Progressives can’t even legalize marijuana

Democratic governance is so pathetically awful they can’t even pass a slam dunk bill that will simultaneously weaken drug cartels, reduce confrontations with police, and drive new revenue, but why should we be surprised as President Biden presides over a worst of times scenario like we’ve never seen in modern history?

It’s taken for granted in progressive circles that Republicans have no interest in governing.  That’s actually the headline of a recent article from Fox News Contributor, Juan Williams, who wrote “Today’s GOP Has No Interest in Governing.”  In his view, prominent Republicans like Ted Cruz are far more interested in the “right-wing media echo chamber. What matters most to him is being a star in a party celebrating conspiracy theories, white racial grievance, and unthinking loyalty to former President Trump’s authoritarian impulses. Mocking anyone outside that club is part of the game.”  Further, this “quest for social media stardom is not a bug among a few Republicans.”  Mr. Williams laments, falsely, that the GOP has “no legislative plan to deal with inflation or reform the broken immigration system. Zilch. That work is left to Democrats.”  Alas, “voters still see the GOP as a legitimate political force, even preferable to Democrats in some comparisons. And news organizations cover them as a normal political party.”

This is rather ironic coming from an advocate for a party that has presided over massive inflation, a supply chain crisis, a broken border about to get even more broken, and the war in Ukraine while refusing to answer basic questions like at what age should young children be introduced to topics like sexual preference and gender identity.  After all, the last time the Republicans held the Presidency and controlled the Senate, none of those things happened, not a single one.  Thus, one could argue with some accuracy and legitimacy that these are problems prompted by President Biden and his allies in Congress profligate spending, massive restrictions on fossil fuels, refusal to enforce immigration laws, and weakness abroad, particularly the ignominious retreat from Afghanistan.  To the extent the GOP is interested in governing, their interest, first and foremost, lies in rolling back almost everything the Biden Administration has done, not fanning the flames further with a legislative agenda to address problems that began with progressive governance in the first place.  Otherwise, the opposition party opposes.  That’s what they do.  Nor should we forget that the Democrats wasted almost a full year arguing with themselves over Build Back Better, a bill that more than one Senator on their own side of the aisle was adamantly opposed to from the very beginning.

Is that the sort of governance Mr. Williams is referring to?

If so, I would suggest we need less of it not more.  In many ways, it’s even worse than that because Democrats are incapable of achieving anything resembling success even on easy issues.  Consider marijuana legalization, and a potential massive new revenue stream for the Federal government combined with a reduction in encounters between the police and the urban (and other) populaces they claim so much to want to protect.  Last week, the House of Representatives finally voted on a bill that would decriminalize marijuana, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act.  In addition to decriminalizing the drug, the act requires courts to clear prior criminal records for most related convictions, resentence those currently in prison, and extend public benefits to those with convictions.  It will also tax marijuana at the federal level and use the process to fund treatment programs and legal counseling.  Overall, it seems like a reasonably sensible approach, but where have they been for the past year?  In addition, its fate in the Senate remains unclear, as does President Biden’s opinion on the matter.  How the bill’s fate in the Senate could be unclear also remains a mystery.  Democrats believe the reconciliation process can be used for just about anything, from rewriting immigration laws, to expanding social services, to fighting global warming, meaning they should not need a single Republican vote for passage.  Why not use the reconciliation process or, perhaps an even better question, why wasn’t this included in Build Back Better in the first place given the new revenue stream of marijuana taxes?

Putting this another way, progressives have proposed every combination of taxes conceivable.  They want to raise the corporate tax rate by 33% and institute a corporate minimum tax.  They want to institute a new wealth tax, taxing people for the first time in history on money they didn’t receive and might never receive.  They want to increase taxes on tobacco products, and expand taxes to cigars and vaping, but create an actual new revenue stream on a new product, one that is already enjoyed by millions of Americans?  No way, apparently.  That is simply a bridge too far.  We’ve seen a similar dynamic play out in my home state of New Jersey over the past five years.  Governor Phil Murphy rode into office promising to legalize marijuana in the first 100 days of his administration, but his efforts were stymied over an internal partisan squabble about how to tax it, or rather how much to tax it.  This was true even though 2016 report from the New Jersey Policy Perspective estimated $305 million in new revenue with a tax rate of 25%, suggesting there was huge money to be made if only Democrat lawmakers could agree.  They could not, and so the vote at the State House was pushed back in favor of a referendum by the people in 2020.  Governor Murphy himself has said that the additional revenue would be “incredibly smart” to offset losses and expenditures from the pandemic.  The ballot passed overwhelmingly that November, 66.9% to 33.1%, but going on two years later marijuana is still not for recreational sale and there is no target date.

Indeed, it’s difficult to see what governance means to liberals except taxing and spending, and spending some more, while continuing to issue increasingly woke proclamations and executive orders.  Rather than criticize Republicans, who currently control none of the branches of the federal government, Mr. Williams might be better served attempting to understand why President Joe Biden’s governance has produced such poor outcomes for the American people.  He has failed to “shut down” the virus despite his promises and spending $1.9 trillion.  In fact, he says he needs even more money or essential services like testing and treatments will be curtailed.  He has presided over the most embarrassing US military defeat since Vietnam.  Simultaneously, he has broken the southern border beyond repair, is about to repeal provisions that his own administration claims will make it much worse, and he is presiding over the worst spike in violent crime in a generation.

Inflation itself is an excellent example.  Despite warnings from former President Barack Obama’s own economic advisors as well as Democrat Senators like Joe Manchin, President Biden plunged ahead with unprecedented spending even after the government had already authorized some $4 trillion on coronavirus relief efforts.  At the time, we were told inflation was not a concern, or if it was, it would be transitory at best, and not a compelling issue.  Inflation had already been spiking for months when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CBS evening news, “I believe it’s transitory, but I don’t mean to suggest these pressures will disappear in the next month or two” in October 2021.  By December, she was saying, “I am ready to retire the word transitory.  I can agree that that hasn’t been an apt description of what we are dealing with.”  Incredibly, she blamed the spread of Omicron in the same interview, the very virus her boss had promised to “shut down” during the campaign and who was insisting at the time we were completely prepared for.  “Now the new variant, the Omicron variant — the pandemic could be with us for quite some time and hopefully not completely stifling economic activity, but affecting our behavior in ways that contribute to inflation,” she said.  Last month, the culprit was Russia as she delivered the news that we can expect a prolonged spike, lasting at least through the end of this year.  “We’re likely to see another year in which 12-month inflation numbers remain very uncomfortably high.”  Suddenly Secretary Yellen couldn’t make predictions, either.  “I think there’s a lot of uncertainty that is related to what’s going on with Russia in Ukraine.  And I do think that it’s exacerbating inflation. I don’t want to make a prediction exactly as to what’s going to happen in the second half of the year.”

I say again, if this is good governance, we need less not more.  No amount of spin from Mr. Williams or others can change the sad fact that President Biden is presiding over a worst of times scenario, much of it of his own making.  Governance of any kind this is not.  Look inward, Mr. Williams, look inward before you cast any more stones for your own party can’t even legalize marijuana, much less solve the myriad challenges we are facing. Lastly, I would be remiss not to mention that this is the party of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Congresswoman whose entire career is based on social media stardom. There’s an old expression about the pot and the kettle…

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