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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Paul Krugman: The Republican Economic Plan Is an Insult

It’s bad faith in the name of bipartisanship.

So 10 Republican senators are proposing an economic package that is supposed to be an alternative to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The proposal is only a third of the size of Biden’s plan and would in important ways cut the heart out of economic relief.

Republicans, however, want Biden to give in to their wishes in the name of bipartisanship. Should he?

No, no, 1.9 trillion times, no.. [..]

In short, everything about this Republican counteroffer reeks of bad faith — the same kind of bad faith the G.O.P. displayed in 2009 when it tried to block President Barack Obama’s efforts to rescue the economy after the 2008 financial crisis.

Obama, unfortunately, failed to grasp the nature of his opposition, and he watered down his policies in a vain attempt to win support across the aisle. This time, it seems as if Democrats understand what Lucy will do with that football and won’t be fooled again.

So it’s OK for Biden to talk with Republicans and hear them out. But should he make any substantive concessions in an attempt to win them over? Should he let negotiations with Republicans delay the passage of his rescue plan? Absolutely not. Just get it done.

Alexis Goldstein: The Trouble With GameStop Is That the House Still Wins

We can’t beat Wall Street at its own zero-sum game. But we can change the rules.

Last week, an alluring narrative coalesced around a band of Davids taking on the Goliaths of finance. Thousands of so-called retail traders who came together on Reddit have been using apps like Robinhood to buy stock and options of GameStop, the beleaguered video game retailer, jacking up its value some 1,700 percent last month. In the process, they’ve blown up a few hedge funds that had bet on GameStop’s failure.

The appeal of such a narrative is obvious. Wall Street profits have blasted off during the pandemic, while Main Street endures intense and prolonged suffering, a phenomenon that economists call a “K-shaped” recovery. Americans have waited 10 months and counting for consistent relief from the government. So the idea of “get rich quick” schemes, especially ones animated by a zeal for revenge against the billionaire class, are more compelling than ever. But the unfortunate irony is that this desire to stick it to the fat cats of high finance is likely only to spur higher profits for big banks and hedge funds.

The real solution to breaking the power of finance is to rebalance the recession-wracked economy. Rather than gambling on the dubious promise of more Americans gaining access to the casino, it’s time to rewrite the rules to ensure that the house doesn’t always win.

Eugene Robinson: If the GOP is to rise from the ashes, it has to burn first

The only way to save the party from its current incarnation is to destroy it.

Before a sane, responsible political party can rise like a phoenix from the ashes of today’s dangerously unhinged GOP, there must be ashes to rise from. The nation is going to have to destroy the Republican Party to save it.

Parties reform and rebuild themselves after suffering massive, scorched-earth defeats. Since Republicans decided to follow Donald Trump and Fox News into the dystopian hellscape of white supremacy, paranoid conspiracy theory and know-nothing rejection of science, they have lost control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. Yet it has become obvious that those defeats are not nearly enough.

You might think the violent and deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol — an unprecedented attack on our democracy, incited by Trump’s election-fraud Big Lie — would snap the GOP back into reality. Unbelievably, though, you would be wrong. [..]

We saw how Georgia voters recoiled from Trumpism by ousting two Republican senators and electing two Democrats, one Black and one Jewish, in their place — and that was before the Capitol riot. The necessary ruin of the GOP is far from an impossible quest.

It was GOP voters in Georgia who gave us Greene, most accurately identified as (R-QAnon), and she should be made the face of the GOP. The choice is binary and stark: If you don’t believe in Jewish space lasers, you can’t vote for Republicans. And if you loved the old Republican Party, you can’t have it back until you smash today’s GOP to smithereens.

Amanda Marcotte: Sorry, Republicans, but there’s no way to acquit Trump without endorsing his insurrection

Trump’s new loyalty test makes it clear: Republicans who vote to acquit are siding with the insurrectionists

For weeks now, Republicans in Congress have been playing a rhetorical game regarding the impeachment of Donald Trump on charges — for which he is quite obviously guilty — of inciting an insurrection. On one hand, Senate Republicans want very badly to acquit Trump, even though this would allow him to run for office again, believing that the Republican voting base is more loyal to Trump than they are to the GOP or to the nation itself. On the other hand, they don’t want to come right out and say that Trump was justified in sending a violent crowd to storm the Capitol on January 6. That sort of overtly fascist stance can hurt one’s bookings on cable news shows and cause corporate donors to put you on ice for a cycle.

So Senate Republicans glommed onto what they thought was the perfect strategy to have it both ways: pretend that they are springing Trump on a technicality. [..]

Senate Republicans want to maintain a position as Schrödinger’s insurrectionists, neither for or against Trump’s attempted coup. But Trump was never a man with a taste for the politically useful equivocacy and has special loathing for Republicans who aren’t enthusiastic enough about the terrible and illegal things he likes to do. So it’s unsurprising that Trump looks like he’s going to make life very difficult for Senate Republicans by leaning away from the technicality arguments and pushing for his lawyers to simply defend his actions in attempting to overthrow the legally elected government.

Greg Sargent: Republicans just handed Biden a good reason to go big — without them

Republicans are vowing extreme gerrymanders. Here’s how Democrats should fight back.

Ten Senate Republicans are unveiling their own scaled-down economic rescue plan — with the transparent aim of getting President Biden to negotiate away his own ambitions. The game they’re playing runs as follows: If Biden doesn’t make all kinds of concessions in their direction, they suggest, he’ll be reneging on his promise to pursue “unity.”

But this argument has now been badly undercut by none other than Republicans themselves.

In an important new piece, the New York Times reports that Republican operatives are openly boasting of their intention to ramp up efforts to gerrymander House districts during this year’s decennial redistricting.

The upshot of that report: It’s plausible that Democrats could lose the House in 2022 largely on the strength of GOP partisan gerrymandering.

If so, then it seems obvious that Biden and Democrats cannot seriously trim their agenda for the sake of achieving bipartisanship for its own sake. If Democrats do lose the House, Biden’s agenda screeches to a halt.

It would be the ultimate perversity if this were to happen due to GOP gerrymandering after Biden significantly downscaled his agenda in search of bipartisan comity. If Republicans are threatening to take back the House through a nakedly partisan exercise of counter-majoritarian tactics — and if there’s a decent chance they’ll succeed — it furnishes a good reason for Biden and Democrats to do as much as they can right now, with or without Republicans.