It's almost a cliché at this point to mention this similarities between Joe Biden and Jimmy Carter. Not that that's stopped us, nor will it when the observation is accurate. But it is worth pointing out that the president isn't the only elected official who seems hell bent on recreating America's most disastrous decade since the close of the Second World War, that is, the 1970s.
The House's Democratic majority overcame some internal opposition to pass legislation on [May 19] addressing high gas prices by cracking down on possible price gouging from oil companies. The bill was approved along party lines in a vote of 217-207. Four Democrats -- Texas' Lizzie Fletcher, Jared Golden of Maine, Stephanie Murphy of Florida and Kathleen Rice of New York -- joined all Republicans in the chamber in voting against the legislation.
The Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, introduced by Reps. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., and Katie Porter, D-Calif., would give the president the authority to issue an energy emergency proclamation that would make it unlawful for companies to increase fuel prices to "unconscionably excessive" levels.
"The problem is Big Oil is keeping supply artificially low so prices and profits stay high. Now I think that when the market is broken, that's when Congress has to step in to protect American consumers," Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a hearing on Monday. "And that's what this bill does: It empowers the FTC to go after the gougers and empowers the agency to effectively monitor and report on market manipulation."
If you're old enough to have watched Rhoda or owned a record by Bread, this move might sound familiar to you. That's because the Nixon administration introduced price controls on gasoline and other consumer goods in the early '70s, while regulations grew up to strangle the expansion of the oil and gas industry throughout the decade. It was a spectacular failure, as anyone with any grasp on basic economics could have predicted. That's why one of the most recognizable images of the decade -- right up there with with the Bee Gees and John Travolta on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack -- is motorists lined up for miles waiting for gasoline.
The president of the United States is nearly 80 years old, the speaker of the House is 82, as is the House majority leader, while the Senate majority leader is a comparatively sprightly 71. They were all adults in the 1970s. Indeed, they were all working in politics at the time. You'd think they would remember what a disaster it all was. Isn't the purported advantage of a gerontocracy that the agèd rulers would be able to recall the mistakes of the past and, more importantly, how to avoid repeating them? Perhaps President Biden isn't the only powerful person in a state of cognitive decline.
Senator Joe Manchin, last of the Blue Dog Democrats, has announced that he is officially a "No" on the fiscally irresponsible, $3.5 trillion "Build Back Better" bill. Which is to say that he's dropped a lump of West Virginia coal into Joe Biden's stocking, while delivering mirth and jollity to the rest of us. Just call him Father Christmas!
The details are spicy -- supposedly Senator Manchin was angry (understandably) at the White House for releasing personalized statements targeting him for holding up BBB (at a time when he's been continually harassed by far left activists, who've taken to camping outside his house) when they know full well that he's far from the only Democratic senator with serious reservations about the bill.
Privately Senator Sinema has been telling people it’s not just her and Manchin who are opposed to #BuildBackBetter — many of their Democrat colleagues are opposed as well, but afraid to speak up. She tells them they’re “hiding behind her skirt.”
— Gregory T. Angelo (@gregorytangelo) December 19, 2021
In the end, frustrated by the long, pointless negotiations, he gave the White House just 30 minutes' notice before he went on Fox News to drop his bombshell. In the interim, he refused to take the panicked phone calls of White House staffers, desperate to head him off at the pass.
So, what did the senior senator from West Virginia save us from? The New York Post explains:
The $5 trillion BBB bill would have been a handout to Democrat-backed unions, federalizing child-care and pre-K workers into their ranks. It was full of gifts for everyone from rich people living in Democratic states (via the state and local tax deduction) to journalists (via media subsidies). Besides being a colossal waste of money, its “climate change” subsidies would have hurt Manchin’s state of West Virginia...
The legislation would have driven up the cost of everything for everyone — adding to our already historic inflation. It was nowhere close to being “paid for,” as President Biden claimed. And yes, it is $5 trillion, not the $1.75 trillion Democrats dishonestly advertised — by pretending programs would disappear after a year or two, when they knew they’d extend them forever. Even not accounting for that gimmick, the bill would add at least $367 billion to the federal deficit.
Not jolly enough for you yet? Then check out this piece at NPR, which sobs over Manchin's decision to destroy the world in a climate change-y blaze just for kicks:
With billions of dollars for clean energy, the Build Back Better legislation has the potential to substantially and rapidly cut heat-trapping emissions in the U.S. But Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., rejected the bill on Sunday, and that means Build Back Better is effectively dead at a time when scientists say the world can't afford to wait on climate change. "It's really disheartening," says Leah Stokes, associate professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "We don't have any more decades left to waste, and failure is not an option."
Why on earth did they seek out a poli-sci professor to comment on the climate situation? More:
The legislation earmarked $555 billion for renewable energy and clean transportation incentives over a decade in the country's largest climate change investment ever. The policies are crucial for President Biden's goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 50%-52% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Even that goal may not be enough to avoid climate change's most destructive impacts, scientists warn.
Note that even BBB wasn't extreme enough for these people, for all their wailing and gnashing of teeth over its demise. Build Back Better is already pretty unpopular in Manchin's home state (it polls worse there than in the country overall, and that's saying something). In any event, for braving this near universal condemnation, Senator Manchin has made all of the right enemies. Merry Christmas, Senator!
Yesterday Michael Walsh discussed the pressing concern among western civilization's current cultural elite -- the Twitterati (God help us). The Blue Checkmarks (long may they reign) are deeply concerned that the ongoing coronavirus freak-out is distracting us from the real civilizational catastrophe -- Anthropogenic Climate Change.
They must be greatly relieved, then, that Nancy Pelosi (D-Twitter), has come back from her little vacation to Hawaii tanned, rested, and ready to seize the reins. Before her arrival, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer confidently reported that negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over a nearly $2 trillion emergency relief bill were going well, and it would likely be passed on Monday. When asked about that comment, Pelosi replied ominously "Oh, I don’t know about Monday." She then unveiled a 1,400 page House bill which seeks to spend up to $2 trillion on really pressing pandemic related concerns such as:
It must be nice to be so certain that the media will carry water for you that you can pull this crap in a crisis. Of course, she's not wrong. Before Sunday was over, the New York Times had changed its initial headline about the Democrats' filibustering the bill the original bill (not Pelosi's) from "Democrats Block Action on $1.8 Trillion Stimulus" to "Partisan Divide Threatens Deal on Rescue Bill." Damn partisans.... whoever they are.
Climate specific items in the Pelosi bill include:
The focus on airlines is particularly underhanded, since that industry has been especially hard hit. And yet, even just the requirement that they fully offset their carbon emissions will make firing employees and attempting to weather the storm a better bet for several airlines than accepting a bailout now.
America isn't the only place where the activist crowd are dictating the response of politicians. In Canada, Justin Trudeau's Liberal government unveiled new emergency legislation which grants the prime minister broad, unilateral authority to, among other things, bail out companies as he sees fit (uh, didn't they just have a major scandal which would call into question Trudeau's judgement on exactly this score?) and set taxation levels for the next 21 months (I wonder if that power might, at some point, be used as part of the ongoing battle over carbon taxes there). But at least if you squint, you see a justification for those measures, if not their extent (and anyway the Liberals are already beginning to back down from them). What Pelosi is attempting is much more cynical and shameless.
Though it doesn't roll off the tongue like Rahm Emanuel's "Never let a serious crisis to go to waste" in 2008, Democratic Whip James Clyburn's statement that this really is “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision” is an excellent description of what his party is doing. Thus far the Republicans aren't giving in -- Mitch McConnell was clearly pissed on the floor of the Senate:
The Democrats won't let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal! .... They're filibustering hospital funding and more masks because they want to argue with the airlines over their Carbon Footprint?! I'd like to see Senate Democrats tell small business employees in their states who are literally being laid off every day that they are filibustering relief that will keep people on the payroll because Democrat special interest friends want to squeeze employers while they're vulnerable.
And President Trump has sounded similar notes on Twitter:
Republicans had a deal until Nancy Pelosi rode into town from her extended vacation. The Democrats want the Virus to win? They are asking for things that have nothing to do with our great workers or companies. They want Open Borders & Green New Deal. Republicans shouldn’t agree!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2020
Hopefully the GOP will stick to their guns, get the best possible deal through that they can, and we can begin the process of getting back on track after this insane historical moment.