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: Helping Kids Is a Very Good Idea
Republicans won’t support the Democrats’ proposal, but they should.
Some things about American politics are completely predictable, even in a time of insurrection and QAnon craziness. Anyone who has been paying attention over the past decade knew that as soon as a Democrat took the White House, Republicans would instantly do another 180-degree turn on budget deficits.
Remember, the G.O.P. went from hyperventilating about debt as an existential threat during the Obama years to complete indifference about deficits under Donald Trump. Surely nobody is surprised to see Republicans immediately revert to deficit hysteria now that Joe Biden is president.
Why are Republicans suddenly peddling debt phobia again? Their usual argument is that federal debt is a burden on future generations; I and others have spent considerable time trying to explain that this is bad economics.
But leave the economics of debt aside. Shouldn’t politicians who claim to be terribly worried about the future of America’s children support, you know, actually helping America’s children today?
That’s not a hypothetical question. Democrats are reportedly working on legislation that would offer monthly payments to most American families with children, and could, among other things, cut child poverty roughly in half.
To defeat the GOP’s assault on democracy, it’s critical for everyday voters to understand that they do have power
Last week, Donald Trump finally left the White House, after two and a half months of trying to steal the election — which culminated in Trump inciting a violent insurrection at the Capitol. Even before he sent a mob to violently interrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s win on January 6, Trump’s efforts to overturn the election were relentless to the point of being uncountable: Dozens of lawsuits (which were nearly all struck down), pressure campaigns on local election boards and state legislators, an extortion scheme against Senate Republicans, threats against state officials, demands that then-Vice President Mike Pence illegally invalidate the election, and even meetings to explore the possibility of a military coup.
In the face of all this, a narrative has shaped up: Trump’s failure to pull off a coup was largely due to his own shortcomings.
It’s a narrative that started early, with Max Boot of the Washington Post opining shortly after the election that he’s “never been more grateful for President Trump’s incompetence,” because he “can’t even organize a coup d’état properly.” It culminated in Adam Serwer of the Atlantic arguing that Trump’s “assault was most often futile, almost always buffoonish.”
To be clear, no one is saying that Trump’s efforts were inconsequential, just because he failed to steal the election. Even Ross Douthat, who was most devoted to the “incompetence” narrative, admitted in his New York Times column that it was bad that a violent mob had descended on the Capitol, killing a police officer and coming perilously close to getting their hands on the lawmakers they were threatening. As Ed Kilgore wrote last week at the New Yorker, the lesson we all learned is that there were “some moments of real peril,” and Trump got distressingly close to pulling it off at times. Still, the focus on why Trump failed is largely on his own inadequacies and bad planning — Kilgore suggests he could have succeeded with “better timing and better lawyers” — and some lucky breaks, such as the quick thinking of some Capitol police who saved lawmakers from the insurrectionists.
Michelle Goldberg: Please, Biden, Try for 2 Million Shots a Day
The administration’s vaccine plan isn’t ambitious enough.
Donald Trump’s administration overpromised on coronavirus vaccines. In November, his secretary of health and human services said there would be 40 million doses available by the end of the 2020; he was off by about a month. Trump himself promised 100 million doses in that same period. Everything he and his team said was a sales pitch, designed to foster the false impression that the pandemic they let burn out of control was on the cusp of ending.
There’s a growing consensus that Joe Biden’s administration has done the exact opposite. “Biden’s early approach to virus: Underpromise, overdeliver,” says an Associated Press headline. In December, when Biden pledged 100 million vaccine shots in 100 days, some experts thought it was a reach. But now that the United States is already vaccinating a bit more than a million people a day, that figure is far too modest.
Biden seemed to acknowledge that on Monday, telling reporters that the United States could get to 150 million shots in 100 days. Even that, however, is not enough.
CEOs only acted after the Capitol attack because Democrats took power. Their political dominance must be reduced
The sudden lurch from Trump to Biden is generating vertigo all over Washington, including the so-called fourth branch of government – chief executives and their army of lobbyists.
Notwithstanding Biden’s ambitious agenda, dozens of giant corporations have said they will no longer donate to the 147 members of Congress who objected to the certification of Biden electors on the basis of Trump’s lies about widespread fraud, which rules out most Republicans on the Hill. [..]
Give me a break. For years, big corporations have been assaulting democracy with big money, drowning out the voices and needs of ordinary Americans and fueling much of the anger and cynicism that opened the door to Trump in the first place.
Republicans will try to create an ‘ethics’ trap for Democrats. Don’t fall for it
A press secretary who tells the truth. An independent justice department that respects the rule of law. A president who doesn’t tweet conspiracy theories in the wee hours of the morning. After four dispiriting years and one near-death experience for American democracy, it would be comforting to conclude that nature is healing. Our political guardrails held. The Trump Era was nothing more than a temporary blip.
But such complacency would be a terrible mistake. What we’re seeing at the dawn of the Biden presidency is not the reestablishment of norms, but the establishment of double standards.
Yes, it’s commendable that the incoming Democratic administration pledges to behave responsibly, but it’s far from guaranteed that future Republican administrations will do the same. In fact, as things currently stand, it’s practically guaranteed that they won’t.