Tag Archives: Congress

SCOTUS clears way for Trump tax return

How does the saying go? Oh, I know: Inquiring minds want to know … actually those inquiring minds need to know and have a right to know.

Know what? They have a right to know how much a former president of the United States paid in taxes. They have the right to know how much he gave to charity. They are entitled to know the nature of his business dealings. They also have a right to know whether Donald J. Trump is as wealthy as he claimed to be while running for POTUS in 2016.

The U.S. Supreme Court has cleared the way for the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee to get its hands on Trump’s tax returns. The court didn’t disclose any details of its decision or reveal how the justices voted on it. Now, that begs the question: Does that mean you and I will see them? Not right away.

However, given the sieve quality of Congress, my guess is that we’ll get a peek at them in due course. Maybe soon.

Why is this a big deal? It’s a big deal because Donald Trump made it a big deal in 2015 when he announced his intention to seek the presidency. He rode down the Trump Tower escalator and said, among many things, that he would release the returns as other candidates have done.

Then he backed off. Then he said he would release them when the Internal Revenue Service completed its audit of the returns. We never learned whether the IRS was actually auditing them; Trump never produced any evidence of an audit. The IRS said it couldn’t confirm an audit but said that an audit didn’t preclude someone from releasing the returns.

Then he balked again. He’s been fighting release of the returns ever since.

Many of us want to see the returns. We are entitled to see them. The man worked for us. Trump was our “employee” for four years.

He wants to run for POTUS again. He likely will bellow, blather and boast more about his wealth. I long have known that the truly wealthy among us don’t brag about it. Thus, I am suspicious of Trump’s dubious claims of fabulous wealth.

Let us see for ourselves.


Concerns over new Congress

Those of us who have legislative priorities we want to see fulfilled appear to be headed toward a season of disappointment as the new Congress gets ready to take its seat in Washington, D.C.

I want desperately to be wrong on this. Sadly, my fears might prove true.

Republicans are going to take assorted House committee gavels from their Democratic colleagues in early January. A new speaker of the House will appoint chairs to the various panels. If the speaker is Kevin McCarthy of California, then I have little hope he’ll search through his caucus for statesmen and women for these key jobs.

The committee chairs will be able to control legislative flow. They will be responsible for setting committee hearings and for deciding whether to refer items to the full House.

The items are plentiful. They involve abortion rights, climate change/global warming, gun violence, continuing aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia, domestic spending and taxation … you name it.

I worry that good government will be overtaken by sniping and hearings into alleged corruption by the son of the president of the United States. I worry about the impeachment resolutions against President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and others. I am concerned about the possibility of dragging soon-to-be-retired health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci to Capitol Hill for more hearings.

I am heartened by the realization that the Senate will remain in Democratic hands. It gives me hope that whatever foolishness that comes from the House can be derailed by the upper chamber that still will be run by adults.

Still, the new season awaits. I am not looking forward to the nonsense that lies ahead.


Midterm result: Boring is good

When he was campaigning for president in 2020, I wondered at the time whether Joe Biden could somehow find a way to make “boring” a more fashionable form of politics.

I believe the result of the 2022 midterm election suggests that well might be the case. President Biden, in the eyes of Democratic political strategists, simply turned to his legislative accomplishments and sold enough Americans in key states that it’s OK to plod along and produce legislation that benefits them.

The election result produced a stunning outcome. Democrats retained control of the Senate; their grip on the upper chamber might tighten just a bit if Sen. Raphael Warnock knocks off Herschel Walker in the Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia. A Warnock victory would give the Democrats a 51-49 majority, which I realize isn’t great, but it’s better than a 50-50 tie; it’s a damn sight better than turning the body over to the wacky GOP that adheres to nutjob notions that most Americans oppose.

One of the reasons I supported Biden’s election in 2020 was that he brought a steady hand to the executive branch of government. Lord knows we needed steadiness after the chaos brought by the previous four years.

Now, to be sure the president hasn’t been successful with every single effort he has undertaken. But with the help of a strong House speaker in Nancy Pelosi and a Democratically controlled Senate that at times seemed to wobble in its support of key legislation, the president has been able to notch some key victories.

Congress enacted legislation aimed at curbing gun violence; it has enacted infrastructure repair and renovation; it has approved legislation aimed at combatting climate change; the president sought and achieved legislation that curbs the cost of prescription drugs.

How President Biden helped Democrats avert a midterm disaster (msn.com)

And, yes, the annual budget deficit has shrunk, the nation has added millions of jobs, we are vaccinating more Americans daily against the COVID virus.

Do not tell me that the inflation we are enduring is President Biden’s fault exclusively. It is nothing of the sort. The inflation is a worldwide crisis that is being felt in rich countries and poor ones. It’s a result of the supply chain issue, the Ukraine War and other factors that no U.S. president can possibly hope to control.

Yep, boring is good. I believe the boring list of accomplishments that Joe Biden has rung up has given the nation an important political victory by staving off the so-called “red wave” that frightened millions of us.


GOP to take over the House

Kevin McCarthy now appears likely to become the Man of the House … of Representatives when Congress convenes its new term in January.

Republican House candidates have secured the body’s 218th GOP seat, giving Republicans the gavel.

It’s not yet a cinch that McCarthy will succeed his fellow Californian, Nancy Pelosi, as speaker. The GOP’s underwhelming performance in the 2022 midterm election — which was supposed to produce a Republican tsunami that would sweep Democrats out of office — has brought plenty of recrimination to McCarthy.

McCarthy said he’ll seek the speakership. He will have a fight on his hands, not that I really care.

Whoever takes the speaker’s gavel from Pelosi will take command of what appears to be a razor-thin majority. The projections tell us the Rs will finish with 219 seats, compared to the Ds with 216. No wiggle room, man.

The red wave never materialized. The new Congress will be fun to watch … don’t you think?


’22 midterm: so much to digest

I am still trying to grasp what in the world happened this week during the 2022 midterm election.

  • Democrats were supposed to be eviscerated by Republicans. It didn’t happen.
  • First-term presidents always suffer badly during midterm elections. President Biden reportedly can’t stop smiling.
  • Republicans have vowed revenge as payback for the two impeachments leveled against the most recent GOP president. Their razor-slim House majority might get in the way.

I dare not even begin to predict what the consequences of this startling election will mean for the cause of good government. The U.S. Senate appears set to remain in slightly stronger Democratic hands. The U.S. House will turn Republican, but the GOP margin is likely to make their majority virtually unworkable.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s quest to become speaker might face some peril. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell could face ouster if enough Senate Republicans get their dander up over the Democrats’ stunning election result.

It just boggles my mind to consider what could have happened at the polls. The election deniers by and large got the boot. Many of the MAGA acolytes faced the same fate.

I won’t necessarily buy into the notion that Americans are happy with the state of the economy, although our nation’s economic health is far better than many partisan critics have described it.

It well might be that Americans are sick and tired of the dangerous rhetoric that comes from the MAGA/election deniers within the Republican Party. That message became the centerpiece of many Republican candidates for important offices, such as governor, members of Congress, secretaries of state.

Just maybe the American electorate said, “Enough is enough!”

If that is the case, then the cause of good government has received a much-needed and necessary boost. Not a bad outcome.


Election jumble boggles the noggin

The Donald Trump Era of contemporary politics has managed to upset conventional wisdom all over the place.

Consider that the former TV celebrity/real estate mogul/stable genius entered presidential politics … and no one gave him a chance of winning the presidency.

Then he did.

Four years later, he lost his re-election effort. He continues to mix it up. And those wacky polls are spreading conflicting messages. They told us Republicans would seize control of Congress. At this writing, that takeover remains an open question.

What the hell?

Conventional wisdom no longer exists.


Red Wave becomes Red Ripple

Well, the Red Wave many of us thought — or feared — would occur didn’t swamp the field after all.

The 2022 midterm election has turned out to be a referendum, in my humble opinion — on none other than Donald John Trump, the individual who hogs the spotlight whenever and wherever he can.

His presence near the center of the political universe, though, just might have spelled doom for those closest to him. My question now? Will the one-time Moron in Chief take the hint and realize he is more poisonous than he ever imagined?

Democrats appear poised to retain their slim majority in the Senate. John Fetterman defeated the quacky Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, allowing Dems to seize a formerly Republican Senate seat. The contest in Georgia between Sen. Raphael Warnock and GOP challenger Herschel Walker appears headed for a runoff.  Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes remains within shouting distance of GOP Sen. Ron Johnson. So … the Senate vote counting isn’t over.

The House? The GOP had planned a big celebration last night to commemorate its historic sweep of Democrats out of power. It didn’t happen.  Republicans are likely to win control of the House but by a margin of, oh, four or five seats, giving them less than a working majority with which they can ramrod legislation through the chamber.

This post-election news gives many Americans — including yours truly — hope that good-government policy is still preferable over The Big Lie and the anger perpetuated by the cultists who adhere to the nonsense pushed by Donald Trump.

All in all, Midterm Election 2022 provided reason to hope that our republic is going to survive this current form of idiocy.


Getting set for MAGA rep in Congress

It’s time to acknowledge the obvious, which is that the next congressman from the Third District in North Texas is going to be of the MAGA ilk.

Republican nominee Keith Self won’t get my support, but I am of a distinct minority in Collin County.

Self once served as Collin County judge. He stepped away, then returned to the political war this year when he challenged GOP U.S. Rep. Van Taylor for the seat Taylor has occupied since 2018. Taylor won the primary earlier this year, but then pulled out of the race after he acknowledged a months-long extramarital affair with a woman who once was married to an Islamic State political officer.

Self, who finished second in the primary, became the nominee by default after Taylor pulled out.

He is running against Democratic nominee Sandeep Srivastava. The Democrat has my support … but you knew that, right?

What troubles me about Self has been the fiery rhetoric he used during the primary against Taylor. Self sought to run to the right of one of the House’s more conservative members, which to my way of thinking puts Self on the fringe of a party that already has become a haven for fringe thinkers.

Self fits right in, near as I can tell, with the loons who hold much of the power within the GOP. He talks about curing the electoral system of “widespread fraud” … which doesn’t exist! He backs the right-wing effort to criminalize abortion. He will oppose any common-sense legislation to curb gun violence.

Collin County is considered one of those solid, rock-ribbed Republican counties. Except for this little nugget: Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden in Collin County by fewer than 5 percentage points in 2020, which I suppose could make the county where we live a “battleground.”

Well, that doesn’t matter in this race for Congress.

Keith Self is likely to be elected next week. He’ll take his seat in January and then will ease into the crowd of Republicans who pledge their loyalty to the party dogma, while forsaking what is best for the country.

It’s a shame.


Waiting for the end

I am officially tired of the 2022 midterm election campaign.

There. Having gotten that off my chest, I now will explain what has drained me of my enthusiasm. Admittedly, it’s a partisan matter.

You see, I was filled with a bit of new enthusiasm when Democrats appeared poised to retain control of the Senate and possibly the House of Representatives. Then — pfftt! — they lost their momentum. Just like that!

All across the political landscape I keep seeing reporting that tells us of once-sure-fire Democratic victories becoming nail-biters. Republican dumbass MAGA-loving candidates actually appear to be poised to upset their foes.

It’s making me wonder: What the hell is wrong with this country?

I won’t sign any surrender documents until they count all the ballots next week. Some of these contests might not be decided until, oh, late next week … or maybe into the following week!

Whatever. My enthusiasm is waning. I fear a political bloodbath might be in store. I continue to have faith that our cherished Constitution will see the nation through.

It’s just going to be a rough, tough fight.

Now, having made all this gloomy prediction, the polls have been wrong a lot in recent years. Maybe they’re wrong now.


POTUS still has power

Let us assume for a moment or two that the worst thing happens — at least from my admittedly biased view — after the midterm election and Republicans gain control of both congressional chambers.

Such an event remains an open question. The House well could still flip; I am not sure about the Senate.

Were the Republicans to gain control, they need to do so in a significant fashion. As in, they would need what amounts to a super-majority in the Senate to sustain whatever it is the GOP caucus wants to accomplish. Why? Because President Biden has the veto pen at his disposal.

The Constitution sets a high bar for overriding a presidential veto, just as it does for convicting an impeached federal official, such as the president of the United States. Both congressional chambers must agree with a 2/3 vote to override a veto. No one in their right mind thinks the Senate is going to turn from a 50-50 body to a 67-33 Republican majority after the midterm election. I have made the case that Democrats actually have a decent shot at solidifying control of the Senate by winning a couple of seats for a 52-48 majority. The House also looks as though a GOP flip would be by a slim margin.

Given the intense partisanship that dictates how legislation flows in Congress, it would work well if both legislative chambers could find a way to craft more bipartisan legislation that could appeal (a) to Democrats serving in Congress and (b) to the Democrat who occupies the Oval Office … and who has that veto pen at his disposal.

Republicans, though, well could be getting ahead of themselves if they believe a much-touted “red wave” is afoot in the midterm election. Their overhyped confidence in the quality of some of the MAGA-ites running for high office could well bit ’em in the backside.

I sense the “wave” election is turning more into a ripple across a puddle … which gives President Biden an important tool he can deploy to fend off the extremists’ view of where they think the nation ought to go.