The Washington Post
By Dana Milbank
Image courtesy of Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters
Thursday was Pearl Harbor Day, the anniversary of one of the deadliest attacks on American soil and perhaps the most unifying day in American history.
This year some of us marked Pearl Harbor Day by attacking America from within.
For five hours on Thursday, President Trump’s partisans delivered a reckless and sustained attack on the FBI and the special counsel. They amplified Trump’s claim that the FBI’s “reputation is in Tatters — worst in History” and that Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia probe, which has already secured guilty pleas from two Trump campaign officials and the indictments of two more, is part of a system that is “rigged,” “phony,” “dishonest” and using a “double standard.”
Shamefully, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee launched an all-out assault on the special counsel and the FBI — choosing to protect Trump at the cost of Americans’ faith in the justice system and the rule of law.
Mueller is a longtime Republican who was appointed FBI director by George W. Bush. He was named special counsel by Rod J. Rosenstein, also a Republican, who was appointed by Trump himself to be deputy attorney general. Comey, a Republican who served in Bush’s Justice Department, made political contributions to John McCain, Mitt Romney and other Republicans. Wray, a Republican who also gave to GOP candidates, was appointed by Trump.
The New York Times
By Paul Krugman
Image courtesy of Mark Makela for The New York Times
Let me ask you a question; take your time in answering it. Would you be willing to take health care away from a thousand children with the bad luck to have been born into low-income families so that you could give millions of extra dollars to just one wealthy heir?
You might think that this question is silly, hypothetical and has an obvious answer. But it’s not at all hypothetical, and the answer apparently isn’t obvious. For it’s a literal description of the choice Republicans in Congress seem to be making as you read this.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, is basically a piece of Medicaid targeted on young Americans. It was introduced in 1997, with bipartisan support. Last year it covered 8.9 million kids. But its funding expired more than two months ago. Republicans keep saying they’ll restore the money, but they keep finding reasons not to do it; state governments, which administer the program, will soon have to start cutting children off.
What’s the problem? The other day Senator Orrin Hatch, asked about the program (which he helped create), once again insisted that it will be funded — but without saying when or how (and there don’t seem to be any signs of movement on the issue). And he further declared, “The reason CHIP’s having trouble is that we don’t have money anymore.” Then he voted for an immense tax cut.
The Washington Post
By Eugene Robinson
Image courtesy of Christopher Gregory/Getty Images
We need to prepare for the eventuality that the Mueller probe catches President Trump, family members and associates red-handed — and Republicans in Congress refuse to do anything about it.
This is beginning to look like a possible or even probable outcome. With a cravenness matched only by its arrogance, the GOP is Trump’s party now. It no longer has any claim to be Lincoln’s.
Witness the cowardly about-face on the subject of Roy Moore’s candidacy for the Senate. The party initially took a position in line with its purported values: that a credibly accused child molester, who haunted the local mall seeking dates with teenage girls when he was in his 30s, is unworthy of the high office he seeks.
But then Trump endorsed Moore — given that more than a dozen women have accused the president of sexual misconduct, the phrase “birds of a feather” comes to mind — and Republicans changed their tune. The flow of money from national party coffers to Moore’s campaign, briefly interrupted, was resumed. Moore’s fitness became a matter that no longer troubled the GOP’s moral conscience, or what was left of it; only “the people of Alabama” could decide the difference between right and wrong.
Here is the distinction between our two major parties in 2017: Democratic leaders are forcing Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), both accused of harassing women, to resign. Republican leaders are trying to put Moore, accused of harassing teenagers and molesting a 14-year-old, in the Senate.
Given that context, it is naive to assume that anything special counsel Robert S. Mueller III uncovers will lead Republicans to choose principle over political advantage. Trump boasted during the campaign that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose support. As far as the GOP majorities in Congress are concerned, he may be right.
Mueller is doing his job. Ours is to elect Democrats and independents next year who will hold this appalling presidency to account.
The Washington Post
By Michael Gerson
Image courtesy of Joe Raedle/Getty Images
The prospect of Sen. Roy Moore has been both horrifying and clarifying. It would be difficult to design a more controlled, precise test of the moral gag reflex in politics.
In this political lifeboat dilemma, Republicans are being asked what principles they are willing to throw overboard in the interest of power. A belief that character matters in politics? Splash. A commitment to religious and ethnic inclusion? Splash. Moral outrage at credible charges of sexual predation against teen girls? Splash.
