NEWS AND OPINION:
House Democrats are set to vote on their latest complicated spending bill later this week. The “Inflation Reduction Act” includes $80 billion to hire 87,000 IRS agents.
“If it passes, the IRS will have more agents to audit middle class families than the U.S. Border Patrol does to secure the border from cartels who are trafficking people and drugs into the United States every single day,” points out a brief analysis of the numbers compiled by the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The bill is downright “reckless,” the committee advised.
“Democrats’ priorities are clear: They have every intention of taking Americans’ hard-earned money, but no intention of keeping them safe,” noted committee spokesperson Torunn Sinclair in a statement shared with Inside the Beltway.
FOR THE LEXICON
This emphatic but precise new word is courtesy of Mark Finkelstein, a contributing editor to Newsbusters.org, a conservative press watchdog. He was inspired to come up with the word after watching MSNBC host Joe Scarborough’s two-minute commentary Tuesday on the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s home in Florida.
“Inevitably, Scarborough broke out his ‘fascist’ shtick, using the term nine times in one exchange with Michael Steele in describing Trump and his followers. The exchange ended with Scarborough literally screaming at the camera,” Mr. Finkelstein wrote in his review of the moment.
Mr. Steele, by the way, was a former lieutenant governor of Maryland who also served as chair of the Republican National Committee. He became an MSNBC analyst in 2011.
AND ABOUT THOSE JUDGES
There’s lots of talk about judges and courts these days. There are also lots of numbers involved in this domain as well.
“There are currently 75 vacancies on the federal judicial bench and another 42 judges are slated to retire or assume senior status in the weeks ahead,” reports Ballotpedia, an online political source.
“These vacancies are for Article III judgeships, a term used to describe judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court of International Trade, courts of appeal, and district courts. Article III judgeships are lifetime presidential appointments. All nominees are subject to Senate confirmation,” the report said.
“As of Aug. 1, President Biden had nominated 130 individuals to Article III judgeships. Fifty-six are in the confirmation process and 74 have been confirmed. When looking at presidents since Ronald Reagan, Mr. Biden is tied with former President Bill Clinton for the most Article III appointments made through Aug. 1 of the second year in office,” it noted.
With upcoming vacancies, the president and the U.S. Senate do not need to wait for a position to become vacant before starting the confirmation process for a successor. There are currently 18 nominees pending for upcoming vacancies.
“We don’t know when each vacancy will take place. Twenty-six judges did not announce a specific date when they will leave the bench. The next scheduled vacancy is Aug. 13, when Judge Gershwin Drain assumes senior status on the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan,” the report said.
MEANWHILE IN UKRAINE
The U.S. State Department is set to dole out $89 million to help rid Ukraine of treacherous landmines hidden by retreating Russian troops, a State Department official told reporters on Tuesday.
“Russian forces have reportedly booby trapped everything from cars to washing machines to dead bodies with explosives designed to seriously injure or kill civilians who discover them. In May, Russian troops placed explosives in a 10-year-old girl’s piano in Bucha, showing that they are deliberately targeting civilians,” noted a handy summary of the plans by DefenseOne.com.
The $89 million will cover 100 demining teams in Ukraine for the next year, and also fund their training and equipment. The money will not cover the perils of marine mines in the Black Sea, however.
“No American government personnel will be on the ground in Ukraine, the official said. The money will be given to non-governmental organizations to field the demining teams and to contractors who can train and equip locals, not directly to the Ukrainian government,” Defense One noted.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials estimate that an area the size of Virginia, Maryland and Connecticut combined could be “contaminated” by landmines and unexploded ordnance.
During the week of Aug. 1-7, Fox News marked 10 straight weeks was the top network in total cable prime-time — and this means all cable programming, news and non-news alike. Fox News garnered an average nightly audience of 2.1 million primetime viewers during the study period.
The network also marks 77 consecutive weeks topping its primary news rivals: MSNBC drew 978,000 viewers in primetime, CNN drew 656,000. In addition, Fox News aired 93 of the top 100 cable news telecasts for the week.
The ratings winner, however, was “The Five,” which enjoyed an average daily audience of 3.2 million. As usual, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was a close second, with 3.1 million viewers. In the morning hours, “Fox & Friends” bested its competition for the 72nd week in a row with 1.5 million viewers, compared to 858,000 who tuned into MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and 364,000 who went with CNN’s “New Day.”
In the media analysis derby, Fox News “MediaBuzz” hosted by Howard Kurtz nabbed 1.3 million viewers compared to CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with host Brian Stelter, which drew 810,000.
POLL DU JOUR
• 70% of U.S. adults think immigration is a “good thing for America.”
• 24% say it’s a “bad thing” for the nation; 7% have mixed feelings or don’t know.
• 38% say the immigration level in the U.S. should be decreased.
• 31% overall say the level should be kept at the present level.
• 27% overall say the level should be increased, 4% had no opinion on the issue.
SOURCE: A Gallup poll of 1.013 U.S. adults conducted July 5-26 and released Monday.
• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.