According to Biden, all bad economic news is now blamed on Russia. Plus, is DeWine in trouble?
By Gary Abernathy
Biden tries to make ‘Putin price hike’ a thing
Have you noticed that the Biden administration is suddenly blaming all the economic woes of the U.S. on Russia?
A Reuters story this week notes:
President Joe Biden's strategy in grappling with the domestic fallout from gasoline price increases is for Americans to direct their anger at one man: Russian President Vladimir Putin. Biden and his administration have coalesced around the phrase "Putin price hike" to describe the energy inflation challenges created by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and retaliatory Western sanctions. "I'm going to do everything I can to minimize Putin's price hike here at home," Biden said in a Twitter post on Tuesday.
Biden wants Americans to start chanting, “Putin price hike! Putin price hike! Putin price hike!” But gas prices were surging long before Russia’s war on Ukraine. As Business Insider reported last November:
An October report from AAA found that gas prices across the US hit their highest average levels since 2014 higher than they've been at any point since 2014. It's gotten even worse since then. Data from the US Energy Information Administration, which found gas prices rising throughout 2021, hitting levels not seen since the middle of the last decade. Prices continued to spike throughout October, hitting an average of $3.40 a gallon on November 22.
As time goes by, Biden and his team will assuredly blame the Russian invasion for any negative economic news going forward, portraying it as a sacrifice Americans are making for the cause of freedom, and ignoring the fact that inflation, gas prices and other cost-of-living indicators were headed in the wrong direction long before the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
More bad news arrived Thursday, as “inflation around the U.S. reached a new 40-year high in February, with consumer prices jumping 7.9% from a year ago,” according to CBS News. “Rising costs of energy, housing and food drove the increase, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The price of energy has surged 26% over the last year, sharply increasing the cost of gasoline, fuel oil and natural gas for home heating. Groceries were up 8.6% from a year ago, while clothing rose 6.6%.”
Ever hear of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill?
Florida recently passed the Parental Rights in Education bill, but you may not have heard of it. What you have heard of is the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the derogatory nickname for the legislation that even the mainstream media has adopted in an unsurprising sign of the partnership between most of Big Media and progressive political causes.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing that what the bill is mainly focused on is requiring schools to notify parents about the education of their children. But the bill also “prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels,” according to the official summary of the bill, which you can find at that link and which you are encouraged to read, as opposed to relying on media summaries.
What are the “certain grade levels” prohibited from discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity? They are kindergarten through third grade. That’s right — grade levels where you have to wonder why anyone would be having discussions of anything beyond the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. Who wants a teacher or anyone else talking about sexual orientation or gender identity, gay or straight, with students in kindergarten through third grade?
The actual text of this part of the bill says, “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
Why would anyone have a problem with that? Well, some do and, of course, the next step is to pressure powerful businesses to threaten the governor and legislature.
Bob Chapek learned that the hard way. Chapek is CEO of the Walt Disney Company, a sizable little business based in Orlando. Originally, Chapek wanted to steer clear of the controversy, saying he did not want Disney to be used as a “political football.”
But, as the Los Angeles Times reports, that quickly changed on Wednesday when Chapek “expressed concerns about Florida’s controversial bill meant to limit classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity, after taking substantial heat for staying neutral. Speaking during Disney’s annual shareholder meeting, Chapek said Disney had pledged $5 million to LGBTQ+ rights groups including the Human Rights Campaign, and said the company would sign the organization’s statement opposing anti-gay legislation.”
So, now that Chapek got his mind right, others will undoubtedly fall in line.
I’m a believer in the free flow of ideas and information, even in schools and even about controversial issues. I recently criticized the growing movement to ban certain books from libraries. But this not the same thing.
TV personality Andy Cohen, who is gay and has a young son, recently offered an example of why he thinks the bill is bad. He said, “Like, if my son went to school and talked about his gay dad during class and the teacher engaged, under your vague, hateful law, that can be considered illegal?”
Actually, no, it can’t. Read the bill, which focuses on “classroom instruction,” not a statement or question. What would a young child say about a parent that had to do with a parent’s sexuality? How many children of that age would be talking about the sexual orientation of their parents?
I heard someone else offer a similar example, asking something like, “What if a student asks a teacher why Bobby has two dads?” In fact, no teacher should be answering that. The correct answer would be, “You should politely ask Bobby.” Because, presumably, Bobby has been taught by his parents how to talk about that issue in the way they prefer, not the way a teacher might do it.
Was the bill necessary? Maybe, maybe not. Half the bills in existence in our world are not really necessary. But the attack on the bill and the effort to line up businesses against it is another example of a too-woke America that sometimes seems sleep deprived.
A divided anti-DeWine vote could help the gov survive
In an extremely rare move, the Butler and Clermont County Republican parties — both located in southwest Ohio — have endorsed GOP challenger Jim Renacci over incumbent Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. Erin Glynn, a Report for America reporter covering Butler, Clermont and Warren counties for the Cincinnati Enquirer, tweeted about it Wednesday, noting that adjacent Warren County’s GOP currently has no endorsement plans.
DeWine lost favor with many conservatives, particularly in southwest Ohio, over his heavy-handed coronavirus mandates, especially during 2020. Lauded by the national media as a leader on the pandemic response, DeWine seemed content to follow the lead of any and all directions and orders recommended by his then-state health director, Amy Acton. But Acton eventually resigned after the politics of covid grew more heated. Over the past year, DeWine has done an about-face on covid restrictions as the 2022 election loomed, and after the state legislature took some control over health edicts away from the governor’s office.
