Sunday, March 05, 2023
Well, it is one of those weeks where politics is all over the road map, with seemingly little focus, and people already gearing up for campaign 2024. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.
“Biden Student Loans at Supreme Court” – The arguments have been heard, now we await the decision. President Biden, by executive order, created a college student loan forgiveness program for people up to their eyeballs in student loan debt. It would forgive up to $20,000 in student loan payments. Backers say it would help the youngest generation escape smothering debt, so they can prosper. Critics say this is unfair to students who’ve already paid their debts, and puts the debt burden on the next generation of taxpayers who did not create the problem. The high court goes into recess in the last week of June, so there will be a decision by then.
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“Moderate Democrats Tee Up First Biden Veto” – Yes, the old saying, “Politics makes for strange bedfellows” rings true. Senate Republicans, joined by two moderate Democrats, passed a Biden retirement investment bill. Biden’s bill would allow 401(k) managers to obey a new Labor Department rule that allows retirement plan managers to incorporate climate change and other social factors into investment decisions. In other words, they could ignore prospering fossil fuel stocks, over concerns about pollution, or green energy preferences. Sen. Jon Tester (D) Montana and Sen. Joe Manchin (D) West Virginia, both represent coal-driven state economies. They joined Republicans in passing a pro-fossil fuel investment bill, that Biden will likely veto. It would be the first veto of his presidency.
“Kind of a Drag” – Gov. Bill Lee (R) Tennessee became one of the first leaders in the nation to sign a law preventing kids from being exposed to drag shows. Several other states, including West Virginia, are considering similar bills. Critics of drag shows, where performers dress as members of the opposite gender, believe “that drag contributes to the ‘sexualization’ or ‘grooming’ of children. Drag supporters say a ban violates free speech. For example, public LGBTQ Pride parades, often have drag performances. Can you really ban such performances on public streets when no actual sexual behavior is expressed or exhibited? Again, several other states are considering “drag bans” so I expect this to wind its way through the court system, ultimately up to the U.S. Supreme Court in a few years.
“The Looming Send-off for Santos” – The U.S. House Ethics Committee announced on Thursday that it was launching an ethics investigation into embattled first-term Rep. George Santos (R) New York. Among other things, Santos is suspected of padding his resume with jobs he never held and degrees he never earned. Neither accusation, even if true, is illegal (though possibly unethical). He faces much larger legal issues about whether he improperly declared campaign contributions and there are accusations he sexually harassed a job candidate (both definitely potential legal violations). Let’s cut to the chase. Republicans now control the House. If they launch an ethics investigation into one of their own, it’s a bad sign. When your own party comes a hunting, it’s over. Just ask the ghost of Richard Nixon. His own party sank him, not the Democrats.
“The Trail of Trump Troubles” – This week the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that former President Donald Trump could be sued for civil damages over his role in the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots. The department brief said that although a president enjoys broad legal latitude to speak to the public on various matters, “No part of a President’s official responsibilities includes the incitement of imminent private violence. By definition, such conduct plainly falls outside the President’s constitutional and statutory duties.” In other words, a president can say what he wishes, unless “he shouts fire in a crowded theatre,” as the old saying goes. It will be fascinating to see how many injured Capitol police officers and others, including members of Congress, file suit. To be clear, this issue is about civil liability. Whether Trump violated any criminal laws is a separate question.
“Kennedy Assassin Parole” – I am neither a Republican, nor a Democrat. For most of my voting career, I’ve registered independent. I am a fan of the Constitution, the electoral process, and the rule of law. With that in mind, I wholeheartedly agree with the California Parole Commission’s recommendation not to parole Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin who killed presidential candidate Sen. Robert Kennedy (D) New York in 1968. I still remember the night of the assassination as if it were yesterday. Why he keeps getting parole chances is beyond me. A couple of years ago, the Parole Commission, urged on by some of Sen. Kennedy’s own family members, recommended parole. Really? Sorry, if you want to defeat candidates do it at the ballot box and not with bullets. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) California had the good sense to overrule the Parole Commission. Sirhan needs to die in prison. It’s called justice.
“President Manchin,” or Not? – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D) West Virginia continues to intrigue. He has publicly said “no” to another run for governor, and is non-committal about another Senate run in 2024. He also says “as of today” he’s not running for president, though that could change. He told me Friday he would announce a decision, “by the end of this year.” But, he remains vocal about concerns about the national debt. “In 2013, federal spending was less than $3.5 trillion. Today, it’s more than $6.2 trillion. In ten short years, that’s an 80% increase,” Senator Manchin said in a statement. “Years of fiscal irresponsibility have brought us to the crisis that we face today. Our debt, as I stand here and speak before you today, is $31,460,000,000,000. That’s our public debt, which equals over $94,000 for every man, woman, and child in West Virginia and in the United States.” It sounds like he’s running for something, but what?
Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the seven Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states and the entire Washington, DC media market. He is also a MINDSETTER™ contributing political writer and analyst for www.GoLocalProv.com and its affiliates.
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