Skip navigation

Category Archives: postings from others

May 21, 2023


MAY 22, 2023


The list of 500 banned Americans that Russian president Vladimir Putin released on Friday makes it clear that Putin is openly aligning himself with Trump and today’s MAGA Republicans. The people on the list are not necessarily involved with U.S. policy toward Russia; they are Americans who are standing in the way of the Trump movement’s takeover of our country. 

Notably, one of the names on the list is Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, who refused to “find” the 11,780 votes Trump needed to win Georgia in 2020 and thus take the state’s electoral votes from Democratic winner Joe Biden. Also on the list was Michael Byrd, the Capitol Police officer who killed Ashli Babbitt as she attempted to break into the chamber of the House of Representatives, where more than 60 representatives and staffers were holed up, on January 6, 2021. Others made the “500 list,” according to the statement, for being part of “power or law-enforcement structures directly involved in the persecution of dissidents in the wake of the so-called ‘storm of the Capitol.’” 

Since Trump’s attempt to overthrow the will of the voters on January 6, 2021, his supporters have imitated the language and the laws that enabled Putin to destroy representative democracy in Russia and Viktor Orbán to undermine liberal democracy in Hungary. 

Attempting to set a new kind of imperial Russia up as a challenger to the liberal democracies that have held the majority of global power since World War II, Putin in 2019 declared liberal democracy “obsolete.” At a time when his own economic and social troubles at home threatened his continuing hold on power, he lashed out at democracy’s emphasis on equality before the law, saying that immigrant rights, gay rights, and women’s rights undermine “the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population.” 

Like Putin, Orbán cemented power with attacks on immigrants, LGBTQ people, and abortion rights while claiming to be shoring up traditional religion. Not surprisingly, both Putin and Orbán have praised Trump, with the overlap between the former U.S. president and the autocratic leaders becoming more pronounced as Trump’s followers work to undermine U.S. support for Ukraine in its fight to push back Russia’s invasion and in the Conservative Political Action Conference’s decision to hold a second meeting in Budapest, Hungary, this month. 

That overlap is also visible in the anti-immigrant, anti-LBGTQ, and antiabortion legislation spreading through U.S. states dominated by Trump loyalists. 

When Trump was in the White House, his team worked hard to put loyal supporters into power in state Republican parties before the 2020 election, possibly aware that he was likely to lose the vote and would have to turn to loyalists to steal it for him. (Recall that on October 31, 2020, Trump ally Stephen Bannon told an audience that the plan was simply to say he had won, and now, in a lawsuit filed last week against Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Noelle Dunphy alleges Giuliani told her of the scheme on February 7, 2019.) Packing the state parties with loyalists did indeed pay off: according to a study by Nick Corasaniti, Karen Yourish, and Keith Collins of the New York Times, at least 357 sitting Republican legislators in battleground states used their official positions either to discredit or to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

Radicalizing the state parties has continued since Trump left office, strengthening his base in state legislatures. Those legislators are now advancing the illiberal Christian democracy embraced by Putin and Orbán, using the same language and politics of fear to pass laws that explicitly reject the principle of a nation based in the idea that is central to democracy: that everyone is equal before the law.

The attempt to demonize immigrants has been central to the Trump base since he announced his presidential campaign with the statement that “the U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems” and went on to say that Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs…bringing crime. They’re rapists.” (In fact, undocumented immigrants are less than half as likely as native-born Americans to be arrested for violent crimes or drug offenses.)

Republicans have refused to consider bipartisan legislation that would fund immigration courts and border security, and instead have hammered on the idea that immigrants are “flooding” our borders. They fought to keep the pandemic-related Title 42 in place, insisting that its end would create, as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) put it, an “Imminent Invasion.” When, in fact, the end of Title 42 led to a 60% decrease in unauthorized crossings, Greene still pushed forward, calling for Biden’s impeachment for his handling of immigration issues.

This same antidemocratic extremism explains the anti-trans, anti-drag, and anti-LGBTQ legislation, all of which are an attack on equality before the law. A March 8 article in Mother Jones by Madison Pauly exposed how the wave of anti-trans legislation passing through Republican-dominated state legislatures is written and pushed by well-funded Christian activists and organizations who argue, like Orbán, that they are protecting children (although 86% of trans or nonbinary young people have reported the attacks on them are affecting their mental health, and nearly half have seriously considered suicide). 

Advocates for those laws inaccurately claim that they are protecting children from genital mutilation, but as Nancy Goldstein of the Texas Observer pointed out, the American Academy of Pediatrics stands behind gender-affirming care. Dr. Joshua Safer, the executive director of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City, explains: No other countries “are reconsidering the use of hormones and surgeries as first-line treatment for transgender children because hormones and surgeries are not first-line treatment for transgender children…. First-line interventions include mental health intakes and social adjustments…. Puberty blockers sometimes follow.” Those treatments are reversible if a patient changes their mind. 

Nonetheless, the rhetoric of demonization is working: Brian Tyler Cohen reports (with video) that “Christian” pastor Jason Graber recently called for the execution of all LGBTQ people as well as the parents of transgender people: “They just need to be shot in the back of the head and then we can string them up above a bridge.”

Goldstein points out that the language of demonization Republicans are using mimics that of the “southern strategy,” by which Republican leaders from President Richard Nixon onward solidified their base by creating the idea that Black Americans threatened the well-being of white people. That strategy, too, is ongoing in the Republican Party. On Monday, May 15, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that defunds any state college or university with a diversity, equity, and inclusion program and that bans courses that “distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics,” a reference to courses that acknowledge racism or sexism. Texas, Tennessee, North Dakota, Iowa, and Ohio are considering similar legislation.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a Latino civil rights organization; Equality Florida, a gay rights advocacy group; and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have all issued advisories warning against travel to Florida. “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the NAACP said. “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”

With its antiabortion legislation, the MAGA movement is also signaling its abandonment of the idea that everyone should be equal before the law. Since the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision last June, fifteen states have banned or severely restricted abortion rights. On Tuesday a supermajority of the North Carolina legislature, established when Tricia Cotham, a Democrat who ran on abortion rights, switched parties, overrode the veto of the Democratic governor Roy Cooper to ban virtually all abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy. 

In Sumner County, Tennessee, these antidemocratic Republicans have taken over the county government and, as Christina A. Cassidy wrote today in the Associated Press, promptly changed the county’s official documents to say that operations would be “most importantly reflective of the Judeo-Christian values inherent in the nation’s founding.” They are trying to shape the county, including election rules, according to their ideology.

It is these same MAGA Republicans who are threatening to force the United States to default on its debt for the first time in our history, with catastrophic consequences, unless the Democrats agree to protect all tax cuts and slash the domestic spending that protects ordinary Americans. It’s important to remember that the global autocratic movement is not solely about creating a traditional religious society; it is about destroying democracy to concentrate wealth and power in a small group of men, usually white men, who will dominate the rest of us.

For all the talk of House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) negotiating over a budget that Republicans will then approve before they are willing to raise the debt ceiling, he has never had the votes of the extremists that he needs to make that happen. They are demanding that the Democrats dismantle the government programs that protect ordinary Americans in exchange for agreeing not to blow up the world economy. 

And so, the battle over democracy has come down to the debt ceiling. 

Today, Biden told reporters that he would not agree to the extremists’ demands. “We put forward a proposal that cuts spending by more than a trillion dollars, and on top of the nearly $3 trillion in deficit reduction that I previously proposed through the combination of spending cuts and new revenues,” he said. 

“Let me be clear,” he said. “I’m not going to agree to a deal that protects, for example, a $30 billion tax break for the oil industry, which made $200 billion last year—they don’t need an incentive of another $30 billion—while putting healthcare of 21 million Americans at risk by going after Medicaid.

“I’m not going to agree to a deal that protects $200 billion in excess payments for pharmaceutical industries and refusing to count that while cutting over 100,000 schoolteachers and…assistants’ jobs, 30,000 law enforcement officers’ jobs cut across…the entire United States of America.

“And I’m not going to agree to a deal that protects wealthy tax cheats and crypto traders while putting food assistance at risk for nearly… 1 million Americans.

“And it’s time for Republicans to accept that there is no bipartisan deal to be made solely—solely—on their partisan terms. They have to move as well.

“All four congressional leaders agree with me that…default is not—let me say it again—default is not an option. And I expect each of…these leaders…to live up to that commitment.

“America has never defaulted—never defaulted on our debt, and it never will.”





MAY 10, 2023

President Biden spoke to reporters today after his meeting with House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) about raising the debt ceiling. “I just finished, I thought, a productive meeting with the congressional leadership about the path forward to make sure America does not default—I emphasize does not default on its debt for the first time in history,” he began. “And I’m pleased but not surprised to hear [the] Republican minority leader of the United States Senate saying…at our meeting that the United States is not going to default. It never has, and it never will. And he’s absolutely correct.” The teams will continue to meet before the principals reconvene on Friday.

Biden went on to lay out the differences between his plan and that of the Republicans under McCarthy. He began by warning that a default would create a “significant recession,” devastating retirement accounts and increasing the cost of borrowing. He quoted Moody’s Analytics that nearly 8 million Americans would lose their jobs and added that our international reputation would be ruined.

“Default is not an option,” he repeated. “America is not a deadbeat nation. We pay our bills.” Congress avoided default three times under Trump “without once—not one time—creating a crisis, rattling the markets, or undermining the unshakable trust the world has in America’s commitment to paying its bills.” Biden noted that Trump drove the debt up significantly and that in his own first two years he had reduced the debt by an unprecedented $1.7 trillion.

He reiterated that he is happy to negotiate over the budget, which entails future spending, but not over raising the debt ceiling, which enables the government to pay for bills already incurred.

Then Biden laid out the differences between his budget proposal and the newly released guidelines offered by the House Republicans. He noted that his budget has $3 trillion in cuts that the House Republicans oppose because they end benefits for corporations and the wealthy. His budget saves the country $200 billion by permitting Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, and cuts $30 billion in tax subsidies for oil companies—which, he noted, made $200 billion in profits last year.

His budget also funds the Internal Revenue Service to enable it to stop tax cheats; the Congressional Budget Office says that will raise $200 billion. Biden also wants to increase the number of inspectors general in the government to watch how money is spent, citing estimates that each dollar spent on inspectors general saves $10 in wasteful spending. The Republican plan would cut all of these measures, making suspect their claim that they want to address the deficit.

He added that he wants the wealthiest Americans and corporations to “start to pay some of their fair share.”

In contrast, the House Republicans have called for cuts, without specifying where they would come from. Biden noted that the general cut McCarthy claims to support will hurt Americans badly, and the math simply doesn’t work on his insistence that he won’t cut popular programs. He also pointed out that McCarthy is disingenuous when he says Biden refused to meet with him for 97 days. Biden reminded listeners that he told McCarthy they could meet when McCarthy came up with a plan. Five days after he did so, Biden invited him to a meeting.

In questions from the press, Biden noted that lawmakers, including Republican lawmakers, don’t want the government to default on its obligations. He also suggested he is considering invoking the Fourteenth Amendment, which declares the national debt inviolable, but worries that invoking it to solve this manufactured crisis will involve lengthy litigation. Finally, after reminding a reporter that McCarthy has not actually offered a specific plan but rather made a general call for cuts without saying where, he offered the favorable sign that all the lawmakers “agreed that…defaulting on the debt is off the table.”

Also today, a jury in New York reached a decision in the civil case brought against former president Donald Trump for rape, sexual abuse, and defamation. After just three hours of deliberations, the jury found him not liable for rape, but liable for sexual assault and defamation. It awarded accuser E. Jean Carroll $5 million in damages.

It is a dramatic vindication of Carroll, and it complicates Trump’s run for the presidency in the 2024 election. In his deposition he reaffirmed his words in the Access Hollywood tape about how stars can sexually assault women. While his base supporters will not care about this verdict, lots of women will, and it raises the issue of the many other women who have accused him of assault. In Just Security, Ryan Goodman and Norman L. Eisen reminded readers that “Americans generally consider sexual assault incompatible with serving in elected office or positions of public trust.”

Also, strikingly, at the end of the trial, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan advised the jurors not to identify themselves—“not now and not for a long time”—out of concerns for their safety. National security analyst Juliette Kayyem reported the judge’s warning and noted that “Trump’s strongest legacy will always be violence as an extension of our democratic processes.” Legal analyst Joyce White Vance added, “It’s a remarkable thing when jurors have to be cautioned that revealing their identities could put them at risk…when the defendant was the former president of the United States.”

Should Trump get the Republican nomination—and right now he is the frontrunner—the Republican Party will have nominated for the presidency a man a jury found liable for sexual assault and defamation, and against whose followers a judge had to warn a jury to take precautions.

It’s not a great look.

Also today, Mark Morales, Evan Perez, and Gregory Krieg of CNN reported that federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against Representative George Santos (R-NY), famous for the lies he told in his 2022 campaign for election. The charges are sealed, but we should learn more soon: Santos is expected in court as soon as tomorrow.

His troubles complicate matters for McCarthy, who badly needs Santos’s vote to hold his slim majority. If Santos has to resign, it seems likely that angry voters in Santos’s district will turn back to a Democratic representative. There is nothing in the House rules that prevent Santos from participating in debates and votes while under indictment. Indeed, he could continue to serve even after a conviction, but McCarthy told the CNN reporters that anyone found guilty of a crime should resign.


A plea for healing


Today the news offers wall-to-wall coverage of a politician — a former president — who is duplicitous, divisive, and vainglorious. 

He is a weak man incapable of admitting to any personal fault or struggle. He is quick to blame others for any impediment he faces. He excuses his own failings. He demonizes his political opponents and weaponizes their “othering.”

These character flaws may have finally caught up with him in a court of law. We shall see. If you want more coverage of these developments, you can find them elsewhere today. In truth, almost everywhere else. 

But here at Steady we want to offer a counternarrative. We also have a story about a politician, but it’s not about sordid allegations or court proceedings. It’s not even about policy or politics, per se. 

It’s about health, humanity, and healing. And it’s about that fickle but essential aspiration: hope. 

On April 1, U.S. Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania was discharged from Walter Reed hospital after a six-week stay to treat depression. Fetterman apparently has struggled with the disease for years, but it became worse in the wake of a stroke that nearly derailed his 2022 campaign. He now says his depression is in remission.

During the last election season, concerns about Fetterman’s physical health were widespread as he publicly navigated the difficult rehabilitation of a stroke victim. His Republican opponent, the TV doctor Mehmet Oz, made questions about Fetterman’s health a major line of attack (something we wrote about in a Steady column, “Fitness to Serve”).

At the time, we wondered about the very definition of fitness:

“Perhaps this idea of how we measure fitness is too limited. Are people who deny the results of the 2020 election fit for elective office? What about politicians who embrace lies, stoke division, and foment violence? Many doctors and scientists have warned that Oz, Fetterman’s opponent, has spread dangerous medical misinformation. How should that be factored into assessing fitness?”

And we noted that covering questions of fitness was of special concern for the press: 

“Judging medical fitness is legitimate, but are we providing the audience a nuanced understanding, or are we playing into stereotypes?”

In the end, the voters of Pennsylvania chose Fetterman by nearly 5 points. It was considered a tremendous victory and framed as a personal triumph for a candidate beset by such obvious physical ailments. 

We now know that it didn’t feel like a triumph for Fetterman, who was privately struggling with a second serious disease. 

This Sunday, Fetterman told the story of his depression to Jane Pauley on the CBS News program “Sunday Morning.” It is an emotional journey, and we share the piece here:

(Note: In the past some Steady readers outside of the United States had trouble accessing a “Sunday Morning” piece. We apologize if that’s the case once again. Please let us know.)

It has been heartening to see that the coverage of Fetterman’s treatment for depression has been different from the reaction to his stroke. By and large, he has received bipartisan well wishes and the support of his constituents. 

This is why Fetterman’s story is even bigger than the very big senator (he stands 6′8″) from the Keystone State. 

Millions of Americans suffer from depression. It can destroy lives and lead to suicide. Now there are indications that the pandemic has exacerbated mental illness across the country, including depression. This trend is especially acute in children. 

Historically, depression has also carried much stigma. And shame. And misunderstanding. This adds to the damage it can inflict in the shadows. 

If we are going to make headway, we need to face depression and other mental illnesses with honesty and empathy. It is a major service when someone of Fetterman’s stature courageously shares their story. Those who suffer similarly can feel seen and may be encouraged to seek help. The millions more who know a friend or loved one afflicted with this horrible illness can feel part of a broader community of support. 

Part of what makes depression so frustrating is that it seems to make no sense. Someone like Fetterman, who seemed to have it all — a loving family and a major professional success — can feel lost even at a moment when he should feel exhilarated. He checked himself into the hospital on his son’s birthday.

Regardless of what one may think of Fetterman’s politics, we should all wish him continued recovery for both his mental and physical ailments. It is a benefit to our nation to have people with his experiences in our government. There is a notion that politicians are supposed to be poised almost to the point of perfection. But we know they are human and subject to the same vices, biases, and illnesses as the rest of us. 

We need for our leaders to understand the struggles of their fellow citizens, and there are few better foundations for this kind of understanding than shared lived experiences. This is especially important when it comes to mental health. It’s okay for people to not be okay. And we can all work for a government more responsive to the needs of its people. 

Fetterman is set to return to the Senate on April 17. He will find Republican colleagues who also have made mental health a major priority. Hopefully we can continue to see a bipartisan path to progress. And health. And hope. 

Note: We’re deeply thankful for the Steady community. If you aren’t already a member, please consider subscribing. Both free and paid options are available.

Upgrade to paid

Leave a comment



MAY 6, 2023

For years now, after one massacre or another, I have written some version of the same article, explaining that the nation’s current gun free-for-all is not traditional but, rather, is a symptom of the takeover of our nation by a radical extremist minority. The idea that massacres are “the price of freedom,” as right-wing personality Bill O’Reilly said in 2017 after the Mandalay Bay massacre in Las Vegas, in which a gunman killed 60 people and wounded 411 others, is new, and it is about politics, not our history.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution, on which modern-day arguments for widespread gun ownership rest, is one simple sentence: “A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” There’s not a lot to go on about what the Framers meant, although in their day, to “bear arms” meant to be part of an organized militia.

As the Tennessee Supreme Court wrote in 1840, “A man in the pursuit of deer, elk, and buffaloes might carry his rifle every day for forty years, and yet it would never be said of him that he had borne arms; much less could it be said that a private citizen bears arms because he has a dirk or pistol concealed under his clothes, or a spear in a cane.”

Today’s insistence that the Second Amendment gives individuals a broad right to own guns comes from two places.

One is the establishment of the National Rifle Association in New York in 1871, in part to improve the marksmanship skills of American citizens who might be called on to fight in another war, and in part to promote in America the British sport of elite shooting, complete with hefty cash prizes in newly organized tournaments. Just a decade after the Civil War, veterans jumped at the chance to hone their former skills. Rifle clubs sprang up across the nation.

By the 1920s, rifle shooting was a popular American sport. “Riflemen” competed in the Olympics, in colleges, and in local, state, and national tournaments organized by the NRA. Being a good marksman was a source of pride, mentioned in public biographies, like being a good golfer. In 1925, when the secretary of the NRA apparently took money from ammunition and arms manufacturers, the organization tossed him out and sued him.

NRA officers insisted on the right of citizens to own rifles and handguns but worked hard to distinguish between law-abiding citizens who should have access to guns for hunting and target shooting and protection, and criminals and mentally ill people, who should not. In 1931, amid fears of bootlegger gangs, the NRA backed federal legislation to limit concealed weapons; prevent possession by criminals, the mentally ill and children; to require all dealers to be licensed; and to require background checks before delivery. It backed the 1934 National Firearms Act, and parts of the 1968 Gun Control Act, designed to stop what seemed to be America’s hurtle toward violence in that turbulent decade.

But in the mid-1970s a faction in the NRA forced the organization away from sports and toward opposing “gun control.” It formed a political action committee (PAC) in 1975, and two years later it elected an organization president who abandoned sporting culture and focused instead on “gun rights.”

This was the second thing that led us to where we are today: leaders of the NRA embraced the politics of Movement Conservatism, the political movement that rose to combat the business regulations and social welfare programs that both Democrats and Republicans embraced after World War II.

Movement Conservatives embraced the myth of the American cowboy as a white man standing against the “socialism” of the federal government as it sought to level the economic playing field between Black Americans and their white neighbors.

Leaders like Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater personified the American cowboy, with his cowboy hat and opposition to government regulation, while television Westerns showed good guys putting down bad guys without the interference of the government.

In 1972 the Republican platform had called for gun control to restrict the sale of “cheap handguns,” but in 1975, as he geared up to challenge President Gerald R. Ford for the 1976 presidential nomination, Movement Conservative hero Ronald Reagan took a stand against gun control. In 1980, the Republican platform opposed the federal registration of firearms, and the NRA endorsed a presidential candidate—Reagan—for the first time.

When President Reagan took office, a new American era, dominated by Movement Conservatives, began. And the power of the NRA over American politics grew.

In 1981 a gunman trying to kill Reagan shot and paralyzed his press secretary, James Brady, and wounded Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy and police officer Thomas Delahanty. After the shooting, then-representative Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation that became known as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, or the Brady Bill, to require background checks before gun purchases. Reagan, who was a member of the NRA, endorsed the bill, but the NRA spent millions of dollars to defeat it.

After the Brady Bill passed in 1993, the NRA paid for lawsuits in nine states to strike it down. Until 1959, every single legal article on the Second Amendment concluded that it was not intended to guarantee individuals the right to own a gun. But in the 1970s, legal scholars funded by the NRA had begun to argue that the Second Amendment did exactly that.

In 1997, when the Brady Bill cases came before the Supreme Court as Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court declared parts of the measure unconstitutional.

Now a player in national politics, the NRA was awash in money from gun and ammunition manufacturers. By 2000 it was one of the three most powerful lobbies in Washington. It spent more than $40 million on the 2008 election. In that year, the landmark Supreme Court decision of District of Columbia v. Heller struck down gun regulations and declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

Increasingly, NRA money backed Republican candidates. In 2012 the NRA spent $9 million in the presidential election, and in 2014 it spent $13 million. Then, in 2016, it spent over $50 million on Republican candidates, including more than $30 million on Trump’s effort to win the White House. This money was vital to Trump, since many other Republican super PACs refused to back him. The NRA spent more money on Trump than any other outside group, including the leading Trump super PAC, which spent $20.3 million.

The unfettered right to own and carry weapons has come to symbolize the Republican Party’s ideology of individual liberty. Lawmakers and activists have not been able to overcome Republican insistence on gun rights despite the mass shootings that have risen since their new emphasis on guns.

Tonight, I am, once again, posting yet another version of this article.



MAY 6, 2023

  • Today’s job numbers came in higher than expected, with the U.S. adding 253,000 nonfarm jobs in April. Unemployment fell yet again, to 3.4%, matching a rate not seen since 1969. Black unemployment is at an all-time low of 4.7%. For Hispanics it’s 4.4%, and for Asian Americans, 2.8%. The rate for adult women is 3.1%. Average hourly wages rose 0.5%.
  • This good economic news didn’t come from nowhere. The Biden administration has focused on building infrastructure, bringing supply chains home, and bolstering new manufacturing. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act have invested in workers.
  • At the same time, the administration has taken measures to claw back some of the power the country has ceded to business leaders over the past decades. It has taken steps to promote competition, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s negotiation of a global minimum corporate tax to stop nations from racing to attract investment by cutting taxes, and the Justice Department’s enforcement of antitrust laws, which has led to a number of directors resigning from interlocking boards.
  • The Federal Trade Commission has proposed a ban on noncompete agreements, which prevent people from moving from job to job. The FTC estimates that getting rid of the agreements would increase wages by nearly $300 billion per year and enable about 30 million Americans to move to better jobs.
  • Biden’s approach to governance is not just a change in policy from the past forty years. It is a demonstration of the tedious, hard, incremental work of moving the ball forward in a modern democracy.
  • The extraordinary work that goes into governance showed last night in a keynote address National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan gave on the administration’s approach to Middle East affairs at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Moving away from the nation’s previous tight focus on terrorism, Sullivan emphasized a theme that the Biden administration has highlighted since the president took office: “the integration of foreign policy and domestic policy.”
  • Sullivan emphasized that the administration’s template for foreign affairs is “realistic and pragmatic” but also “ambitious and optimistic about [what] the United States and our allies can achieve together over time.” The administration’s new framework for U.S. engagement in the Middle East, he said, “is built on five basic elements: partnerships, deterrence, diplomacy and de-escalation, integration, and values.”
  • Over the past two years, the U.S. has strengthened partnerships in the Middle East with “strategic dialogues, high-level visits—including two presidential visits—exchanges, and over 200 military exercises,” and it continues to strengthen ties between allies. It has deterred violence through counterstrikes but prefers to rely on diplomacy and de-escalation of tensions. “[E]very day, we are plugging away at proactive and creative diplomacy across the Middle East region,” Sullivan said.
  • Most notably, the administration helped to end the war in Yemen by setting the terms for a truce mediated by the United Nations. That truce has held—so far—for fourteen months. “Humanitarian aid and fuel are flowing through Yemen’s ports, the civilian airport in Sanaa has reopened, and the parties are actively in discussions on a roadmap to ultimately bring this war to an end.”
  • Sullivan said that the administration is working to help countries in the Middle East integrate into an interconnected region, and finally, he talked about values. “Just as we always strive to perfect our own democracy at home, we will always raise concerns regarding human rights and fundamental freedoms in our engagements around the world, including in the Middle East,” he said.
  • Sullivan noted that U.S. values include women’s rights and the ability to criticize leaders without fear. Enabling populations to unleash their full potential means religious tolerance and protection of minorities. It means pressure on other countries to acknowledge freedom, and it means remaining a key source of humanitarian aid.
  • As if in illustration of regional partnerships, today Saudi Arabia and the United States issued a joint statement on the start of talks between the warring parties in Sudan. The statement emphasized regional alliances, noting: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States…would like to stress the efforts of the countries and organizations which supported these talks, including Quad countries (The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the League of Arab States, and partners from the Trilateral Mechanism (UNITAMS [U.N. Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan], the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development).”
  • The careful cultivation of allies and complicated pressures enabled Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to pull together an international coalition to stand against Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The pressure of that coalition appears to be helping Ukrainian forces undermine Russia: today, in one of a series of videos, the leader of the mercenary Wagner Group that has been fighting for Putin, Yevgeny Prigozhin, expressed fury at the Kremlin for leaving his men without supplies and vowed to leave the key city of Bakhmut on May 10. Standing surrounded by corpses, he raged: “Those are soldiers we lost today. Their blood is still fresh…. They were someone’s sons or fathers. You, f*ckers, who don’t give us ammo, will burn in hell.”
  • Prigozhin could simply be jockeying for power, but a less ambiguous sign that Russia is in trouble is that Belarus has set up new border controls for Russians trying to enter their borders.
  • The slow, careful work of governance undertaken by the Biden administration is a very different thing than what is offered by members of a party whose goal for forty years was to slash government and to use the military to make the world conform to U.S. goals, and whose goal now seems to be to ram through minority rule without bothering to follow the laws.
  • When asked about Iran’s attempt to develop a nuclear weapon, Sullivan implicitly criticized the impulsivity of the previous president, who abruptly pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities. “[T]he best way to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is an effective agreement that stops them from getting a nuclear weapon,” he said. He continued: “I regard the decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA, without anything to replace it or any strategy to deal with it other than the imposition of sanctions—which we have continued and added to actually,” with concern.
  • Today, Mississippi governor Tate Reeves illustrated the Republicans’ simplistic approach to governance when he announced his reelection campaign with a 12-second campaign video of his face superimposed on cowboy actor Clint Eastwood, shooting at Mexican “bandits.” The imagery tied directly into the history of the modern-day Republican Party, which rose on the image of the cowboy who would cut through the “socialism” of a government that used tax money to keep the playing field level and restore individual men to power.
  • But that was always just an image, and now, shown up against the reality of the complicated and hard work of governance, it has become cartoonish.


Heather Cox Richardson

May 1, 2023

Thanks to Heather Timmons, White House editor for Reuters, whom I met a lifetime ago in summer 2016 as we tried to figure out what on earth was going on in the Republican Party, I got to hear President Biden’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in person last night. Speaking in the giant hall in the Washington Hilton where the event was held, the president was relaxed and funny, poking fun at himself, entrepreneur Elon Musk, former Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson, and House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Finally, he embraced the Dark Brandon meme that suggests he has a laser-eyed alter-ego who ingeniously defeats his opponents.

Biden also joked about his age, most memorably when he said he believes in the First Amendment that protects freedom of the press, and “not just because my good friend Jimmy Madison wrote it.”

But right now, the First Amendment itself is no joke. A member of the U.S. press corps is in prison in Russia on trumped-up charges of “espionage.” Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was covering Russia’s mercenary military organization the Wagner Group when Russian officials arrested him on March 29. The U.S. State Department has called him “wrongfully detained,” which means the government sees him as a political hostage.

In contrast, around 2,600 people showed up last night to witness humorist Roy Wood Jr. make fun of the president and vice president to their faces. It was theater, but theater that demonstrates an important principle: our government has no right to silence our criticism of it.

The Framers of our government enshrined the right to freedom of the press in our Constitution along with the right to gather together, to practice any religion we want (including none at all), the right to say what we want, and the right to ask our government to do (or not to do) things. After writing a new constitution that created a far stronger national government than existed under the Articles of Confederation, which had created the government since 1777 (although the Articles were not ratified until 1781), the Framers designed the ten amendments that make up the Bill of Rights to hold back government power.

The power to control what citizens can publish about the government would give leaders the power to destroy democracy. A free press is imperative to keep people informed about what leaders are doing. Lose it, and those in power can do whatever they wish without accountability.

From the beginning of the American republic, though, the press was openly partisan. This meant the president worked quite closely with newspaper reporters from his own party, while ignoring, or sometimes even trying to silence, his opponents. By the 1880s the country had begun to turn against the partisan press and to “independent” newspapers, and the number of papers took off.

No longer advocates for a party position and eager to attract readers, reporters began to look for new, exciting stories. And not much was more exciting in 1886 than a marriage in the White House. On June 2 of that year, 49-year-old President Grover Cleveland married 21-year-old Frances Folsom, who had been his unofficial ward, in the Blue Room.

Reporters had dogged their courtship (many thought he was interested in her more age-appropriate mother), and they flocked after the newlyweds, finally prompting the irritated president to ask his personal secretary to keep them away. But while the president was angry at the scrutiny, editors recognized a good story, and by the end of Cleveland’s first term, a reporter had figured out he could just stay at the White House and write columns based on interviews with people coming from meetings with the president. Other papers immediately stationed their own people at the White House.

In Cleveland’s second term, which started in 1893, his private secretary worked directly with the press. Through the next few presidencies, the role of press secretary began to take shape. Theodore Roosevelt relished attention from reporters. When his shy successor William Howard Taft shunned them, they complained he was hiding things.

So, shortly after he took office in 1913, President Woodrow Wilson held the nation’s first press conference, only to complain both that reporters were quoting statements he considered off the record, and that the conferences were a free-for-all in which anyone could shout out questions, often ones Wilson found Irritating (like his opinion about Groundhog Day).

In 1914, rumors circulated that Congress might begin to choose which reporters would be allowed at Wilson’s press conferences. In alarm, eleven White House reporters organized the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA). In 1921, as part of their annual election of officers, fifty members of the growing WHCA held a dinner. With former newspaperman Warren G. Harding in the White House, they were in a celebratory mood, despite Prohibition (which they ignored). Taking their cue from the famous Gridiron Club, which held dinners where they roasted politicians, WHCA members poked fun at the administration and Congress.

While at first the reporters simply wanted access to the president, as the WHCA became an established force it came to work for transparency more generally, recognizing that journalists are the main eyes and voice of the people. It now protects press passes for journalists who regularly cover the White House and assigns seats in the briefing room. It also funds scholarships for aspiring journalists and gives journalism awards; the annual dinner is their main fundraising event.

In the modern era there is plenty of criticism over the glitzy dinner and what seems too much chumminess between journalists and lawmakers. But the demonstration that the government cannot censor the press is valuable. For the four years of the past administration, the president refused to attend the dinner and barred his staff and other officials from attending.

The same president called the press the “enemy of the people,” encouraging his supporters to attack reporters. Angry at negative stories about him from Voice of America, Trump replaced the independent editor of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees VOA, with Michael Pack, a close ally of Trump strategist Steve Bannon. Pack set out to turn the channel into a pro-Trump mouthpiece. U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell later concluded that Pack’s firing, disciplining, and investigating of journalists who didn’t toe the line violated the First Amendment.

The dance between the government and the press is intricate and full of missteps, but last night, at an event where journalists wore pins that read, “I Stand With Evan,” this historian found the public reminder that the president must answer to journalists, with grace if at all possible, oddly moving.



APR 29

According to the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, legislatures in at least ten states have set out to weaken federal child labor laws. In the first three months of 2023, legislators in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota introduced bills to weaken the regulations that protect children in the workplace, and in March, Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a law repealing restrictions for workers younger than 16.

Those in favor of the new policies argue that fewer restrictions on child labor will protect parents’ rights, but in fact the new labor measures have been written by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), a Florida-based right-wing think tank. FGA is working to dismantle the federal government to get rid of business regulations. It has focused on advancing its ideology through the states for a while now, but the argument that its legislation protects parental rights has recently enabled them to wedge open a door to attack regulations more broadly.  

FGA is part of a larger story about Republicans’ attempt to undermine federal power in order to enact a radical agenda through their control of the states.

That goal has been part of the Republican agenda since the 1980s, as leaders who hated federal regulation of business, provision of a social safety net, and protection of civil rights recognized that a strong majority of Americans actually quite liked those things and getting Congress to repeal them would be a terribly hard sell. Instead, Republicans used their control of federal courts to weaken the power of the federal government and send power back to the states.

Historically, states have been far easier than the much larger, more diverse federal government for a few wealthy men to dominate. After 1986, Republicans began to restrict voting in the states they controlled, giving themselves an advantage, and after 2010 they focused on taking over the states through gerrymandering. This has enabled them to stop Congress from enacting popular legislation and has created quite radical state legislatures. Currently, in 29 of them, Republicans have supermajorities, permitting them to legislate however they wish.

The process of taking control of the states by choosing who can vote got stronger today when the North Carolina Supreme Court, now controlled by Republicans, revisited an earlier ruling concerning partisan gerrymandering. Overruling the previous decision, the court green-lighted partisan gerrymandering, opening the door for even more extreme gerrymanders in the future. The court also okayed voter restrictions that primarily affect Black people.

Gutting the federal government and throwing power to the states makes it easier for business leaders to cozy up to legislators and slash business regulations. It also enables a radical minority to enact its own worldview despite the wishes of the state. This dynamic is very clear over abortion rights and gun safety. 

Last June, quite dramatically, the Supreme Court overturned federal protection of the right to an abortion guaranteed in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. In the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision the right-wing court said that decisions about abortion rights belonged to voters at the state level.

But as the last ten months have made clear, the right wing does not really intend to let the voters of the states make decisions that contradict right-wing ideology. 

After the Dobbs decision, Republican-dominated legislatures immediately began to restrict the right to abortion, although it remains popular in the country and voters have rejected extreme abortion restrictions in every special election held since the decision. Now Republican legislators in Ohio are trying to head off an abortion rights amendment scheduled for a popular vote in November by requiring 60% of voters, rather than 50%, to amend the state constitution. 

Gun safety shows the same pattern. A new Fox News poll out yesterday shows that 87% of voters favor background checks for gun purchases, 81% favor making 21 the minimum age to buy a gun, 80% want mental health care checks on all gun buyers, 80% want flags for people who are dangerous to themselves or others, 77% want a 30-day waiting period to buy a gun, and 61% want an assault weapons ban.

And yet, Republican majorities in state legislatures are rapidly rolling back gun laws. Republican lawmakers in the Tennessee legislature went so far recently as to expel two young Black representatives when they encouraged protesters after the majority quashed their attempts to introduce gun safety measures after a mass shooting in Nashville. But they were not alone. Last week, when the Nebraska senate passed a  permitless concealed carry law, Melody Vaccaro, executive director of Nebraskans Against Gun Violence, shouted “Shame!” multiple times. She has since been “barred and banned” from the Nebraska statehouse. 

The attempt of a radical minority to enforce their will on the rest of us, who constitute a majority, by stealing control of the states and then, through them, control of the federal government is precisely what the Confederates tried to do before the Civil War: it is no accident that one of the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, carried a replica of a Confederate battle flag.

And yet, in the wake of the Civil War, when former Confederates tried to dominate their Black neighbors despite the defeat of their ideology on the battlefields, Congress tried to make it impossible to pervert our democracy by capturing the states. It passed and in 1868 the states ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, putting into our fundamental laws the principle that the federal government trumps state power. 

It reads, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” and it gives Congress the “power to enforce…the provisions of this article.”


Judge for yourself




APR 5, 2023

Wisconsin is a state known for its cheese, but now it may also be known for its tea leaves.

You can make a strong case that the biggest political news from yesterday was not the courtroom appearance of a former president in New York, but rather a state supreme court election in the Badger State. 

These are the kinds of races that usually elicit more yawns than a kindergarten class after recess. But not this year. Not in Wisconsin. Not in our current political environment. 

Officially, the race for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court was a nonpartisan affair. Officially. But there was no secret about where the political affiliations of the two candidates lay. Janet Protasiewicz telegraphed herself as a “progressive,” and her opponent Daniel Kelly is a “conservative.” And with an existing “conservative” justice retiring, the future balance of a court that had been evenly split hinged upon yesterday’s outcome.

This is especially important when you consider that Wisconsin may be the most embattled of battleground states. With the exception of President Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012, it has been decided by around a point or less in every presidential election from 2000 onward.

In 2022, the Democratic candidate for Senate barely lost to the Republican incumbent. It was a race that many Democrats now believe they let slip away. 

Two places you won’t see evidence of Wisconsin’s battleground status, however, are its state legislature and its congressional delegation. They are both overwhelmingly Republican. And that’s telling. Republicans made the state among the most gerrymandered in the nation. It’s so bad that you might be hard-pressed to call Wisconsin a fully functional democracy.

This was the backdrop for yesterday’s Wisconsin election. And so was the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent dismantling of women’s reproductive rights. Abortion is currently illegal in Wisconsin due to a 174-year-old ban that took effect once Roe v. Wade was overturned. A liberal majority on the state supreme court is likely to change that.  

And it could overturn the gerrymandering and revisit a host of other policies Republican politicians and judges have pushed through.  

With all that at stake, it’s understandable that both sides poured money into the race — an eye-popping $42 million. For a single judgeship. Not surprisingly that total smashed all previous records of spending in court races. 

In the end, the headlines weren’t only that Protasiewicz won, but the margin of her victory — 10 points — which in Wisconsin counts as a landslide. 

There are a lot of lessons one can take from the results. First, the anger that many Americans feel about the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion ruling has not dissipated. It was a motivating factor in the 2022 elections, in which Democrats overperformed. And it remains so in 2023. Should we expect that to extend into 2024?

There is also a sense that the Midwest gains Trump made in 2016 may be diminishing for the GOP.  At least somewhat. The Republicans lost big in Michigan and Pennsylvania in 2022. And now here again in Wisconsin. 

Against this backdrop, it is worth reminding ourselves that we are generally in an era of a politicized judiciary. But to be fair, we’ve been there for a while. In a different world, one could hope that the judiciary would not be so politicized. But to start worrying about that only now in the wake of this race is to conveniently forget what we’ve seen over the last decades. 

While both political parties have long histories of appointing judges to the bench who share their general world views, there has seldom, if ever, been anything like what the Republicans have attempted at both the state and federal levels over roughly the last 40 years. 

If you want a perfect definition of “politicians in robes,” you need go no further than the current U.S. Supreme Court, which is handing down decision after decision that hews to Republican orthodoxy, but which they could never achieve legislatively — on abortion, guns, the environment, voting rights, workers’ rights, and on and on. 

Nothing has defined the tenure of the Republicans’ Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, more than filling the bench with true believers. And blocking Democrats from filling the open seat left by the death of Antonin Scalia. 

Finally, if we are really worried about politicized judges and elections, then we need to consider the overall health of our democracy. If Wisconsin weren’t so gerrymandered, if the state legislature weren’t so out of touch with so many of the voters, if it hadn’t banned abortion and subverted representative government, then we probably wouldn’t have had a state supreme court race making such headlines. 

But this is where we are. And if you try to suppress the will of the people, eventually they will find a way to try to reset the balance. What just happened in Wisconsin is an encouraging example.

Note: We’re deeply thankful for the Steady community. If you aren’t already a member, please consider subscribing. Both free and paid options are available.

April 14, 2023


April 14, 2023 (Friday)

The Biden administration today announced a series of actions it has taken and will continue to take to disrupt the production and distribution of illegal street fentanyl around the world. The efforts involve the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the State Department; the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); the Office of National Drug Control Policy; and the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the Treasury Department.

On a press call today, various administration officials gave an overview of the crisis. Calling street fentanyl “the deadliest drug threat that our country has ever faced,” an official from the DEA explained that all of the street fentanyl in the U.S. comes from Mexico at the hands of two cartels: the Sinaloa and the Jalisco.

Most of the street fentanyl in the U.S. is distributed by the Sinaloa cartel, which operates in every U.S. state and in 47 countries. This cartel used to be led by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who began serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison in 2019 after Mexican authorities arrested him and extradited him to the U.S. Now four of his sons run it: Ovidio, Iván, Joaquín, and Alfredo, who are known as the “Chapitos.” DEA administrator Anne Milgram said they took their father’s “global drug trafficking empire” and “made it more ruthless, more violent, more deadly—and they used it to spread a new poison, fentanyl.”

According to the DEA official, the Chapitos started the manufacture and trafficking of street fentanyl and are behind the flood of it into the U.S. in the past 8 years. It is a global business. While illicit drugs used to be plant-based, newer ones like street fentanyl are made with synthetic chemicals. The cartels import the chemicals necessary to make fentanyl from China into Mexico and Guatemala. Then they manufacture the drug, distribute it in the U.S., and launder the money, much of it through cryptocurrency.

They have hundreds of employees and are equipped with military-grade weapons. The Department of Justice added that they “allegedly used cargo aircraft, private aircraft, submarines and other submersible and semi-submersible vessels, container ships, supply vessels, go-fast boats, fishing vessels, buses, rail cars, tractor trailers, automobiles, and private and commercial interstate and foreign carriers to transport their drugs and precursor chemicals. They allegedly maintained a network of couriers, tunnels, and stash houses throughout Mexico and the United States to further their drug-trafficking activities…to import the drugs into the United States,” where they kill as many as 200 people a day.

Rather than simply targeting individual traffickers, which would leave the operation intact, the DEA mapped the cartel’s networks in 10 countries and 28 U.S. cities. Its officers identified the cartel’s supply chain and all its leaders, including the people in China and Guatemala supplying them with chemicals to make the illegal fentanyl, the production managers, the enforcers around the world, the trafficker leaders who moved both drugs and guns, and the money launderers.

That information has enabled the Department of Justice to bring new charges against 28 of the cartel’s key figures (some were already facing charges) for fentanyl trafficking, narcotics, firearms, and money laundering. Seven of them were arrested in Colombia, Greece, and Guatemala several weeks ago and are in extradition proceedings. Mexican authorities arrested Ovidio even before that.

At the same time, the State Department increased the reward money offered for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of drug traffickers operating in other countries, and said it is working with partners to disrupt the supply chain for the drug’s manufacture, by which it appears to mean the precursor chemicals and manufacturing equipment coming from China. The White House also released a joint statement from Canada, Mexico, and the United States vowing to work together to stop the inflow of chemicals and manufacturing equipment to Mexico from China, a vow that somewhat gives Mexico a way to deflect blame for the crisis away from the factories in its own country to the supply chains based in China.

The Department of Homeland Security noted today that seizures of illegal fentanyl by U.S. Customs and Border Protection are up 400% since September 2019 and continue to increase. DHS has seized more fentanyl and arrested more traffickers in the past two years than it did in the previous five.This increased interception comes from new inspection equipment to find the drug in vehicles, and also from a focus on finding those incoming chemicals in plane and ship cargoes. It has also focused on catching equipment—pill presses, for example—whose loss stops production.

In March the Department of Homeland Security announced Operation Blue Lotus, which in its first month of operation seized more than 2,400 pounds of illegal fentanyl at U.S. ports of entry—as well as more than 3,500 pounds of methamphetamines and nearly 1,000 pounds of cocaine—and arrested 156 people. CBP has captured another 800 pounds of fentanyl. To build on these operations, the Department of Homeland Security has stationed labs at ports of entry to test substances instantly.

Notably, the Treasury Department added its own weight to this effort. It announced sanctions against two companies in China and five people in China and Guatemala who, they allege, provide the Mexican cartels with the chemicals to make fentanyl. Acknowledging that it’s been hard for U.S. officials to talk to their counterparts in China, administration officials say U.S. diplomats have been working with friends and partners to pressure China to stop the export of the chemicals that make drugs not only because it hurts the U.S., but because it is hurting the world.

Asking for support against drug trafficking on moral grounds is fair enough, but the sanctions against the chemical producers and the money launderers will bite. All properties the sanctioned companies and people have in the U.S. are blocked; their owners cannot do business with anyone in the U.S.

For all that the effort to neutralize the scourge of illegal fentanyl is vital to our country, what jumped out at me about this story was the power of the Treasury Department to disrupt what drug trafficking is really about: money. At the end of the day, for all their violence and deadliness, the Chapitos are businessmen, and the U.S. can cut them off at the knees through our financial power.

But that power is not guaranteed. Today, Sarah Ferris and Jordain Carney of Politico reported that House speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans continue to insist they will refuse to lift the debt ceiling unless they get massive spending cuts and policy changes. These are not normal budget negotiations, which Biden and the Democrats welcome, but a threat to let the U.S. default on its debt. Their willingness to hold the Treasury hostage until they get their way threatens to rip the foundation out from our global financial power.

As I read about the U.S. Treasury sanctions on fentanyl supply chains today and then thought about how Treasury sanctions against Russia have hamstrung that nation without a single shot from U.S. military personnel, I wondered if people really understand how much is at stake in the Republicans’ attack on our financial system.



Story by By SCOTT McFETRIDGE, Associated Press • Yesterday 6:53 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Thousands of Iowa residents would be expected to lose Medicaid and food stamp benefits under a bill given final legislative approval Thursday and sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds.

FILE – Rep. Joel Fry, R-Osceola, center, carries a box from his desk following adjournment of the legislative session on June 5, 2015, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. Thousands of Iowa residents would be expected to lose Medicaid and food stamp benefits under a bill given final legislative approval Thursday, April 13, 2023, and sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds. Fry said the bill takes nothing away from people who are eligible for benefits. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)© Provided by The Associated Press

The state House approved the bill, which would change eligibility requirements and require more checks that people qualify for benefits, ultimately resulting in the removal of an estimated 1% of recipients and saving the state roughly $8 million annually beginning in 2027. A legislative analysis found that 1% would translate to the removal of about 8,000 Medicaid recipients and 2,800 recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.

FILE – State Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Story, speaks during debate on a bill on Jan. 23, 2023, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. The Iowa House on Thursday, April 13, gave final legislative approval to a bill that would change eligibility requirements and require more background checks for people who seek benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps. Wessel-Kroeschell opposed the bill, arguing people would lose benefits because they make mistakes in filling forms. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)© Provided by The Associated Press

The Senate previously approved the measure, which passed both chambers with only Republican support. The bill now goes to Reynolds, a Republican who is expected to sign it into law.

Republican Rep. Joel Fry said the bill takes nothing away from people who are eligible for benefits.

“If you’re eligible for the benefit, you will receive the benefit,” Fry said. “It protects the program for those who need it most, and I would suggest to you that we are creating a safety net today that is sustainable for the long term.”

%d bloggers like this: