Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Revising the 2021 Budget to Pass Additional Budget bills

Democrats have used the the 2021 budget reconciliation process to pass the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. This was made possible because Congress did not pass a budget resolution last year which allows Democrats to make use of it in 2021.

Schumer plans to use the 2022 budget vehicle for individual portions Biden’s infrastructure and jobs plan. Democrats assumed the most they could do with reconciliation until next year when another budget vehicle would become available.

Unless McConnell became accommodating which seems as unlikely as a bipartisan breakthrough, Democrats would be left with multiples of bills the same as when McConnell controlled the Senate. It is also horrifically unlikely to overcome a filibuster with the 60-vote threshold in place. One has to wonder why Schumer isn’t moving on changing the filibuster.  

It appears, Democrats may have found a way to do an end run around McConnell through the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and Section 304. Section 304 allows Democrats to revise the FY21 budget resolution.

PERMISSIBLE REVISIONS OF CONCURRENT RESOLUTIONS OF THE BUDGET

Is the Biden Presidency The Final Triumph Of The Silent Generation?

Is the Biden Presidency The Final Triumph Of The Silent Generation?, Econospeak, Barkley Rosser

The who?  Never heard of them?  Or never heard from them? More like the latter. After all they have not been called “Silent” for nothing.

Yes, it seems that we alternate generations between large noisy ones and smaller quieter ones.  The Greatest Generation survived the Great Depression and won World War II, and they certainly let everybody hear about all that a whole lot.  Two generations has been mine, with me a front end boomer, and we have certainly boomed plenty, much to the annoyance of many other generations.  Two generations after that we have the noisily whiney millennials, although I grant that they have had some unpleasant things happen to them so not totally without grounds for some of their whining.

In between the Greatests and boomers came the Silents, with poor ironic Gen X stuck between the boomers and the millennials, although I think the Gen Xers have been noisier than the Silents. And now we have Gen Z coming up, who do not seem all that silent, alhough maybe not quite as self-righteously noisy as the millennials.

Monday Morning Reads

The Real Border Crisis, The Atlantic, Adam Serwer, March 2021

This border surge is no different than 2019 and going back a decade. It will peak in May and the decline.

What is the border crisis? Is it the recent surge of migrants, or is it the treatment of those migrants in detention facilities? The answer to that question—or whether you consider the situation at the border to be a crisis at all—most likely determines what you think the Biden administration should do about it.

For conservatives, the answer is clear: Democrats invited the increase in migrants with their permissive, open-borders immigration policies. Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has accused President Joe Biden of announcing that “the United States will not secure our border, and that is a big welcome sign to migrants from across the world.”

If the Biden administration’s leniency is responsible for the increase, as Republicans like Cotton believe, then it follows that the U.S. government should employ harsh measures in the interest of deterrence, much like the Trump administration did.

Some Republicans have sought to have it both ways, accusing the White House of being too permissive while also attacking the administration for detaining large numbers of migrants. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida declared on Twitter the increase in apprehensions was “caused entirely by President Biden’s words & actions” and, on the same day, that the administration was “putting kids in cages.”

Seasonal Migrant Surge At the Southern Border

The same as the last 10 years.

We can take this one more step and examine the trend by looking back to 2012 going forward and displaying the cumulative totals by month over eight years ending in 2020.

Virginia Ends The Death Penalty

Virginia Ends The Death Penalty

 Yesterday (or maybe the day before), Virginia Governor Ralph Northam overturned over 400 years of a death penalty. My state had the highest number of executions of any other, 1390, over those 400+ years. And now it is done. Good.

“Lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled House of Delegates and state Senate passed identical bills last month that would end death sentences and executions. There are two men on death row in the state. Their sentences will be converted to life without the possibility of parole.”

Governor Ralph Northam:

“The death penalty is fundamentally flawed. It is the moral thing to do to end (it).”

What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases

Steve Hutkins at Save The Post Office continues with the documentation of issues and occurrences at the USPO. Steve presents a good take-down of what DeJoy’s plan is going forward. He is predicting a 3.6% increase on top of a CPI increase.

