2020 watch: Dems’ Telling Silence on Economy

Despite the “fears of a recession” Democratic presidential candidates were “hyping just days ago,” the economy was barely mentioned in Thursday’s debate, Byron York points out at the Washington Examiner. No one uttered the word “recession” except Julian Castro (“just once”), “nor was the word ‘unemployment’ ever spoken.” With no “discussion of job creation,” wages nor even the word deficit, notes York, “the candidates didn’t even try to argue that the economy is terrible. Nobody would buy it.” And their silence “might be taken as a concession to the president.”

From the left: Warren-Sanders Showdown Looms

“The time will soon come when [Sens. Elizabeth] Warren and [Bernie] Sanders are going to have to go after each other, even if there was little sign of such a smackdown” in Thursday’s debate, muses Damon Linker at The Week. Indeed, one “seemingly small dispute” between them on abolishing the Senate filibuster (she wants to scrap it, he wants to keep it) “points to a much bigger difference in their sensibilities”: Warren believes “every progressive victory will have to be won through bloody trench warfare,” while Sanders wants “a popular movement that will bring about a fundamental transformation,” which apparently “will be so total that corralling 60 votes in the Senate will be no problem.” “Victory requires that the left makes a choice” between the two. “A fight to the death,” he says, “awaits us.”

From the right: Why the Deficit Topped $1 Trillion

“Trump administration critics” blame the president’s tax cuts for the fact that the 2019 deficit has “already topped $1 trillion,” but “the data prove them wrong,” insists John Merline at Issues & Insights. The cuts are “at least partially paying for themselves”: Corporate-tax revenues are up 5%, income- and payroll-tax revenues 3% and payroll tax 6.4%, for a total of $102 billion more than during the previous 11 months, new Congressional Budget Office figures show. The problem, Merline points out, is that federal spending has “shot up” 6.4%, with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense spending and interest payments on the national debt all soaring, $271 billion more than last year. Such a level of outlays is simply “unsustainable,” he argues. But “Republicans appear indifferent to the debt explosion,” and Democrats only want to expand on it.

Foreign desk: The Lame Case Against Bolton

From one end of the political spectrum to the other, “John Bolton’s departure from the Trump White House” was “cause for celebration,” notes Noah Rothman in Commentary Magazine. Rothman cites Bolton’s record of pushing for “American power projection over his past two decades” to explain these “displays of triumphalism,” yet he’s hard-pressed to find any specific examples of Bolton’s supposedly misguided “war-mongering” under Trump. Reports suggest, for example, that the president and Bolton clashed over military intervention in Venezuela, but Trump claimed his views on Venezuela were far stronger than Bolton’s. The ex-national security adviser did “advocate for a retaliatory strike” after Iran downed a US drone, but the idea that such a response would’ve amounted to starting a war “is objectively absurd.”

Libertarian: E-Cig Ban Will Boost Smoking

Team Trump claims its “pending ban on flavored e-cigarettes is necessary because of recent increases in underage vaping,” yet the data it uses show that “teenagers who otherwise would be smoking are instead vaping,” argues Jacob Sullum at Reason. In fact, both Health and Human Services and National Youth Tobacco Survey numbers indicate that as e-cigarette use (“a much less dangerous habit”) increases, cigarette smoking declines. And “by banning the kinds of e-cigarettes and e-liquids overwhelmingly preferred by adults who used to smoke,” the FDA will “drive many of them” back to cigarettes. Even former FDA Administrator Scott Gottlieb, “whose concerns about vaping” got “this ball rolling,” admits that “some teenagers who vape might otherwise be smoking.” Yet “that reality” “does not figure in the FDA’s decisions. Maybe it should.”

—Compiled by Karl Salzmann & Stephanie Gutmann


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