Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar has her eyes fixed firmly on the White House, and, if President Joe Biden chooses not to run again, she’d like to take his place as the party’s nominee. Before she can do that, however, she first has to burnish her progressive credentials.
One way she’s trying is by going on the attack against Big Tech, an effort that’s winning her plaudits from both sides of the aisle. It’s not just those who think Karl Marx’s economic theories make more sense than those espoused by Milton Friedman but those who say they believe markets work who are helping push her attempt to give the Federal Trade Commission the ability to set rules about what the dominant platforms – her words – can sell online without behaving in a manner that is “discriminatory.”
Klobuchar’s been working hard to get her bill on the Senate floor before everyone goes home for the seven-week long August recess. Based on recent developments, it doesn’t look like she’s going to get what she wants, especially now that a group of prominent free marketeers has come out against what she is trying to do.
Among the 46 who signed the letter sent to congressional leaders on July 19 in opposition to her American Innovation and Choice Online Act are influential economists like Arthur Laffer, Richard Rahn and Stephen Moore as well as the leaders of influential organizations like Americans for Tax Reform, the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and American Commitment. Their message is a clear one. Reject what’s embodied in the Klobuchar bill. It expands the size and scope of government and exacerbates the inflationary pressures on America’s families.
Most importantly, they say in response to charges leveled by Big Tech opponents on the right, there’s nothing in the bill that would do anything to address the issue of censorship on social media platforms. Instead, the letter reads, her bill “would worsen these issues by forcing targeted companies into a ‘mother-may-I’ relationship with the federal government” while suggesting the near-universal buy-in to what she wants proposes to do by progressive groups should be enough to arouse significant suspicion.
“Whatever so-called ‘improvements’ that the left has in mind for content moderation will certainly not work out in favor of conservatives’ free speech,” the letter goes on. “If conservatives are unhappy with the status quo, just imagine Big Tech targeting conservative speech on behalf of Biden bureaucrats.”
That’s an argument that should move those like Colorado GOP Congressman Ken Buck back to his senses. Buck is a key leader on the right among those in the U.S. House of Representatives who have endorsed or are flirting with what Klobuchar wants to do.
It’s an argument that has weight even as the reality of things flies in the face of what people are saying online. Even if some conservative leaders and groups have been temporarily or permanently “de-platformed,” an issue about which people routinely post, those who espouse conservative ideas can reach more people for less money today than they could in the days when there were only three national television workers (four with PBS) and The New York Times set the news agenda for everyone.
The organizers of the letter also clearly intend for their arguments to move those whose interest in expanding the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust powers is motivated by economic concerns. The most influential of these would be Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, a one-time chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Klobuchar’s principal Republican co-sponsor.
Their argument that the bill, while it applies to only a handful of tech sector giants now, is a proverbial camel’s nose under the tent leading to “future government regulation based on the size of a company, a government cap on innovation” and other developments eventually bringing the most productive and innovative sectors of the U.S. economy “under the heavy hand of government control” should be persuasive.
Whether they will be is not certain, even if these companies have allowed new voices to join the national conversation and added considerably to U.S. GDP. A new study by Laffer and John Barrington Burke on the economic impact of the Klobuchar bill shows these firms “provide services at steadily lower prices to consumers.” That is exactly the opposite of what monopolies do, meaning there’s little justification for going after them for violating the existing rules on antitrust and adding weight to the charge that Klobuchar’s base motivations are political.
As she no doubt intended, her bill is winning her plaudits from progressives for the way it turns antitrust law on its head. For nearly 50 years, a period that not coincidentally aligns with the long boom that saw the size of the U.S. economy grow to $20 trillion, antitrust enforcement occurred only when it could be shown consumers were harmed as the result of tangible, measurable outcomes like higher prices, reduced innovation or lower quality. Under the Klobuchar legislation, S. 2992, America would adopt a European-style attitude toward antitrust that allows governments to routinely pick winners and losers and target politically disfavored companies with frivolous lawsuits. According to the signers of the letter, that means “Bureaucrats win, consumers lose.”
That’s backed up by the Laffer/Burke study, which says that over the last decade, the high-tech sector has been the most instrumental in holding inflation down. Overall prices may have risen by 22 percent, but the cost of tech products and services has fallen by at least 16 percent.
Not all that long ago, Democrats and Republican leaders in Washington both believed a vigorous, powerful, intrusive federal government that made critical decisions about the direction of the nation’s economy was good for America. The GOP may have promised to run things more efficiently and at a lower cost than the other party but there was barely a dime’s worth of difference between them. Then the Reaganites came, bringing with them a flurry of new ideas that produced then-record job creation, price stability and economic expansion.
Some in the GOP have lost sight of that, even if they were part of it when it happened. In the post-Trump era, some leaders are more open to the idea of using federal power to regulate business to punish those they perceive to be hostile or unfair to conservatives. This is not okay. Chief Justice John Marshall famously wrote, “the power to tax is the power to destroy.” He might have said the same thing about the power to regulate – which some conservatives who ought to know better are talking about giving the federal government more power to break up the companies that make up “Big Tech” based on their size alone, their annual revenues or the perception, valid or not, that they are unfair to the right.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on Sunday claimed that “defund the police” is “not the position of the Democratic Party” after Representative Cori Bush (D., Mo.) recently endorsed the slogan.
“Well, with all the respect in the world for Cori Bush, that is not the position of the Democratic Party,” Pelosi said during an appearance on ABC’s This Week. “Community safety, to protect and defend in every way, is our oath of office. And I have sympathy — I — we’re all concerned about mistreatment of people.”
Pelosi touted the House-passed Justice in Policing Act, which would overhaul national policing standards, saying, “Make no mistake, community safety is our responsibility.”
The House speaker’s comments came in response to Bush’s statement last week that “‘defund the police’ is not the problem.”
“We dangled the carrot in front of people’s faces and said we can get it done and that Democrats deliver, when we haven’t totally delivered,” she said, adding that she tells her Democratic colleagues that if they had “fixed this” before she got there she wouldn’t have to “say these things.”
She added that she “absolutely” felt pressure from fellow Democrats to change her position, saying they have told her the phrase is not helpful for them with their own constituents.
Meanwhile, despite Pelosi’s claims, numerous Democrats have supported the “defund the police” movement in the years since George Floyd’s murder in 2020.
Members of the progressive “Squad” have all advocated for defunding or abolishing police.
Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) said in June 2020: “The ‘defund the police’ movement, is one of reimagining the current police system to build an entity that does not violate us, while relocating funds to invest in community services. Let’s be clear, the people who now oppose this, have always opposed calls for systematic change.”
In April 2021, Representative Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) called policing in the U.S. “inherently & intentionally racist,” saying she is “done with those who condone government funded murder.”
“No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed,” she said.
The same month, Representative Ayanna Pressley similarly said of policing in America: “We can’t reform this.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in June 2020: “Defunding police means defunding police. It does not mean budget tricks or funny math. It does not mean moving school police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education’s budget so the exact same police remain in schools.”
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris was also sympathetic to the movement in June 2020 when she was asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos if she supports proposals to re-appropriate police funding, including a proposal in Los Angeles at the time to divert $150 million from the police budget into other community priorities.
“I support investing in communities so that they become more healthy and therefore more safe. Right now what we’re seeing in America is many cities spend over one-third of their entire city budget on policing. But meanwhile we’ve been defunding public schools for years in America, we’ve got to reexamine what we’re doing with Americans’ taxpayer dollars, and ask the question are we getting the right return on our investment? Are we actually creating healthy and safe communities?” Harris said at the time.
One great mystery is the persistent refusal of those on the left to abandon what is clearly not true.
That is, that the means for reducing the burden of poverty is more government spending.
It all really started in the 1960s under President Lyndon B. Johnson. He declared in his State of the Union address in January 1964 an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” Despite tens of trillions of spending since then, poverty remains, and so does the conviction of progressives that it can be wiped out with government spending.
