April 8, 2019

Brexit Countdown

“Britain’s opposition Labour Party said on Friday that talks with the government on a last-ditch Brexit deal had made no progress, as EU leaders said Prime Minister Theresa May had not convinced them that they should let Britain delay its departure next week. May wrote to Brussels asking European Union leaders to postpone Britain’s exit from next Friday until June 30.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left is critical of Theresa May’s leadership and maintains that Brexit was a bad idea to begin with.

“The U.K. is a harried student begging a teacher (the EU) for one more day after pulling an all-nighter to finish an essay—and failing. And the teacher, after taking a look at the state of the paper, replies: ‘How about you take a week. Trust me, you’ll need it.’”
Elliot Hannon, Slate

“In the American system, the White House and the legislature are often controlled by different parties—Donald Trump has to sit down with ‘Chuck and Nancy’ on a regular basis if he wants to pass anything through Congress. In the U.K., the party controlling Parliament also controls the executive, and can usually rely on its own votes, sometimes with a coalition partner, to pass legislation…

“So the prime minister sitting in a room haggling with the leader of the opposition to pass her bill—as Theresa May did with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn [last] week—is not how things are supposed to work. It’s even weirder when the governing party’s official position for the past four years has been that the leader of the opposition is an anti-Semitic Stalinist who poses a grave threat to national security. But with the prime minister’s party terminally split over Brexit, that’s where we are.”
Joshua Keating, Slate

Many argue that “Brexit is a right-wing culture war conducted in populist terms. It is not really about the E.U. It is about people’s sense of who they are. It is about wanting a world of walls, separating people and ideas and political structures from one another. But it is not just a desired outcome: By now, it is also a way of doing things. The Brexit mind-set does not compromise or accept caveats. It is politics in primary colors. There is victory or national slavery, and nothing in between…

“But what’s terrifying about the closing days before the latest deadline for Britain to crash out of the E.U. with no deal, this coming Friday, is that such puritanism is no longer restricted to the government benches. It is now present among the opponents of Brexit, too. Labour MPs who support the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum refused to back proposals for a softer Brexit on Monday, as did the moderate Liberal Democrats party. Even the Independent Group, a newly formed collection of former Conservative and Labour MPs who say they’re willing to work across traditional tribal loyalties, refused to support them… Unless MPs quickly rediscover Britain’s tradition of pragmatism, things are about to get very ugly indeed.”
Ian Dunt, Washington Post

“The economic concerns regarding immigration [cited by Brexiteers] were unfounded and incorrect. A report from the London School of Economics found that EU immigrants to Britain were more highly educated, younger, more likely to be working, and less likely to claim welfare benefits than the UK-born. Forty-four percent of these EU immigrants had achieved some level of higher education, compared to only 23% of native-born Brits. The parts of Britain that received increased EU immigration did not suffer greater decreases in jobs and wages of UK-born people. Finally, EU immigrants paid more in taxes than they consumed in benefits and in their use of public services.”  
Sam Natapoff, Salon

But “even in the event that Brexit is cancelled, the EU cannot pretend that the last three years didn't happen… The European Social Survey, a non-partisan research project that tracks the views of Europeans, asked citizens from other member states how they would vote in a similar referendum to the one held in the UK in 2016. The numbers should still alarm europhiles… while the UK is an outlier, ‘with around a fifth of those in a number of other member states willing to support an EU-exit of their own it would be wise for those supportive of the EU project to listen carefully to their concerns’... If they are not addressed soon, European politics could find itself in an even bigger mess.”
Luke McGee, CNN

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right is critical of the way Brexit has been handled, but still supportive of leaving the EU.

From the Right

The right is critical of the way Brexit has been handled, but still supportive of leaving the EU.

