Pondering the Pundits

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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Helene Olen: Katie Porter is off the House Financial Services Committee. We’re all worse off for it.

She spoke for — and too — the everyday American.

When Democrats took back the House of Representatives in 2018, a number of the freshman representatives quickly emerged as media stars. One was Katie Porter, who used her platform on the Financial Services Committee to highlight the ways in which the banking and finance industries could take advantage of Americans.

Over the past two years, Porter (D-Calif.) schooled JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon — who earns tens of millions of dollars annually — on the realities of how a teller at one of his banks could not get by earning $16.50 an hour. She also revealed that Kathy Kraninger, the thoroughly unqualified Trump appointee charged with protecting Americans’ personal finances as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, couldn’t define an annual interest rate or explain how it works.

But no more will be forthcoming. According to the Hill, Porter is off the House Financial Services Committee. And this is a loss for all of us.

Catherine Rampell: Hurrah for the end of buck-passing (hopefully)

An incoming Biden administration official declares that the new administration will take responsibility for hard decisions, and challenging work, that have for the past year been dumped upon the states.

During a call with journalists on Friday, National Economic Council Director-designate Brian Deese made a subtle but nonetheless significant commitment: that once Joe Biden is president, the federal government will stop passing the buck to the states.

He was talking about vaccine distribution — providing clearer federal guidance for who gets the coronavirus vaccine, greater logistical support, etc. — but let’s hope it becomes a broader theme of the Biden presidency. [..]

(It) will be comforting to have a presidential administration that not only sees the possible advantages of centralizing leadership but is willing to take on the hard work (and risks) of providing it. Like Trump, Biden and his advisers know they could fail. Yet they’re willing to assume the burden of responsibility that comes with trying, rather than cravenly declaring every challenge to be someone else’s problem.

During Friday’s call, Deese concluded by saying that “ultimately, states and localities have a huge role to play in this. But federal government needs to be providing clear, consistent and more guidance, more logistical support and more resources.” In many ways, that’s a pretty banal statement. But in the context of the past four years, it’s practically revolutionary.

Susan Gordon: A former president Trump won’t ‘need to know.’ Cut off his intelligence.

Every former president in the modern era has benefited from a unique national security perk after leaving the White House: routine intelligence briefings and access to classified information to support his continued involvement in advancing America’s interests. These briefings have been a matter of respectful convention and were granted by the new president to the old.

But convention left the premises a long time ago with President Trump, and his demonstrated approach to national security and intelligence suggest that a more purposeful decision must be made about providing intelligence to this soon-to-be former president.

My recommendation, as a 30-plus-year veteran of the intelligence community, is not to provide him any briefings after Jan. 20. With this simple act — which is solely the new president’s prerogative — Joe Biden can mitigate one aspect of the potential national security risk posed by Donald Trump, private citizen. [..]

There is good news here. No new policy needs to be established to make this decision. Neither past position nor past clearance is the basis for access to classified information — the “need to know” is. Trump will not warrant access simply because he was the president, and he cannot assert need to know for himself. He has to be granted it.

And there is the beauty of the system. If sharing classified information with him serves the nation’s purpose at some point in the future, he will get exactly the information the new president decides. Just like everyone else.

Amanda Marcotte: Republicans threaten violence if Trump faces repercussions — but it was impunity that moved his mob

Trump and his mob believe they’ll never pay the piper

There is no way to defend Donald Trump’s behavior last week, when, after pouring gasoline for months, he lit a match and set the insurrection fire. And, by and large, Republicans aren’t even trying. Instead, the Republican arguments against impeaching the president for a second time largely cite “concerns” — or what might be better described as threats — that any effort to hold Trump accountable for his behavior may anger an already angry mob, leading to more violence. [..]

And above all other things, Trump needs to be punished.

The impeachment is a good start, but it’s not enough, especially since there’s little chance of the Senate, which is still half-Republican, convicting him. Trump has been impeached before and got right back to criming, empowered by his unjust acquittal. As painful as it may be for Joe Biden to admit this, the newly elected president needs to unleash the Department of Justice on Trump, both for his role in the insurrection and for all his crimes prior to it.

Trump and his supporters staged a coup against the U.S. government because they thought they could get away with it. The only way to keep them from doing it again is to make sure they know there’s a price to pay — by extracting it.