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Guy Benson

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In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came to the Senate floor to announce that, after days of filibustering, his Democratic colleagues had decided to ‘take yes for an answer’ on a bipartisan Coronavirus relief bill. Approval is expected this afternoon. On my radio show yesterday, I asked Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) what he thought of my prediction that Democrats would win some relatively minor face-saving concessions, then trumpet a package that looked extremely similar to the bipartisan bill they’d helped shape over the weekend — only to block it for valuable days over irresponsible, non-germane demands. He responded by saying that was a fair expectation. And it’s exactly what’s happened. Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s top line summary of what the “deal” entails:

The legislation, which congressional officials were set to continue to write throughout the early morning Wednesday, will provide direct financial checks to many Americans, drastically expand unemployment insurance, offer hundreds in billions in loans to both small and large businesses, and provide health care providers with additional resources as the virus spreads.

This passage literally could have been written about the Senate bill that was filibustered on Sunday. It did all of those things, including accommodating Democratic requests. What changed? With the caveat that it’s still being patched together and written, it looks like the filibuster delay may led to the allocation of more money to the unemployment insurance pot, and added a layer of oversight protection for the corporate assistance portion of the bill:

A major challenge in the negotiations was roughly $500 billion in corporate aid, much of which will go toward backstopping Federal Reserve loans. The Treasury Secretary will have the authority to directly lend a slice of those funds, and Democrats had sought to place controls on the money. The agreement will create a new inspector general and oversight board to oversee the aid.

Democrats are also crowing about a provision that “bans businesses controlled by Mr. Trump, the vice president, members of Congress and heads of executive departments from receiving loans or other funds from the stimulus bill. Children and spouses of those people are also banned, according to a senior Democratic aid.” I don’t have a problem with this in general, but it seems obvious why Trump’s opponents inserted it and are highlighting it. Sorry, service industry workers who happen to be employed by a Trump property. That’s politics.

In any case, a number of these ‘concessions’ could plausibly have been won without days of obstructing procedural votes. Yet with the pandemic raging and Americans losing their jobs by the millions, economists and experts across the spectrum agreed that time was of the essence. Senate Democrats — with a destructive, pointless, and revealing cameo from Nancy Pelosi — frittered away three days in order to achieve little:

It’s very common for the opposition to put up a fight on big ticket legislation, marginally improve the final product by winning a few bullet points, then hailing those accomplishments in selling the final product to its partisan base. Standard operating procedure. But this isn’t a standard or normal political moment. It’s as urgent as it gets, with a deadly disease sweeping the world and huge swaths of the American economy on hold. Going through the ‘usual’ bickering process was irresponsible. I hope their minuscule “wins” were worth it. They have no choice but to say yes, but I wonder how many of them actually believe it. But what’s done is done:

The answer, it seems, is not today. And if it’s going to be soon, Pelosi reportedly wants to try a ‘vote’ by unanimous consent, because the House is out of session. I understand the urgency — I’ve been calling for the Senate to move far faster than they did — but (despite some pandemic precedent) I’m deeply uncomfortable with a $2 trillion spending bill being passed “unanimously” by an empty chamber, with representatives not actually voting on something they haven’t read or debated. Even in a crisis, that strikes me as a terrible precedent. And what if someone objects?

Could Senate Democrats have delayed this aid by three days, only to see the House squander even more time as members scramble to get back into town? Secure remote voting is an absolutely necessary no-brainer for rare moments like this. I’ll have more thoughts on that tomorrow. I’ll leave you with my takeaway from McConnell’s floor speech minutes ago:

Author: Guy Benson

Source: Town Hall: Analysis: Senate Democrats’ Coronavirus Relief Filibuster Wasted Crucial Days, Achieved Little

Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg are perfect foils for each other. One is a rumpled socialist with legions of aggressive grassroots supporters. The other is a billionaire with comically well-compensated aides and consultants, who is effectively attempting to buy support. Both are succeeding in their ‘lanes’ thus far, setting up a possible collision course for the Democratic nomination. If it eventually boils down to a two-man race — and that’s an enormous ‘if’ at this stage — it’ll be ugly. We got a preview of how the gloves could come off over the past 48 hours, in which the Vermont socialist lit into Bloomberg’s history of “racist” policies, and the New York billionaire retaliated with an online ad attacking the online bullying of ‘Bernie Bros:’

A few things stood out to me as I watched these clips. First, it’s rare for Bernie to tee off so explicitly and ruthlessly on a fellow competitor on his side of the aisle. He often de-escalates and pulls punches; not this time. He is licking his chops at the prospect of taking on someone that I’d guess he truly believes personifies the worst about American politics and capitalism. As others have noted, just as Republicans have long dreamed of running against an actual socialist nationwide, Sanders has been waiting his entire career to take on someone like Mike Bloomberg. Second, Bloomberg’s response ad initially struck me as odd. Fixating on the worst excesses of a campaign’s most unpalatable supporters (it’s true that Bernie’s online army is disproportionately vile) felt like something of a strange choice.

