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Bill Owens: Confounding And Confusing Events 2/3/20

2020 Presidential Election: The Wall Street Journal reported recently on the biggest swing county in Iowa, which is Howard County.  It went for President Obama twice, and then for President Trump, in all instances by 20 points. The county is heavily independent and one that could clearly tip the scales in who takes Iowa in the general election.  The Journal reported that many of those who voted for President Trump in 2016 are still leaning his way, although not all, and what was more interesting was that those voters crossed party lines.  We still have 10 months to go before the election, and almost anything can happen with the people of Howard County focusing on healthcare and trade more than virtually any other issues.  Hopefully, the Journal will continue to report on polling trends in that county so we can get a better picture as we get closer. 

Mr. Trump has been traveling the mid-west particularly in the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin touting the USMCA and the Phase I China deal.  The facts, however, belie that celebration is in order as the average gain in manufacturing employment in those states is 1.08%, while nationwide the increase is 4%.  There is also a dearth of job openings in the manufacturing sector in those and a decline of 1.1% year over year.  The data does not support the celebration. 

Britain exited the EU on January 31, 2020.  The exit will be in name only as all rules will remain in place until December 31, 2020 by which time a new trade deal will need to be agreed to, otherwise Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal with its largest trading partner.  Mr. Johnson has threatened to walk away from labor, environmental and safety rules of the EU which will make reaching a deal even more complex.  The Scott’s who opposed Brexit are greatly troubled by the lack of clarity.  It looks like we have another eleven months of anxiety.

Justice Neil Gorsuch of the US Supreme Court recently wrote a concurring opinion in a decision to send a case back to the lower courts which said that lower court Judges should be limited in issuing broad nationwide orders suspending a federal policy.  In the short run this is a tremendous boon to POTUS, but it may help the next democratic president on issues of importance to Democrats, since a conservative Judge in Texas or Alabama would also be limited by this doctrine.  Assuming Justice Gorsuch could apply it evenly, whether it is a Democratic or Republican president, this could be very helpful and democrats should be paying attention.

Mary Louise Kelly, an NPR reporter, was cornered by Secretary Pompeo who screamed and yelled at her because he didn’t like her questions.  If you take the time to read the questions he was asked, they were neither phrased inappropriately nor raised inappropriate issues.   Mr. Pompeo is not interested in Democracy; he is interested in a dictatorship because he has assumed the mantel of righteousness.  That is always a dangerous mantel and he in fact is dangerous man. 

The Corona Virus has now spread substantially and is responsible for at least 170 deaths.  Misinformation is starting to spread across the internet, new reports are indicating that there is no likely vaccine that can be developed fast enough to deal with the virus this year, assuming its seasonal, and this leaves us in a position where the precise impact will be difficult to determine for at least several months.  Could this be a pandemic?  Could it blow itself out in a few months? Will it occur again next year?   All we do know is it is very dangerous and symptoms need to be monitored very carefully.

I suspect the Senate trial will be over by the time you’ve listened or read this commentary.  POTUS will be acquitted and if re-elected will be even more reckless.  Unfortunately, these trials are purely political theater as was Bill Clinton’s.

Bill Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford Owens in Plattsburgh, NY and a Senior Advisor to Dentons to Washington, DC.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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