Bill Owens: Continuing Confusion And Confounding Events Of The Week, 3/4/19

Mar 4, 2019

Governor Cuomo finally spoke out on the Amazon debacle in New York City on Friday the 22nd, laying the blame squarely on the Democratic Senate, and in particular Democratic Senators from New York City.  This is in sharp contrast to Mr. DeBlasio’s placing the blame on Amazon.  How do working men and women in those communities feel; were they polled or asked?

It is being reported that the US is close to an agreement with the Chinese with the apparent drafting of six MOUs, covering agriculture, services, currency, nontariff barriers, intellectual property rights, and forced technology transfers and cybersecurity.  This seems like seven, not six to me.  The real test, of course, will be enforcement procedures which the Chinese will resist as they have historically on currency manipulation.  POTUS announced a delay in the increased tariffs because negotiations are going so well. When will he reverse course?

Justice Democrats have now targeted several moderate Democrats, including my friends Stephen Lynch, Massachusetts and Henry Cuellar of Texas.  These two members of Congress have voted in accordance with the wishes of their respective constituencies, not at the behest of other members of their caucus.  Mr. Lynch has been in office for 18 years, and Mr. Cuellar for 14 years, this is a clear indication that they are doing the job their constituents want.  If Justice Democrats truly understood the representative form of government, they would applaud these men and the others that they are targeting are, in fact, doing their constitutional duty. 

Canadian business executives are saying NAFTA was better for them than the USMCA will be.  I tend to agree, as I don’t believe, first of all much has been accomplished under the USMCA that on balance favors any of the three countries.  More importantly, as I have said repeatedly, the USMCA will not bring manufacturing jobs or likely any other jobs back to the United States.

IRS refunds are turning into a political disaster for POTUS.  First, you had the government shutdown, and the delay in the processing of refunds, followed by the impact of substantially reduced, if not totally eliminated refunds, and in many cases, money is owed.  You ask why, they changed the withholding tables, and didn’t tell the taxpayers. 

Roger Stone continues to entertain, and on February the 21st, Judge Amy Berman-Jackson essentially found that he had threatened her by placing her picture with cross hairs on the web.  Stone is certainly doing everything he can to enforce his standing and stature as the Trump court jester.

Mitch McConnell faces a very difficult 18 days in Congress.  The House has passed a Resolution calling for the rescission of POTUS’S declaration of a national emergency, worthy of note Congresswoman Stefanik voted with Democrats, which is now before the Senate and under the applicable rules, the Senate must vote on it as it cannot be filibustered.  This places Mr. McConnell in a very awkward position, does he apply pressure to members of his caucus not to vote in favor of it, does he let just enough vote for it who have difficult elections coming up, or does he allow 66 Senators to vote for it, and make it a veto-proof resolution, at least in the Senate.  More Senate Republicans than anticipated are warning POTUS to back off; as of March 4th, four republicans are voting with the Democrats, so the resolution passes the Senate.  Does POTUS, again, get outmaneuvered by the Speaker?

US farmers are beginning to push hard to increase the number of legal guest workers as the number of undocumented workers they can employ has dropped dramatically.  There is certainly some irony here as farmers in the mid-west and far-west went strongly for Mr. Trump, but now that their business is threatened by his immigration actions, they need to find a way around Mr. Trump.  This may be a more difficult process than they envision, and it could have catastrophic effects on our food costs, and our ability to produce food.  Another example of a not well thought through attack on an issue that actually requires the expenditure of gray matter. 

And on an historical note, scientists have uncovered the fossil remains of a tiny Tyrannosaur, that provides clues as to how T-Rex became king.  Was this the birth of Trump Republicanism?  This reaches back very deep in earth’s history, and in fact, is a pleasant and intellectual diversion from the constant bombardment of talk radio, talk television and the internet’s instant news.  I don’t know about you, but I am fascinated by these discoveries and the highly technical and analytic approach used by scientists to piece this history together.  If we could only use those skills to solve our current problems.  

POTUS announced several weeks ago another summit with the North Koreans and indicated that the anticipated significant progress.  Over the weekend of February 23rd and 24th, POTUS began to walk that back indicating that there was no rush which clearly indicates the pre-meeting discussions were not going well, and, yet again, we will likely see no substantive progress being made.  Most experts, those people with experience and knowledge, indicate that North Korea is unlikely to ever substantially reduce its nuclear arsenal under its current regime, Thursday, February 28, 2019 proved it as the talks abruptly ended.  This is just another example of Mr. Trump’s bluster and further increases the likelihood that a Nobel Peace Prize is not in the offing for the leaders of North Korea and the United States. 

Mr. Cohen testified on February 27, 2019 to much chatter on the networks, talk radio and the internet.  No real surprises.  His work is really being done with Federal Prosecutors and the New York State Attorney General.  Anyone remember John Dean? 

Mr. 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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