* There are times when it is hard to comprehend the distance this country will travel from Obama to Trump on January 20th. To illustrate, let’s take a look at how the two of them describe our greatest president. On the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, President Obama wrote this about what Abraham Lincoln means to him, and to America:
Always thoughtful, always eloquent, Lincoln’s writings speak to me as they speak to so many Americans, reminding us what is best about ourselves and the Union he saved: that though we may have our differences, we are one people, and we are one nation, united by a common creed…
…Lincoln termed the United States, in one of his early messages to Congress, “the last best hope of earth.” Considering that our fragile Union was not 100 years old and stood a good chance of dissolving, it was an improbable thing to say. But Lincoln saw beyond the bloodshed and division. He saw us not only as we were, but as we might be. And he calls on us through the ages to commit ourselves to the unfinished work he so nobly advanced—the work of perfecting our Union.
* Back in April 2016, Bob Woodward asked Donald Trump why Lincoln succeeded. Here is his response:
Well, I think Lincoln succeeded for numerous reasons. He was a man who was of great intelligence, which most presidents would be. But he was a man of great intelligence, but he was also a man that did something that was a very vital thing to do at that time. Ten years before or 20 years before, what he was doing would never have even been thought possible. So he did something that was a very important thing to do, and especially at that time.
* According to Gallup, Americans are very worried about a Trump presidency.
— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) January 2, 2017
* Tami Luhby documents how a repeal of Obamacare will affect all Americans.
It’s not just for the 20 million people who have health insurance through the individual Obamacare exchanges or Medicaid expansion.
Under Obamacare, senior citizens pay less for Medicare coverage and for their prescription drugs. Many Americans have received free contraceptives, mammograms, colonoscopies and cholesterol tests. And small business employees with older and sicker workers have not been slapped with super-high premiums.
“The ACA made changes in every part of the health care system,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, of the Affordable Care Act. “Virtually everyone has been touched by the ACA.”
* The editorial board of the New York Times gets it right when they address “Why Corporations Are Helping Donald Trump Lie About Jobs.”
It’s easy to see why SoftBank and Sprint might want to help Mr. Trump take credit for creating jobs. SoftBank’s chief executive, Masayoshi Son, wants the Department of Justice’s antitrust division and the Federal Communications Commission to allow a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. In 2014 regulators appointed by President Obama made clear to Mr. Son that they would not approve such a transaction because it would cut the number of national wireless companies to three, from four, greatly reducing competition in a concentrated industry. Mr. Son sees a new opening for his deal in Mr. Trump, who has surrounded himself with people who have sided with large telecommunications companies in regulatory debates and have argued against tough antitrust enforcement.
This is crony capitalism, with potentially devastating consequences. If Mr. Trump appoints people to the antitrust division and the F.C.C. who are willing to wave through a Sprint/T-Mobile merger, he will do lasting damage to the economy that far outweighs any benefit from 5,000 jobs, jobs that might have been created even without the merger. Individuals and businesses will find wireless service costs a lot more when they have only Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile/Sprint to choose from.
* As the new Congress prepares to go into session tomorrow, Natalie Andrews notes something that won’t come as a surprise to many of us.
The House of Representatives that takes the oath of office on Tuesday will include its first Indian-American woman. The Senate will have a record number of women, including its first Latina.
The new Congress reflects the diversity of America, but also the sharply different makeups of the two political parties. White men will account for 87% of House Republicans, the same as last session, but only 41% of House Democrats, a 2% drop from the prior Congress, according to figures compiled by the Cook Political Report.
The racial composition of each party’s congressional wing mirrors the voters who elected it: Some 87% of President-elect Donald Trump’s votes this year came from whites, compared with only 55% of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s votes.
* Finally, as I was writing today about what Putin wants from Trump, I was reminded of the Norwegian television series “Occupied.” I watched it a few months ago on Netflix and wrote about it here, including this description:
In a not-so-distant future, Norway has elected a radical branch of the Green Party, and its charismatic new prime minister shuts down the country’s supply of oil and gas to continental Europe. Despite an impending climate crisis, the EU is none too pleased with this overnight weaning from petrol, and invites Russia to offer Norway “technical assistance” in restoring its fossil fuel production. Russian gunships descend on Norway’s oil platforms. America, having withdrawn from NATO, is nowhere to be found. And so begins a slow, doublespeak-laden, Putin-style escalation into occupation.
If you’d prefer a dramatized look at Putin’s vision for the world, I highly recommend it. Here’s the trailer: