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Bill Owens: Confounding And Confusing Events 8/9/21

Big news this week obviously was the report released by New York State Attorney General indicating that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women with substantial proof being provided. Of course, Mr. Cuomo is vehemently denying that he did anything wrong but as political support is slipping away and the Assembly begins the process in earnest of impeachment, the likelihood of his remaining in office I think becomes less and less. One option he does have, of course, is to apologize and to indicate he is not going to run again. That may enable him to make a deal with the prosecutors who are pursuing him. It has long been known that Mr. Cuomo was a very difficult guy to work for, although I cannot say from my personal interactions with him that I would have identified him as someone who was likely to harass women, he did not seem to like anybody that much.

The next person in line of course, continuing with the Cuomo saga, is Lieutenant Governor Hochul, with whom I served in Congress. She is a competent and energetic campaigner who has largely sat outside of the Albany morass. It will be interesting to see how this plays out for her and whether or not there will be other challengers like the Attorney General, and potentially the Comptroller, who will come forward for the next election.

Another interesting story in the news, although completely unrelated, is of course the return of 17,000 looted artifacts to Iraq. Most of these were housed in the Museum of the Bible which is controlled by the family that owns Hobby Lobby and was recently fined $3,000,000.00 for their illegal activities in acquiring the artifacts that are in the museum. It is always surprising to me when people who are claiming to be doing the righteous thing are found to be far less so.

There is a movement afoot in Congress to eliminate or at least substantially modify the War Powers Act which grants authority to the President to take certain actions essentially unilaterally when using force against other nations. This has been an area of contention for many members of Congress but has recently attracted the attention of Republicans who have adopted the America-First policies of Mr. Trump. This was a topic of conversation during my term in Congress and was vigorously championed by Representative Chris Gibson who is now the President of Sienna College. This is one of those areas where a fine line needs to be drawn but clearly Congress has ceded far too much power to the Chief Executive, irrespective of whether or not it is President Trump, President Biden, President Obama, etc. Hopefully some change will be made reestablishing Congress as the entity that declares war.

Canada is going to take up the battle relative to Buy America and its impact under the USMCA. The most important piece of that negotiation or attack, depending upon your view, is the integrated supply chain. There was an interesting article about a week and a half ago about the impact of Buy America on the state of Georgia where a number of Canadian products go to be further manufactured or have parts added and if the Buy America provisions take hold, those jobs would go away. That is a small example of how the supply chain works and needs to be carefully reviewed before any dramatic action is taken, otherwise we will see costs increase and jobs lost. The question is - will the jobs lost be replaced by new jobs of equal pay? If the latter is the case, then a strong argument can be made for Buy America. If not, then Buy America needs to be reconsidered.

It appears employment did make spectacular gains in July which is a good sign for the economy.

Numerous large business groups are urging the Biden Administration to reengage with China and to seriously look at the tariffs that have been imposed on China. They gave short shift to the first phase Agreement and the fact that China has not lived up to its promised purchases to date. This is an interesting turn of events when you have entities like the US Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Bureau pushing the Biden Administration to reverse Trump-era policies. It certainly seems that Mr. Trump’s policies have not stuck, if you will, over the long term and even business people are beginning to understand that his policies largely did more harm than good.

The Washington Post recently reported that a critical ocean system may be heading for collapse due to climate change. The Gulf Stream moves up the east coast of the United States to Europe and then into the Arctic, where the water is inverted, if you will, and comes back cooler at deeper depths thus restoring the water’s ability to take on heat and again move north when it surfaces in the Caribbean. If this system were to collapse, its impact on the weather/the climate could be dramatic with scientists predicting changes in weather patterns, intensity of storms, and even bringing on an Ice Age. We would move quickly from climate change that was causing the earth to heat up to one in which the earth dramatically and rapidly cools down as it did tens of thousands of years ago in the last Ice Age. This is a story worth reading.

One of the interesting issues that really hasn’t been faced by Democrats or Republicans is the 2017 tax cuts. They were touted as resulting in increased revenue to the Treasury because of the growth that would be generated. You may have noted that the Treasury has had trillion-dollar deficits in virtually every year of the Trump Administration and those deficits are continuing into the Biden Administration. I would propose that we take the Republican projections of increased revenue to the Treasury, give them one additional year to come to fruition, and if they don’t, raise taxes that would recover the projected revenue so as to bring the budget at least back into balance if not to develop sufficient revenue to allow for some reduction in the overall debt.

Whose still President. The predictions by Mr. Trump and his acolytes did not come true, no serious person thought they would. Are Ms. Powell and Mr. Lindell being called out by Fox – doesn’t seem so. Thank God Joe is still there.

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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