Those remaining in this lightened boat display a kind of shocking clarity. They value certain political ends — tax cuts, a conservative judiciary — more than ethical considerations. When it comes to confirming judges who oppose Roe v. Wade, the vote of a statesman is no better than the vote of a sexual predator — or, presumably, of a drug dealer or a murderer. This type of calculation admits no limiting principle.
So, in this view, it does not really matter that there is (as Ivanka Trump put it) “no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts” in Moore’s case. It does not matter that Moore’s explanations have been shifting and slippery. It does not matter that Moore has said that homosexual behavior should be illegal, or that he compared resisting gay marriage to resisting the Holocaust, or that he referred to Asians as “yellows,” or that he doesn’t believe former president Barack Obama is a natural born citizen, or that he believes there are communities living under shariah law in Illinois and Indiana.
Those willing to swallow all this — all the ignorance, cruelty, creepiness and malice — have truly shown the strength of their partisan commitment. A purity indistinguishable from mania.
The hope for American politics is found in the reverse, the photographic negative, of all these trends. In leaders who affirm and exemplify the nobility of the political enterprise. In arguments that elevate principle above expediency. In institutions that shape character, confront corruption, take the side of the exploited and echo the newly pertinent question: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
By Arthur Allen and Lorraine Woellert
Four days after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin held a big Washington event to tout the Trump administration’s promise to house all homeless vets, the agency did an about-face, telling advocates it was pulling resources from a major housing program.
The VA said it was essentially ending a special $460 million program that has dramatically reduced homelessness among chronically sick and vulnerable veterans. Instead, the money would go to local VA hospitals that can use it as they like, as long as they show evidence of dealing with homelessness.
Anger exploded on a Dec. 1 call that was arranged by Shulkin’s Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans to explain the move. Advocates for veterans, state officials and even officials from HUD, which co-sponsors the program, attacked the decision, according to five people who were on the call.
The agency’s move came as HUD on Wednesday released its annual survey showing a 1.5 percent increase in veteran homelessness over 2016 — the first rise since 2010. Most of the jump occurred in Los Angeles, where housing costs are skyrocketing.
Advocates said cuts to the program were doubly foolish because the chronically homeless veterans it serves typically cost cities and the health care system hundreds of thousands of dollars for emergency room visits, ambulance runs and jailings that could be avoided if the veterans were reasonably sheltered.
The Wall Street Journal
By Tom Steyer
Image courtesy of Tom Williams/Zuma Press
After more than three decades as an investor, I fully appreciate that folks on Wall Street don’t have time to follow every detail of Capitol Hill’s policy debates. What matters to the financial industry is the bottom line. So how does the current Republican tax proposal look with that in mind?
On the surface, the GOP plan might seem to offer the kinds of short-term rewards that really resonate. But let’s face it: Republicans’ supposedly pro-business ideas have seemed that way before. While business owners and investors may have made extra returns in the near-term, however, America’s economy ultimately suffered.
Less than a decade ago, after years of dramatic deregulation coupled with revenue-draining tax cuts, the entire U.S. financial system effectively collapsed. It took down with it millions of American consumers, workers, small businesses, retirees and middle-class homeowners.
The country can’t afford this kind of outcome again. That’s why I want to be as straight as possible: Despite what you may believe, the Republican tax plan taking shape is a sham. It will lead to more pain and less prosperity for the vast majority of Americans. Investment professionals have a moral obligation and a personal interest in opposing the bill.
The Washington Post
By Editorial Board
Image courtesy of Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Republican Senators remade their tax bill into an Obamacare repeal bill, announcing Tuesday that they inserted an Obamacare sabotage device into the text. In a stroke, they turned a fiscally irresponsible tax plan into a monumentally unwise piece of social policy that would do much more than widen the deficit. If passed, it would be the most significant health-care shift since the 2010 Affordable Care Act — and in a decidedly negative direction.
The Senate GOP’s new bill would eliminate Obamacare’s “individual mandate,” which requires all Americans to get health coverage if they can afford it. Independent health-care analysts and the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’s official scorekeeper, agree that this move would deeply undercut the Obamacare system. The CBO estimated last week that ending the mandate would lead to 13 million more Americans lacking health-care coverage.
Yet, for Republicans, the coverage loss is not a regrettable side effect of an otherwise sensible policy. It is the point. Fewer people covered means that the federal government would save money that the treasury would have otherwise spent on their health care, such as by helping them buy health insurance or offering them Medicaid — $338 billion over a decade. Republicans want to use that cash to help finance the rest of their tax bill. They could have removed some of the bill’s expensive and unnecessary giveaways to the wealthy, such as its rollback of the estate tax. But they opted instead to raise money by ballooning the ranks of uninsured.