Now is the autumn of Democratic discontent
President Joe Biden practically begged a group of moderate Democrats visiting him in the Oval Office Wednesday to say how much money they are willing to spend on the massive “Build Back Better” reconciliation bill making its way through Congress. According to Politico‘s Playbook, he didn’t get an answer.
The 11 moderates, including Senator Joe Manchin and congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, insisted that Democrats agree first on how much revenue they will raise in taxes before settling on a price tag on a bill that would transform energy, health care, higher education, pre-K, and paid leave. A disappointed Biden assigned the moderates homework: Come up with something that will stop Progressive House members from killing the separate, $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package that already has passed the Senate and is scheduled for a September 27 House vote.
Best of luck. In another meeting Wednesday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, pulled a Wendy Sherman and broke into tears while pleading that the reconciliation bill include an immigration amnesty (the Senate parliamentarian has said it can’t). Jayapal urged Biden to delay Monday’s vote or be prepared for Progressives to nix the infrastructure deal. Biden didn’t give in, but he did leave open the possibility that the vote won’t take place on September 27 as planned.
Yet any postponement would create new problems for the White House. House moderates have pledged to sink the reconciliation bill if they don’t get to vote for infrastructure first. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can afford to lose only three votes. And the Senate is tied, with Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema still cagey about what they want to do. And oh, by the way, Congress needs to fund the government before September 30 and raise the debt ceiling before mid-October. Is your head hurting yet?
Democrats have run smack into political reality, and it isn’t pretty. They spent months convincing themselves that a presidential election decided by 42,000 votes in three states, a tied Senate, and a 220-212 House (with 3 vacancies) is the same as FDR’s and LBJ’s supermajorities. Now they are just figuring out that the coalition that put them into office doesn’t agree on much of anything besides the idea that Donald Trump shouldn’t be in the White House.
Now the autumn of 2021 is turning into a reckoning for a Democratic Party that wanted to leverage a squeaker election into fundamental change. Like their predecessors in 1993 and in 2009, frontline House Democrats have to decide whether supporting a liberal agenda is worse for their careers than denying a president of their own party a legislative win. Either way, they lose.
Chance, guile, and missteps put the Democrats in this position. They hardly could believe their luck when Trump’s sour grapes cost the GOP two winnable seats in Georgia and handed Vice President Harris the tie-breaking vote in the Senate. What they forgot was that full control of government is a mixed blessing: Your partisans expect the sun, moon, and stars, while independents have no one else to blame when things go wrong. A Republican Senate might have given Biden a foil, and a reason to govern as the centrist he pretended to be during the campaign. Instead, he has no wiggle room. Thanks, Trump.
GOP leader Mitch McConnell made two decisions that complicated things further. First, he okayed Republican involvement in Senate infrastructure negotiations. Yuval Levin of the American Enterprise Institute (where I work) writes that GOP participation began “as an effort to turn down the temperature on the filibuster, then after a while it seemed like it might actually have enough votes to pass, and at that point it became clear that it could also further divide the Democrats.” Senate passage of the deal heightened the contradictions within the House Democratic caucus and guaranteed unified Republican opposition to the reconciliation bill.
Second, McConnell got his conference to agree that any increase in the debt ceiling should come from Democratic votes alone. Democrats from swing districts and purple states have to own their party’s spending binge. It’s a subtle and somewhat cynical move (Republicans add to the debt, too). But it’s also politically shrewd. Nor is the economy really in jeopardy. This isn’t 2011. In the end, Democrats can and will raise the debt ceiling themselves.
President Biden’s degraded political standing is behind the Democrats’ troubles. Biden’s mixed messaging and missteps in the pandemic, the crisis on the border, the rise in crime and inflation, and the debacle in Afghanistan have caused his approval rating to plummet. He’s at 46 percent approval in the FiveThirtyEight polling average. Gallup has him at 43 percent approval—and at just 37 percent among independents. In bellwether Iowa, he’s at 31 percent. Progressives in ultraviolet districts can ignore these numbers. Moderate Democrats cannot.
Still, a weak president and disunited Congress may not be enough to guarantee the collapse of the Build Back Better program. Democrats recognize the need for a win, no matter how small. They assume it’s the only way for Biden to make up lost ground and prevent a Republican takeover of the House, and possibly the Senate, in 2022. But presidential priorities have fallen apart before. Trump didn’t get Obamacare repeal, Obama didn’t get cap and trade, and George W. Bush didn’t get Social Security reform. Biden already got the $2 trillion American Rescue Plan. That might be it.
What’s worse—abject failure or unpopular success? Trick question: Both options are horrible. If Democrats think this fall is bad, just wait until they have to live through the next one.
Conservative group Frontiers of Freedom Foundation this week launched a hard-hitting television advertisement characterizing Virginia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe as “the chosen candidate of the media and tech giants” who are “helping him hide from the people of Virginia.” The ad launched on Fox affiliate WTTG’s 10 PM news program and is set to run throughout this week both on WTTG and other Washington- and Northern Virginia-based channels. The spot concentrates on McAuliffe’s mostly unreported plan to override local zoning laws and construct high-density, low-income apartment units in suburban single-family neighborhoods—an endeavor that could prevent middle- and working-class families from achieving the American Dream of living in a house of their own.
Frontiers of Freedom President George Landrith stated in a press release that the group purchased a two-minute television ad in the Washington, D.C. broadcast market—which would reach residents in heavily-populated Arlington and Fairfax Counties on local news channels in order to “make Terry McAuliffe come out from cover and face the crucial questions the media is protecting him from having him to answer.”
The ad’s release comes just weeks before the long-awaited Virginia gubernatorial election between McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin on November 2, for which polls have remained razor-thin. “By making McAuliffe answer these questions, Virginians will be sending a strong message,” said Landrith. “They will be telling the radical liberals and their big business allies and the Wall Street barons that the people of Virginia won’t stand for it. And Terry McAuliffe and the liberal extremists and their billionaire allies will discover they can’t have America. They can’t have Virginia.”
As Landrith described, unlike other political ad campaigns, his group’s spot relies on providing voters with ample information rather than quick ads with little substance. “These are not 30 second attack ads that try to manipulate people,” he said, “but heavily informative narrative ads that ask Terry McAuliffe when he will reject extremist liberal views and plans.”
“The spot’s major focus is on McAuliffe’s plan to destroy single-family zoning by empowering the federal government to dictate local zoning decisions,” Landrith said. “In showing pictures of Black and Hispanic families [as] well as young people seeking a first home, the spot says such a plan would destroy the aspirations of many Americans who now have a chance to live in safe, family-friendly neighborhoods.”
“We also highlight the fact that ‘the woke’ management of Wall Street firms are buying suburban properties because they think they can make money eventually off this Washington land-grab,” Landrith continued, likely referring to recent reports that Wall Street banks and investment firms have joined in on the Democrats’ already longstanding war on suburban America.
Moreover, the ad calls attention to the circumstances under which McAuliffe received the Democratic nomination earlier this year. McAuliffe, Landrith notes, prevented younger black progressive talent like Carroll Foy and Justin Fairfax, his former primary opponents, from making names for themselves, while simultaneously allying himself with his party’s most extreme voices. “Terry McAuliffe got the Democratic nomination for governor,” he said, “by pushing aside promising young leadership in his own party and making a corrupt political bargain with the left-wing extremists to support their radical agenda.”
The ad also highlights McAuliffe’s complicity in other parts of the extremist progressive agenda, declaring that McAuliffe has allied himself with those who support causes like Critical Race Theory, defunding the police, and open borders. “Terry McAuliffe needs to be asked if he will disavow the support of his other liberal allies who support a radical agenda,” Landrith said. “Our spot shows these issues and provides back-up about them, including Critical Race Theory teaching ugly anti-American falsehoods to school children, defund[ing] the police… the illegal immigration crisis and influx of MS-13 gangs in Northern Virginia, the persecution of Catholic religious orders, and ACLU anti-religious extremism and attacks on Church tax deductions.”
Frontiers of Freedom and other like-minded groups insist the ad campaign will expose the radical leftist agenda embraced by Democrats such as McAuliffe, which has remained unacknowledged by much of the mainstream media. By underscoring McAuliffe’s support for largely unknown progressive initiatives like the eradication of single-family home zoning and attacks on religious liberty—both of which are relatively new fronts for Democrats—Frontiers of Freedom believes the ad could cause anxiety and collapse in the opposition.
McAuliffe’s largely unreported ambition to weed out America’s suburbs comes in the wake of a handful of blue state legislative measures that have effectively abolished single-family zoning (most recently in California). Like President Joe Biden and many in his party, McAuliffe’s plan relies on the nebulous and deceitful language of “systemic racism” as grounds for his sweeping anti-suburbia plans: by “spearheading zoning reform,” his campaign website underhandedly states, McAuliffe will “fight systemic racism and promote Black and Brown homeownership”—even though, as the ad states, the plan is opposed by “the majority of blacks and Hispanics—once shut out of single-family neighborhoods—who now want the right to live in one.”
In addition, the ad campaign is noticeably aimed at African American voters’ discontent with the far-left policy platform being pushed by Democrats: in addition to presenting images of African American families who could be disenfranchised by McAuliffe’s zoning plan, it features a clip of an August 2020 Wall Street Journal op-ed co-authored by former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson and former President Donald Trump warning of the Democrats’ anti-suburban initiatives.
“Virginians need to ask McAuliffe why he endorses the Biden-Schumer-Pelosi plan that has already been enacted in some places like California and Minnesota that would permit federal bureaucrats to dictate to local towns and cities and destroy the American dream of single-family neighborhoods,” said Landrith.
As Election Day nears and polls continue to tighten, the ad has the potential to bolster turnout for Youngkin by surfacing broadly unheard-of issues being pushed by McAuliffe and others in the Democrat camp.
Should it succeed, Landrith’s strategy could prove instrumental in helping a Republican get elected statewide in Virginia for the first time since 2009.
A conservative nonprofit is targeting former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) housing proposals in a lengthy television ad, warning the former governor will “destroy the American dream of a single-family home” should he be elected again.
Frontiers of Freedom purchased the two-minute ad to run on local news stations in the densely blue D.C.-Northern Virginia region Sunday night through the end of the week as the competitive race between McAuliffe and Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin comes down to its final few weeks.
“Under the McAuliffe plan, federal bureaucrats would dictate to local towns and cities, cramming apartment complexes into single-family neighborhoods,” the ad’s narrator states.
“Terry McAuliffe’s threat to the suburbs is no exaggeration. The Biden-Pelosi-Schumer-McAuliffe plan is already underway,” the narrator adds, citing California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) recent initiative to make building multifamily housing in single-family zones easier.
McAuliffe’s housing plan includes increasing government-subsidized housing and “zoning reforms” and notes McAuliffe will “work to fight systemic racism and promote Black and Brown homeownership.”
Frontiers of Freedom’s ad states that a majority of black and Hispanic Americans — “once shut out of single-family neighborhoods who now want the right to live in one” — oppose reducing single-family zoning in the wake of leftist charges that single-family zoning is “highly segregated” and ought to be corrected with government intervention.
The ad also features an image of former Virginia Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D), one of two black women who were vying for the Democrat gubernatorial nomination this year but were shut out upon McAuliffe entering the Democrat primary as McAuliffe became an immediate frontrunner and ultimately won the nomination by a landslide.
The narrator describes McAuliffe, who has long been a prolific Democrat fundraiser and close ally of the Clinton family, as a “Clinton-era grifter, Wall Street money mover, pushing aside young leadership [features image of Foy] in his own party to help extremist climate liberals who hate the suburbs.”
In this April 6, 2021, file photo, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Virginia Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy prepares for a debate at Virginia Sate University in Petersburg, Virginia. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
In this April 6, 2021, file photo, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Virginia Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy prepares for a debate at Virginia Sate University in Petersburg, Virginia. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
The ad premiered on Fox affiliate WTTG’s 10 p.m. newscast on Sunday. Frontiers of Freedom President George Landrith noted of the ad length, “These are not 30 second attack ads that try to manipulate people, but heavily informative narrative ads that tell the story of Terry McAuliffe’s extremist views and plans.”
Landrith added the “TV spot asserts that McAuliffe is ‘the chosen candidate of the media and tech giants’ and that Virginians must ask him the questions the liberal media will not.”
Terry McCauliffe’s Horrible Vision for Virginia
Long format, story-telling TV SPOT IN DC-Northern Virginia market SAYS MCAULIFFE IS “CHOSEN CANDIDATE OF MEDIA AND TECH GIANTS” WHO ARE PROTECTING HIM. SO VIRGINIANS MUST QUESTION MCAULIFFE ABOUT:
“CORRUPT POLITICAL BARGAIN” WITH LEFT WING OF HIS PARTY TO DESTROY SINGLE FAMILY NEIGHBORHOODS
MCAULIFFE PLAN WOULD END SINGLE-FAMILY NEIGHBORHOODS AND CRAM HIGH DENSITY HOUSING INTO SUBURBS
Ties McAuliffe to liberal extremists and says he would also support:
• Critical Race theory teaching ugly Anti-American falsehoods to school children
• Defund the Police
• Continuing illegal immigration crisis ….influx of MS-13 gangs in Northern Virginia
• Persecution of Catholic religious orders
• ACLU anti-religious extremism and attacks on Church tax-deductions
CONSERVATIVE GROUP ASKS WHY MCAULIFFE WON’T DISAVOW HIS EXTREMIST ALLIES – THE RADICAL LIBERALS AND THEIR BIG BUSINESS ALLIES AND THE WALL ST. BARONS
“The people of Virginia won’t stand for it..”
Ask Terry McAuliffe and the liberal extremists and their billionaire allies why they don’t know …. THEY CAN’T HAVE AMERICA. THEY CAN’T HAVE VIRGINIA.”
**** *** ****
STATEMENT GEORGE LANDRITH, PRESIDENT, FRONTIERS OF FREEDOM FOUNDATION
For further information — George Landrith at 703-246-0110, ext. 1302
Washington D.C. — George Landrith, President of the Frontiers of Freedom Foundation, announced today his group is running long format, 120 second (2 minute) spots on TV news shows in the DC Northern Virginia media market to “make Terry McAuliffe come out from cover and face the crucial questions the media is protecting him from having him to answer.”
The tv spot was shown for the first time Sunday night on Fox affiliate WTTG’shighly-rated 10 pm news and will run through the week on that channel and other local DC-Northern Virginia channels.
DESTROYING THE SUBURBS — The spot’s major focus is on McAuliffe’s plan to destroy single family zoning by empowering the federal government to dictate local zoning decisions.
In showing pictures of Black and Hispanic families well as young people seeking a first home, the spot says such a plan would destroy the aspirations of many Americans who now have a chance to live in safe, family-friendly neighborhoods.
WALL ST. GREED — “We also highlight the fact that ‘the woke’ management of Wall St firms are buying suburban properties because they think they can make money eventually off this Washington land-grab.”
MCAULIFFE CORRUPT POLITICAL BARGAIN — “Terry McAuliffe got the Democratic nomination for governor by pushing aside promising young leadership in his own party and making a corrupt political bargain with the Left wing extremists to support their radical agenda.”
THE REST OF THE EXTREME LEFT AGENDA — “Terry McAuliffe needs to be asked if he will disavow the support of his other liberal allies who support a radical agenda.”
Our spot shows these issues and provides back up about them including Critical Race theory teaching ugly Anti-American falsehoods to school children, defund the police, continue the illegal immigration crisis and influx of MS-13 gangs in Northern Virginia, the persecution of Catholic religious orders, and ACLU anti-religious extremism and attacks on Church tax-deductions.
NOT ATTACK ADS — “These are not 30 second attack ads that try to manipulate people, but heavily informative narrative ads that tell the story of Terry McAuliffe’s extremist views and plans.” Landrith said.
Landrith notes his group’s TV spot asserts that McAuliffe is “the chosen candidate of the media and tech giants” and that Virginians must ask him the questions the liberal media will not.
BACKUP TO ALL ALLEGATIONS — The spots shows newspaper articles about the controversy and argues that McAuliffe’s plan is essential that of President Biden and features a large picture of former HUD Secretary Ben Carson who wrote a Wall St op-ed saying the Biden plan would destroy suburban neighborhoods.
“Virginians need to ask McAuliffe why he endorses the Biden-Schumer – Pelosi plan that has already been enacted in some places like California and Minnesota that would permit federal bureaucrats to dictate to local towns and cities and destroy the American dream of single-family neighborhoods.”
WHAT ASKING MCAULIFFE THE TOUGH QUESTIONS WILL DO — “By making McAuliffe answer these questions, Virginians will be sending a strong message. They will be telling the radical liberals and their big business allies, and the Wall St. barons that the people of Virginia won’t stand for it. And Terry McAuliffe and the liberal extremists and their billionaire allies will discover theycan’t have America. They can’t have Virginia.”
HERE IS THE SCRIPT OF THE TWO-MINUTE TV SPOT
Terry McAuliffe… chosen candidate of the media and tech giants…helping him hide from the people of Virginia
McAuliffe’s plan? override local zoning and force the construction of high-density, low income housing projects in residential neighborhoods.
Under the McAuliffe plan, federal bureaucrats would dictate to local towns and cities…cramming apartment complexes into single- family neighborhoods.
This plan is opposed by:
— The majority of Blacks and Hispanics — once shut out of single family neighborhoods – who now want the right to live in one.
— Young Americans who aspire to the American dream of a single-family home in a family-friendly neighborhood.
— People now fleeing the crime and disorder of Democrat run cities.
Terry McAuliffe’s threat to the suburbs is no exaggeration.
The Biden-Pelosi-Schumer-McAuliffe plan is already underway. Newsom in California recently moved to abolish zoning.
Former HUD Secretary Ben Carson warned against this ugly liberal power-grab.
A Clinton-era grifter…Wall St money mover… pushing aside young leadership in his own party to help extremist climate liberals who hate the suburbs
the McAuliffe plan helps Wall St barons gobble up suburban property and profit off of high-density housing
Terry McAuliffe made a corrupt political bargain with the extremist left wing of the Democratic Party giving him the party nomination
He has allied himself with those who support:
Destroying Virginia’s suburbs…
Critical Race theory – teaching ugly Anti-American falsehoods to school children
Defund the Police
Continuing the illegal immigration crisis and influx of MS-13 gangs in Northern Virginia
The persecution of Catholic religious orders
ACLU anti-religious extremism and attacks on Church tax-deductions
Terry McAuliffe will never face these questions from the media who favor him
So ask Terry McAuliffe why he wants to use Virginia to pay off his extremist allies… destroy suburban neighborhoods…and Destroy the American dream of a single family home.
Ask him about his ties to THE EXTREMIST LIBERALS, HIS BIG BUSINESS ALLIES AND WALL ST. BARONS
Ask Terry McAuliffe if he understands the people of Virginia won’t stand for it
That the extremists and their billionaire allies
… CAN’T HAVE AMERICA
THEY CAN’T HAVE VIRGINIA.
The Biden plan for building America back better has a pretty hefty price tag attached to it. It includes $3 trillion in new and higher taxes, more government regulation, and creates a framework through which Washington bureaucrats will be making essential decisions about which industries survive and which ones die as we move further into the new century.
All that’s bad, but that – as Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders has said about the $3.5 trillion in new programs and spending that will constitute the biggest growth in government since the Great Society under Lyndon Johnson – is only the beginning. The era of big government is back only this time it’s coming as big government socialism and, instead of embracing the free enterprise economy that made America great, Biden and company are taking their cues from the British Labour Party circa 1960.
Now, this is not the first time Biden has “borrowed” something from the Brits and it probably won’t be the last. What people fail to understand is how much more intrusive the government will have to be as we “build back better” to fund all these new programs and to make the American public go along whether they want to or not.
One proposal that stands out in this regard is the constant effort by the Biden Administration and congressional Democrats to secure more funding for the United States Internal Revenue Service. At one point, before it was stopped, a serious proposal was moving through Congress to add $80 billion to its budget so it could hire an additional 80,000 agents. This provision was scored as a revenue raiser, meaning those who were proposing it did so with the idea that more agents mean more audits and more audits mean more money because the IRS will catch more people cheating on their taxes.
For the moment the increase in funding for the IRS looks dead, so the Biden Administration is pushing to catch so-called tax cheats in other ways. Another idea still very much under consideration would require banks and other financial institutions to report business and personal transactions they conduct on your behalf to the IRS if they involved an amount greater than $600.
If that sounds like a gross, possibly unconstitutional invasion of privacy, you may be right – but you also may not be able to do anything about it. The government is routinely notified about transactions above $10,000 – a provision put in place during the so-called hot years of the war on drugs – setting a precedent that has been affirmed by the courts.
There’s something inherently sinister about the idea of your local banker being forced to report your account data to the IRS any time you write a check or send money by wire or over the Internet to bail a kid on spring break out of trouble or pay your mortgage or health insurance premium. Some things are none of the federal government’s business.
Under the initial Biden-backed proposal, the IRS would receive annual reports of account inflows and outflows of $600 or more, which may be less intrusive than a play-by-play, day-by-day account of how you spend your money but it’s no less disturbing. White House’s estimates have the policy when implemented generating about $463 billion in additional revenue over the next decade but, to some, that’s not the point of the exercise. Consider the letter sent to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richie Neal, D-Mass., by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig asking for support for the plan “to help the agency increase enforcement and recover more in uncollected taxes.” It’s language like that that signals there’s an increase in audits coming even if they don’t lead to an increase anything like the projected growth in federal revenue from them – as will likely be the case.
If it all sounds pernicious, it’s because it is. The policy is predicated on the presumption that most Americans – the working class and the small businessmen and women especially – are cheating on their taxes. That’s insulting, never mind that it ignores the presumption of innocence around which our judicial system (but not the federal tax courts) is organized. Making Tax Day an even bigger nightmare than it already is is not the way to, as the president puts it, “build back better.”
When it comes down to it, many of the significant problems associated with the COVID pandemic resulted from a failure of imagination. Many of the nation’s best thinkers, having been surprised by the outbreak and the extent and speed of its spread, seemed to fear certain potential outcomes so much they froze.
The proper response is not timidity or inaction. Success tends to favor the bold, which suggests that the nation’s business and political and scientific leadership should have been exploring and experimenting with ways to keep the economy open, rather than shut it down.
The lockdowns that far too many embraced as the way to stop the disease from spreading produced adverse consequences that will be with us for some time. They did not stop COVID from spreading – indeed, it is still with us, continuing to mutate as most viruses do.
Health concerns aside, the lockdowns were economically and socially harmful. They put people out of work, enforced isolation, hampered the learning experience vital to our children’s future, and decimated many of the nation’s vital urban centers. Even though the U.S. economy is generally in recovery, our commercial centers, which had perhaps been hit harder than the rest of the nation because of their population density, do not seem to be coming back as quickly as other parts of the country.
