What He Does and Doesn’t Have Going For Him

People who write headlines often do a crappy job. Here’s an example from The New York Times:

Even if presidents have less sway over the economy than is widely assumed, perception can be important.

The headline implies that the economy is just about perfect. It’s not. As Steven Rattner points out:

T—- promised growth of “4, 5, 6 percent”, a tax cut that would raise workers’ wages significantly [and pay for itself!] and new trade policies that would again make the United States a manufacturing powerhouse. None of those things has happened….

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut explains the situation:

One of T—-‘s favorite tactics is taking credit for Obama’s economy. Democrats need to stop letting him get away with it. A quick thread debunking some of his favorite lies:

Job Creation:

Obama created 227K jobs a month in his last three years in office. In T—-‘s first three years, it’s only been 191K per month.

Job creation numbers were 20% higher under Obama during that three-year span.

Deficits:

T—- DOUBLED the budget deficit, creating over $3 trillion in new debt.

Where did all this money go? Mostly to tax cuts for corporations and rich people. But instead of boosting the economy, business investment has actually fallen since the tax law passed.

Wages

Real wages aka what you can buy for the amount of money you take home, are actually doing worse under T—-.

They increased just 0.8% since T—- took office, compared with 1.3 percent over a similar period under Obama.

Trade War

Trump’s self-inflicted trade war contributed to outright job declines last year in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Indiana and New York.

Overall, the trade war with China cost America 450,000 jobs in 2019.

Obama inherited the worst financial crisis since the great depression and pulled America out of it.

T—- was handed a healthy economy and has made things harder for working families while juicing corporate profits.

Don’t let his lies try to tell you otherwise.

Paul Krugman provides needed context:

[It’s] worth talking about why the economy is growing. The answer is, it’s the deficit, stupid.

T—-‘s deficitpalooza is giving the economy as much stimulus now as it was getting in 2012, when the unemployment rate was 8%. Imagine what Obama’s economy would have looked like if [Republicans] and Very Serious People had let him run deficits that big.

And of course imagine if we were using that money to build infrastructure and help children, not give corporations more money to buy back their own stock.

[In 2009] some of us were tearing our hair out over the fact that the stimulus was obviously too small. But Obama and his inner circle insisted that it was inconceivable to [get around the filibuster by using] reconciliation to enact something bigger, because norms or something.

In the end Obama [and other Democrats] paid a heavy political price because recovery was too slow, thanks to inadequate stimulus; T—- is getting a dividend because nobody, including the bond market, actually cares about budget deficits. So many bad things have followed from Obama’s caution back then. The course of history could have been very different.

… Republicans hobbled the Obama economy in the name of fiscal responsibility, which they abandoned as soon as T—- came in. But how big a deal was that?

Absent [Republican] sabotage, we would have been down to 4% unemployment in 2014. Think how different everything would look if we’d done that.

Finally, a few words from Nancy Pelosi:

Under Obama…

  • Unemployment dropped from 10% to 5%
  • Stock market went from 6,000 to 18,000
  • Deficit was reduced by a trillion dollars
  • The US gained more than 14 million private sector jobs.

[T—-] did not inherit “a mess”, he inherited a momentum.

Colbert on Taking One’s Oath Seriously

Stephen Colbert is America’s most thoughtful supplier of late-night comedy. Last night, he gave a heartfelt thank you to Sen. Mitt Romney for voting to remove the “monstrous child in the White House”; excoriated Romney’s Republican colleagues for ignoring their solemn oaths to do “impartial justice”; and said some funny stuff too.

Note: The Romney family once took a trip with their dog in a crate on the roof of their car. More famously, Mr. Romney was defeated in the 2012 presidential election by Barack Obama, who Mr. Colbert definitely voted for.

A Remedy and an Oath

Adam Schiff closed the prosecution’s case yesterday, calling on the Senate to remove an unfit president from office:

“They gave you a remedy and they meant for you to use it. They gave you an oath and they meant for you to observe it”. 

I couldn’t find a complete transcript of his closing statement. Here’s some of it (the complete video is below):

The Republican party of Nixon’s time broke in to the [Democratic National Committee] and the president covered it up. Nixon too abused the power of his office to gain an unfair advantage over his opponent. But in Watergate, he never sought to coerce a foreign power to aid his reelection, nor did he sacrifice our national security in such a palpable and destructive way as withholding aid from an ally at war. And he certainly did not engage in the wholesale obstruction of Congress or justice that we have seen this president commit.

The facts of President Clinton’s misconduct pale in comparison to Nixon’s and do not hold a candle to [this president’s]. Lying about an affair is morally wrong and when under oath it is a crime, but it had nothing to do with his duties in office. The process being the same, the facts of President Trump’s misconduct being far more destructive than either past president, what then accounts for the disparate result in bipartisan support for his removal? What has changed?

The short answer is we have changed. The members of Congress have changed. For reasons as varied as the stars, the members of this body and ours in the House are now far more accepting of the most serious misconduct of a president as long as it is a president of one’s own party. And that is a trend most dangerous for our country….