There are two alternatives being presented, the Base case and the “Delivering for America” Case. The “Delivering for America” Case uses the new rate authority to make its calculations (Figure 35, p. 51). It projects that revenues in 2030 will fall to $37.2 billion (as opposed to $32.2 billion in the Base Case). I am duplicating what is in Steve’s Report. Best if you read it for yourself.


What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases

What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases, Steve Hutkins, Save The Post Office

The mailers were probably disappointed that the Postal Service’s new 10-year plan released yesterday, “Delivering for America,” did not reveal how big of a rate increase the Postal Service intends to make using the new authority it was granted by the Postal Regulatory Commission. While they wait in suspense, here’s a guess: 3.6 percent.

We already know that the calculations the Postal Service submitted to the PRC in February indicate the hike could be as large as 5.56 percent (on top of the CPI increase), but the new system allows some of the rate authority to be banked for future years, so the increase could be smaller. And that is just what the following analysis suggests.

This analysis is based on two tables and a couple of comments that appear in the 10-year plan. The tables show revenue and expenses under two scenarios, a base case using the status quo and an alternative that uses the revenue and cost savings under the Delivering for America plan. The tables contain numbers for projected volumes and revenues over the next ten years that can be used to estimate what the Postal Service is planning for future price increases under the new rate authority.

Jim Crow Raises Its’ Ugly Head “Again” In Georgia

“Yesterday, Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia signed a 95-page law designed to suppress the vote in the state where voters chose two Democratic senators in 2020, making it possible for Democrats to enact their agenda.”

I am not sure the election of two Democrats to the Senate was the objective of the voters in Georgia. It is more the result of voters flexing their muscle and stating, Repubs had better start to pay attention to the constituency, otherwise . . .

“The new law strips power from the Republican Secretary of State who stood up to Trump’s demand that he change the 2020 voting results. The law also makes it a crime to give water or food to people waiting in line to vote.”

Before you think Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is some type of hero, he does have a history of winnowing the voting pool.

“October 2019: The office of Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State (Brad) announced that over 313,000 voter registrations will be canceled by December 24. This will occur 90 days before Georgia’s March 24 presidential primary If the registrants don’t vote in next week’s municipal elections, return a form sent by mail, change their address online, or reregister altogether; they will be dropped from Voter rolls.

According to Georgia Public Broadcasting, 122,000 are set to be canceled simply because of registrants having had “no contact” with election officials for more than three years.”

Incomplete and Indecisive USPS Board Floundering and Awaits Direction

It is undecided yet, as to whether a newly assembled Board of Governors would jointly act under the leadership of Ron Bloom, a Democrat and former Obama administration appointee, to dismiss PMG Louis DeJoy. President Biden has appointed three additional members to the Board including;

– Ron Stroman, formerly the deputy postmaster general (resigned);

– Amber McReynolds, a voting rights activist; and

– Anton Hajjar, a former American Postal Workers Union official,

to fill the three vacancies currently open. The Senate still has to approve their appointments.

If confirmed, the board of governors would have all nine seats occupied for the first time in more than a decade. It would consist of a balanced makeup of four Republicans, four Democrats, and one independent. 

It was thought that the Board would fire PMG Louis DeJoy. The Board is the only ones who can do such regardless of whether Congress stamps calls for such to happen. It also appears, the existing members appointed by former President Trump show little interest in firing DeJoy.

Democrat, Obama appointee, and Chair of the Board Ron Bloom has shown little interest in taking such action. Indeed, he reiterated recently he had worked with DeJoy on the 10-year business plan and he would support it. Previously. Ron Bloom helped write a helped write a National Association of Letters Carriers report castigating postal management for proposing to slash services and standards.

Chairman Bloom is serving in a holdover year which will expire in December. He approved of DeJoy’s appointment last year (2020).  Campaign- minded Biden, vowed to fill the board vacancies, put the Postal Service on firmer financial footing, help postal employees join unions, and defend the agency’s obligation to deliver to every address in the country. 

The postal board can only have five presidential-appointed members from the same party by law. Four board slots will expire in the next two years. Biden has an opportunity to take USPS leadership in a different direction in his first term if needed.