There are ways to deal with this, both good and bad. What’s called for now are imaginative solutions to help urban areas rebuild quickly, that promote greater flexibility in the way space is used, and develop communities of which people want to be a part.
To put our cities back to work means changing the way we think about them. We cannot allow the urban rot that began in the late 1960s in so many major American cities to take root once again, displacing decades of progress that has been made in bringing our metropolises back from the brink. For that reason, rather than looking at downtowns and seeing them as they are, with 70 to 80 percent of real estate dedicated to office space, we need to be thinking of what they can become, even if the changes in the workforce and work habits become permanent.
The Revitalizing Downtowns Act, proposed by a handful of Democrats in Washington, would provide a tax credit equal to 20 percent of conversion expenses for developers seeking to repurpose vacant or obsolete office space into something new.
This is the right approach to transform declining business districts heavily devoted to office space. Repurposed urban towers renovated for mixed-use could become vibrant communities of their own, with people living and working and shopping and engaging in entertainment pursuits side by side without having to cross the sidewalk.
Conversion can be expensive and difficult. Incentivizing them in the tax code will make them more frequent. The Revitalizing Downtowns Act would provide a credit equal to the qualified expenses when converting vacant office buildings into small businesses or new apartments, including affordable housing — thus opening downtown and small businesses to more people and varying income levels.
The incentive approach works. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act again proved it, with the reduction in corporate tax rates fueling a hiring boom that reduced unemployment — especially among women, black teens, and other minorities — to some of the lowest levels ever recorded. People who have money don’t like to hide it in their mattresses, they like to put it to work. That’s, at least in part, how economic growth happens.
America’s cities are in crisis. The lockdowns, the recent riots, and the way Americans are changing in the age of the internet have come together in a way that forces us to make a choice. Do we want them to fall? Or do we want them to rise to become greater than they already are while restoring the vitality that once made them places people wanted to be?
America has an infrastructure problem. Too many roads are impassible, traffic congestion is clogging the suburban arteries, and bridges are falling apart. The legislation currently pending in Congress, which the latest polls say has the support of two-thirds of likely voters, won’t fix it.
It’s been sold as an infrastructure bill but in the bizarro world that is Joe Biden’s Washington, it does more to get people and goods off the roads than on them. It’s full of so many goodies that progressives want it might fairly be called a down payment of sorts on the Green New Deal we were all led to believe during the last campaign the current president didn’t support.
One of the problems with the bill is how few people have taken the time to look at what’s in it. Ironically, that’s why it’s so popular. It’s “bi-partisan,” as though that makes it worthy of passage. Never forget that Democrats and Republicans can come together on bad ideas every more easily than they can on good ones. It’s a big-spending monstrosity that will give the American people more of what they don’t want and, more importantly, don’t need.
Consider the provisions dealing with local water systems in places like Flint, Michigan. Sure, it’s a problem and sure, it needs a major overhaul. But why is that Washington’s concern? It’s not as though their pipes move water to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or Tuscaloosa, Alabama. it’s a local problem that local leaders are responsible for fixing but didn’t. Even after people started getting sick – and then they did a better job trying to pass the buck than they did addressing the problem.
The money for major cities like Flint is there so one part of the Democratic Party, the part in Washington, can bail out local Democrats and their political machines. It’s cash to help keep them in power so they can deliver the vote when the next election rolls around. And the one after that.
Maybe we could live with the political aspect of these projects (which might just as easily be called payoffs) if it weren’t for other things in the bill intended to fuel the efforts to get cars off the road. Efforts like the per vehicle per miles driven tax that some in Congress have in mind as an add-on to the federal excise tax on gasoline. Revenues are off, largely because of the number of people who’ve shifted to hybrid and all-electric vehicles. Something has to happen to get it back and make it grow. The best idea so far, and the most intrusive, is for the feds to mandate the installation of a device in your car or truck, or SUV to track how many miles you drive so the U.S. Department of Transportation can send you a quarterly bill. Or something like that. The whole idea is still in the pilot project stage, but you get the idea.
The invaluable David Ditch over at The Heritage Foundation, who deconstructed the bill down to its rocker panels, says among the lurking dangers hidden in the bill are measures that would “make a variety of progressive causes part of federal policy, such as an obsession with “equity,” providing special treatment for “disadvantaged” groups, establishing a new bureaucracy to increase the number of female truck drivers, and the hyper-woke Digital Equity Act, which includes expanding internet access for prisoners.” What any of that has to do with road construction and bridge building, which is what the American people think they are getting any time they hear the word “infrastructure,” is beyond me.
The bill also proposes expenditures in the tens of billions to subsidize the installation of electric vehicle charging stations needed by the people buying electric cars. That sounds progressive, in every sense of the word but, as most will likely be put in gated communities, yacht clubs, the parking garages of high-end urban condo and apartment complexes, and other places only the people who can afford to spend $100,000 on a single car can go, it’s really welfare for the people who don’t need it.
Worst of all, the so-called bi-partisan infrastructure bill is anti-car. Credit again to Ditch for doing the research and raising the alarm about the federal funding of local projects the progressive call “traffic calming” but you and I know as putting in speed bumps, reducing the number of lanes on a heavily trafficked thoroughfare from four to two and other steps being taken by municipalities to making commutes tougher and longer.
If you ask why they’d do that, consider the incentive that creates for commuters to use mass transit, which gets a healthy injection of funds in the bill. The politicians and the community associations control what goes where and how often. Unlike your car, which takes the trips you want to take on your schedule.
The bill should be opposed because of what it does, not because of how much it costs. The right vote is “No” and the right move is to start again. Or to wait for a new administration to come on board to drive the infrastructure train where it needs to go.
The back-and-forth over the so-called infrastructure bill working its way through the U.S. House of Representatives is helping perpetuate a myth that is distorting the people’s perception of where we as a country are. That perception is that there is, somehow, within the House and Senate and sprinkled throughout the Biden administration, a substantial cadre of moderate Democrats who are doing all they can to block a leftward lurch toward big-government socialism pushed by one wing of the party.
It makes for nice reading and it’s an easy story to write. Unfortunately, it’s inaccurate. As far as national politics is concerned, the Democratic Party has been running the moderates out for years. As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pointed out in a recent policy document that’s making the rounds, virtually every Democrat in the U.S. House and Senate voted for the budget outline produced by Senator Bernie Sanders—a self-identified socialist.
The Sanders document, which includes $3.5 trillion in new and higher spending, $3 trillion in new and higher taxes, and a host of radical regulatory proposals intended to roll back 40 years of deregulatory reform that started with Ronald Reagan, is a left-winger’s pipe dream. The only objections to it Democrats have had—Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema excepted—have centered on the cost, not on what the proposed legislation would do.
The division among Democrats is real, but it’s not based on ideology. All but one Democrat recently voted for a bill that would eliminate state restrictions on late-term abortions and codify the Supreme Court‘s decision in Roe v. Wade. Democrats are united on policy but opposed (or at least some of them are) to doing things that will cost them their seats the next time they run.
It’s not principle that’s keeping the Democrats apart—it’s politics. Why were Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer insisting on Republican votes to pass an increase in the debt ceiling? Because some members of their party who are up for re-election in 2022 need to be able to vote “no” on that issue—and they can only do that if a few GOP lawmakers can be persuaded to vote “yes.”
The “moderate” myth is useful for those Democrats who want to go home and pretend they fought against the largest expansion of government since LBJ gave us the Great Society. They’ll promise their voters they’ll continue to fight for pro-business policies and might even again earn the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But it will all be a fallacy. The Democratic Party has been taken over by people who take their cues from the British Labour Party circa 1960—not the free-enterprise entrepreneurs who built this great nation.
The polling, the Gingrich document said, “is clear and devastating” for those who think the federal government needs to be bigger and do more. “Americans in general favor Free Market Capitalism over Big Government Socialism by a huge margin (59 percent to 16 percent),” Gingrich wrote while, among so-called independent or “swing” voters, the advantage for those who oppose the Sanders/Biden agenda grows to 82 percent to 18 percent.
The infrastructure bill was held up because too many Democrats refused to risk their seats by voting for it. It’s not a “moderate” piece of legislation even if it was written with Republican support. It includes such intrusive measures as the establishment of a pilot program that is supposed to come up with the best way to tax cars and trucks by the number of miles driven.
The reconciliation package? Even worse.
As Gingrich and others have observed, the Democrats in Congress were all-in at the beginning when it counted—when the process of getting these bills through began. The framework for each mostly survives, whether or not any given bill emerges from the legislative process intact. What cannot be accomplished in a day will be pushed by Democrats for weeks, months and years. President Joe Biden has said he has it in mind to correct 40 years of policy mistakes that, in his view, hobbled this formerly great nation. Biden’s objective: Roll back the Reaganite revolution that brought America back from the brink. What a foolish objective—and certainly not a moderate one.
When a nation historically has an inglorious past, a frightful present and an illusory future, its people develop a dogged determination of indefinite hatred against entire categories of strangers and also toward themselves. Distressingly, in its present moral as well as material condition, Hungary, like Afghanistan, resembles a state without any redeeming aspiration to overcome its hopeless despondency. Ubiquitously praised by the United States of America and Western Europe throughout the 1980s as “the happiest barrack in the Soviet Empire,” today’s Hungary mirrors more Stalin’s one-party dictatorship than a Westernized free and democratic state. The once hyper-liberal bunch of young anti-Communist-turned Communist rebels of the late 1980s, who called themselves the Alliance of Young Democrats (Hungarian acronyms: FIDESZ), have morphed into the authoritarian and kleptocratic gang of “Illiberal Democrats” of the 21st century. Clearly, Hungary, a member state of NATO as well as the European Union, has lost its way between 1990 and 2021 on the road to the accepted norms of prevailing democracy.
As the turbulent past of Hungary as well as the very recent failure of nation-building in Afghanistan have proved, almost all of the most terrific catastrophes of history have been the consequence of erroneous decision making that has always been based on a set of incompetently concocted realities. These incompetently concocted realities, having been mostly or completely devoid of truthful facts, have had with predictable regularity produced untold tragedies in the form of wars, genocides, and even civilizational destruction. And as in the case of Afghanistan, the entire federal bureaucracy in the United States of America, including all the intelligence agencies, the Departments of State and Defense, have been engaged with respect to the newly independent countries of Central and Eastern Europe in reporting to the White House as well as Congress ideologically tainted pseudo-realities. Deplorably, the American media too has been guilty of contributing to the general intellectual schizophrenia in the United States of America. These deliberately fallacious transmissions of realities to the decision makers, have long prevented all the knowledgeable individuals from asserting the truths over the politically motivated and maliciously disseminated cult-like lies.
A case in point that the American media, regardless of its political leanings, is trapped by the tainted ideologies of false realities, has been Fox News Channel’s host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” reporting from Budapest, Hungary during the first week of August 2021. Having been totally silent about his father’s widely reported lobbying activities on behalf of the Viktor Orban-led government in Washington, D.C., Tucker Carlson sanctimoniously and hypocritically justified his long sojourn to the ivory tower of “Illiberal Democracy” thus: “If you care about Western civilization and democracy and families, and the ferocious assault on all three of those things by the leaders of our global institutions, you should know what is happening here right now.” Thus, Tucker Carlson the incorruptible champion of truth seeking, proceeded to uncritically sink into the poisonous swamp of ideological unrealities devised by Viktor Orban to fool his country’s friends and foes alike. In this manner, Tucker Carlson successfully recreated Franz Kafka’s world of fusing elements of pseudo-realism and outright lies about the extremely retrograd political regime of Viktor Orban the Hungarian autocrat.
Even as the bureaucracy as well as the media in general and Tucker Carlson in particular try to manipulate the decision makers and the people on their uninformed prejudices, they also turn otherwise ordinary persons into spiritual and emotional zombies, who would be incapable of distinguishing between obvious truths and deliberately mismanufactured lies. In addition to being driven by their aggressive careerism and boundless lust for power and money, these brothers-in-arms are blocking real talents from public life and the media, while supporting an army of counterfeit intellectuals with identical views.
Deliberately confusing good and evil, these unscrupulous demagogues also turn morality on its head by profaning the principle of reductio ad absurdum, or the law of non-contradiction. In these and countlessly similar manners, participatory politics as well as its pillars – political, economic, cultural and moral freedoms – are corrupted to a degree that will only produce a hellish dictatorship of crooked dunces. These crooked dunces, in turn, want to create an intellectual vacuum, in which they intend to pour nonsense to be sold to the unsuspecting people as the ultimate wisdom. The best examples of such an orgy of the incompetent opinion makers are the Soviet Communists’ creation of the category of “useful idiots” and the hate-based shauvinistic ideologies of Mussolini’s Fascism and Hitler’s National Socialism in the first half of the twentieth century Europe. In these worlds, political, ideological or moral neutrality are nonexistent. Either a person conforms willingly or opportunistically, or in case of resisting, will be eliminated mercilessly.
Thus, as in the case of Afghanistan for many decades, American politicians and the media are as clueless as they have been when it comes to the global political and cultural climate in today’s Hungary. Even if it were possible to leave aside the blind indifference displayed over the years by so-called American liberals and progressives toward hard realities outside the United States of America in general and underdeveloped and developing countries in particular, the notion that a magic wand of lies and deliberate distortions by politicians and the media could make human evil sudenly become nonexistent is idiotic. Yet, what the American bureaucracy in general and the opinion makers in particular, try to hide is that the civil wars in those countries, including Afghanistan and Hungary, is not just about the future political direction of those countries, but it is also about the destructively dangerous centrally organized cultural loathing of all those who dare to think differently.
Moreover, as in the case of Afghanistan, top American bureaucrats and media personalities appear to trade the stability of Hungary, and by extension, the security of the United States of America, NATO and the European Union, to promote unfounded scenarios about alternative political and cultural utopianism in faraway nations. Again, this is the defeatist fallacy that has been in full display in Afghanistan too. It turns reality into unscrupulous unreality, in order to hide evil to feel good and paint those who try to do good by unmasking this fraud as despicable inhuman beings.
Finally, top politicians and media personalities like Tucker Carlson employ fraudulent linguistic magic to transfer authority to ideologically tainted talking heads from the people who constitutionally must be in control of the elected politicians and the appointed bureaucracy. The juxtaposition of this repressive and authoritarian pseudo-reality, however, demonstrates how preposterous and dangerous this undignified and misleading fixation of this so-called establishment is with keeping the vast majority of the people in the state of slave purity and sick psychopathy.
Comparing the Stalinist-like “Illiberal Democracy” of Viktor Orban to the American constitutional democracy and doubly recommending the former to be emulated by the United States of America is evil par excellence. Even more precisely, it is outrightly idiotic. Particularly, in light of Viktor Orban’s reported speech at Kotcse, Hungary, on September 4, 2021. This scantily educated dimwit attempted to provide his followers with a political tour d’horizon laced with “philosophical” wisdoms about Hungary’s place and role in the world. Claiming that he represents “the call of the Hungarian people,” which he fails to define, he called on all Hungarians to adjust to his view of the new realities in world politics. Stating that the People’s Republic of China already defeated the United States of America globally, he mused about whether Europe or the United States of America would become the number two power behind the triumphant expansionist as well as authoritarian China. As far as the domestic situation of Hungary is concerned, he remained suspiciously silent. Yet, Hungary’s domestic state of affairs are in complete disarray. Instead of political, economic and financial stability, Hungary faces ubiquitous ruin. Brussels’ financial contribution as well as the taxpayers’ monies have been plundered and have been spent generously on building soccer stadiums that are empty, stuffing almost 1 trillion HUF into the coffers of soccer clubs that have become the joke of Europe and the world, enriching the Orban family and his coterie, and fueling hatred, lawlessness and shameless corruption across the nation. To wit, Viktor Orban has already lined up behind China’s global ambitions and all encompassing corruption – thus becoming the international pariah of his own stupidity.
Tucker Carlson’s kiss-up interview and comments about Hungary are misleading and destructive. Instead of being honest about the Stalinist nature of the Hungarian political regime, he falsely praised what he unambiguously rejects in the United States of America. Adding insult to injury, he even warmly recommends for the United States of America to follow Hungary’s political lunacy. However, Hungary today can be likened to a volcano that is about to erupt. Such an eruption would surely damage NATO and the European Union when unity is the most important imperative. Plainly, the United States of America does not need another Afghanistan. The Biden Administration must grow up to the challenge, appoint competent ambassadors and not political hacks to Budapest and the other Central and East European capitals. Concomitantly, the media will have to start reporting on Hungary in an unbiased and objective manner. Only this way, could Washington, D.C. avoid another catastrophe with worldwide repercussions.
he economic rebound that began as the pandemic-related lockdowns started to end in the states is producing strong results throughout the United States despite the considerable rise in inflation. While higher prices are wiping out the income gains workers made during the pre-COVID boom, the surging stock market helped the amount of money held in private retirement accounts reach some of the highest levels on record.
The number of 401(k) and IRA millionaires have hit all-time records, CNBC’s Jessica Dickler reported Thursday, suggesting good times may still be ahead even though the perception is growing that President Joe Biden and his economic team are mismanaging the economy. In the most recent IPSOS poll, 55 percent of those surveyed said they were “pessimistic” about the direction of the country, an increase of 20 points over late April when the question was last posed. Pessimism, the polling firm said, was rising across all age groups and income levels and was even down among Democrats.
The Biden economic plan includes higher taxes and increased spending despite the recurrence of notable inflation. If it passes, it would likely cause a contraction in an economy that has appeared to be growing again since people started going back to work after many of the nation’s governors – mostly from the so-called “Red States” – stopped the pandemic-induced unemployment emergency bonus payments that more than one prominent economist identified as a significant disincentive for people to get back on the job.
For retirees and investors, meanwhile, the surging stock market and the steady increase in retirement account balances is welcome news considering how badly these holdings fared during the government-imposed lockdowns, losing considerable value in many cases. According to data provided by Fidelity Investments, the nation’s largest manager of 401(k) savings plans, their overall average balance was up 24 percent from a year ago and hit $129,300 at June’s end. Individual retirement account balances were also higher, CNBC said, reaching $134,900, on average in the second quarter, up 21 percent from where they were a year ago.
American workers across the economy are participating in the wealth creation, not just the so-called “ultra-rich.” According to Fidelity, nearly 12 percent of workers increased the contributions they made to their plans over the period while a record 37 percent of employers also automatically enrolled new workers in their 401(k) plans.
This growth in the number of workers joining the investor class is a political problem for Biden and the progressive Democrats who control Congress. The tax, borrow, and spend plan they are trying to pass over an apparently unified Republican opposition includes, for the first time in decades, serious proposals to increase the tax on capital and returns on investment.
This step back towards the economic policies of the 1970s that produced high unemployment and high inflation – something the economic theories dominant in government and academia at the time said was an impossibility – would be a job killer. Yet, even above that, some Democrats are talking up the institution of a “wealth tax” assessed annually on total holdings rather than income as a “pay for” for policies progressives say they wish to enact like tuition-free community college, free pre-K childcare, and the transition of the U.S. to an economy based entirely on renewable energy. With Fidelity reporting the number of its plans “with a balance of $1 million or more” jumping to a record 412,000 in the second quarter of 2021 and the number of IRA millionaires also at an all-time high, the savings amassed in these accounts may prove an irresistible target for the wealth taxers if their proposals begin to gain momentum in Congress.
Tourists must now provide proof of vaccination. Illegal immigrants get a free pass.
For Europeans hoping to vacation in the United States anytime soon, a piece of advice: Entering through Laredo, Texas, might be easier than making it through JFK.
Reuters reports that the Biden administration will require tourists to provide proof of vaccination to enter the country because it’s the only way to safely boost the tourism industry. That’s a far more stringent standard than the White House is applying to those seeking to enter the country illegally via Mexico. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said this week that the administration’s border policy is “rooted in preventing the introduction of contagious diseases into the interior of the United States.”
That statement flies in the face of reality. The Texas border town of McAllen declared a local disaster this week after 1,500 of the 7,000 migrants released into the city by the Biden administration tested positive for COVID-19.
In July alone, 210,000 migrants crossed into the country from Mexico. That 21-year record comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci pushes for Americans to re-adopt extreme COVID precautions and warns that “things are going to get worse.”
Things are already getting worse on the border.
According to the assistant secretary for border and immigration policy, David Shahoulian, the rate of positive tests among migrants crossing the border has “increased significantly in recent weeks.” Those migrants are getting Border Patrol officers sick, Shahoulian said, leading “to increasing numbers of Customs and Border Protection personnel being isolated and hospitalized” even as vaccination rates increase for officers, suggesting some suffer from breakthrough infections. They are surely getting American civilians sick as well.
The Biden administration’s encouraging decision to delay the repeal of Title 42—which gives Border Patrol agents authority to immediately turn away most migrants—was an acknowledgment of how dire things have gotten, but it doesn’t go far enough. Ditching the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy retards the effectiveness of any future plans by the White House to inoculate migrants at the border, given the fact that the Centers for Disease Control says the vaccine takes roughly two weeks to work. Overcrowded holding facilities will continue to serve as a vector for disease.
The Department of Homeland Security disclosed that 30 percent of all aliens in detention refuse a coronavirus vaccine. CBP holding facilities sit at around 700 percent capacity. Those kinds of numbers would bring CDC director Rochelle Walensky to tears if they were citizens packed into a Florida bar.
For all of President Joe Biden’s talk about how real “patriots” take the appropriate measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, he seems uninterested in doing his part. Biden asks American businesses to wait for a badly needed tourism boost while his border policy exacerbates the need for public-health restrictions.
The Biden White House has tried to pin growing COVID numbers on Republican governors who have ended restrictions in their states. He says governors need to “get out of the way” of the government’s COVID response. It turns out the southern border is the only place the Biden administration is relaxed about the threat posed by rising COVID numbers.
Our thoughts on Biden’s selective concern were perhaps best encapsulated by Florida governor Ron DeSantis. “Why don’t you get this border secure,” DeSantis told the president. “Until you do that, I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.”
President Joe Biden wants half of all cars sold in the U.S. to be electric within 10 years. Without new mines, China will maintain grip on battery supply.
President Joe Biden announced plans Thursday to push auto sales to be 50 percent electric by 2030 with new regulations, as part of the administration’s effort to promote cleaner energy.
“There [is] a vision of the future that is now beginning to happen,” Biden said at the White House. “A future of the automobile industry that is electric. Battery electric, plug-in, hybrid electric, fuel cell electric, it’s electric and there’s no turning back.”
That future however, may also feature swelling American reliance on one of its greatest overseas adversaries: China.
Less than five percent of all new cars on the U.S. market were purely electric vehicles and less than four percent were plug-in hybrids as of June, according to the Energy Department’s Argonne National Laboratory. Not only will the government-manufactured shift to up that number by 12 times require massive state subsidies for a slow-growing industry, as Biden promised, but it will exacerbate American dependence on Chinese mineral production to make the car batteries needed.
According to the New York Times, China makes “70 to 80 percent of the world’s battery chemicals, battery anodes and battery cells,” and dominates the market for electric motor magnets.
“China controls the cards in the battery supply chain,” Vivas Kumar, the former Tesla manager of battery materials, told the paper in February.
Meanwhile, the Unites States lags behind when it comes to even mining its own minerals such as lithium and cobalt, let alone processing them at home. While both are more common components of electric cars, the Chinese also remain dominant in the extraction and refinement of the 17 rare earth minerals, some of which are in the batteries too.
“The Middle East has oil, and China has rare earth,” said former Chinese Communist Party Leader Deng Xiaoping in 1992, as Beijing ramped up production to play the long game — which is now bearing fruit. Since then, China has outpaced the United States as the world’s largest producer of rare minerals, raising production by 500 percent, according to the Wyoming Mining Association.
“The [electric vehicle] industry can’t exist without China, and there is no plan to displace China as the supplier of these minerals,” former Trump administration EPA transition team member and founder of “JunkScience” Steve Milloy told The Federalist, adding that Biden’s latest initiative orders more dependency on Chinese imports.
Milloy is skeptical the electric vehicle industry will even take off with a 50 percent share of the car market altogether. He argues their high price and inefficiency will lead consumers to embrace their use far more slowly than the 2030 timeline suggests, if not reject them entirely.
The Biden administration is not blind to the dominance of Chinese mining. At his electric vehicle announcement Thursday, the president acknowledged the United States was in competition with China and its stranglehold on the world’s battery supply.
“Right now, China’s leading the race,” Biden said. The electric car market has also grownfar more and far faster in China than in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center.
“And here’s the deal,” the president continued, “our national labs in America, our universities, our automakers, led in the development of this technology. We lead in developing this technology, and there’s no reason why we can’t reclaim that leadership and lead again.”
Biden said nothing about mining however, as the administration fills with radical environmental leftists who aim to lock up natural resources on federal land. The dramatic increase in battery demand that would accompany making 50 percent of new cars electric is a big win for Beijing.
The United States could reclaim its mineral dominance if it tapped into its own vast riches, unreachable by the cascade of burdensome regulation standing in the way of development. The short 6-minute video from Kite & Key Media sums up the entire debacle below:
Even if the lower 48 are kept off limits, Alaskan minerals could be mined to erase American dependence on Chinese supply, with lawmakers in the Republican state welcoming development.
“Experts predict a nearly 500 percent increase in mineral demand created by the push to decarbonize the world. Alaska is the place to find a responsible way to meet this demand,” wrote Alaskan Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy in the Wall Street Journal three months ago. “No major mining accident has occurred in Alaska, yet the U.S. continues to sources its minerals from the Congo, South Africa and China while Washington regulators deny permits to projects on state of Alaska lands designed for mining.”
China, meanwhile, has made no secret of its plans to exploit American dependence on its mineral operations. The Wall Street Journal reported on a 2019 Beijing-funded report on rare-earth policy, which wrote, “China will not rule out using rare earth exports as leverage to deal with” a U.S.-China trade war.
With other nations, China already has weaponized its supply-chain power. In 2010, the country blocked rare-earth mineral exports to Japan, a developed but resource-poor country which relied heavily on the Chinese products.
Federalist Senior Contributor Helen Raleigh, an author and expert on Chinese affairs, chronicled the Japanese response, in which the government sought to diversify its source of minerals and drive innovation to encourage entrepreneurs to find substitute material.
In an interview, Raleigh emphasized that, while China is the world’s supplier of rare-earth minerals, it is not home to the most reserves, and the United States could find alternative production with an open look inward at its own supply which is mined far more cleanly and safely.
“Chinese dominance is in production and processing, not the world’s largest deposits,” Raleigh said.
While the Biden administration began to take steps in April to secure domestic supply for rare-earth minerals, Raleigh said the plans so far lacked “teeth” because “they focus on short-term optics,” such as initiatives to make 50 percent of the U.S. auto fleet electric within 10 years.
“We shouldn’t be so short-sighted,” Raleigh said, considering the Chinese plotted their dominance in the mineral arena decades ago.
In May, Reuters reported Biden was looking to Brazil, Canada, and Australia as potential sources for rare-earth minerals, as opposed to expanding America’s own mines to tap into its own reserves with its own labor.
Milloy said the issue with that proposal, aside from generating jobs abroad which could be available at home, is that neither country is a known host to resources as vast as those in the United States.
“We can’t just demand that Australia, Canada, [and] Brazil produce these for us,” Milloy said.
It was July 29, and the rent was coming due for tenants all over the country. That is, until it wasn’t. Pressed by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, the Biden White House turned to the CDC to extend the eviction moratorium to October 3 of this year.
The White House maintains that this is not an extension of existing nationwide policy but a new, “targeted” moratorium. Housing groups aren’t buying it, irate with what they see as government overreach and a rebranding of the same policies that saw many landlords go months without collecting enough rent to break even on managed properties. One of those groups, the Alabama Association of Realtors, is challenging the order in court.
The CDC’s latest program, instead of being a blanket nationwide moratorium, uses a region’s COVID-19 infection status as the deciding factor for whether it qualifies. With this adjustment, the administration is attempting to disconnect the “new” moratorium from the past one, which came under intense legal scrutiny.
The former moratorium survived until July 31 only because Justice Kavanaugh thought a premature death for the policy would not “allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds.” He wrote that the only way a moratorium could pass muster thereafter was if there were “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation).”
Pundits and activists on the right and left have predicted the Biden administration may find it exceedingly difficult to argue this moratorium’s new and unique aspects relative to the last.
According to Luke Wake of the Pacific Legal Foundation, defenders of the most recent moratorium “are relying on the very same flawed statutory authority that they have since pronouncing the eviction moratorium last September. The only difference being that instead of a blanket, nationwide moratorium, they would only cover 90 percent of the country. But because they rely on the same supposed authority, their actions are still unlawful.” All Our Opinion in Your Inbox
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Individuals familiar with the plaintiffs’ strategy agreed with Wake, telling National Review that there’s little in the new order to meaningfully differentiate it from its predecessor. The sources pointed out that the new order retains the five eligibility requirements included in the initial moratorium, adding just the one, COVID-dependent, additional requirement.
Legal reaction to the CDC’s pronouncement is moving swiftly, explained Wake:
Now that the Government has renewed the moratorium order in apparent defiance of Kavanaugh’s warning, the Alabama Realtors have sought again to lift the stay in their case so that landlords can begin evicting. The Government was ordered [by the DC Circuit] to respond by the end of [Friday] to that emergency petition. If it’s granted, then that’s a big deal for landlords. If it’s denied, then we can assume they will immediately appeal to the DC Circuit and might very well be before the Supreme Court again quickly.
Kavanaugh granted grace to the CDC, stipulating any extensions would require legislative action. By circumventing him now, the Biden White House risks the Supreme Court’s wrath. Sources were confident that the CDC would not find Kavanaugh nearly as deferential to the government attorneys should they find themselves before him in court again.
Those familiar with the suit expect that sometime early this week, perhaps even Monday, D.C. District Court judge Dabney Friedrich will make a ruling, with a high probability that it lands in favor of the Alabama Realtors. It would then be on the government to appeal the case to higher courts.
Monday, August 9, had both sides’ attorneys before Judge Friedrich answering her questions and pleading their cases. She chose not to rule immediately, instead taking the case under consideration.
Wake estimated the Fifth Circuit would get to his firm’s case (Chambless) around October. A delay, but he figures the CDC will extend the rent moratorium during the winter months, meaning Chambless may be before the Supreme Court by year’s end.
The bipartisan infrastructure agreement contains billions of dollars to remedy supposed racial injustice and combat climate change.
The Washington Free Beacon obtained a Messaging Document circulating among Senate offices to rally support. Much of the document, which is aimed at winning over skeptical GOP lawmakers, appears to be taken word-for-word from a Biden administration fact sheet posted on the White House website on Wednesday.
Much of the highlighted spending aims to remedy discriminatory policies of the past. Part of the $110 billion earmarked for rebuilding roads and bridges is dedicated to fixing allegedly racist projects that “divided” black communities.The proposal specifically names highways such as I-81 in Syracuse, New York, that would be rebuilt around black communities, rather than through them. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg previously said that “there is racism physically built into some of our highways.”
Thousands of public school buses, according to the document, would be replaced with “zero emission vehicles” as part of a $7.5 billion effort to “modernize” the country’s transportation. These new buses “will benefit communities of color since these households are twice as likely to take public transportation,” according to the document.
The proposal advanced in the Senate Tuesday night with a vote of 67-32. Every Democrat voted “yes,” as did 17 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.). With two-thirds support, the deal is expected to pass the Senate without a GOP filibuster although it faces steep obstacles in the House.
While the bill has the support of McConnell, not all Republicans are on board. Former president Donald Trump lashed out against Republicans who supported the deal, calling Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah), who led negotiations between the two parties, a “SUPER RINO.”
“This will be a victory for the Biden administration and Democrats, and will be heavily used in the 2022 election,” said Trump. “It is a loser for the USA, a terrible deal, and makes the Republicans look weak, foolish, and dumb.”
House Democrats, who hold a slim majority, can only afford losing a few votes. Already, Democrats like Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) said “the votes of Congressional Progressive Caucus members are not guaranteed on any bipartisan package until we examine the details.”
The document boasts of the “largest investment in clean energy in history,” which includes building a new “clean, 21st century electric grid” and billions of dollars “for supply chains for clean energy technologies.” The Department of Energy would also be tasked with creating a “digital climate solutions report, including potential for use of artificial intelligence as a climate solution.”
Residents along Amtrak’s Acela corridor will enjoy $6 billion for track maintenance, as part of the “largest federal investment in public transit in history.” Another $60 billion will be given for general passenger and foreign rail funding.
The document also proposes a variety of other ambitious initiatives, including the replacement of “all of the nation’s lead pipes.”
“Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack safe drinking water,” the messaging document says. “The deal’s $55 billion investment represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including dedicated funding to replace lead service lines. … It will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines.”
A separate document obtained by the Free Beacon explains how the government will finance the new spending. Most of the sources of revenue appear to be from a variety of accounting tricks, such as the $2.9 billion “from extending available interest rate smooth options for defined benefit pension plans.” Those who support the plan expect another $28 billion to come from “applying information reporting requirements to cryptocurrency.”
The largest portion of funding comes from the “repurposing of certain unused COVID relief dollars,” totaling $205 billion. Another $53 billion comes from “certain states returning unused enhanced federal [unemployment insurance] supplement.”
With growth so uncertain, it is understandable that central banks would be wary of beginning to taper monthly bond purchases before it is clear that inflation has taken off. But they would do well to recognize that prolonging quantitative easing implies significant risks, too.
Inflation readings in the United States have shot up in recent months. Labor markets are extremely tight. In one recent survey, 46% of small-business owners said they could not find workers to fill open jobs, and a net 39% reported having increased their employees’ compensation. Yet, at the time of this writing, the yield on ten-year Treasury bonds is 1.24%, well below the ten-year breakeven inflation rate of 2.4%. At the same time, stock markets are flirting with all-time highs.
Something in all this does not add up. Perhaps the bond markets believe the US Federal Reserve when it suggests that current inflationary pressures are transitory and that the Fed can hold policy interest rates down for an extended period. If so, growth – bolstered by pent-up savings and the additional government spending currently being negotiated in Congress – should be reasonable, and inflation should remain around the Fed’s target. The breakeven inflation rate also seems to be pointing to this scenario.
But that doesn’t explain why the ten-year Treasury rate is so low, suggesting negative real rates over the next decade. What if it is right? Perhaps the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant will prompt fresh lockdowns in developed countries and damage emerging markets even more. Perhaps more nasty variants will emerge. And perhaps the negotiations in Congress will break down, with even the bipartisan infrastructure bill failing to pass. In this scenario, however, it would be hard to justify the stock-market buoyancy and breakeven inflation rate.
One common factor driving up both stock and bond prices (thus lowering bond yields) could be asset managers’ search for yield, owing to the conditions created by extremely accommodative monetary policies. This would explain why the prices of stocks (including “meme stocks”), bonds, cryptocurrencies, and housing are all a little frothy at the same time.
To those who care about sound asset prices, Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s announcement last week that the economy had made progress toward the point where the Fed might end its $120 billion monthly bond-buying program was good news. Phasing out quantitative easing (QE) is the first step toward monetary-policy normalization, which itself is necessary to alleviate the pressure on asset managers to produce impossible returns in a low-yield environment.
The beginning of the end of QE would not please everyone, though. Some economists see a significant downside to withdrawing monetary accommodation before it is clear that inflation has taken off. Gone is the old received wisdom that if you are staring inflation in the eyeballs, it is already too late to beat it down without a costly fight. Two decades of persistently low inflation have convinced many central bankers that they can wait.
And yet, even if monetary policymakers are not overly concerned about high asset prices or inflation, they should be worried about another risk that prolonged QE intensifies: the government’s fiscal exposure to future interest-rate hikes.
While government debt has soared, government interest payments remain low, and have even shrunk as a share of GDP in some countries over the last two decades. As such, many economists are not worried that government debt in advanced economies is approaching its post-World War II high. But what if interest rates start moving up as inflation takes hold? If government debt is around 125% of GDP, every percentage-point increase in interest rates translates into a 1.25 percentage-point increase in the annual fiscal deficit as a share of GDP. That is nothing to shrug at. With interest rates normally rising by a few percentage points over the course of a business cycle, government debt can quickly become stressful.
To this, thoughtful economists might respond, “Wait a minute! Not all the debt has to be rolled over quickly. Just look at the United Kingdom, where the average term to maturity is about 15 years.” True, if debt maturities were evenly spread out, only around one-fifteenth of the UK debt would have to be refinanced each year, giving the authorities plenty of time to react to rising interest rates.
But that is no reason for complacency. The average maturity for government debt is much lower in other countries, not least the US, where it is only 5.8 years. Moreover, what matters is not the average debt maturity (which can be skewed by a few long-dated bonds), but rather the amount of debt that will mature quickly and must be rolled over at a higher rate. Median debt maturity (the length of time by which half the existing debt will mature) is therefore a better measure of exposure to interest-rate-rollover risk. Sign up for our weekly newsletter, PS on Sunday
More to the point, one also must account for a major source of effective maturity shortening: QE. When the central bank hoovers up five-year government debt from the market in its monthly bond-buying program, it finances those purchases by borrowing overnight reserves from commercial banks on which it pays interest (also termed “interest on excess reserves”). From the perspective of the consolidated balance sheet of the government and the central bank (which, remember, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the government in many countries), the government has essentially swapped five-year debt for overnight debt. QE thus drives a continuous shortening of effective government debt maturity and a corresponding increase in (consolidated) government and central-bank exposure to rising interest rates.
Does this matter? Consider the 15-year average maturity of UK government debt. The median maturity is shorter, at 11 years, and falls to just four years when one accounts for the QE-driven shortening. A one-percentage-point increase in interest rates would therefore boost the UK government’s debt interest payments by about 0.8% of GDP – which, the UK Office for Budget Responsibility notes, is about two-thirds of the medium-term fiscal tightening proposed over the same period. And, of course, rates could increase much more than one percentage point.
As for the US, not only is the outstanding government debt much shorter in maturity than that of the UK, but the Fed already owns one-quarter of it. Clearly, prolonging QE is not without risks.