It must have come as a shock, a pleasant shock, to this president that our norms and institutions would prove to be so weak. The independence of the Justice Department and its formerly proud Office of Legal Counsel now mirror legal tools at the president’s disposal to investigate enemies or churn out helpful opinions not worth the paper they are written on.

The FBI painted by a president as corrupt and disloyal. The intelligence community not to be trusted against the good counsel of Vladimir Putin. The press portrayed as enemies of the people….Does none of that matter anymore if he’s the president of our party?

I hope and pray that we never have a president like D—- T—- in the Democratic Party. One that would betray the national interest and the country’s security to help with his reelection. And I would hope to God that if we did, we would impeach him, and Democrats would lead the way. But I suppose you never know just how difficult that is until you are confronted with it. But you, my friends, are confronted with it. You are confronted with that difficulty now and you must not shrink from it…. among you who will say enough?

America believes a thing called truth. She does not believe we are entitled to our own alternate facts. She recoils at those who spread pernicious falsehoods. To her truth matters. There is nothing more corrosive to a democracy than the idea that there is no truth.

America also believes there is a difference between right and wrong and right matters here. But there is more. Truth matters, right matters, but so does decency. Decency matters. When the president smears a patriotic public servant like Marie Yovanovitch in pursuit of a corrupt aim, we recoil…. Because decency matters and when the president tries to coerce an ally to help him cheat in our elections and then covers it up, we must say, “Enough. Enough.”

He has betrayed our national security and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What’s right matters even less and decency matters not at all. I do not ask you to convict him because truth or right or decency matters nothing to him, but because we have proven our case and it matters to you. Truth matters to you, right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.

In Federalist 55, James Madison wrote that there were certain qualities in human nature, qualities I believe like honesty, right, and decency, which would justify our confidence in self government. He believed that we possessed sufficient virtue, that the chains of despotism were not necessary to restrain ourselves from destroying and devouring one another.

It may be midnight in Washington, but the sun will rise again. I put my faith in the optimism of the founders. You should too. They gave us the tools to do the job, a remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to constrain: impeachment. They meant it to be used rarely, but they put it in the constitution for a reason. For a man who would sell out his country for a political favor, for a man who would threaten the integrity of our elections. For a man who would invite foreign interference in our affairs. For a man who would undermine our national security and that of our allies. For a man like D— J. T—-. They gave you a remedy and they meant for you to use it. They gave you an oath and they meant for you to observe it. We have proven D—- T—- guilty. Now do impartial justice and convict him.

Unquote.

For the conclusion to his remarks, please jump ahead to 20:00.

Note: The fifty-three Republican senators are expected to ignore Rep. Schiff’s remarks and vote “No” on the articles of impeachment tomorrow.

There Will Be No Excuses in November

Yesterday, from Hillary Clinton:

With their votes to make the American president accountable to no one, Republican senators have put the interests of one president over the interests of all Americans.

The only remedy now is for us all to vote in overwhelming numbers to replace them—and him—in November.

Amen.

Enough Said

Adam Schiff spoke last for the prosecution on Day 4 of the impeachment trial. If you were watching one of the Murdoch channels, you missed it. The video is below.

In the first twelve minutes, he reviews the two articles of impeachment.

You can jump ahead to 12:12 to hear him talk about the second article, Obstruction of Congress. The case for that article is so clear-cut and the offense is so serious, that it alone justifies removing this “president” from office:

Article 2 is every bit as important as Article 1. Without Article 2, there is no Article 1 ever again. No matter how egregious this president’s conduct or any other. It is fundamental to the separation of powers. If you can’t have the ability to enforce an impeachment power, you might as well not put it in the Constitution.

At 18:30, he starts previewing the arguments the president’s lawyers are expected to make in the next few days. He knocks each one to pieces. His conclusion at 47:50:

So what do all these defenses mean? … What do they mean collectively when you add them all up? What they mean is that under Article 2 [of the Constitution] the president can do whatever he wants…. That’s really it, stripped of all the detail and all the histrionics. What they want us to believe is that the president can do whatever he wants under Article 2 and there is nothing you [the Senate] or the House can do about it.

At 48:30, he quotes Robert Kennedy, who said:

Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery on the battlefield or great intelligence.

Schiff said he was skeptical of that remark until he realized what Kennedy was referring to. It doesn’t take moral courage to disagree with your enemies, it takes moral courage to disagree with your friends. Or your political party. Or your president. Or the majority of voters who elected you. He was challenging the Republicans in the Senate to exhibit moral courage by standing up for the Constitution.

At 58:20, he repeats the Democrats’ demand for a fair trial in the Senate, with testimony from witnesses and production of documents. Four Republicans would have to join the Democrats to make that happen. The senators will vote on that question after the president’s lawyers use their time to lie, whine and say stupid things.

One note:

At one point, Schiff refers to a CBS news report that someone who works for the president told Republican senators that if they vote against the president, their heads will end up “on a pike”. A number of Republicans claim to have been shocked that Schiff would even mention this report. Apparently, some accounts of tonight’s proceedings led with that story. It’s the kind of fake outrage Republicans have practiced for years and news people love to report. It’s bullshit. But that’s the state of the union today.