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Bill Owens: Confounding And Confusing Events 1/25/21

Most world economies are shrinking, while China’s grew by 2.3% last year.  The United States, Japan, and many European nations are among those that shrunk.  This, of course, is in part due to the fact that China continues to produce cheap goods and ship them around the world while continuing to manipulate its currency. Having a state-controlled economy is beneficial in these circumstances.  It will be instructive to learn in the next few weeks exactly how badly our economy shrank along with others.

The response to President Biden’s $1.9, trillion-dollar COVID relief plan was largely across party lines, with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand supporting it, and Congresswoman Stefanik delivering a “conservative Republican” description of “his absurd 1.9 trillion dollars wish list.” She, of course, ignores the fact that Mr. Trump wanted to increase the size of the bill that recently passed substantially with additional monies for families. Another demonstration of a lack of analysis and only partisan rhetoric from our formerly bi-partisan Congresswoman. 

President Trump offered a new excuse for his silence on the Capitol attack. He was shut down by social media. I guess Presidential Press conferences, newspaper columnist and talk show interview no longer exist. Of course, being confronted by the live people asking questions was just too threatening, spewing unchallenged nonsense is so much easier.

Slate reported the discovery of the bones of the largest dinosaur ever found. The Titanosaur Sauropod was located in Argentina proving a second taxon from the Candeleros Formation exists. The article is a fascinating find.

New unemployment claims exceeded 900,000, which is not the right direction.

A Federal Judge refused to reinstate Parler on Amazon because Parler wanted to continue to post information which in Amazon’s view – a private entity – threatened public safety.

The inauguration of Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris will usher in a significant change in the Senate of the United States.  It will be divided 50/50 with Ms. Harris being the tie breaker, as Mr. Pence was on a number of occasions during the Trump administration.  The House is also closely divided.  It is about time that serious people acted like adults and began to think of ways that both parties can vote with the other so that legislation is passed which is important, but more important, in my view, is the need for evidence of bipartisanship on significant matters (not meaningless matters), rather than party line votes.  This will take extraordinary courage and many partisans on both sides of the aisle will object as I can tell you, in my experience, when I voted with Republicans, many members of my caucus and certainly my constituents did not always see the value in doing that, irrespective of the issue at hand.  This is one of those critical moments when action needs to be taken, and not words just spoken. 

President Biden in keeping with tradition will be meeting with Mr. Trudeau albeit remotely to kick off his meetings with World leaders. In a recent phone call the Keystone Pipeline was discussed after Mr. Biden cancelled its permit, and while a tense discussion, there was no name calling, no threats, just civil disagreement.

The Biden/Harris swearing in, went off without a hitch either in Washington or in any of the state capitals.  The Proud Boys, interestingly enough, have begun to denounce Mr. Trump for his being weak, and apparently, his failure to fight.  It will be interesting to see to whom they turn as their new leader. 

Our Congresswoman, in response to requests for comment from local media on the inauguration of Mr. Biden, stated in effect, that she would work with the Biden administration in a bi-partisan fashion.  Unfortunately, for her that bi-partisan dialog which she preached for the initial years of her stay in Congress has long departed, she is not bi-partisan and will not be bi-partisan.  Rumors are afloat that she is going to try and oust Ms. Chaney from the 3rd chair of the Republican caucus so that should be an interesting fight if it materializes.

The stock market continues to move along at essentially the same pace as it did pre -election, although the economy itself is less healthy because of the surge in the Corona virus.  Mr. Biden has issued a number of executive orders and proclamations which he hopes will allow him to achieve his goal of 100 million inoculations in 100 days.  Let’s hope he gets that right, not just for him, but for the rest of the country.  

The first Biden cabinet pick was approved on January 20th, which is a good start.  It is interesting to note that Senator Hawley put a hold on the DHS secretary on relatively spurious grounds, but this is just his petulant activity continuing to bubble as I am sure he is embarrassed, having difficulty raising funds, and may have lost a good deal of credit with his colleagues, as he should. 

Continuing on with President Biden’s executive orders which have reversed many of Trump’s policies. Republicans so far have been muted in their comments. I wonder how long that will last.

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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