“Several national parliaments in Europe are now dominated by ‘grand coalitions’ formed not to handle a national emergency but as a semi-permanent tactic to resist election results that have returned new outsider parties with Euro-sceptic tendencies… It’s easy to see this kind of politics emerging in Britain through May’s evisceration of Brexit. The mystery is why. The answer can’t be that this new political structure has produced either political or economic success…

“The EU has had a relatively low rate of growth for about 30 years compared to the U.S., Asia, and the non-EU countries in Europe. Its greatest achievements are not establishing peace in Europe — that was done by the U.S. and NATO — but establishing the euro without the fiscal institutions to make it workable, to introduce the abolition of internal EU borders without firming up the external borders to make [visa-less travel] workable, and to spend 40 percent of the EU budget on an agricultural policy that intentionally keeps food prices high.”
John O’Sullivan, National Review

At the same time, “the ‘hard Brexit’ cadre of the Conservative Party has massively overplayed its hand. Refusing to support Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal deal with the European Union, they have enabled a ‘soft Brexit’ alternative… it's clear that the soft Brexiteers are the winners here. After all, the Labour Party is largely supportive of a Brexit along terms of a continued formal customs union with the EU. This, unsurprisingly, has the hard-liners very upset. They feel betrayed and are saying as much. But they're delusional. It was always clear that ignoring May's halfway soft-hard Brexit deal was risky. It opened the political space to those who either oppose Brexit entirely or oppose anything but a softer Brexit.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“Either of the ‘extreme’ ends of political opinion on Brexit make sense: repealing Article 50 and staying in the EU on existing terms or leaving without a deal, exiting the single market and customs union in the process… What doesn’t make sense, on the other hand, is any option which falls between these two extremes. The 57 varieties of soft Brexit on offer all come with the same problem: they would leave [Brits], to a greater or lesser extent, subservient to EU law without any say in how those laws are made.”
Ross Clark, Spectator UK

“Brexit seemed to provide the opportunity of a lifetime for policy entrepreneurs. Nearly one-sixth of the laws on the United Kingdom’s statute book come from Brussels. And so, theoretically at least, Brexit provided an opportunity to examine the regulatory books and decide which of these 12,000-plus regulations proved useful and would be copied back into the law by Parliament, and which could be altered and adjusted…

“[But] the Brexit opportunity is being wasted because the class of politicians, civil servants, and diplomatic personnel who would need to prize this opportunity, to let it fill them with renewed purpose and vigor for serving the public in a time of extraordinary change, simply aren’t interested in the project at all and not-so-secretly hope it goes away. Brexit had won the referendum, but there was no Brexit party to implement it.”
Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review

The EU “has taken a hard line on Brexit: You’re either in or any access we grant you to the European ‘single market’ comes with no say in decisions that affect your lives in important ways. Now, take it or leave. I wonder when the point comes at which the British say, yes, a no-deal Brexit is a leap of faith, there are uncertainties and there will be costs. But to hell with it. We are a proud, independent-minded people that has been through much worse together. True self-government is worth a little less GDP. Let’s stop fiddling and get on with it.”
William Watson, Financial Post

“Trump should be overjoyed. Tariffs are taxes paid by Americans on the things Americans buy. The only way China can be paying any of them is if something else, something extra, then happens — like the yuan dropping. This makes all imports into China more expensive for Chinese citizens. That's China paying for Trump's tariffs when the yuan falls. Without this happening, only Americans pay. With the yuan dropping, China pays as well. This is the claim Trump has been making all along, that China's really paying those trade taxes — now they are… Imposing significant export tariffs on a country should mean the value of that currency falls. This is what is happening. Why is Trump complaining about it?
Tim Worstall, Washington Examiner

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

Outside Hong Kong, the silence Is deafening… Some protesters in Hong Kong today are adopting the British Union Jack flag, the American flag and the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ as symbols, yet that doesn’t seem to have stirred our collective imaginations… Americans are preoccupied with fighting each other over political correctness, gun violence, Trump and the Democratic candidates for president. To be sure, those issues deserve plenty of attention. But they are soaking up far too much emotional energy, distracting attention from the all-important struggles for liberty around the world…

“It’s 2019, and the land of the American Revolution, a country whose presidents gave stirring speeches about liberty and freedom in Berlin during the Cold War, remains in a complacent slumber. It really is time to Make America Great Again — if only we could remember what that means.”
Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg

On the bright side...

‘Ninja' rat kicks snake in midair in amazing slo-mo video.
National Geographic

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