Archive

June 11th, 2016

The Federal Reserve risks helping Donald Trump

    Given Donald Trump's rather inconsistent and worrying statements about his plans for the Federal Reserve, it would be ironic if the central bank provided the impetus that carries him over the finish line in this November's presidential election. But there is a small chance that might happen.

    The Fed is poised to raise interest rates again, after raising them in December for the first time in more than nine years. Janet Yellen, the Fed chair, said last month that if the economy continues to do reasonably well, the central bank will hike interest rates this summer or fall. Some non-hawkish Fed governors have echoed her statement. Markets seem to believe that the Fed is now serious about this.

    Why might this help Trump's presidential bid? Because rate increases have the capacity to hurt the economy. When Paul Volcker, Fed chairman at the time, raised rates sharply in the early 1980s to wring inflation out of the economy, two sharp recessions followed.

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The dump-Trump Republicans are chattering again

    Washington Republicans, panicky over the prospect of Donald Trump as their nominee, are discussing ways to dump him with Ted Cruz the most likely alternative. They're probably tilting at windmills.

    These discussions haven't involved the highest levels of the party: House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus. And even the most zealous anti-Trump Republicans, who include prominent strategists, lawyers and elected officials, acknowledge that the latest dump-Trump conversation doesn't have a much better chance to prevail than previous efforts that failed.

    Trump has enough committed delegates to win the nomination at the Cleveland convention next month based on the current party rules. But parties have broad discretion to change their rules. Republicans could, for example, allow delegates to vote their consciences, irrespective of how their state or congressional district voted.

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Republicans could still dump Trump

    Donald Trump is having his third consecutive terrible week.

    Over the weekend, Republicans who have endorsed him slammed him for his bigoted comments about Gonzalo Curiel, the judge overseeing the fraud case against Trump University.

    Then Bloomberg Politics reported on a conference call Monday between Trump and his surrogates in which Trump dismissed the criticism of his attack on Curiel and blasted his own campaign for (sensibly) telling them to change the subject away from why "Mexicans" can't be fair judges. Added to all this are more details (via MSNBC) on how Trump barely has a campaign.

    I don't think the Republicans who chose to accept Trump as a done deal in April are at a panic point yet, but it's worth noting: All it would take to dump him in Cleveland would be a vote to free the delegates, followed by having at least half of the convention oppose him on the first ballot.

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Prison inmates deserve more benefit of the doubt

    The Supreme Court o nMonday decided two cases involving prisoner lawsuits. It blocked one but allowed room for a possible second try. It allowed the other suit to go forward on somewhat complicated statutory grounds. The technical details matter less than the bottom line, which is that the court wants it to be very hard for prisoners to sue, but not totally impossible.

    On the surface, this seems sensible: The federal courts can't micromanage the entirety of the prison experience, and judicial intervention should be reserved for extreme cases of rights-violation. On another level, it's disturbing to think that the courts are participating in a project to make our system of incarceration look just, when in fact it's deeply troubled.

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It's time for GOP leaders to choose sides on Donald Trump

    Donald Trump has been the Republican presidential nominee for five weeks as of Tuesday. Those 35 days have been filled with self-inflicted wounds - the latest being Trump's insistence that a judge of Mexican descent is biased against him because he has said he would build a wall between the United States and Mexico if he is elected - and mounting evidence that the real estate mogul has absolutely no plans to change the brash and bullying approach that won him the GOP primary.

    The realization is setting in among GOP leaders that the way Trump has acted as the party's nominee has the potential not only to cost Republicans the White House in 2016 but also to damage the party's brand among key constituencies - Hispanics, most obviously - that could set them back for far longer than a single election cycle.

    "If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it," Sen. Lindsey Graham, S.C., said in The New York Times on Tuesday. "There'll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary."

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How the Medicaid program could treat poverty too

    Poverty in the U.S. seems intractable, even as safety net spending rises each year. Most policy makers, meanwhile, remain locked in trench warfare over whether to increase spending further or cut it, launch new programs or restrict current ones. But what if states had more flexibility to move federal dollars between antipoverty programs -- not to increase spending or cut it, but to find its most effective use?

    The social safety net provides more than $1 trillion a year for low-income households. Yet no coherent antipoverty strategy allocates the spending. As the various programs have been created, their individual funding streams have pooled resources haphazardly and inefficiently.

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GOP allows Trump to brand the party as if it's one of his hotels

    For all the uproar over Donald Trump's attacks on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, not one Republican has withdrawn support of the party's presumptive nominee, or even reconsidered the blanket excuse for backing him that Hillary Clinton is worse.

    Maybe the revelation on Monday of Trump's instructions to high-ranking supporters such as former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will change that. On a conference call, according to Bloomberg Politics, the candidate ordered his surrogates to continue to question the credibility of Curiel, who is hearing a class-action suit against Trump University and, according to the Donald, is obviously biased because he is from Mexico (never mind that the judge was born in Indiana). Trump also commanded his backers to respond to pesky questions by calling the reporters who ask them "racists." To top it off, he borrowed language from the civil rights movement to describe his own alleged victimization, promising, "We will overcome."

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Endorsing Trump will leave a mark

    Bluffing is Donald Trump's one great talent, and he brazenly bluffed his way to the Republican nomination. Now he is showing his cards, however, and they are utter garbage: racism, ignorance, capriciousness, egomania and general unfitness for office. That should be -- it must be -- a losing hand.

    Imagine what a disaster it would be if this man were elected president. Really think about it. Then consider your obligation, as a citizen, to prevent such a thing from happening.

    Mitt Romney is usually not the most eloquent of public figures, but he got it right when he explained his increasingly lonely resistance to Trump: "I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn't ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world."

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Dump the GOP for a Grand New Party

    If a party could declare moral bankruptcy, today’s Republican Party would be in Chapter 11.

    This party needs to just shut itself down and start over — now. Seriously, someone please start a New Republican Party!

    America needs a healthy two-party system. America needs a healthy center-right party to ensure that the Democrats remain a healthy center-left party. America needs a center-right party ready to offer market-based solutions to issues like climate change. America needs a center-right party that will support common-sense gun laws. America needs a center-right party that will support common-sense fiscal policy. America needs a center-right party to support both free trade and aid to workers impacted by it. America needs a center-right party that appreciates how much more complicated foreign policy is today, when you have to manage weak and collapsing nations, not just muscle strong ones.

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Can’t swallow ‘climate action’?; Do the right thing anyway

    This is for everybody who can read, except for a few idiots.

    Those excused from our conversation, based on the thickness and slope of their skulls, have been reported to troll the West in large and loud vehicles. So doing, they speak ill of many of us with their exhaust pipes.

    “Rolling coal” is what they call the practice. To spew hatred for environmentalists, they drive around in big-butted pickups specially rigged to pour extra-black exhaust into the air.

    I bring them up because regardless of political party or ideology, most of us can all agree on some things regarding the environment -- like not minding it if these eco-invalids went off-roading off yonder cliff.

    Several cities, including the one in which I reside, Fort Collins, recently formed Colorado Communities for Climate Action. The group’s aim: state, local and national policies that assist a planet in distress, particularly in summoning businesses to act more sustainably.

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