The Weekly Arc
Happy President’s Day Weekend from The Weekly Arc. In this issue, we look at the reason behind frequent looming government shutdowns, take on Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border, delve deeper into two possible 2020 presidential hopefuls, and more.
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Don’t Forget the Real Reason Shutdowns Happen
by Sarah Rumpf
News reports indicate that a deal has been struck for an appropriations bill to keep the government open. Here’s where things stand, as of writing: President Donald Trump is planning to declare a national emergency to redirect an additional $6 billion in funds for a border wall, Democrats have vowed to challenge that, and the whole deal could yet fall apart.
But the most important question we should ask has nothing to do with the specifics of those moves listed above. It’s this: How did we get in this mess in the first place?
In other words, why are we managing the federal budget with gigantic, last-minute bills? Why are we risking throwing a giant wrench in America’s economic engine again? Isn’t there a better way to manage the national budget?
Of course there is.
One better way is the system that Congress themselves established. The trouble is, they don’t follow their own rules — and we are failing to hold them accountable.
Trump’s Emergency Declaration is Both Legal and an Abuse of Power
In January, Congress declined to allocate funds President Trump requested for a border wall. In response, he shut down the government for a month, backed down, signed a compromise spending bill (with no wall money), and then declared a state of emergency, trying to use extraordinary measures to reallocate funds towards barrier construction.
Critics cried foul. Some called it illegal and unconstitutional, because the situation at the southern border isn’t actually an emergency.
It’s clearly not. But Trump’s declaration was legal. That doesn’t mean anything he tries to do under the state of emergency is automatically legal — his proposal to shift military funds to a non-military purpose probably isn’t — but the declaration itself is.
It’s also wrong, an abuse of power, and an impeachable offense. Congress should quickly pass a bill ending this state of emergency, and revise emergency statutes to make this sort of abuse less likely.
Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Anti-War
by Caroline Orr
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) launched her 2020 presidential campaign last month and wasted no time positioning herself as the “anti-war” candidate running on a platform centered around “the issue of war and peace.”
But despite what she and her supporters claim, Gabbard is not an “anti-war candidate.”
She’s not opposed to war; she’s opposed to U.S. involvement in some wars — even if that means doing nothing to help civilians who are being slaughtered by war criminals. She has accepted huge sums of money from the defense industry, expressed support for increasing the use of drone strikes, and hinted that she would consider using torture if she thought it was necessary. And like Trump, she believes in putting “America first,” regardless of the global consequences.
She isn’t “anti-war” — she’s a nationalist, hiding behind a mask of anti-interventionism.
The Messy Convergence of Christianity and a Trumpian GOP
The intersection of faith and politics has never seemed as unnatural as it has in recent years.
Religion has always played a major role in how voters view, choose, and advocate for candidates. This has only intensified in recent decades. Democrats are obviously unchurched and ungodly. Republicans? Naturally, they cling to God above all else and can’t imagine framing anything that happens in nonreligious terms. These are generalizations, of course — ones I heard firsthand as an insider, as a conservative.
Then 2016 came and washed all of that away.
Donald Trump is a thrice-married womanizer with a shallow self-described spirituality noticeably untethered to the most fundamental aspect of the Christian faith: seeking forgiveness.
Airline Monopoly Fears Are Bunk
According to the basic laws of economics, when an industry is monopolistic, its firms cut output and investment, and they raise prices. Yet when it comes to prices, airline prices increased only about one third as fast as the rate of inflation from 1995 to 2016. And as far as Robert Reich’s undocumented claim that Americans pay more for air travel than any other nation, maybe he meant we spend more overall because we fly more than any other nation in the world — in part, because we are a big nation and because air travel is so good. In fact, according to the Kiwi airline price index, the United States had the seventh cheapest air travel of 75 countries measured, behind mostly developing nations such as India and Algeria, which have very low labor costs.
The Burdened Billionaire
Nonetheless, critics charge that Schultz is a token of privilege at a time when his native Canarsie remains without a Starbucks store, a neighborhood still plagued by poverty and crime. They have a point: anyone who pays $6.00 for a caffeinated milkshake is many milkshakes away from the projects. Of course, the same was true of Barack Obama, stopping at Starbucks on his DC stroll. But it’s a very different matter when Schultz starts eyeing the former president’s job as an Independent.
“How much does an 18-ounce box of Cheerios cost?” Mika Brzezinski asked Schultz on Morning Joe, suggesting that he was out of touch with everyday Americans. Slightly bemused, Schultz responded that he didn’t eat Cheerios. Of course, Brzezinski herself has a multimillion-dollar contract with NBC and married her co-host Joe Scarborough in the National Archives building in Washington DC — a ceremony so decidedly un-pedestrian it may have been illegal. In fact, the only people on Morning Joe likely to know the price of Cheerios are those working behind the camera.