Renacci, a former congressman, should be seen as DeWine’s main threat in the May 3 primary (May 3, assuming the Ohio Supreme Court gets its act together and approves redistricting maps so the primary can be held on that date). But Jay Blystone, a little known farmer, has spent months effectively placing yard signs and running a fairly effective grassroots campaign. A former GOP state rep, Ron Hood, also jumped in at the last minute. If there was just one candidate benefitting from the anti-DeWine vote, that person would have a good shot at winning the primary. But if that vote is split among two or three candidates, DeWine wins.
Not long ago, the DeWine campaign started distributing lists of endorsements for DeWine by Ohio’s GOP elected officials. I was struck by how short the list was from southwest Ohio, which is dominated by Republican officeholders, most of whom apparently chose not to add their names.
On the Democratic side, two former mayors are competing for the primary nod, Nan Whaley of Dayton and John Cranley of Cincinnati. I think Whaley is the favorite in that one. She conducted herself well and gained positive national attention for her handling of the aftermath of a deadly Dayton mass shooting in 2019.
The dilemma for Republicans upset at DeWine is that a Renacci victory likely means a much more competitive race in November, as opposed to DeWine likely winning the general election with little trouble. Overall, DeWine’s advantages of incumbency, name identification and campaign cash will probably be enough. But it’s a strange time in politics. Stay tuned.
Trying to understand the demand to forgive student loans
I know a lot of people who would benefit from it, and I would be very happy for them personally, but I have to ask, why does anyone think it’s fair to cancel student debt? Was anyone forced to take out student loans? “Yes,” you say, “if they wanted to go to college and couldn’t afford it.” Sure, but no one forced them to go to college. “Well, to get a good job, you have to.” Not true. There are plenty of good jobs without a degree, and many that pay more than those that require a degree.
I’m for going to college if you want, and I’m for taking out loans to do it if you have to. But I question the suggestion that there’s something unfair about having to pay it back.
Many in my family have student loans and have been, and will be, paying them for years. Maybe there’s a great argument for loan forgiveness that I haven’t heard. But some of what I see and read makes it sound like asking people to pay back the student loans they took out, knowing full well they had to repay them, is somehow unfair. Why? And everyone understands that if student loans are forgiven, every taxpayer actually pays for it instead. Right?
Last year, the Brookings Institution examined the cost of forgiving student loans, under different scenarios and levels of forgiveness. It reported:
Based on data from the Department of Education, forgiving all federal loans (as Senator Bernie Sanders proposed) would cost on the order of $1.6 trillion. Forgiving student debt up to $50,000 per borrower (as Senators Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer have proposed) would cost about $1 trillion. Limiting loan forgiveness to $10,000, as President Biden has proposed, would cost about $373 billion.
Brookings also published this interesting chart to put it in perspective:
The article’s author, Brookings Senior Fellow Adam Looney, broke it down like this:
Forgiving all student debt would be a transfer larger than the amounts the nation has spent over the past 20 years on unemployment insurance, larger than the amount it has spent on the Earned Income Tax Credit, and larger than the amount it has spent on food stamps. … Forgiving up to $50,000 of student debt is similar in cost to the cumulative amount spent on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and all housing assistance programs since 2000. … Even $10,000 in debt forgiveness would involve a transfer that is about as large as the country has spent on welfare (TANF) since 2000 and exceeds the amount spent since then on feeding hungry school children in high-poverty schools through the school breakfast and lunch program.
In other words, the cost is unthinkably high — paid for with tax dollars that don’t exist.
To me, the growing movement toward things like forgiving student loans is just another indicator of the socialist-style thinking that is rapidly permeating America. “The government” should pay for everything — but the government is us. We don’t have the money, so we’re further indebting our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Does anyone care?
With his Russia remarks, Trump remains polarizing
In my latest Washington Post column, I point out that former president Donald Trump’s various comments about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and reactions to those comments — reminds us again that not much has changed. As I observed:
It is often noted that people either love Trump or hate him. Nuance is in short supply. Books on Trump are plentiful, but they tend to crucify him or sanctify him. There is a yawning chasm awaiting the kind of analytical and dispassionate review of Trump and his presidency that history requires. But a balanced examination is a distant dream. For now, supporters and detractors insist that sides must be chosen, or there is hell to pay.
I point out that I know well what I’m talking about in that regard. I’m too pro-Trump for Trump haters, and too anti-Trump for Trump lovers. I catch it from all sides, trust me.
But that’s OK. Someday more people from both sides will be able to have a rational conversation about Donald J. Trump. But not now.
You can read it here. Subscription may be required if you’ve used all your free Post articles this month.
Legendary AP reporter Walter Mears dies at 87
Walter Mears died last week. Many of you may not know him off the top of your head, but for anyone who’s been around a while, if you think about news stories you’ve read most of your life — especially on politics and presidential campaigns — you can picture Mears’ name at the top.
As the AP reported last week, “Over four decades, Mears covered 11 presidential campaigns, from Kennedy-Nixon in 1960 to Bush-Gore in 2000, as well as the political conventions, the campaigns, debates, the elections and, finally, the pomp and promise of the inaugurations.”
I liked this comment from Julie Pace, AP executive editor and senior vice president: “Walter’s impact at the AP, and in the journalism industry as a whole, is hard to overstate. He was a champion for a free and fair press, a dogged reporter, an elegant chronicler of history and an inspiration to countless journalists, including myself.”
And this from Jules Witcover, former political reporter for The Sun in Baltimore: “His uncanny ability to cut to the heart of any story and relate it in spare, lively prose showed the way for a generation of wire service disciples, and he did so with a zest for the nomad’s life on the campaign trail.”
But this line from the AP obituary jumped out at me: “He didn’t believe in reporters expressing political opinions and he kept his own to himself.”
That’s practically a lost art, unfortunately.
Walter Mears, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was 87. A legend.
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