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Paul Krugman: Trump is ‘disintegrating before our eyes’ as stocks plunge and the presidents barks orders to US companies

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Descending to new lows of absurdity, arrogance, and delusion, President Donald Trump demanded that American companies “immediately start looking for an alternative to China” as his trade war with the foreign power drags on. Trump’s earlier comments in the week already had observers questioning his mental wellness, but this new outburst provided fresh evidence of his lack of connection to reality and instability:

Earlier, Trump had lashed out at the Federal Reserve chair:

These manic declarations came amid increasingly worrying economic signals and as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 400 points Friday morning.

But despite these outbursts, economist Paul Krugman, a frequent critic of the Republican Party and the president in particular, suggested on Twitter that “it’s not clear whether Trump is getting any crazier. It’s just that events have stopped accommodating his madness.”

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He continued: “The story of both the markets and the economy since 2016 has been that investors decided, in effect, either that Trump isn’t really as demented as he sounds or that it doesn’t matter, because grownups will restrain him.”

This has seemed to be something of a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” Krugman said, because the relatively strong economy gave Trump little reason to overreact.

“But now, at the first hint of a setback — I mean, no recession yet, no major market plunge, just a modest slowdown (so far) — he’s disintegrating before our eyes. And the closest thing we have to a grownup on the scene is the Lego Batman guy [Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin],” he went on. “Again, not clear whether Trump is any crazier than he was; maybe he’s deteriorating, but is calling Powell an enemy notably worse than the stuff about crowd sizes at his inaugural and refusing to admit he lost the popular vote?”

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GOP plan to cut Social Security to offset paid parental leave would weaken retirement security

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Two recently introduced bills allowing workers to trade part of their future Social Security retirement benefits for parental leave benefits after the birth or adoption of a child would undercut Social Security’s benefits and structure, weakening the retirement security it offers workers. The United States needs paid leave, but it should not be financed by cutting Social Security benefits.

At some point in their lives, most workers in the United States will experience a major life event or emergency requiring them to take time off work, such as a serious illness, the birth of a child, or caregiving responsibilities for an aging parent. A national, comprehensive paid family leave policy that is responsibly financed would provide much-needed economic support to workers during these times and ensure equitable access to paid leave for low-income people and people of color, who often do not have significant paid leave from their employers.

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The most pernicious form of normalizing Donald Trump is acting as if the presidency doesn’t really matter

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

Perhaps the most insidious way that both Donald Trump's Republican loyalists and too many neutral journalists normalize this president* is by acting as if the Commander-in-Chief is a figurehead and the fact that our current one is venal, erratic and incompetent doesn’t represent a grave threat to the stability and prosperity of the republic.

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The corporate stranglehold on false claims taught Trump all he needed to know about the art of deception

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For avalanche-level lying, deceiving, and misleading, mega-mimic Donald Trump need look no further than the history of the corporate advertising industry and the firms that pay them.

Dissembling is so deeply ingrained in commercial culture that the Federal Trade Commission and the courts don’t challenge exaggerated general claims that they call “puffery.”

Serious corporate deception is a common sales technique. At times it cost consumers more than dollars. It has led to major illness and loss of life.

Take the tobacco industry which used to sell its products in the context of health and facilitating mental concentration. Healthy movie stars and athletes were featured in print and on TV until 1970.

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