October 1st, 2021: Dysfunction in Washington, COVID-19 Boosters, and the Supreme Court
This week, White House Correspondent Paul Brandus covers the tumult in D.C over the Infrastructure Bill and the Debt Ceiling, President Biden's recent vaccine booster shot, and analysis of the Supreme Court ahead of its upcoming term, featuring Professor Dick Pierce of the George Washington University Law School.
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The perfect storm: Congress and the White House tussle over major legislation, a possible government shutdown and a possible government default
The pandemic rolls on — booster shots now underway.
And the Supreme Court begins its Fall term.
I’m Paul Brandus — you’re listening to West Wing Reports— it’s Friday, October 1st.
It’s been one of those weeks that remind us that the federal government is many things. Often dysfunctional, often essential. Often both petty and noble at the same time.
As we put this week’s show together — fiscal year 2021 has come to an end — and fiscal year 2022 is now underway — we weren’t sure if Congress and the White House would agree to keep the government funded — and avoid a partial shutdown. Which would be both embarrassing and damaging.
BUT they were able to do so.
But that’s not all. Other giant problems remain. One of them is a possible government default on its debt. This has NEVER happened. This country is 245 years old and the government has NEVER defaulted on its debt. What MIGHT happen? Here’s the forecast from Moody’s Analytics — you might want to sit down for this:
-six million jobs wiped out
-a stock market crash
-$15 trillion dollars in household wealth wiped out
Now — this could be easily averted IF Republicans and Democrats would only work with each other — stop thinking that everything is an opportunity to take shots at the other side — some sort of zero-sum game. Millions of jobs — and trillions of dollars going up in smoke is no game.
And that’s STILL not all. The two key pillars of President Biden’s domestic agenda are on the rocks. His trillion-dollar infrastructure plan has ALREADY passed the Senate. But it’s being held hostage n the House — and this time it’s his own fellow DEMOCRATS that Biden can blame. The far-left refuses to vote on infrastructure — until lawmakers FIRST vote on the president’s $3.5 trillion social-spending package — which covers everything from better health care for kids, the elderly, clean energy programs, college aid — on and on. Vote on THAT first — the far-left says.
I said before the government is many things — dysfunctional but essential. Petty BUT noble. All at the same time, it seems. Lawmakers want to help people — many of their ideas are designed to do that — but the infighting, the finger-pointing — and the absolutism — meaning I’m
absolutely right and you’re absolutely wrong — well, that’s when things break down.
Meanwhile, there was other news this week.
President Biden got his booster shot for covid — he used a photo op to urge others to do so.
Now, what does the president mean by “problems?” There were 123,269 new cases Wednesday alone, say data analysts at Johns Hopkins University — hospitals overwhelmed — people with other health issues are often getting squeezed out — doctors and nurses are exhausted — and the tab for all this is soaring.
Oh - and 25-hundred and 31 people died from Covid on Wednesday. So when the president says the unvaccinated are causing problems — that’s what he means
Interview with Professor Dick Pierce:
My thanks to Professor Dick Pierce of the George Washington University Law School.
Some other quick items from this week.
The murder rate ROSE last year — 2020 — was the highest since 1997, says the FBI. But the OVERALL crime rate fell.
The government has declared some 23 animal species extinct — some, like the ivory-billed woodpecker — haven’t been seen in decades. But scientists warn that climate change and habitat destruction may accelerate the extinction of other animals — also certain plants.
There’s a new Capitol police chief — he says threats against Congress and members of Congress are rising — and on pace to hit around nine-thousand by the end of the year.
Maybe you weren’t even born in 1981 — but that’s the sound of President Ronald Reagan being shot during an assassination attempt that year. He came closer to dying than is commonly known and the guy who shot — John Hinckley — is about to win his unconditional release. A federal judge says Hinckley, who’s now 66, is no longer a threat. He lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Money and economic news affecting you:
The economy is growing rapidly — a six-point-seven percent pace in the second quarter — faster than na earlier estimate. Business re-openings and pandemic aid sparking the rise.
Home prices continue to jump — up nearly 20-percent in the year ended July — that’s according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index. An S&P analyst calls the gains “extraordinary.”
At the same time though, there’s some evidence that proves home prices are beginning to cool — the top economist for the National Association of Realtors writes that “The housing sector is clearly settling down.” Even so, that group predicts prices will likely rise about five-and-a-half percent next year.
Now let’s open up the West Wing Reports archives — and take a look at what made history this week in the past:
1789: The first Congress of the United States proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution. Ten were ratified and are known today as the Bill of Rights. How many of them can YOU name, by the way? If you're like most Americans, surveys say, you can only name one or two.
1918: Woodrow Wilson change this mind and said he supported the 19th Amendment to the Constitution — giving women the right to vote. Wilson at first opposed women’s voting rights—until they began protesting in large numbers outside the White House. Some even went on hunger strikes and were force-fed, which appalled the president.
And in 1960 — the event that changed the presidency forever — the first televised debate. Kennedy - the Democratic nominee and Nixon, the Republican - would have four debates in 1960. But it was this FIRST one that changed the dynamic of the race.
On TV, Kennedy came across as smooth — he’d just been in California and had a tan - he looked good — and was perceived by viewers as being healthy and attractive.
But Nixon had been ill. He began to sweat and looked bad. Never mind what the candidates said. The way they LOOKED mattered. So those watching on TV, thought that Kennedy won. But those listening on the RADIO— thought Nixon won.
The debates helped establish television as the most important medium - a reputation cemented by the November 1963 coverage of Kennedy's assassination. The next presidential debate would not be until 1976, when Jimmy Carter benefited from a terrible blunder by President Ford.
The primacy of television also raised questions among historians as to whether other presidents would have been elected, given their physical attributes. For example, how would television voters would have regarded an unsightly Abraham Lincoln or a wheelchair-bound Franklin Roosevelt? If looks were all that mattered, our greatest presidents might NEVER have gotten elected.
I like to end each week with a quote — something you might find thoughtful: This week: from our another great president — our first one — George Washington.
He said - quote - “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” Unquote, What Washington meant — was that some people who call themselves patriots really aren’t — their words may be one thing, but their actions are another. “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”