Why go out of your way to antagonize voters that you would need to woo into your camp in a general election setting? But the more I thought about it, the more I understood what the Bloomberg campaign is trying to do here. Notice how many of the ad’s examples of social media nastiness are directed at other 2020 Democrats, including Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and even Andrew Yang. This is, at least partially, a solidarity-building exercise. Any strong supporter of another campaign has likely experienced ugly harassment from unhinged Bernie Bros, and watching this ad will likely provide catharsis and build sympathy for the entity that ran it. These people may not be for Bloomberg, but they’ll be grateful for the backup. The idea here is to isolate Bernie and his supporters as much as possible, which is what the “unity” reference is about. I also think people are onto something with this theory:

The Bloomberg/Bernie Bros feud is media catnip: It’s controversial, easy to cover, and many people in the press have themselves been in the rhetorical crosshairs of DSA/’red rose twitter.’ Some very serious opposition research has dropped on Bloomberg in the last few days, as we’ve mentioned in a number of recent posts. If you’re on that campaign, would you rather be talking about sexism, harassment lawsuits, and stop and frisk…or silly VP rumors involving Hillary Clinton, and a food fight with Sanders’ virtual Alt-Left hoards? The plan could be to keep carpet bombing the airwaves and the internet with staggering numbers of ads, while throwing enough chum in the water to crowd out the problematic policy and personal liabilities that are attracting new scrutiny. And the spending truly is staggering:

The fact that this sentiment is shared by millions of hardcore leftist voters (content warning) must keep the DNC bosses up at night:

Also, with a Nevada (cough) debate looming on Wednesday, will Bloomberg ‘qualify’ under the DNC’s changed rules? (UPDATE: He’s in). When he finally becomes a real candidate, as opposed to a largely virtual one, things could get intense. I’ll leave you with Bloomberg’s cartoonishly condescending and clueless comments about farming, and Bernie’s…er…glowing reviews of the Soviet Union, where he spent his honeymoon:

UPDATE – Two brand new polls, one national and one in a key state, suggest that the Bernie vs. Bloomberg dynamic is real. And Sanders’s ceiling is getting higher:

Author: Guy Benson

Source: Town Hall: It’s On: Bernie vs. Bloomberg Already Getting Personal and Nasty

That headline is about as bad as this story gets for Hillary Clinton, as additional emerging details aren’t quite as damning as one might suspect — and there’s a Trump tie-in, as well. We’ll begin with the basics. A California CEO and several others have been charged in a scheme to funnel millions in illegal campaign donations to Hillary Clinton via a Lebanese-American businessman, who showered Clinton with cash until Trump won the election, then scrambled to curry favor with the incoming administration with a major contribution to the president-elect’s (shady) inaugural fund. There’s no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Clinton or Trump connected to this matter. From Tuesday’s Justice Department press release:

Earlier today, an indictment was unsealed against the CEO of an online payment processing company, and seven others, charging them with conspiring to make and conceal conduit and excessive campaign contributions, and related offenses, during the U.S. presidential election in 2016 and thereafter. A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia indicted Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja, 48, of Los Angeles, California, on Nov. 7, 2019, along with George Nader, Roy Boulos, Rudy Dekermenjian, Mohammad “Moe” Diab, Rani El-Saadi, Stevan Hill and Thayne Whipple…According to the indictment, from March 2016 through January 2017, Khawaja conspired with Nader to conceal the source of more than $3.5 million in campaign contributions, directed to political committees associated with a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 election. By design, these contributions appeared to be in the names of Khawaja, his wife, and his company. In reality, they allegedly were funded by Nader. Khawaja and Nader allegedly made these contributions in an effort to gain influence with high-level political figures, including the candidate. As Khawaja and Nader arranged these payments, Nader allegedly reported to an official from a foreign government about his efforts to gain influence.

How do we know the candidate in question was Hillary Clinton?

It seems as though Mr. Khawaja was an equal-opportunity access/influence-purchaser, however, as he turned around and showered the Trump inaugural committee with a seven-figure donation after the election. But what’s all this about foreign influence? And what’s the Mueller tie-in? The reporter quoted above says the evidence suggests that Mr. Nader was in contact with one of two powerful Middle Eastern princes about his pursuit of political influence, one from the United Arab Emirates, and the other from Saudi Arabia. As for the Mueller component:

CNN reported on his latest child pornography arrest this past summer:

George Aref Nader, who was a key witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, was arrested on child pornography charges Monday in New York, federal prosecutors announced Monday. Nader was arrested upon arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport for “transporting visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.” He previously pleaded guilty to the same charge in 1991, the Justice Department said. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 40 years.

More sordid details:

Nader is already in federal custody on other charges. In July, he was charged with sex trafficking for allegedly transporting a 14-year-old boy from Europe and then abusing him. Nader pleaded not guilty in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. Part of a rap sheet dating to the 1980s, Nader pleaded guilty in 1991 to a federal child porn charge involving footage of 13- or 14-year-old boys and received a six-month sentence, served at a Baltimore halfway house.

The Associated Press started digging into the campaign finance conspiracy last year. I’ll leave you with with a quasi-snarky question: Weren’t Nader, Khawaja et al aware that there was another (dodgy but apparently legal) way to throw piles of cash at the Clintons in exchange for access and coziness? And wouldn’t you know it? Once Hillary lost the election, that funding stream dried up considerably. What a coincidence. Also, could this be a bigger problem for the Clintons? They’re not the only powerful family caught up in the Epstein web.

Author: Guy Benson

Source: Town Hall: Oh My: DOJ Indicts Mueller Witness Over Illegal Scheme to Funnel Millions to Hillary’s Campaign

I’ve panned Joe Biden’s response to the Ukraine story for weeks, skewering him for his blanket assertions that no wrongdoing took place and his seemingly false claim that he never discussed foreign business dealings with his son, Hunter. If there was no conflict of interest problem, why has Hunter stepped down from his perch on a Chinese company’s board (after all, his dad keeps saying China isn’t much of a threat to the US), and why has be publicly pledged not to engage in overseas business if his father is elected president? Lashing out at reporters asking fair and pertinent questions is also a bad look.

Author: Guy Benson

Source: Town Hall: More Smoke: New Details, Suspicious Timeline Emerge on Biden-Ukraine Conflict of Interest Story

It’s always fun watching journalists who rooted for Barack Obama for eight years, and who are now rooting for Elizabeth Warren, concern trolling about deficits and the national debt. It’s the mirror effect of erstwhile Tea Partiers having nothing to say as both arrows are pointed inexorably northward under another Republican president. To be clear, the deficit is ballooning in a truly alarming way, given that the economy is in good shape and we’re at relative peace:

But contra the center-left conventional wisdom (which was perfectly fine with runaway deficits and astonishing debt accrual back when Barack was running the show), the 2017 tax cuts and reform law is not responsible for the expanding sea red ink, as the graphic above implies. Government revenues are up. Put bluntly and accurately, Washington has a spending problem. That’s what the math shows, period. Warren’s newsroom cheerleaders feign concern about ‘unpaid-for’ tax cuts, which allow families and businesses to keep more of the money they earn, yet they’re endlessly delighted by the Massachusetts Senator’s supposed wonky “plans” — nearly all of which amount to more spending, more taxing, and more government control. And she’s racking up a “staggering” tab:

Altogether, the Massachusetts senator’s agenda would require $4.2 trillion per year in new federal spending, and a like amount in new taxes, if she paid for everything without issuing new debt. The federal government currently spends about $4.4 trillion per year, so Warren’s plans would nearly double federal spending. The Treasury takes in about $3.4 trillion in tax revenue each year, so if Warren levied new taxes to pay for everything, federal taxation would rise by 124%. She could pay for some of her plans by issuing new debt instead of raising taxes, but with annual deficits close to $1 trillion already, that might be unwise. The biggest chunk of new spending in Warren’s agenda, by far, would be Medicare for all, the single-payer health plan she would impose to replace all private insurance. Warren explains how she would pay for all of her plans—except this one.

Bear in mind a few facts here:

(1) The federal government spent roughly $4.1 trillion in 2018, so Warren’s new plans would entail doubling the entire federal budget, which is already running reckless and unsustainable deficits, as mentioned above. To break even, Warren would need to more than double (+124%) all tax revenue. Isn’t it adorable that she won’t answer whether this will impact the middle class? Of course it would.

(2) She claims she’s working on an explanation for how she’d finance her giant healthcare scheme, sending her team of left-wing economists ‘rushing‘ to produce something. Here’s the truth:

More like $34 trillion in its first decade, but who’s counting? A specific roadmap to these tax increases looks like this. Good luck proposing that, Liz. (3) A separate, detailed “pay for” that she’s laid out, to cover the bill for other elements of her jaw-dropping agenda has been tried, and has largely failed badly, in Europe. It has chased away wealth and capital, it has failed to generate anywhere close to its projected revenues, and it has been repealed in the large majority of places it was attempted. But we’re supposed to be believe it will magically work in the US. Speaking of magical thinking, I’ll leave you with former Obama chief of staff and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel dismissing Warren’s single-payer scheme as a “pipe dream:”

Author: Guy Benson

Source: Town Hall: Nonpartisan Analysis: Elizabeth Warren’s List of ‘Plans’ Would Literally Double the Entire Federal Budget

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