- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2020

It is good news for the fruited plain, not to mention the purple mountain majesties.

President Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act this week, which allocated $9.5 billion to restore and protect that nation’s public parks and lands in the next five years. It is the largest such investment in history, and it is a good one. The gorgeous parks, meadows, rivers and mountains are beloved to all Americans — but they are both money-makers and job creators. They also generate good will.

According to the most current National Park Service activity report, over 318 million people visited these sites in 2018, and they spent $20.2 billion doing it. Visitor spending also created 268,000 jobs in “park gateway communities” adjacent to these areas. Ultimately, the parks and public lands generated $40.1 billion, according to the report, which was issued in 2019.

Mr. Trump has pleased a very specific demographic.

“The Great American Outdoors Act won the support of more than 850 conservation groups, along with 43 sportsmen and sportswomen groups,” the White House said in a statement, which also noted that those Americans who ventured into national parks during the coronavirus pandemic have noticed they were “in need of investment.”



Mr. Trump is intent on remedying that situation. Official estimates place the “national deferred maintenance backlog across all public lands” at $20 billion.

“I added it up: Five presidents, nine secretaries of the interior, and 10 secretaries of agriculture have worked on legislation to accomplish fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or enhancing our nation’s parks by addressing the backlog. Only one president got that done,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement.

Some background: The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964, authorizing use of funds generated by oil and natural gas development for conservation projects. Earlier this year, Mr. Trump signed the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act which made the Land and Water Conservation Fund a permanently authorized program — “forever and without the need for appropriation.”

MR. BIDEN HAS A SAY

“Why the hell would I take a test?”

That is what Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden told CBS News national correspondent Errol Barnett in an interview that will be released in full Thursday. Mr. Barnett asked the former vice president whether he planned to take a cognitive impairment test to gauge his mental acuity.

President Trump passed the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test in 2018 and earlier this year, according to press reports. The test screens for memory loss or signs of early dementia.

“It’s not the hardest test. It shows a picture and it says, ‘what’s that?’ And it’s an elephant,” Mr. Trump told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace in July.

Mr. Trump has challenged Mr. Biden to have the evaluation,

“I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test? Come on, man,” Mr. Biden told Mr. Barnett, then suggested the president “can’t figure out the difference between an elephant and a lion.”

The complete exchange will be released during a virtual convention hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

President Trump’s reelection campaign now poses a daily “Question of the day for Joe Biden.” Find it — and lots more — at DonaldJTrump.com, under the “News” section.

The current question for Mr. Biden: “Do you think it’s too much to ask for Americans to see a presidential debate before millions of voters start voting?”

CRUZ TAKES ON ANTIFA VIOLENCE

Sen. Ted Cruz is determined to point out to the public, the press and fellow lawmakers that riots are not peaceful protests. The Texas Republican has already introduced a resolution designating Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization. Mr. Cruz, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, also staged a hearing to further his cause.

“All 100 senators ought to come together and say, ‘Don’t murder your fellow citizens. Don’t attack police officers. Protect each other’s rights.’ Instead of seeing leaders united, we’re seeing too many local officials, mayors and governors, who have made a cynical decision that it’s in their partisan interest to turn a blind eye to this violence,” Mr. Cruz told his peers Wednesday, suggesting the officials “demonize” law enforcement officers and fail to protect citizens.

He noted that 700 police officers were injured during civil unrest that followed the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. The property damage in that city alone topped $500 million, Mr. Cruz said.

“It’s for that reason I’ve introduced legislation called the Reclaim Act. It provides that if you as an American, if you are injured, if your property is damaged, if your home is burned to the ground, if your business is destroyed during a riot, as a result of a decision of political leaders to deny you police protection, that you have a federal cause of action to sue the municipality or the city that has denied you police protection and has willfully looked away while your life was in danger, while your home or business was burned to the ground,” the senator said.

Sen. Mazie Hirono, Hawaii Democrat, walked out of the hearing after Mr. Cruz suggested she condemn Antifa.

“You’re welcome to say something negative about Antifa right now,” Mr. Cruz told her.

“I hope this is the end of this hearing, Mr. Chairman, and that we don’t have to listen to any more of your rhetorical speeches. Thank you very much. I’m leaving,” she replied.

“She declined to speak, so that is the position of the Democratic Party,” Mr. Cruz concluded.

POLL DU JOUR

41% of U.S. adults plan to vote “in person” on election day; 57% of Republicans, 40% of independents and 28% of Democrats agree.

40% overall plan to vote “by mail”; 21% of Republicans, 38% of independents and 57% of Democrats agree.

17% overall will vote “in person before the election”; 21% of Republicans, 17% of independents and 13% of Democrats agree.

3% overall do not plan to vote this year; 1% of Republicans, 5% of independents and 2% of Democrats agree.

Source: An ECONOMIST/YOUGOV poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted AUG. 2-4.

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