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Bill Owens: Confounding And Confusing Events 1/18/21

The US and Canada announced that the border closure was extended until February 21st. Ms. Stefanik, a co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus, commented and left the impression that there were plans in the works to modify the current closure restrictions, while her counterpart, Brian Higgins, the Democratic co-chair, indicated that there was nothing in the planning stages that would change the way the border currently operates. This is a further reflection on Ms. Stefanik’s inability to provide accurate information to her constituents. It is very clear that the Canadians are not going to open the border until COVID is under control, and unfortunately, I don’t think that is going to happen for at least several more months, and only through the vaccine distribution.

Ms. Stefanik was unceremoniously dumped by an advisory committee at the Kennedy School at Harvard University of which she is an alum. Her response was, in part, “as a conservative Republican” she went on to continue her position relative to the challenge to the Electoral College. The point here is that she now clearly defines herself as a conservative Republican, not a bipartisan Republican. At least she had the courage to admit that.

Mr. Lighthizer, the US trade representative, recently said that President Biden should keep the tariffs on China in place. This is very curious, because the tariffs have been completely ineffective other than to drive up prices for Americans. I presume he is aware that our balance of trade with China continues to climb (favorable to China), and has not improved as a result of the tariffs and other actions that he and Mr. Trump have taken. This is the final gasp of a delusional policy.

President Trump was impeached as I am sure you are well aware from every possible news source. Congresswoman Stefanik voted “no”, and she said that it had “no basis in the constitution.” Ten other Republicans disagreed, plus Mitch McConnell and several Republican Senators have said this was a breach of his constitutional obligations. No constitutional scholar has spoken out that this impeachment lacks constitutional standing. It remains to be seen whether or not this impeachment goes to a Senate trial, as it will not happen until after Mr. Trump has left office. Clearly, some action needed to be taken, whether this is the right course or not is unclear to me. It is clearly constitutional, and it would appear that Ms. Stefanik is riding the Trump horse to the very end. Of course, what choice does she have?

The Press Republican letters to the Editor since last Wednesday have trended in opposition to the vast number of which oppose Ms. Stefanik’s actions regarding the Electoral College, and it is of some note that few Republicans are standing up for her, maybe we will see a change in the Letters to the Editor over the next weeks. We also had blistering editorials by most of the papers in the district. I wonder is it time to consider a recall petition, but in NY not possible.

The US government’s budget deficit in the first 3 months of the budget year was a record breaking $572.9 billion, or 60.7% higher than the same period a year ago. This is certainly, in part, the result of COVID and the various aid packages which were passed by Congress, nonetheless, it is a startling number, and in earlier times (5 years ago), Republicans would have howled loudly, but now, silence.

New unemployment claims jumped by several hundred thousand last week. President Biden put forward a new aid package of almost $2 trillion. Mr. Powell continues to call for more stimulus.

Mr. Trudeau made several statements in reaction to the events at our Capitol, with his final statement outside of his residence. In the latter statement he indicated that those responsible for what happened, included Mr. Trump and those politicians who abetted him. What may trouble Republicans more than anything else is the number of companies that are refraining from contributions to those politicians who attacked the election results. Some have even cancelled fundraisers. Several of the seditious rioters have been terminated by their employers, including, interestingly enough, the CEO/founder of one company who is on the verge of losing his job. He apologized for entering the Capitol but not for his words. The fact that so many recognize the seriousness of this issue, and yet Republicans remain as sycophants to Mr. Trump, is very troubling and, to a large extent, confusing. If there had been evidence produced in court hearings that supported Mr. Trump’s position, we’d have a completely different story. If there had been no opportunity to go to court, completely different story, and I would reiterate that many of the judges hearing these lawsuits were Republicans, and still found no basis.

Bill Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher and Trombley in Plattsburgh, NY and a Strategic Advisor at 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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