NEWS AND OPINION:
There were some observers who declared that former President Donald Trump‘s speech before CPAC on Sunday was actually a State of the Union address. There is some truth to that. His comments covered the state of the union, the state of unity within the Republican Party and conservatism, and the prospects for the future.
Mr. Trump’s appearance, however, occurred just as the public, media and lawmakers themselves are wondering whether President Biden will make the traditional presidential speech before a joint session of the Congress.
Keep in mind, this speech would not be considered a State of the Union address, though it is often mistaken for one. Mr. Biden‘s actual official first state of the union address won’t occur until 2022.
The watch is on, however, for its pesky traditional congressional counterpart. In historical perspective, Mr. Trump gave his first address to Congress on Feb. 28, 2017; former President Barack Obama on Feb. 24, 2009; and former President George W. Bush on Feb. 27, 2001.
So where is the 46th president in all this?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi advised on Feb. 11 that Mr. Biden would not be making any big speeches until “we pass our COVID relief bill.” The House did that on Saturday.
Other factors, such as the threat of the virus in close quarters, and the security challenge on Capitol Hill, have been cited as a reason for the delay.
“We know that members of the militia groups that were present on Jan. 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible with a direct nexus to the State of the Union,” Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman told the House Appropriations Committee during an appearance Friday.
Mr. Biden has some time to prepare if and when he steps before Congress and a national audience.
“President Joe Biden‘s first address to a joint session of Congress is all but certain to slip into March, making it the latest debut presidential speech to lawmakers in decades,” Bloomberg News noted.
FOR THE LEXICON
Here’s a helpful little phrase to describe the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill just passed by the House of Representatives, this coined by Tommy Pigott, rapid response director for the Republican National Committee.
“The Democrats’ bill is not about the American people — it is a bloated progressive payoff where only 9% actually goes directly towards fighting the pandemic. It’s time for Democrats to stop the political games, and work with Republicans to reopen our schools and help the American people,” Mr. Pigott notes.
President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he adds, “are holding the American people hostage to pass a far-left wish list filled with a Jurassic amount of pork.”
NOW THERE’S A THOUGHT
“[President] Biden promised a return to normalcy, so why are there still troops and fences In D.C.?” asked Chris Bedford, senior editor of The Federalist, during an appearance on Federalist Radio.
He means Washington, D.C., of course.
“I don’t remember the Democrats running on this. I thought it was a return to normalcy and it was an end to the pandemic, shutting down the pandemic but not shutting down the country, and it was a return to decency. And instead, we’ve seen the occupation of Washington, for now, seven weeks,” Mr. Bedford observed.
‘WELFARE IN REVERSE’
And here’s one more commentary about the aforementioned relief bill, currently deemed as a “get America back to work” initiative.
There’s a new study out by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity — a nonprofit group founded by astute economic thinkers Stephen Moore, Arthur Laffer and Steve Forbes. It estimates the bill will eliminate roughly 5 million to 8 million American jobs.
“The bill would create one of the largest expansions in government welfare benefits since the birth of the modern welfare state. In combination with December’s $900 billion package, the new bill would expand the safety net to include six months of weekly $400 bonus unemployment benefits on top of the normal weekly benefits, a $3,000-a-child tax credit, an expansion of food stamps and rental assistance, $2,000-a-person checks, and expanded health benefits,” the trio noted in their analysis, first published in The Wall Street Journal.
“The Biden plan is welfare reform in reverse. It would repeal many of the successful work requirements dating to the Clinton era, and it contains only minimal requirements in exchange for its cash payments and other benefits,” they said.
Essentially, the relief bill would end up paying people more not to work than to work.
The study also details how the new package will pay Americans more money for not working than for returning to their jobs:
“In Kansas, a family of four with two unemployed adults who had earned U.S. median wages could get paid, including the Biden add-on package, the after-tax equivalent of more than $135,000 on an annual basis without working an hour. In Massachusetts, where state unemployment benefits are the highest in the nation, the figure is $170,000. This doesn’t include any housing or rental assistance the family may also receive. The Biden package of benefits would exceed the wages and salaries of at least 85% of households,” the three authors advised.
POLL DU JOUR
• 61% of U.S. adults say the possibility that students will fall behind academically without in-person instruction should be given “a lot” of consideration when deciding when to reopen schools.
• 54% say the possibility that “students’ emotional well-being will be negatively impacted if they don’t attend school in person” should be given a lot of consideration.
• 54% say “parents not being able to work if their children are at home” should be given a lot of consideration.
• 48% say the risk to teachers “of getting or spreading the coronavirus” should be given a lot of consideration.
• 45% say the COVID-19 risks to students should be given a lot of consideration.
• 31% say the financial cost to school systems of following public health guidelines for safe reopening should be given a lot of consideration.
SOURCE: A Pew Research Center American trends panel poll of 10,121 adults conducted Feb. 16-21.
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