Worth recalling is that the avalanche of government spending launched in the 1960s was followed in the 1970s by runaway inflation.
We now face the latest round of this misguided idea with the expansion of the Child Tax Credit in the Build Back Better Act — now derailed thanks to Sen. Joe Manchin.
Fellow Democrats are now all over the beleaguered senator for allegedly not caring about child poverty.
Build Back Better would have increased the credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000, or $3,600 for children under 6.
In a particularly destructive move, they detached any work requirement from receiving the Child Tax Credit.
A team of University of Chicago economists estimates providing a new generous Child Tax Credit, with no work requirement, would result in 1.5 million parents leaving the workforce.
More government, less work. This is somehow the answer that Democratic Party leadership is serving up to us for how to build a better future for our nation.
Where does the passion of Democrats really lie — in improving lives of Americans or in dramatically expanding government?
Equally revealing is what does not interest progressives at all.
A little more than a decade ago, Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill at the Brookings Institution publicized what they called the “success sequence.”
The success sequence consists of three steps in behavior to avoid poverty. Complete at least a high school education, work full time, and wait until age 21 before getting married and then having children.
According to testimony of Haskins in the U.S. Senate in 2012, those following the “success sequence” have a 2% chance of being in poverty and a 75% chance of reaching the middle class.
But the success sequence doesn’t much interest progressives because the focus is about individuals taking personal responsibility for their lives in a free country. The “personal responsibility” part and the “free country” part have little standing in the Democratic Party.
Also of little interest to our progressive friends is that larding down our economy with massive amounts of government retards economic growth. Why would anyone think slow economic growth is good for the poor, let alone any American?
As Americans allow themselves to be convinced that government is the answer to their lives, they become more likely to abandon faith and religion, which provide the light and principles for individuals to take control of their own lives.
New data from the Pew Research Center shows the toll that secularization is taking on our country.
According to Pew, 63% of Americans in 2021 identify as Christians, compared with 78% in 2007. In 2021, 29% indicated they have no religion, compared with 16% in 2007. Whereas in 2007, 56% said religion was “very important” in their lives, in 2021 this was down to 41%.
Perhaps as we close out 2021, we should again recall the words of America’s first president, George Washington, in his farewell address.
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. … And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
In what amounts to state-orchestrated discrimination, California is using bizarre grounds to mandate racial and gender diversity on corporate boards.
The trial commenced this week in Crest v. Padilla, a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch to enjoin California from requiring that publicly held corporations headquartered in California include at least one director who “self-identifies” as a woman. Pursuant to California’s SB 826, by the end of 2021, up to three self-identified women will be required, depending on the size of the board.
In September 2020, two years after enacting SB 826, California went even further, when Governor Newsom signed AB 979 into law. That law requires that California-headquartered public companies also include at least one director from an “underrepresented community,” and by the end of 2022, up to three such directors, depending on the size of the board. The statute defines a “director from an underrepresented community” to be an individual who “self‑identifies as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, or who self‑identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.” Arabs, Armenians, Persians, and Turks, who often are viewed as non-European whites, are excluded from the list of favored minority groups.
A small board could appoint a Rachel Dolezal who self-identifies as an African-American woman to satisfy both requirements. Or, if the board can find biological white males who identify as Alaskan Natives or use the pronoun “she,” they (meaning all of them, not “they” in the royal or gender fluid sense) could satisfy both statutes with a board consisting only of confused white males.
California’s corporations are rejecting this social engineering. In March 2021, the California secretary of state reported that of 647 companies to which SB 826 applies, only 311 reported compliance. At least 50 companies avoided compliance with both statutes by leaving the state or going private.*
Judicial Watch has also sued to enjoin AB 979. That action is in its discovery phase. Both Judicial Watch actions were filed in state court and assert that California laws pertaining to race, ethnicity, sexual preference, and transgender status are presumptively invalid, and taxpayer-funded resources may not be used to implement such laws absent a compelling government interest. Judicial Watch alleges that the California legislature knew these bills to be unlawful when enacted and that the laws cannot pass strict scrutiny.
Though a Judicial Watch victory on SB 826 likely would presage a victory in its similar action against AB 979, three federal lawsuits have potentially greater national implications. Merland v. Weber and Alliance for Fair Board Recruitment (AFBR) v. Weber allege that both statutes violate the 14th Amendment and federal civil-rights laws. The National Center for Public Policy Research last week filed a complaint with the novel premise that the California statutes violate shareholder rights to vote for board nominees based on merit, free of government-imposed race, sex, and sexual orientation quotas.
When it passed SB 826, California’s legislature did not claim that California companies discriminate against female candidates for director. Instead, the legislature cited reports that gender diversity may improve a corporation’s financial performance. For AB 979, the legislature cited reports suggesting that racial diversity among executives might enhance earnings. The legislature did not cite any evidence that racial diversity on corporate boards improves performance, and academic studies have failed to establish that link.All Our Opinion in Your Inbox
The AFBR lawsuit alleges that the reports supporting AB 826 were not peer reviewed, or the result of sound statistical analysis. By contrast, numerous peer-reviewed studies analyzed by Jonathan Klick of the American Enterprise Institute have found no effect, or even a negative effect, from increased board diversity. And a study published last week found “a robust and significantly negative stock market reaction” to California’s gender quota mandate.
Beyond the lack of factual evidence, it is remarkable that progressives now identify profit as a “compelling interest” that overrides the heavy burden of using race, ethnicity or gender as the basis for state-orchestrated discrimination. And, despite the legislature’s rationale for the benefits of diversity, both statutes permit a board to exclude all whites and men. The hypocrisy is stunning.
California is not alone. By 2020, a dozen states had enacted or were poised to enact requirements to enhance diversity on boards, though most of the proposals stop at disclosure. Superficially, that is the approach taken by Nasdaq, which recently received SEC approval to require companies trading on Nasdaq to publicly disclose board diversity statistics and explain any failure to have at least two “diverse” directors, including one who self-identifies as female and one who self-identifies as either an “underrepresented minority” or LGTBQ+.
It has been axiomatic that the purpose of a board is to maximize shareholder value. Doing so requires experience and acumen. The Sarbanes–Oxley Act and the Dodd–Frank Act place onerous obligations on directors, particularly independent directors and members of the audit committee. The SEC has long required public companies to disclose biographical information about each director. In 2009, the SEC also required companies to explain “the specific experience, qualifications, attributes or skills that led to the conclusion that the person should serve as a director.”
Until fairly recently, a hugely disproportionate share of individuals with the necessary experience and skills to serve as directors were white men. But, by 2018, 25 percent of Fortune 100 board seats were held by women and 19.5 percent by minorities. Without government mandates, the boards of public companies have continued to become more diverse. The percentage of Fortune 500 boards with greater than 40 percent diversity has more than doubled in the last ten years.
Not only is this progress insufficient for progressives, but they reject the premise that corporations should maximize shareholder value, or that directors should be selected based on talent. Rather, their priority is “equity,” meaning that jobs are awarded to achieve parity with each group’s percentage in the population, regardless of qualifications.
It is difficult to see how the California laws comply with the Constitution, or federal law.
Racial balancing can never satisfy the compelling-interest requirement for racial and gender preferences. Chief Justice John Roberts succinctly reiterated this in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007):
Accepting racial balancing as a compelling state interest would justify the imposition of racial proportionality throughout American society, contrary to our repeated recognition that at the heart of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection lies the simple command that the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial, religious, sexual or national class.
The U.S. Supreme Court also has held that “racial classifications are antithetical to the Fourteenth Amendment, whose ‘central purpose’ was ‘to eliminate racial discrimination emanating from official sources in the States’” (Shaw v. Hunt , quoting McLaughlin v. Florida ). More than once the Court observed that “distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people” (e.g., Rice v. Cayetano  and Hirabayashi v. United States ).
