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The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board warns wisely about the latest indictment of Trump. A slice:

This potentially criminalizes many kinds of actions and statements by a President that a prosecutor deems to be false. You don’t have to be a defender of Donald Trump to worry about where this will lead. It makes any future election challenges, however valid, legally vulnerable to a partisan prosecutor. And it might have criminalized the actions by Al Gore and George W. Bush to contest the Florida election result in 2000.

Also writing wisely about the Trump indictment are the Editors of National Review. A slice:

In his press conference announcing the charges, [Jack] Smith — for good reason — did not dwell on his questionable charges. He instead emphasized the Capitol riot. Anyone witnessing his remarks would have believed that Trump had incited a forcible attack on the Capitol. Of course, Smith has not charged him with any such thing because he doesn’t have the evidence to tie him criminally to the riot. The prosecutor was making a political statement, clearly aimed at swaying the jury pool in blue Washington, D.C., where the Justice Department brags daily about having charged more than a thousand rioters.

George Will is understandably unimpressed with Ron DeSantis’s campaign for the U.S. presidency. A slice:

DeSantis’s pratfalls are, however, useful in illustrating how politics has sunk waist-deep in the quicksand of “the emotive presidency.” In a National Affairs essay with that title, Mikael Good, a Georgetown University political theory student, and Philip Wallach, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, argue that “Trump’s masterstroke” was to realize that, for his core supporters, his governing is of secondary importance.

Primarily important is his “affect,” his rhetorical carousing that enables supporters to “feel complicit in defying the hated establishment.” An entertainer with the “Seinfeldian cadences” (say Good and Wallach) of a stand-up comedian, Trump is, for his cohort, fun, a word that does not spring to mind when watching the dour DeSantis.

Although portions of Trump’s base have, Good and Wallach say, legitimate grievances that should be articulated, “a great deal of his rhetoric and showmanship merely channeled the emotion behind those grievances. The reward for his followers was catharsis, not better political representation in a process geared toward meeting real challenges.”

Also writing wisely about DeSantis’s campaign is GMU Econ alum Dominic Pino. Two slices:

His economic plan includes language about dismantling the “fourth branch of government” and being a “new sheriff in town” against overspending. But rather than lead with the positive story of Florida’s experience, DeSantis demagogued economic issues in a way reminiscent of politicians far worse than he.

His plan is chock-full of class warfare. Rather than a message of hope, it begins, “America is in a state of decline.” The reason for the decline, according to DeSantis, is that economic policy is “driven by the ruling class.”


The portions of his remarks about China are especially demagogic. He talks about “the Chinese Communist Party that has run circles around us for a generation” and says, “We are no longer going to sell out to China at the expense of the American working family.”

The CCP is despicable, and it’s right for the U.S. to be vigilant against the threats Chinese ambition poses. It’s also true that China is in deep trouble. The Chinese central bank is cutting interest rates to stimulate a flagging economy, fiscal policy-makers are terrified of plummeting consumer spending, the real-estate sector is in the tank, manufacturing is contracting, buildings and infrastructure sit unused, and the one-child policy wrecked the country’s demographics irreversibly. The CCP makes plenty of mistakes, and its mistakes are very difficult to reverse because questioning leadership often leads to imprisonment or worse.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board offers a spot-on take on Fitch’s downgrading of U.S. government debt. A slice:

For evidence, consider how much the U.S. fiscal and political outlook has deteriorated since the previous debt downgrade in 2011. Standard & Poor’s dropped its AAA rating on U.S. debt while Fitch and Moody’s didn’t.

The ratio of U.S. debt held by the public to GDP at the time was only 65.5%, while the Congressional Budget Office expects it to be 98.2% this year. That’s up from 79.4% before the pandemic, and it is expected to rise to 115% of GDP by 2033 on present budget trend. As Fitch notes, U.S. “general government debt,” including state and local government, is more than two-and-a-half times greater than the median 39.6% of GDP for a AAA rating.

The future looks worse. The deficit in the first nine months of this fiscal year hit $1.39 trillion, up 169% from the same period the year before. The deficit is supposed to shrink when the economy grows, but revenue isn’t keeping pace with runaway spending. The debt-ceiling deal this year did little to curtail the spending bulge still in the pipeline from the first two Biden years. Interest on the debt this year is expected to be $663 billion, which is $188 billion more than all corporate tax revenue.

Democrats are attacking Fitch, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen criticized the decision as “arbitrary and based on outdated data.” Outdated? Her own department on Monday increased the government’s expected borrowing from July to September to $1 trillion from $733 billion. That’s for three months.< She also claims that “governance” has improved under President Biden, citing the infrastructure bill and “other investments in America’s competitiveness.” She must be joking. Since when is blowout spending a credit recommendation?

Reason‘s Eric Boehm explains that the downgrading of U.S. government debt “is a sign of government dysfunction.”

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague, Veronique de Rugy, exposes the root problem with the U.S. government’s ‘broken’ budgeting process. A slice:

But that brings us back to the deeper problem of members of Congress refusing to do their job and follow existing budgeting rules. It’s best illustrated by a stat provided in 2019 by Brookings Institution scholar William Gale: Since Congress designed and implemented the last budget process in 1974, only on four occasions have all of the appropriations bills for discretionary spending been passed on time. In other words, legislators on the right, left and center have, from the moment the new process was in place, violated their own budgeting rules without suffering any negative consequences.

Andrew Stuttaford rightly worries about the dangerous unsheathing of antitrust swords pointed at Amazon. A slice:

Unfortunately, the FTC seems set on imposing a centralized, ideologically driven template on the American economy. If it succeeds, that is likely to be good news for the bureaucratic and political class, as well as those enterprises, such as law firms, that do very well out of helping companies navigate the system Washington has imposed, but, outside that cartel, few will have much to celebrate. To the extent that free markets are “about” anything, they are about wealth creation (something that, in turn, has contributed to once unimaginable human flourishing). Aggressive economic regulation, by contrast, is about power, and, often, the rewards that flow from power.

David Henderson misses Milton Friedman.

Bob Graboyes drives home the vital importance of economic growth. A slice:

Despite genuine wealth disparities, the benefits of economic growth do not consist merely or even primarily of luxury goods for the wealthy.Growth’s benefits include life, health, safety and enjoyment for even the humblest.

Arnold Kling rightly worries about the consequences of lying by elites. A slice:

When elites lie, this puts us in an epistemic crisis. I say that as human beings, in order to decide what to believe, we have to decide who to believe. I cannot work out the principles of physics or the right way to respond to a COVID outbreak all by myself. I cannot investigate every news item I come across to uncover the facts of the matter. I need to find folks I can trust to help me.

If elite opinion is just wrong, so be it. Anyone can make a mistake. But when elites are telling lies, we are in trouble. If the people who are in high-status positions are willing to lie, then the rest of us have a much harder job sorting out the truth.

I suggest that elite lies are a particularly bad problem for the Blue team, which styles itself as cognitively and morally superior. You may legitimately call out lies from the Red team, but whataboutism won’t solve the epistemic crisis. “What about Trump’s lies?” is a rhetorical race to the bottom.

The Blue team claims to be the good guys. But if you have to lie, then you are not the good guys. You cannot get on your high horse about “threats to democracy” and “misinformation” without facing up to the reputational damage caused by suppressing the lab leak hypothesis, the Hunter Biden laptop story, and the impact of race-based admissions to Harvard.

Ian Miller tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

Media very confused that the right doesn’t trust science after “science” spent three years demonizing them for correctly assessing that openly far left “experts” had absolutely no idea what they were doing and never apologized or took accountability for how much harm they caused