Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media 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 Debt, His Future and Ours
The president — our chief law enforcement and national security official — could be facing huge liabilities. That’s chilling.
The bombshell New York Times report on Donald Trump’s tax returns is a remarkable feat of journalism. The team deserves special praise for making their findings comprehensible to general readers, and not getting lost in the details.
Yet like many other revelations in the Trump era, the tax news falls into the category of “shocking but not surprising.” Many observers had already surmised that Trump paid little or no taxes, that his claims of brilliant business success were a fiction, and that he is deep in debt. Now all of that is virtually confirmed. But what does it mean for America’s future?
Everyone will come at this question from their own angle. When I read the Times report, I quickly found myself thinking about … the theory of business capital structure. No, really.
For many people, no doubt, the main takeaway from the tax revelations will be “$750? Really?” The fact that Trump paid less in taxes than tens of millions of hard-working Americans struggling to make ends meet is an outrage. It’s also easy to explain in a few seconds, which is why it’s the theme of a quickly released ad from the Biden campaign.
Michelle Goldberg: Does Donald Trump Need a Bailout?
Maybe that’s why he sucks up to Putin.
In his new book “Rage,” Bob Woodward reports that Dan Coats, Donald Trump’s first director of national intelligence, was never able to shake his suspicions that Trump is in the pocket of President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
Coats is obviously not alone — Trump’s obsequiousness toward the Russian strongman has been one of the enduring enigmas of his presidency. Even Trump’s natural affinity for autocrats doesn’t explain why Putin is one of the few men on earth whom the president of the United States treats as his better.
The New York Times’s blockbuster exposé of Trump’s taxes does not directly solve this mystery. The journalists Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire make clear that Trump’s taxes reveal no previously unreported financial link to Russia; the documents mostly “lack the specificity” required to do so. But the revelation of the gargantuan debt closing in on Trump offers one plausible motive for why the president constantly sucks up to Putin, even when doing so seems politically self-defeating.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, has said that Trump thinks Putin is the richest man in the world. And the American president, The Times’s reporting suggests, may need a bailout.
Trump is no bold captain of industry: He’s a loser who kept afloat by selling ringtones and defrauding Granny
Using its agenda-setting powers for good instead of evil for once, the New York Times has released the second in a series of stories detailing exactly what kind of fraud Donald Trump is, using recently obtained copies of the tax returns the president has spent years desperately trying to hide.
This second one is a doozy, focusing as it does on how Trump, desperate for cash to prop up his failing empire, faked being a successful businessman on “The Apprentice.” Then, because he is unbelievably bad at business, Trump managed to burn through the $424.7 million windfall he “earned” from that show, leaving him apparently dead broke before he announced his presidential campaign in 2015.
Much attention has been paid to the revelation from the first article in this series that Trump is a promiscuous tax cheat who uses all sorts of shady strategies — paying his daughter Ivanka as a “consultant” to hide money from the IRS, for one — to keep his income tax bill at zero in most years.
But this second article focuses on what is likely a far more potent slam against Trump in the eyes of the voters he’ll need to win over if he wants to be re-elected in November: He is a comically terrible businessman. His real estate empire was kept on life support through ads with cartoon sheep and selling ringtones, as well multi-level marketing schemes and other ploys to defraud desperate people.
Eugene Robinson: Democrats need to put an expiration date on the Republican Senate
Defeating Trump is necessary. It’s not sufficient.
It is necessary, but not sufficient, to defeat President Trump in the coming election. Democrats must also take control of the Senate — and are deliciously close to that goal.
If there is anyone left who fails to grasp the importance of the Senate majority, they will be enlightened in the coming weeks, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) rush Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett through her confirmation process. In doing so, they will cement a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the high court that is likely to warp our jurisprudence for decades.
That is power in action. Democrats may not be able to stop this outrage, but on Nov. 3 they can — and should — put a firm expiration date on the Republican Party’s power.
Nouriel Roubini: Why Joe Biden is better than Donald Trump for the US economy
It’s a myth that Republicans handle the economy better – US recessions almost always occur under the GOP
Joe Biden has consistently held a wide polling lead over US President Donald Trump ahead of November’s election. But, despite Trump’s botched response to the Covid-19 pandemic – a failure that has left the economy far weaker than it otherwise would have been – he has maintained a marginal edge on the question of which candidate would be better for the US economy. Thanks to Trump, a country with just 4% of the world’s population now accounts for more than 20% of total Covid-19 deaths – an utterly shameful outcome, given America’s advanced (albeit expensive) healthcare system.
The presumption that Republicans are better than Democrats at economic stewardship is a longstanding myth that must be debunked. In our 1997 book, Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy, the late (and great) Alberto Alesina and I showed that Democratic administrations tend to preside over faster growth, lower unemployment and stronger stock markets than Republican presidents do.