Though the criteria for gender is somewhat more flexible, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained in United States v. Virginia (1996), the “inherent differences between men and women” cannot justify the “denigration of the members of either sex,” support the imposition of “artificial constraints on an individual’s opportunity,” or permit government to “rely on overbroad generalizations about the different talents, capacities, or preferences of males and females.” Last year, in Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court extended the prohibition against sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status.
The Supreme Court has applied prohibitions on state action to a private company when the state requires the unlawful act. In California, the improper acts are specifically mandated by the state, at risk of escalating fines.
The destructive fixation on race and gender has had profoundly negative effects on education, the military, government, science, and other sectors. With the quality of corporate boards at America’s largest corporations now under siege, the outcome will not be any better.
No pivot to the center for President Biden
President Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain has a, shall we say, interesting take on last week’s election. The voters who chose Republican Glenn Youngkin as governor of Virginia and who came close to unseating incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy as governor of New Jersey want Democrats to “do more,” Klain told MSNBC. “And that’s what we’re doing,” he continued, “again, starting next Monday, signing the infrastructure bill, working with the House to pass the Build Back Better plan, which will help bring down inflation, bring down the cost of living, bring down people’s expenses.”
Leave aside the highly questionable claim that the “Build Back Better” legislation under negotiation on Capitol Hill will reduce inflation. Focus instead on Klain’s idea that the message of the off-year election wasn’t for Democrats in Washington to slam the brakes, but to hit the gas pedal. Klain is paid to put the best possible spin on the Biden administration’s depressing combination of incompetence and aloofness. Yet even he must recognize that the president and the national Democratic Party have become too closely identified in the minds of voters with the progressive left and its lack of constructive solutions to inflation, crime, the border, and education. Rather than double down on his bid for a “transformational” presidency, Biden has a chance to narrow his focus, prioritize, and address the issues of most concern to the suburban independents who next year will decide the fate of the House and Senate. It’s an opportunity he’s not taking.
Allow me to introduce, for example, Saule Omarova, the Beth and Marc Goldberg professor at Cornell Law School and senior fellow at the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles. On the very day that voters across the country rejected the Democratic Party’s turn to the left, the White House officially nominated Professor Omarova to be comptroller of the currency. The comptroller is the nation’s chief banking regulator, supervising some 1,200 financial institutions of all shapes and sizes and, according to its website, “approximately 70 percent of banking activity in the country.” To hear the word comptroller is to picture a faceless bureaucrat, dutifully and routinely checking boxes to ensure the steady flow of capital in the economy. And yet President Biden wants to fill it with an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.
Omarova was born in Kazakhstan in 1966. She immigrated to America during her mid-20s. Senator Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), an early opponent of her nomination, has requested that she provide a copy of a thesis she wrote at Moscow State University, which she attended thanks to the Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship. The thesis is titled “Karl Marx’s Economic Analysis and the Theory of Revolution in Das Kapital.” Given the place (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and circumstances (Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika) in which Omarova attended college, it’s reasonable to conclude that she adopted a favorable, if maybe slightly qualified, attitude toward both Marx and revolution. Then again, we can’t really say. Omarova has kept the paper to herself.
Toomey’s interest in Omarova’s intellectual background has led a few of her supporters to accuse him of bigotry and xenophobia. The charge is ridiculous. Toomey isn’t worried about the professor’s ancestry or country of origin. He’s opposed to her ideas. What’s striking is that immigrants from the former Soviet Union and its satellites tend to be viscerally anti-communist and anti-socialist: Having lived under totalitarian regimes, they are especially attuned to infringements of personal and economic liberty and are mindful of human-rights abuses conducted in the name of “People’s Republics.”
Professor Omarova didn’t get the memo. “Say what you will about old USSR,” she tweeted on March 31, 2019, “there was no gender pay gap there. Market doesn’t always ‘know best.'” Well, one can say a lot about “old USSR”—how it was a force for oppression and evil, for starters. To single out the fact that “there was no gender pay gap”—an assertion Omarova never backed up, probably because the pay gap is zero in the gulag—is to recall the old fellow-traveler line that Communist tyranny isn’t so bad because Cubans have “health care.”
When another Twitter user suggested Omarova might be out of her depth, she replied:
I never claimed women and men were treated absolutely equally in every facet of Soviet life. But people’s salaries were set (by the state) in a gender-blind manner. And all women got very generous maternity benefits. Both things are still a pipe dream in our society!
This is Joe Biden’s nominee for comptroller?
Toomey is not the only senator whose eyebrow is raised. Jon Tester of Montana, a Democrat, is also concerned. It’s not hard to see why. There is a connection between Omarova’s rosy view of the Soviet economy and her far-out plans for the United States.
Consider her 2020 paper, “The People’s Ledger: How to Democratize Money and Finance the Economy.” It offers, she says, “a blueprint for a comprehensive restructuring of the central bank balance sheet as the basis for redesigning the core architecture of modern finance.” She would like to subject the Federal Reserve, which these days has enough trouble keeping inflation in check, to a “series of structural reforms that would radically redefine the role of a central bank as the ultimate public platform for generating, modulating, and allocating financial resources in a democratic economy—the People’s Ledger.”
Like utopian socialists of old, Omarova “envisions the complete migration of demand deposit accounts to the Fed’s balance sheet.” She proposes a “comprehensive qualitative restructuring of the Fed’s investment portfolio, which would maximize its capacity to channel credit to productive uses in the nation’s economy.” Guess who gets to decide which uses are productive.
The result, Omarova concludes, would be a financial system that is “less complex” than it is today. Which I suppose is true, since a government monopoly is “less complex” than market competition. It also tends to be less efficient, less productive, less innovative, and less accountable to consumer demand. But hey—maternity benefits!
Anyone not immersed in and comfortable with the recondite buzzwords of the legal academy and radical left might read “The People’s Ledger” in mounting confusion and alarm as Omarova proclaims the virtues of wage and price controls, politicized credit, and expert control and planning of the commanding heights. It doesn’t take long for the paper to get into “the seas will be made of lemonade” territory, portraying for an economy of 330 million people integrated in a global economy of 8 billion a grandiose and completely unworkable “system” that is so rationalist and reductive it only could exist in the mind of an intellectual.
Since January, America has slowly awakened to the reality that it elected Joe Biden president only to be governed by Elizabeth Warren. As voters watched academic fashions spread destruction in classrooms, on the border, and in cities, they turned against the president and Democrats in general. Isn’t it in President Biden’s political interest—much less the country’s—to pull Saule Omarova’s nomination and recommend someone else, someone boring, for the job? And if the White House persists in its support for the good professor, can’t we agree that its tone-deafness and general wackiness has put it on a direct course for an electoral shellacking? In America, thank God, Omarova doesn’t rule. The people do.
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.
Presidents who misremember history are doomed to repeat it
President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress underscored this administration’s left turn. The speech was a laundry list of progressive priorities in domestic, foreign, and social policy with a price tag, when you add in the American Rescue Plan, of some $6 trillion. Biden’s delivery, heavy with improvisation, only slightly enlivened a prosaic and unoriginal text. Biden repeated lines from both Bill “the power of our example” Clinton and Barack “the arc of the moral universe” Obama. But it wasn’t just the words themselves that made me think of Biden’s most recent Democratic predecessors. The scope of his plans, increasing government’s role in just about every aspect of American life, also brought to mind the Democrats who tried to govern as liberals after campaigning as moderates.
I’m old enough to recall the last president who vanquished Reaganism. Obama spoke of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” and came to Washington in 2009 with the aim of changing the trajectory of the country just as Ronald Reagan had done three decades earlier. Shortly before his one hundredth day in office, he delivered a speech at Georgetown University where he promised to lay a “new foundation” for the country. His friends in the media hailed him as the second coming of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “Barack Obama is bringing back the era of big government,” historian Matthew Dallek and journalist Samuel Loewenberg announced in the New York Daily News.
