Bill Owens: More Confusing And Confounding Events

Jul 29, 2019

Brexit pops back in the news, only in the sense that people are wondering where it is going, or if it is with Boris Johnson’s election as Prime Minister it clearly tilts toward a no deal Brexit.  It seems that the British people are greatly divided between those who wanted Brexit and those who want to redo Brexit.  One fascinating aspect is the tremendous divide between 18 to 24-year old’s and those over 60.  There have been a number of polls, all of them show the younger generation in favor of staying, and the older generation in favor of going.  While the percentages move somewhat in each poll, they are extreme with at least 80% of the younger generation wanting to stay, and about 65% of the older generation wanting to go.  One of the interesting arguments of the younger generation is that they do not have the same benefits as the older generation (cheaper housing, free education and a solid economy). 

A police officer in Louisiana posted on social media that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “this vial idiot needs a round.”  The police chief essentially said the officer didn’t mean it, and there was no threat to the Congresswoman.  A few days later, the officer and another who approved of the post were fired.  I imagine the FBI or Capital Police may have interpreted this statement as a threat and a Federal Crime and so advised this naïve or complicit Chief of Police.

Democratic candidates are criticizing Mr. Trump for his comments about the Squad, but there is some concern about what the effective method is to deal with Mr. Trump as he continues to escalate the immigration issue in the most divisive terms available. I think the answer is actually fairly simple.  Reach out to the American people with solutions to their problems, and continue to point out that immigrants are in the main not taking jobs from Americans, but are rather filling jobs Americans don’t want, at least the immigrants who the public is focused on, those from Mexico and Central America.  There is a different set of issues when one looks at immigrants coming from other countries who have education and may well be taking jobs from Americans.  Democrats will not likely persuade Trump’s core supporters, but they may well reach those swing voters who the Democrats need to recover in places like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida.  If Democrats fail to do that, they run the risk of again losing to Mr. Trump.  For 40% of Americans who are unable to meet their monthly expenses or have little or nothing with which to meet an emergency, there is plenty of opportunity with a good plan to sway them to vote Democratic as many reside in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida. 

Our trade war with China maybe taking a new turn.  The Chinese and the Russians are cozying up, and their combination could be very problematic.  The Russians really don’t help the Chinese very much in terms of a marketplace for their goods, but they do give them protection militarily and this is something we are going to need to watch very carefully.  Another surprise, or maybe not, is the fact that Chinese investment in the US has dropped by 90%, which may well be a display of patriotism by the Chinese, or it could be that the Chinese government is enforcing its controls on foreign investment by individuals and companies.  The other factor that is impacting Chinese investment, of course, is the strength in the US dollar which results in higher costs to the Chinese if they are converting the yen. There seems to be little movement in the trade talks, and the Chinese continue to stand by the requirement that the Huawei situation be resolved.  The longer this trade war lingers, the more negative impact it will have on the Chinese economy, our economy and the world economy.  Mr. Trump continues to ferment confrontation as he has with the Canadians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Europeans, not with actual policies but primarily with nasty tweets.  None of these are resolving themselves well. 

Senator Cruz has put forward a resolution co-sponsored by Senator Cassidy of Louisiana, which wants to label the Antifa a domestic terrorist group.  The statistics indicate that the vast majority (more than 80%) of domestic crimes of this type are committed by right-wing groups and home-grown jihadists, not by left-wing groups.  This is a pure political play by Mr. Cruz and Mr. Cassidy to their base.  My comments should not be construed as an endorsement of the Antifa, but rather a comment again upon the failure of politicians to deliver facts. 

Democrats, Republicans and the administration have reached a deal that will increase spending by $320 billion, and will avoid any budget fights through the 2020 election.  This is obviously good for everyone in Washington, but whether it is good for us is another question.  I don’t often agree with the Club for Growth, but their recent comments that everyone in Washington has become a big spender, is in fact accurate and troubling – a fact, not opinion.  We rumble along with trillion-dollar deficits which ultimately convert to an increase of a trillion dollars in the debt is truthfully not sustainable.  Virtually no one is focused on this issue any longer, and as I have commented earlier, Republicans during the Obama administration railed against Mr. Obama’s deficits which were substantially smaller than Mr. Trump’s.  Trickle down economics is not working which is the philosophy that  the tax cut was based on. In fact, we are experiencing declining tax revenues, not an increase as POTUS promised.  As something of a side note, when I was in Congress, I returned 10% of my budget each year.  If every federal agency and member of Congress did the same, we would see substantial downward movement in both the deficit and the debt.

The Business Times, Andrew Hammond, reporting on the USMCA described it as cloaked in uncertainty, and he goes on to make the point that “the continuities between USMCA and NAFTA reflect the fact that the final concessions secured by the Trump team from Mexico and Canada were not as big as had previously been claimed”.  Which is a nice way of saying, the US didn’t get much, which is, of course, as I have noted before, clearly established by the US International Trade Commission in its report this past April.

Brian Riedl, in the National Review, recently wrote about the death of the Tea Party’s major piece of legislation known as the Budget Control Act, which was finally dismantled by the budget deal reached this week between the Senate, the House and the Trump administration, as all budget constraints were shredded and Republican credibility on fiscal responsibility was vaporized.

Mr. Mueller testified on Wednesday the 24th, and for many, his testimony was anticlimactic.  His demeanor should not be a surprise as it has been consistent for his entire political life.  Democrats expecting some bomb shell were, I think, sadly mistaken, but Mr. Mueller did confirm several important facts.  The first is that he did not exonerate POTUS with regard to obstruction of justice and, he confirmed what he had laid out on his report. The burden clearly shifts to Congress to act upon impeachment if it so desires.  Mr. Mueller also clearly warned about continued Russian interference, and made no mistake that the Russians had interfered in the 2016 election.  I am not sure you could ask for much more from a person with his well-known dedication and serious approach to his various posts.

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.

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