Pay Attention to Donald Trump's Actions, Not His Words

There’s an emerging consensus that the presidency of Donald Trump has radically altered the warp and woof of American life. His supporters – which make up at least a third of all Americans – believe that he has accomplished great things in the past four months. His detractors, who are legion, see more harm than good in his record thus far.

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President Trump Has Done Almost Nothing

Just weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, you would think that everything had changed. The uproar over the president’s tweets grows louder by the day, as does concern over the erratic, haphazard and aggressive stance of the White House toward critics and those with different policy views. It is the illusion of a presidency, not the real thing.

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An Economy of Chicken Littles

The “nattering nabobs of negativism” (a phrase we have to thank Spiro Agnew for, via William Safire) are out in full force again in the financial and pundit world. While there was only occasional mention of the economy during the Republican debate last week, both the GOP contenders and market mavens seem to agree that the world is going to hell. They have different reasons: The Republicans think the world has become dangerously unstable and that Obama is a cause. Investors, who have pushed global financial markets sharply lower (the S&P 500 is now down almost 10 percent since January 1) to the worst start to a year ever, see the root cause as heedless central banks, a U.S. economy grinding to a halt, and a collapsing debt-laden China.

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What Trade-Deal Critics Are Missing

The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal signed Monday is poised to become an election-year piñata as the Obama administration works to get it through Congress. Hillary Clinton, who supported the TPP when she was secretary of state, came out against it on Wednesday: “I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set.” Sen. Bernie Sanders, her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, issued a caustic statement: “It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multinational corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense.”

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Where Was Obama When the Middle Class Needed Him?

Six long years into presidency, Barack Obama has finally made the middle-class an explicit priority— placing “middle-class economics,” as he called it repeatedly in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, front and center on his agenda. But what the president is asking for may be too little and it’s arriving far too late. While his proposals are sensible— lowering the tax burden on middle-class families and expanding access to education, job training and retirement, in part by closing loopholes and raising taxes on capital gains—very few of them have much chance of passing.

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Obama, Syria, and the decline of the imperial presidency

In 1973, Arthur Schlesinger wrote about the tendency in American history for the president to assume sweeping powers in times of war and crisis. The balance of power established by the Constitution gets upended; Congress and the courts take a back seat; and the executive makes decisions about life and death largely unchecked. He called this "the imperial presidency." Today, with President Obama turning to Congress to endorse a military strike on Syria, the imperial presidency is beginning to wane.

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Column: Fannie, Freddie and our flawed 'Ownership Society'

More than four years ago, President Obama assumed office promising dramatic reform to the housing market. After all, it was the housing market that triggered the financial crisis, and the vast proliferation of low-quality loans that had fueled the housing bubble. But politics delayed those reforms, and now the president is reopening the issue with a call to wind down the two main federal mortgage agencies,

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Fannie, Freddie, and the Destructive Dream of the 'Ownership Society'

More than four years ago, President Obama assumed office promising dramatic reform to the housing market. After all, it was the housing market that triggered the financial crisis, and the vast proliferation of low-quality loans that had fueled the housing bubble. But politics delayed those reforms, and now the president is reopening the issue with a call to wind down the two main federal mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

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The New American Dream in an Age of Uncertainty

In a major speech this week on the economy, President Obama emphasized that while the United States has recovered substantial ground since the crisis of 2008-2009, wide swaths of the middle class still confront a challenging environment. Above all, the past years have eroded the 20th century dream of hard work translating into a better life.

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Americans' Fickle Stance on Data Mining and Surveillance

As the week continues, so does the furor over the government's electronic and big data surveillance. It's largely framed in the terms that President Obama described on June 7th: "You can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience." That observation may be true, but we are approaching this issue 100 percent wrong.

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