We know how that turned out. The GOP captured the House in 2010. By the time Obama left office, Republicans had full control of Washington and were dominant in the states. Reaganism survived. And now, 12 years later, the cycle is repeating. This time it’s President Biden who is likened to FDR. It’s Biden who is said to have interred the idea of limited government. It’s Biden who is marking his first 100 days in office with plans to spend trillions on infrastructure, green energy, health care, and elder and child care. The political setbacks of the Obama years didn’t temper Biden’s ambitions. They intensified his desire to leverage narrow congressional majorities into sweeping expansions of the welfare state.
Why does Biden think he can avoid Obama’s fate? Like a good lawyer, he has a theory of the case. It goes like this: Neither Bill Clinton nor Barack Obama spent enough money to ensure a strong economic recovery. They didn’t emphasize jobs above all else. Their caution was responsible for Democratic losses in the midterm elections. And all it takes is GOP control of one chamber of Congress to spoil a liberal revival. By opening the floodgates of federal spending, Biden hopes to deepen and extend the post-coronavirus economic boom. Growth and full employment will prevent a Republican takeover. And a second Progressive Era will begin.
The problem with this theory is its selective misreading of history. It wasn’t just the economy that sank the Democrats in 1994 and 2010. It was independent voters who turned against presidents who campaigned as moderates but governed as liberals. Nor did rising unemployment stop Republicans from picking up seats in 2002. And an economic boom didn’t save the House GOP in 2018. In every case, assessments of the president—among independent voters in particular—mattered more than dollars and cents. By committing himself to the idea that massive spending will safeguard the Democratic Congress, Biden may be inadvertently guaranteeing the partisan overreach that has doomed past majorities.
Biden doesn’t give enough credit to the record of his Democratic predecessors. The unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in January 1993 when Bill Clinton was inaugurated. By November 1994, it had fallen to 5.6 percent. Meanwhile, the economy grew by 4 percent in the third quarter of 1994. Nevertheless, the Republicans won control of the House for the first time in 40 years and the Senate for the first time in 8 years. Why? Because Republicans won independents 56 percent to 44 percent. Voters who had backed Ross Perot in 1992 swung to the GOP. Voters’ top priority in the exit poll wasn’t jobs. It was crime. And the failure of Clinton’s unpopular health plan didn’t help.
The 2010 midterm had similar results. The economy, while nothing to brag about, was nonetheless improving. Unemployment had been falling since October 2009. Growth, though anemic, had also returned. Republicans gained 63 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate because independents rejected President Obama’s governance. They backed Republicans 56 percent to 37 percent—an 8-point swing against a president they had supported in 2008. Why? Part of the reason was the economy. But the Affordable Care Act was also significant. Health care was voters’ second priority in the exit poll. A 48 percent plurality called for Obamacare’s repeal.
Biden’s theory also omits the contrary examples of recent Republican presidents. In November 2002 the unemployment rate was higher, and growth lower, than in November 2000. But the GOP had a good year anyway thanks to President Bush’s high post-9/11 approval ratings and a tough but effective campaign on national security.
The 2018 midterm is further proof that campaign results are not a direct function of economic performance. Democrats won control of the House despite full employment and sustained growth. Independents, who had narrowly backed President Trump in 2016, turned against him and voted for Democratic candidates by a 12-point margin. No mystery why: A 38-percent plurality of voters said they were voting to oppose Trump, whose strong disapproval rating was at an incredible 46 percent in the exit poll. Health care ranked as the top issue, with voters recoiling at the prospect of an Obamacare replacement that failed to cover preexisting conditions.
Not only do the data show that the economy is less important to the midterms than many assume, they are also a reminder that the first hundred days do not define a presidency. The fate of a president and his party depends more on his ability to maintain popularity and on his performance during unanticipated crises. While Biden’s approval ratings continue to be positive and his disapproval low, there are some warning signs: His approval among independents ranges between the mid- to high-50s, and a majority of voters disapproves of his handling of migration along the southern border. Focused on his grand plans for the economy, Biden might dismiss voter concerns over immigration, crime, and inflation until it is too late.
Sure, Biden might avoid making Barack Obama’s mistakes. But he has plenty of time to make mistakes of his own.
In anticipation of President Joe Biden’s first-ever speech to Joint Session of Congress, the Republican National Committee released a list of what it referred to as “failure after failure” to mark his first 100 days in office.
“Here is just a shortlist,” the RNC said, of what it had identified as Biden’s “many broken promises, disastrous policies, and dangerous proposals: on a variety of issues including:
Joe Biden’s first 100 days have been marked by failure after failure.
Here is just a SHORT list of his many broken promises, disastrous policies, and dangerous proposals:
Biden’s Open Borders Agenda Created A Border Crisis
1. Biden’s open borders agenda has created a border crisis.
2. Biden tried to suspend deportations, weakening immigration enforcement.
3. He has obstructed border wall construction, including through his budget request, which would eliminate all funding for the border wall. Experts say border walls work, and Biden’s construction obstruction is literally throwing the border wide open.
4. Border state Democrats warned Biden’s White House about a border crisis fueled by his polices but the administration ignored their warnings.
Biden’s Border Crisis Boomed
5. Now, experts estimate 1,000 illegal immigrants are escaping into the U.S. each day during Biden’s border crisis.
6. There were 172,331 border apprehensions in March, 5 times the number in March last year.
7. Nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children were taken into custody in March, the highest monthly total ever recorded.
8. Customs and Border Protection forecasts 184,000 migrant children will cross the border by the end of FY 2021, which would be the highest number ever.
9. There has been a 233% increase in fentanyl seizures at the southern border from this time last year.
10. Thanks to Biden’s border wall obstruction, smugglers are exploiting gaps in the wall that were previously set to be built.
11. Officials warn of a “boom time for gangs,” traffickers, and smugglers as they take advantage of Biden’s border crisis.
Biden’s Crisis Of Leadership On The Border
13. When Biden finally admitted there is a “crisis that ended up on the border,” the White House then insisted that is not their official position in a completely insane walk-back, and that “children coming to our border… is not a crisis.”
14. Biden still does not have any plans to visit the border.
15. Kamala Harris laughed when she was asked if she would visit the border, and still has not visited the border even after being named Biden’s crisis manager.
Border Officials Struggle To Cope With Biden’s Disastrous Agenda
16. The Biden administration is releasing some illegal immigrants caught crossing the border without a court notice, and sometimes without any paperwork at all.
17. Border facilities are “stretched beyond thin” because of the crisis.
18. The Donna, Texas facility, one of the few facilities exempted from Biden’s media blackout, is at more than 16 times its capacity. Even Dr. Fauci admitted that packed crowds of migrant children is a “major concern.”
19. To deal with the surge, the Pentagon was forced to approve multiple military bases to house unaccompanied migrant children.
Biden Is Doubling Down On His Border Failures
20. Biden is restricting media access at the border to hide the true extent of the crisis and dodge accountability. When asked why his administration is denying press access, Biden conceded he is purposefully waiting to provide transparency at border facilities.
21. Instead of reversing course, Biden has doubled down on his failing open borders policies.
22. Biden has even removed civil penalties for illegal immigrants for a “failure-to-depart.”
Biden’s Anti-Energy Agenda Is Destroying Jobs
24. On day one, Biden abandoned Keystone XL pipeline workers, forcing thousands into unemployment with the stroke of a pen. American workers and families effected by his job-killing decision are still struggling to get by.
25. We are still waiting for Biden to announce a plan for these workers. Psaki said she had “nothing more” when asked about how Biden plans to replace oil and gas jobs killed by his energy policies.