Perhaps I am wrong; but, I believe Biden will sit this one out for a bit while he handles other pressing issues with the pandemic, McConnell, the economy, and getting as much done before the next election in 2022. 

Biden’s Postal Board Nominees Unlikely to Spell Quick End to Postmaster General’s Tenure – Government Executive (govexec.com)

Dozens of Lawmakers Call on Biden to Replace Entire USPS Board – Government Executive (govexec.com)

A history, the Right to “bear arms” meant to be part of an organized militia

Ken Melvin has an excellent post, Duplicitous Bastards. In it, Ken touches upon the right to bear arms as opposed to the right to vote and how the former who advocate the bearing of arms who advocate such are more than likely inclined to make it difficult for the latter who wish to practice their right to vote.

Forty three states are attempting to pass 253 laws restricting the right to vote and the state governments show no fear of those voters as opposed to the fear of those who support the right to bear any type of bullet-spewing-weapon.

Today, Professor of History Heather Cox – Richardson touches upon the supposed – absolute right to bear arms declared by those demanding such exists without any legal impediments necessary for safety, acquisition, etc.

Professor Cox – Richardson offers up a history of the NRA and how we got to where we are today. It is a good read, offering facts I was not aware of in the past.

Letters From an American, Heather Cox – Richardson

A history professor interested the contrast between image and reality in American politics. I believe in American democracy, despite its frequent failures.


Ten more people in Boulder, Colorado, died yesterday, shot by a man with a gun, just days after we lost 8 others in Atlanta, Georgia, shot by a man with a gun.

In 2017, after the murder of 58 people in Las Vegas, political personality Bill O’Reilly said that such mass casualties were “the price of freedom.”

But his is a very recent interpretation of guns and their meaning in America.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution 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.”

Seasonal Migrant Surge At the Southern Border

In the practice of Law, there is terminology used to establish whether a person or Company (also a person) is following a pattern or practice of doing something. Typically, the terminology is used in discrimination suits to determine or describe whether a defendant has a policy of doing so, even if the policy of doing so is not always followed. 

Nancy LeTourneau at Horizons Blog looks at such a pattern or practice with regard to migration issues on the southern US border using the detail provided by the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog

Lets get to my favorite, “the numbers.”

We have some charts today as provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Washington Post’s  Monkey Cage blog. They too have looked at the numbers and come to the same conclusion which Nancy LeTourneau reaches.

Lets establish a yes or no question and see if we can prove or disprove whether Republicans are correct in stating the recent surge is unique to Biden’s term as President.

Is the Southern border migration surge a practice or a pattern, the United States can expect over certain time (annual?) periods? Or is this occurrence during Biden’s tenure a one time occurrence which may be caused by his taking office and failing to act?

Using a graph supplied by Reuters and reviewing the numbers of people apprehended on a yearly basis, we can see the spikes occurring annually. The intensity of the spikes varies according to what each administration did or did not do. From 2000 till 2010, the numbers and peaks decreased and did not noticeably increase again till 2019.

The Washington Post, Monkey Cage, There’s no migrant ‘surge’ at the U.S. southern border.

Arguing for Student Loan Forgiveness for All

Naked Capitalism had an article up in the “Links” assortment of other articles taken from various sites. The Common Dreams article touched upon one of the topics I write about and have done so over the last decade – Student Loans and Alan Collinge’s Student Loan Justice Org.

In my public discussions with Alan and his followers on Facebook, I have pointed out the $1.6 trillion or the $1.8 trillion as stated in this article are important numbers to remember. What most people do not understand, this number takes into account the principal and the interest-on-the-principal if all things are going according to plan.

But, the $1.6 trillion+ owed also includes penalties for being late, the interest associated with the penalties, rehabilitation of a loan in default, interest on the fees to rehabilitate, forbearance interest, etc. I am guessing here, and as I pointed out to Alan, these addition costs are forgotten in the total calculation of actual debt owed. These additional costs are not taken into consideration when discussing total student loan debt. Much of the application of these penalties and fees do not exist in regulated consumer loans. A couple of mis-application examples: