn and apply it elsewhere regardless.

To the extent that those better protections increase the profits of American firms in China, American firms like Tesla will invest even more in China.

Trump doesn’t understand a basic reality of today’s global economy: the profitability and competitiveness of American corporations aren’t the same as the wellbeing and competitiveness of Americans. American corporations have no particular obligation to the United States. They’re obligated to their shareholders.