26. When asked about the workers forced out of work by Biden’s policies, administration officials have dismissed concerns, saying they need “different [jobs],” “different education,” and that there are “jobs that might be sacrificed.”
27. While Biden implements policies to kill American jobs, he is kowtowing to China and Russia so they cooperate with his environmental agenda.
28. Biden is blocking new oil and gas drilling on federal lands, which if kept in place threatens millions of jobs.
29. Biden nominated an Interior Secretary that believes oil and gas extraction on public lands should be permanently banned.
Biden Is Proposing Massive Job-Destroying Tax Hikes
31. Biden’s proposed tax hike would raise the combined tax rate on U.S. businesses to the highest of any country in the G7 or OECD.
32. Biden’s first tax proposals are already breaking his campaign pledge, “If you make less than $400,000, you won’t see one single penny in additional federal tax.”
33. According to reports, Biden is planning to propose even greater tax hikes, raising taxes on capital gains to over 43%.
34. According to administration officials, he is showing an increased openness to a carbon tax.
Biden’s Proposal Is Not An Infrastructure Package
35. Only 7% of the spending of Biden’s proposed “infrastructure” package is for roads, bridges, highways, airports, waterways, and ports.
36. His administration has lied about the job creation that’s possible under his infrastructure plan. Even CNN and The Washington Post called Biden out on misleading the American people on job predictions.
37. In terms of Biden’s broader Green New Deal agenda, The Washington Post and Associated Press have noted that many of Biden’s proposals will destroy more jobs than they create, and create jobs that pay less than the jobs they destroy.
39. The Biden administration is promoting a business that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is actively invested in to the tune of millions of dollars. Granholm is set to profit off of the hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money Biden wants to spend as part of his infrastructure package.
On Schools, Biden Has Put Special Interests First
40. Biden repeatedly campaigned with American Federation of Teachers boss Randi Weingarten, who is leading the anti-science charge to keep America’s schools closed. Now that Biden is president, he has refused to call out the group.
41. Biden has caved to Democrat special interest groups at the expense of millions of children and families across America, even though the science shows that keeping schools closed has devastating effects on the mental health, social and economic situation, and academic achievement of children.
42. His stimulus bill put special interests before schools. The $1.9 trillion wish list only spends $6 billion, 0.3% of the bill, on K-12 schools this fiscal year with NO REQUIREMENT that they reopen.
44. Biden has conceded he has no plan to open high schools.
Biden Is Refusing To Speak Out Against The Growing Anti-Police Rhetoric In The Democrat Party.
45. The Biden administration has refused to condemn anti-police comments from Democrat members of Congress.
46. Press Secretary Jen Psaki refused to condemn Maxine Waters’ inflammatory comments around the Chauvin trial that “we’ve got to get more confrontational.”
47. When Nancy Pelosi repeatedly defended Waters’ call for confrontation, Biden kept silent.
48. When every House Democrat voted to endorse Waters’ call for protestors “to get more confrontational,” Biden refused to speak out.
Biden’s Flip On Court Packing
49. Even though Biden criticized court packing for decades (check out these comments from 1983, 2005, and 2019), he has refused to speak out against House and Senate Democrats abandoning decades of bipartisan agreement by proposing court packing legislation.
50. He is even going a step further and actually establishing a court-packing commission.
Biden Says Goodbye To Bipartisanship & Hello To Extremism
51. Despite his campaign promises Biden is rejecting bipartisanship in favor of a hyper-partisan process to pass trillions in spending without Republican support.
53. He has resorted to governing through executive order, issuing far-left decrees at breathtaking speed.
55. Biden declared that “no amendment to the Constitution is absolute” when discussing the 2nd amendment.
57. Despite promising unity and compromise on the campaign trail, the only unity Biden has shown is with Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. He has spoken to Xi and Putin more times than Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy.
Biden’s Georgia Boycott
60. Aided and abetted by misinformation peddlers like Stacey Abrams, Biden encouraged a boycott of Georgia.
61. Thanks to Biden’s lies about a law that actually expands voting opportunities, Georgia’s Cobb County is set to lose more than $100 million in tourism revenue.
62. What’s worse, Biden supported the boycott KNOWING it would hurt Georgia’s businesses and workers the most.
63. After Democrat Raphael Warnock admitted to spreading misinformation about the Georgia law, Biden is rallying with the senator in Atlanta tomorrow. Biden should apologize to Georgians instead.
Biden Backs The Democrats’ H.R. 1 Power Grab
65. By supporting H.R. 1, Biden is supporting a bill that would force states to allow paid party operatives to harvest ballots.
66. H.R. 1 would also threaten freedom of speech by turning the FEC into a partisan organization.
Biden Embraces Far-Left Spending Proposals & A Minimum Wage
67. Biden has dedicated trillions in wasteful spending for progressive pet projects.
69. Biden is backing a $15 federal minimum wage mandate, which the CBO says could eliminate up to 3.7 million jobs.
70. He is pushing defense cuts in his budget.
Biden Is Caving To America’s Enemies
71. Biden has refused to criticize Xi Jinping, even saying he didn’t “mean it as a criticism” when he called Xi undemocratic.
72. When discussing China’s human rights abuses, Biden downplayed those concerns, saying “culturally there are different norms.”
73. Biden is failing to confront China, with Psaki even saying Biden is “not in a rush” to counter China.
74. And in yet another broken campaign promise, Biden has not confronted China over COVID-19’s origins
75. In a patten of appeasing America’s enemies, Biden is caving to Iran.
Biden Is Now A Pro-Abortion Extremist
76. Biden rescinded the Mexico City policy, forcing American taxpayers to fund abortions overseas.
77. Biden’s HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has a history of attacking religious freedom, and during his hearing, he refused to rule out using taxpayer funds to pay for abortions and defended his past votes supporting the horrific practice of partial birth abortion.
Obamacare & Biden’s Government Takeover Of Health Care
78. Biden has repeated Barack Obama’s “lie of the year” on health care, and now as president he is bringing those lies back to Washington by working to reinstitute Obama’s terrible health care polices.
80. In his time as president, he has worked to expand Obamacare as he proposes a further government takeover of healthcare. A Navigant study found that Biden’s health plan could threaten more than 1,000 rural hospitals across 46 states.
On Operation Warp Speed, He’s The Lying, Plagiarist In Chief
82. Thanks to the previous administration’s development and distribution plan under Operation Warp Speed, which Biden has falsely tried to claim credit for, millions of Americans have been vaccinated.
84. In September President Trump pledged: “Millions of doses will be available every month, and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April.” It tuns out, he was right, and we have Operation Warp Speed to thank.
85. Biden has failed to apologize for his statements spreading doubt about the vaccine which he made on the campaign trail last year.
Biden’s COVID $1.9 Trillion Bill Was A Far-Left Boondoggle
86. Biden’s $1.9 trillion boondoggle was not a “relief” bill.
87. Through Biden’s boondoggle, Democrats insisted on sending nearly $2 billion dollars in stimulus checks to prisoners, including violent felons like the Boston Marathon Bomber. Democrats blocked an amendment to restrict the stimulus payments when ramming through their partisan legislation.
88. In fact, hundreds of billions of the Democrats’ “relief” will not be spent for up to a decade from now.
Republican Coronavirus Policies Worked, Now Biden Wants To Rewrite History
89. Biden is trying to rewrite history on the coronavirus. After criticizing the Paycheck Protection Program and repeatedly visiting businesses that received PPP loans under President Trump, Biden baselessly claimed credit for their success.
90. After gaslighting the American people during the campaign, he proceeded to plagiarize the Republican’s coronavirus response at every turn, all while lying about the Trump administration’s robust COVID response.
Biden Gives The Worst Governors In The Nation A Pass
92. Biden has failed to take responsibility for being one of Andrew Cuomo’s biggest cheerleaders. Biden even declared: “Your governor in New York’s done one hell of a job. I think he’s the gold standard.” What was Biden declaring the “gold standard?” Anti-science nursing home orders that led to thousands of deaths, rewriting reports to hide the higher death toll, and a cover-up in the face of a federal investigation so the data would not be “used against” the Cuomo administration.
93. During the campaign, Biden repeatedly applauded Whitmer’s terrible approach to the coronavirus, and now as we keep learning more about how awful her response truly was, he has refused to backtrack his endorsement of Whitmer. The policies Biden endorsed? Renewing devastating nursing home orders three times, refusing to release the data on nursing home deaths, and buying the silence of her former health director with a $150,000 taxpayer-funded confidentiality agreement.
94. Biden won’t insist hypocritical governors like Gavin Newsom open their economies. America can only recover economically if we allow our businesses to open, but instead of standing up to governors whose lockdowns are hurting Americans, Biden continues to take a backseat.
An Opaque Administration Where One Has To Wonder Who Is Setting Policy
95. The Biden administration is one of the least transparent in history, continually ignoring questions from the press.
96. Joe Biden holds the modern record for the number of days it took a president to hold his first press conference.
97. Biden has not kept his promise on ethics agreements, facing mounting pressure to disclose the ethics agreements of his appointees.
98. After establishing a cap on refugees not in line with the desires of his far-left base, Biden then backtracked and claimed that he didn’t say that the cap was “justified.”
99. Remember when Biden was silent as his press secretary claimed for days that his reopening goal was only 50% of the schools for one day a week? Was he just not paying attention all that time?
Joe Biden’s presidency has been one stumble after another. It has only been 100 days, and the American people are already paying a steep price for his failures
Ever since Ronald Reagan, presidents speaking to joint sessions of Congress have used the presence of guests sitting with the first lady to personalize the impact of the policy proposals being made.
Joe Biden is no exception. In his speech, Wednesday, given near the end of his administration’s first 100 days in place of a State of the Union address, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will act as hostess to a handful of people who, the White House said “personify some of the issues or policies that will be addressed” in the president’s remarks.
Due to safety concerns regarding COVID-19, this year’s guests will attend the speech virtually while watching remotely, the administration said, following a virtual reception held that afternoon by Dr. Biden and live-streamed on the White House website.
Those attending include, as described by the White House in a news release:
–Javier Quiroz Castro, “Dreamer, DACA Recipient & Nurse”
According to a biographical sketch provided by the White House, Quiroz’s parents brought him to the United States from Mexico when he was three years old. He grew up in Nashville, attending Lipscomb University from which he graduated in May 2013 with a Bachelor’s in Science of Nursing degree. Quiroz received the Spirit of Nursing Award, given yearly to a single nursing student who best delivered quality care. In 2012, using the protection of the Barack Obama-initiated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, he became a registered nurse and has been on the frontlines in the fight against COVID.
–Maria-Isabel Ballivian, “Executive Director, Annandale Christian Community For Action Child Development Center
Ballivian’s biographical summary describes her as “an innovative educator, senior administrator, trainer, and advocate” who has been working to improve young children’s quality of care and education. The program she runs is an NAEYC-accredited program serving more than 200 at-risk children in Fairfax County, Virginia.
–Tatiana Washington, “Gun Violence Prevention Advocate and Organizer”
According to the White House, Washington became involved with gun violence prevention work after her aunt was killed in a murder-suicide in March 2017. She is a Policy Associate at March for Our Lives and Executive Director of 50 Miles More, a youth-led organization focused on gun violence prevention. She is also involved in the Wisconsin Black Lives Matter Movement.
–Stella Keating (she/her), “First Transgender Teen to Testify Before U.S. Senate”
Keating’s biographical outline explains she’s been politically active since age nine when she testified before her school board advocating for more innovative programs in her elementary school. At age 16, the Tacoma, Washington high school sophomore became the first transgender teenager to testify before the U.S. Senate during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the Equality Act in March 2021.
–Theron Rutyna, “IT Director for the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa”
The White House described Rutyna as a leader in the effort to get broadband to tribal lands in Wisconsin. A member of Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ Broadband Task Force, he has been working with the state’s tribal communities to secure funding to bring broadband access to the mostly rural communities they occupy.
The issues the president has chosen to highlight with these guests, especially, the conversion of illegal immigrants to legal ones, transgenderism, and stricter gun control measures are hardly the moderate, bread and butter kinds of issues one might expect a self-proclaimed moderate to address his first time out of the gate. Rather than unite the country, as he tried to do in his inaugural, Biden is attempting, it seems to make a moral crusade out of some of the most divisive issues the country faces. Instead of bringing the country together, he’s splitting it further apart – which may explain why his approval rating at this point is the lowest for any elected president at the same time in their administration except for his immediate predecessors.
They didn’t call Ronald Reagan “The Great Communicator” just because he knew how to deliver a speech. The fact is, he—more than any president in recent memory—knew how to bring a complex idea to life in ways the public wouldn’t just understand but would embrace.
Sometimes this required some simplifications the media—which continually tried to prove Reagan a dunce—used to distort what he was saying. That’s not to say he didn’t get a few things wrong; every president does. On the big things, however, like the importance of economic growth and how to get it, he was very, very right.
Growth matters. The Republicans who followed Reagan into the White House either didn’t get it or couldn’t explain it. That left the door open for the media and progressives to slander and then dismiss pro-growth measures as deficit-enhancing tax cuts for the wealthy that produced greater income inequality.
The Republicans who tried but failed to follow Reagan into the White House—Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney—didn’t make it in part because they didn’t understand the need to explain how growth happens. They never communicated how the right kinds of tax cuts and deregulatory measures would cause economic expansion, leading to rising wages, more jobs and new businesses, making everyone better off while eventually bringing into the U.S. treasury as much revenue or more as the liberals claimed the tax cuts “cost.”
Reagan honed his ability to explain the politics and economics of growth to working Americans over years. As a spokesman for General Electric, he went around the country to the company’s various plants and facilities to talk to employees about the virtues of the free market system. More recent Republicans’ comparative inarticulateness may in part explain why the country appears to be embracing the soft socialism Joe Biden and his congressional colleagues are offering.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen just released a national survey of 1,200 registered voters that found 35 percent of them saying economic fairness was more important than economic growth. The fact that just over a third of the country thinks equality of outcomes deserves more focus than equality of opportunity—a key component of any pro-growth policy—should alarm Republican leaders and growth hawks.
Even when the numbers are broken down by party, the results are disheartening. According to Rasmussen, a third of Republicans now believe fairness is more important than growth. In the Reagan years and throughout the Gingrich era, which saw the first balanced budget in decades alongside a period of continued growth, a number that high would have been inconceivable.
It’s not that the GOP doesn’t believe in fairness. The free market is the fairest system ever conceived for the exchange of goods and services between willing sellers and willing buyers. It’s that they reject—or ought to, anyway—the idea that no matter where anyone starts, we all need to end up in the same place.
It’s really that kind of outcome that’s the most unfair. It presumes that no matter how creative a person is, how hard they work, how good their innovation might be or even how lucky they are, no one should do any better than their neighbor. Identical per capita income for every family—that’s the ticket.
Except it’s not. The progressive politicians’ response to the COVID crisis—shutting down the marketplace state by state while the federal government borrows trillions, inflating the debt while doing nothing to stimulate the economy—leads to disaster. It won’t take too much more of this before the United States starts to resemble Greece, and not in a good way. We’ll be comparatively lucky if it stops there, without the U.S. sliding all the way down into the same space as Venezuela.
There is a bright spot in Rasmussen’s data. “Those respondents who believe focusing on economic growth is the most important rated cutting spending and taxes as the best prescriptions” for doing so, as did those “who would rather focus on economic fairness.” Both sides agree on what needs to be done and, at least by implication, reject the Biden White House’s tax-and-spend plans. This means the growth wing of the GOP has a chance to carry the day—if it’s smart and can find leaders who can explain what is going on in ways the public can understand, even through the filter of the elite media and the opposition’s critique.
Now that she’s a member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren plans to give the progressive agenda a boost by introducing a bill that would create the nation’s first-ever tax on total assets.
This so-called “wealth tax” would consider anything and everything owned by a taxpayer in computing the taxes owed. More than double taxation – which is taxing the same income twice as happened with the Death Tax – the taxes the former Democratic presidential candidate wants to put on the books would essentially tax savings, investments, and real property over and over and over again.
According to some early static estimates, Warren’s proposal could generate as much as $2.75 trillion per year – but that does not take into account any change in behavior that might occur on the part of the taxpayers on whom it would be assessed.
A study recently released by the non-partisan American Action Forum found a wealth tax would lead to a decrease in innovation and investment, drive down wages and cause unemployment and produce a $1.1 trillion shrinking in U.S. gross domestic product over the first ten years of its existence. In subsequent decades, GDP would be smaller by about $283 billion, a 1 percent annual decrease from current projections.
The Warren plan would impose this new tax, published reports indicate, on taxpayers with assets above $50 million at a top rate of 6 percent per year while giving the U.S. Internal Revenue Service far greater power than it currently enjoys. With a wealth tax on the books, the IRS would have to hire thousands of new agents and auditors to keep track of all the assets held by those of whom the tax falls, to account for them, and assign them proper valuation at tax time.
Also included in the draft of Warren’s plan circulating through the nation’s capital is a 40 percent “exit tax” to be imposed on anyone who seeks to leave the United States permanently and is reminiscent of the so-called “tax” forced upon Jewish individuals and families seeking to emigrate from Nazi Germany in the years prior to the onset of World War II.
There are some, even in Warren’s own party, who doubt the plan is legitimate.
“We are tax law professors who identify as liberal Democrats, donate to Democratic candidates, publicly opposed the Trump tax cuts, and strongly support higher taxes on the affluent,” Daniel Hemel and Rebecca Kysar recently wrote in the New York Times. “We are worried, though, that leading figures in our party are coalescing around an idea whose constitutionality is doubtful at best.”
Warren’s plan is one of several under consideration on Capitol Hill that, on paper, raise tremendous amounts of money for the U.S. government. Unlike tax changes that achieve such ends by stimulating economic growth, however, her plan would simply redistribute income already earned, long a progressive objective.
To date, there has been no comment from the Biden Administration on the Warren wealth tax or any of the similar proposals under consideration. For his part, President Joe Biden remains committed to his promised repeal of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in its entirety. If he’s successful, that would violate his repeated campaign pledge in which he vowed no American family making less than $400,000 per year would see their taxes go up “by one thin dime.”
Progressive efforts to staff the nascent administration backfire
On Nov. 2, before the first votes in the presidential election had even been tallied, the foreign policy “experts” from the Blame America wing of the Democratic Party laid out their demands. Foreign Policy described their “wish list,” which included above all else their pick of jobs in the expected Biden administration.
They’d kept their mouths shut for six months and now they wanted their reward. Or, as Foreign Policy put it, they were preparing to “take off the gloves, setting the stage for a public brawl for the party’s soul over policy and political appointments to the most senior positions.”
But Biden’s victory was less sweeping than expected, and as early as Nov. 6, Foreign Policy was reporting that progressives were panicking that the election results would “ease pressure on Biden to offer progressives key positions in the new administration.”
Still, the nomenklatura have pressed on, presenting the Biden transition team with a list of 100 names they must consider for senior jobs in the new administration.
The list’s existence was first reported by Politico, but the Washington Free Beacon obtained the document and published it in full. It includes a rogue’s gallery of fringe figures—anti-Semites, operatives with deep ties to unsavory regimes, and the merely unserious and unqualified.
And it quickly became clear that the organizers did not want the list to see the light of day. The Free Beacon’s publication of the dossier elicited recriminations and finger pointing. List organizers accused the mainstream reporters with whom they’d shared the list—presumably, an accurate one—of leaking the document to their enemies (us). At the same time, they told us we’d obtained an inaccurate copy, representative only of “research materials.” False, unless they were bamboozling us all.
The contretemps is revealing of how quickly the Democratic Party’s progressive wing went from demanding to begging, and of the disorganization and unseriousness of its efforts. Turns out, one mainstream reporter said, that list organizers hadn’t even consulted with several of those named on the list before including their names and résumés without their permission.
Vanquished in the primaries and now at risk of exclusion from the new administration, they are in disarray. A compelling story, if anybody cared to cover it.
If news writers had any integrity, the headlines following the 2020 election would have read like the one on this column. Instead, the media gods who helped put Joe Biden over the top expound on why Donald Trump‘s protests are without merit and just another example of Republican sore-loserism.
The former vice president’s apparent margin of victory is not all that large. At the time this was written it was about 6 million votes out of about 150 million cast. That works out to about 4 percent and could, depending on recounts, slip lower.
In the states that appear to be making the difference—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin—Biden’s lead is extremely narrow, much as Trump’s was when he defeated former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton to win the White House in the first place. It’s hard to argue the man most of the media anointed the new American chief executive before all the votes were cast has a mandate to do much of anything.
Nonetheless, if he eventually becomes president, the calls for him to act swiftly and decisively will be frequent, loud, and—from his point of view—problematic. In the Thursday, November 19 edition of The Wall Street Journal author and political cartoonist Ted Rall argues forcefully that, without the support of progressives who held their nose and voted for him anyway, Biden wouldn’t be going back to Washington and instead would be headed back to Delaware.
Progressives who would have preferred Vermont senator Bernie Sanders may have pushed Biden past Trump in the popular vote and in the states that will determine the outcome in the electoral college, but on almost every other measure they were defeated. By a small majority, the nation indicated it may not want four more years of Trump, but it’s clearly repudiated the progressive agenda.
The GOP may have lost seats in the U.S. Senate but it’s most likely maintained control. The outcome hangs on two runoffs in Georgia—both of which the Republicans are favored to win—unless an audit of the votes pushes incumbent GOP senator David Perdue back up over 50 percent of the vote, where he was for most of election night. Right now, he’s at 49.71 percent, and the 0.3 percent he needs to avoid a runoff might be overcome just by the uncounted votes being discovered across the state.
The Republicans were also projected to lose seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Instead, they won all the top targeted races, lost no incumbents seeking reelection, and gained enough seats not only to get above 200—a crucial barrier in the battle for the majority—but to put Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s ability to control events on the floor in doubt. Enough moderate Democrats are saying privately (and thanks to some propitious leaks, publicly) that they’re not willing to walk the plank for her and the “The Squad” is in for a rough going.
Looking around the country, the Republicans picked up one governorship in 2020 (Montana) and the New Hampshire state legislature. This gives the GOP the prized “trifecta” in each state which, when added to the dozens they already had, means that while Washington is gridlocked the GOP can use states to pass the reforms they’ll take national the next time they have the White House.
At the same time the Democrats, who enlisted the substantial fundraising support of former president Barack Obama and former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder in an attempt to flip legislative chambers to Democratic control, failed everywhere they tried. They may have spent tens of millions or more in pursuit of this goal with nothing to show for it. Contrary to late predictions, the GOP held on to state legislatures in Texas and Arizona comfortably when the battle for control was expected to be a close-run thing. And they held the legislatures in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and enough other key states that predictions are already being made that, based solely on the upcoming reapportionment of U.S. House seats among the states, the Republicans are headed to a decade-long majority. No wonder Mrs. Pelosi is saying this is her last term as speaker.
Even at the lawmaking level, progressivism was crushed. Voters in California, who went for Biden over Trump by about two to one, rejected an effort to repeal the 1996 Proposition 209 that prohibits the state from considering race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, education and contracting. At the same, in progressive Colorado, voters said “Yes” to a cut in the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent. In Illinois, voters rejected a measure to establish a graduated income tax and in Montana voters limited the ability of local governments to interfere with issuing of “concealed carry” firearms permits.
If there’s one takeaway from the 2020 election, it’s that, despite the aggressive support it received from donors, elected officials, candidates for office and the mainstream media, progressivism is on the decline. Heck, Joe “I am the Democratic Party” Biden even rejected it while debating Donald Trump. The course is set and if the new president—whoever it is—is smart enough to follow it then the sailing should be smooth. If not, it’s stormy weather ahead.
Progressive Democrats have dominated San Francisco’s city government for the last 20 years, a time during which homelessness, drug abuse, the cost of living, and the city budget have skyrocketed. San Francisco is becoming an increasingly obvious problem for the national Democratic party, with vice president-elect Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Dianne Feinstein all from the Bay Area.
As a succession of city governments have tacitly tolerated drug abuse and the crimes that go with that, a de facto thriving drug-based economy tragically plays out in the open on city streets every day. The city spends a small fortune each year collecting millions of used hypodermic needles from city streets and pays city workers about $185,000 annually to clean up feces from the sidewalks.
This is why $8 million in campaign money was poured into local elections earlier this month to convince San Francisco voters to replace progressive Democrats with more moderate Democrats on the city’s Board of Supervisors, and to vote down a number of local tax initiatives that would make San Francisco even more expensive and less desirable as a business location than it presently is.
The party strongly backed more moderate candidates with the view that San Francisco could make progress if a moderate majority board was elected who would in turn work productively with San Francisco mayor London Breed, who has a much better understanding of the city’s problems than the current board.
The party’s investment in bringing about more responsible governance and policies didn’t work. It wasn’t even close. The most progressive Board of Supervisors candidates won, which means that the board’s majority remains highly progressive, and thus likely will continue to block many housing proposals. Why? Because most developments would gentrify neighborhoods by replacing very old, low-density housing with new, high-density housing. And for progressives, gentrification is not an option.
Blocking new development means constraining supply, which in turn means San Francisco housing costs remain ridiculously high. How high? How about $1.1 million for about 1,000 square feet in the city’s Mission District, San Francisco’s highest crime neighborhood? For comparison, a similarly sized home in in a low-crime Atlanta neighborhood is yours for $174,900. In rapidly growing Denver, a similar home costs about $250,000.
The blocked housing developments in San Francisco would be so valuable that those residents who might be displaced could be substantially compensated. The devil is always in the details, but the status quo of keeping the economic pie much smaller than it could be is never the solution.
For decades, San Francisco’s politicians have blocked new housing to prevent highly aid tech and finance workers from moving in and changing old-school neighborhoods. Yes, the 1950s-era Italian American diner serving spaghetti with red sauce and sausage, as delicious as it is, would be gone, and would be replaced by a higher-priced restaurant with a menu tailored to serve new residents. But times and people change, and so will neighborhoods.
It is grossly expensive to prevent new development, because new development helps everyone by expanding the city’s housing stock. Build it, no matter what it is, and supply expands. As more housing opportunities open, people move, freeing up existing homes for others to move into. California grew from about 7 million people in 1940 to about 20 million by 1970, but home prices, adjusted for inflation, did not skyrocket, because new construction kept up with demand. Prices did not enter the stratosphere until local government began to block development.
Local progressives have drawn a line in the sand: no new housing unless it is new housing that they personally find acceptable. Meanwhile, about 17,000 homeless people live in the streets, according to the National Homeless Information Project, roughly twice as many as the official count. And there are now more drug users within the city than there are high school students.
San Francisco’s failure to effectively govern is a growing problem for the national Democratic party, and for reasons that go beyond the human tragedies that unfold every day in plain view, and which remind everyone that the Democrats own this.
Former San Francisco mayor and old-school Democratic politician Willie Brown knows this as well as anyone. Brown recently was interviewed and argued very candidly that the Democratic party has lost its way, and that it provides little of interest to voters outside of Sunday morning political talk shows. He openly worries about the fate of San Francisco and his party, a political party that is increasingly being dominated by wealthy elites and one that is moving far from the ideas that he represented.
Brown knows that San Francisco and, more broadly, California have run the experiment of very liberal governance, and that experiment has clearly failed. He also knows that California voters made a right turn two weeks ago by voting down tax increases and the restoration of affirmative action, and by voting to restore the right of gig workers to work as independent contractors by passing Proposition 22. By passing this proposition, voters told elite Democratic lawmakers they didn’t approve of the legislature stealing economic freedom and making it illegal for many to work as independent contractors.
California’s failure to effectively govern is a teaching moment for the rest of the Democratic party. The progressive agenda failed in California, and it will fail nationally. Without the perfect foil of Trump to hide behind, Democrats must now deliver without the benefit of simply saying that they are working 24/7 to fight against everything Trump.
Willie Brown and other old-school Democrats know that if Biden and Harris are to succeed, the party must move against its progressive wing that includes Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar, all of whom favor policies that would sharply reduce economic freedom, economic growth, and our quality of life.
The national Democratic party has plenty of problems to address. The global pandemic remains. China is China. Iran is Iran. Russia is Russia. And 70 million voters remain skeptical that the party even knows they exist. What has happened in San Francisco scares the national party, because they understand San Francisco’s fate can happen anywhere if the old guard can’t find a way to take control of the party and implement moderate policies.
It is good that the national party is worried about what has happened in San Francisco. Sadly, San Francisco’s plight will continue for the time being. But we can hope that its lessons will help promote better national policies in the Biden-Harris administration.
The 2020 election was a referendum on the progressive elite, and they were soundly defeated
In a week of surprises, California’s rejection of a ballot measure that would have allowed the state to resume its affirmative action program was among the most significant.
The measure, known as Proposition 16, wasn’t defeated by shy Trump voters. Polling showed Hispanic and other minority voters evenly split on the measure, and on Tuesday it was defeated in California’s most Latino counties.
California’s result is just one piece of the mounting evidence that voters on Tuesday threw a wrench in the progressive plan to leverage a “coalition of the ascendant” and an “emerging Democratic majority” to turn the country into a woke utopia.
The 2020 election was in large part a referendum on Democrats’ race baiting and pandering, starting with the party’s own elevation of Biden to the top of the ticket. Democrats’ rejection of Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris was a leading indicator that the media missed.
Millions of voters of all races made clear that they instead prefer the old ideals: equality of opportunity, economic freedom, and a society that judges its citizens not by the color of our skin, but the content of our character.
Beyond that, the president whom Democrats have lambasted for four years as a racist and a xenophobe turned out more minority voters than any Republican candidate in decades. It’s not just that right-wing Cubans handed Trump a surprise victory in south Florida; he clinched some of the nation’s most Latino counties, improved his margins with black men and women, and even earned commanding majorities in some Native American counties. And that exit poll data does not account for the shy Trump voters, an effect we presume may well be exaggerated among black and Hispanic voters.
Senate races yielded more bad news for the progressive left. Even if Joe Biden wins the White House, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who easily overcame an $80 million challenge, will serve as a check on the ascendance of socialists such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) to the Biden cabinet. Voters may have wanted Biden, but there’s a whole wing of his party they’d prefer to do without.
Some House Democrats can see the writing on the wall. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.) reportedly told her caucus that the progressive push to defund the police and embrace “socialism” almost cost them the majority. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D., Ariz.) advised Democrats to drop the woke speak, starting with the bizarre “Latinx.”ADVERTISING
Tuesday’s results should shatter the Democratic presumption that their party is destined to command the overwhelming and eternal support of minority voters—but it won’t. The politics fueled by racial grievance and personified by the “squad” of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib is a cancer on the Democratic Party that it indulges at its own peril.