Washington Monthly

On Regulation and Immigration, the Supreme Court Tried to Seem Reasonable

The last day of the Supreme Court term unfolded as if it were a performance orchestrated by Chief Justice John Roberts to rebut the view that the Court has become an outpost of right-wing extremism. In the first of his two opinions for the concluding day, West Virginia v. EPA, Roberts wrote for a 6–3 conservative majority that the EPA lacked authority to promulgate the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Power Plan. But, contrary to the fears (or hopes) of many, his opinion neither discarded the doctrine called “Chevron deference” nor suggested that Congress lacked the constitutional authority to delegate broad regulatory powers to the EPA. In Biden v. Texas, he upheld the Biden administration’s discretion under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) not to return to Mexico non-Mexican nationals arriving in the United States from Mexico in order to await the results of their removal proceedings. In the latter case, Roberts wrote for himself, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and the three most liberal justices. (Justice Amy Coney Barrett, writing separately, said she agreed with Roberts’s statutory interpretation. She did not agree, however, that the Court had jurisdiction to decide the case at all.)
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Duterte, the Philippine Trump, Bids Farewell

His brand is law and order, but his criminal transgressions are on public display. His supporters don’t care. He seldom sets foot in church and boasts of his extramarital conquests. His base is devout and adores him. He has been diagnosed with antisocial, narcissistic personality disorder. The psychiatric report...

Meadows Aide Describes Trump Madhouse to January 6 Committee

Liz Cheney was nine years old when her father became Gerald Ford’s chief of staff. It’s little remembered now, but there were two assassination attempts on Ford in the autumn of 1975, both in California, one of the would-be killers being a Charles Manson disciple. I suspect the Vice Chair of the January 6 Committee remembers that era or recalls her father, the former Vice President, talking about it. She knows something about presidential security.

On Abortion, Trump Told Me Women Have to Face “Punishment”

Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade. This month, a Trump-weighted Court gave him that ruling. As a candidate, Trump adopted the “pro-life” position favored by many in the Republican Party. He did so without grasping the nature of that position. Unlike others in the GOP, who focus on penalties for the medical personnel performing the abortion, the star of The Apprentice spoke of invoking some “form of punishment” for the woman. He explicitly exempted the male involved in the unwanted pregnancy from any such punishment.

Who’s Going to Save Local Businesses From Amazon And Other Monopolies? The U.S. Postal Service.

“Consolidation amplifies inflation,” noted Washington Monthly senior editor Phillip Longman in his recent cover story for the July/August issue, “It’s the Monopoly, Stupid.” Longman wrote that when there are “so few players” in an industry, “it is easy to coordinate prices and output just by sending signals to one another in public.”

We May Not Have a Recession

The media’s view of the economy has turned dark. The Washington Post instructs, “How to Recession-Proof Your Life,” ABC News counsels, “How to Prepare for a Possible Recession,” and Bloomberg says, “U.S. Recession Is Now More Likely Than Not.” These doomsday reports are reliable clickbait, and faltering consumer confidence suggests that many people believe them. Yet they fail to consider what’s happening in business investment, employment, corporate profits, and consumer spending.

“I’ve Lost My Name”

“Be glad it’s 2020,” an anonymous caller told the Georgia election worker Shaye Moss, “and not 1920.”. The phrase “my blood ran cold” is sometimes figurative language. But not Tuesday afternoon, as Moss, an African American woman whose only offense was to work for the Fulton County Board of Elections, related the vile threats she received after Trump consigliere Rudy Giuliani accused her and her mother, Ruby Freeman, of introducing fake ballots into the count on Election Night 2020.

January 6, The Threat to Democracy, and Voters

There is a weird disconnect in American politics. Democracy has never been so threatened, the warnings about its demise so numerous, but the looming danger is not motivating voters to change the dynamics of the midterm elections. Republicans are a clear and present danger to democracy. However, they remain poised to perform very well in the upcoming elections—setting themselves up to topple America’s increasingly unstable presidential democracy.

Regulations Make Us Free

This Fourth of July, millions of Americans will celebrate (and others will curse) the tradition of setting off firecrackers. It’s a ritual that goes back to the country’s earliest years, when veterans of the Revolutionary War would shoot their muskets into the air on Independence Day. Half a century ago, however, the tradition was dying out—so many citizens were winding up in the ER with missing fingers that most states banned the sale of consumer fireworks. Then, in the 1970s, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) passed regulations strictly limiting how much gunpowder could be used in them. Since then, injury rates from firecrackers have plummeted, most states have dropped their bans, and sales have soared.

Jeff Bezos’s Next Monopoly: The Press

When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post in 2013, he quickly became aware of a longtime problem hobbling the entire news industry: The technology that news organizations employed to publish and make money from their content online was wildly inefficient and inadequate. Bezos also found a chief information...

Limitations of Statute

When the Supreme Court’s draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade leaked to the press in early May, liberal Americans reeled—then vaulted into action. Thousands of grassroots activists rallied, protested, and funneled tens of millions of dollars to nonprofits fighting back. In state capitals around the country, Democratic legislators and governors denounced the decision and, in Washington, congressional Democrats forced an ill-fated vote to codify Roe.

Sooner the Better

On October 28 of last year, after months of tense negotiations with progressive and moderate lawmakers in his own party, President Joe Biden walked into the East Room of the White House to announce a “framework” for his stalled Build Back Better bill. Among the policies that would be funded by the $1.75 trillion initiative was a $400 billion commitment to lower the cost of child care and expand access to pre-kindergarten. If enacted, the plan would “finally take us from 12 years to 14 years of universal education in America,” Biden said.

Why We Need Speechwriters Who Look Like America

One of the great unheralded pleasures of being a former presidential speechwriter is being inducted into the Judson Welliver Society, named after the first presidential speechwriter—the man who wrote the immortal words of Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Comprised of selected former White House speechwriters, the society includes scribes for every president since Harry Truman.

The AMA’s Dark Secret

The request seemed innocuous enough. Last week, I asked the American Medical Association if I could attend a meeting of the committee that largely determines the relative pay of various medical specialties. The Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) meets three times a year to consider changes and additions to...

Regulations Make Us Free

Twenty-five years ago, in U.S. News & World Report, I wrote this:. The mildly dangerous tradition of setting off firecrackers on the Fourth of July thrives across America, despite well-meaning efforts to stamp it out. This week, local news outlets will no doubt feature horrifying stories of children who have lost fingers and eyes in accidents with cherry bombs, roman candles, and the like. But these cautionary tales are no match for the powerful childhood memories of parents, particularly fathers.

Cognitive Dissonance in America’s Dairy Land

At “dinner” time—in the middle of the afternoon—the dairy farmer, his wife, a brother-in-law, and a couple of friends gathered around the big kitchen table. There was a ham, and a turkey, and gigantic bowls of potatoes and vegetables, and two pies on the kitchen counter.

How Mitch McConnell Made the Senate Even Worse

I met Ira Shapiro in 1976, when I joined a Senate committee as staff designee for Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson; Ira was working for Nelson at the time, and we became friends. (We still are.) Ira worked in the Senate over decades, crafting the body’s code of ethics and serving as chief of staff to West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller; he moved on to distinguished service as general counsel to America’s trade representative and to law practice, but he never lost his love for the Senate and its people. His first book, The Last Great Senate, reflected on the way the body functioned in its halcyon days, when we both worked there, with norms dedicated to solving national problems even as its structure and rules made it difficult and at times impossible (see, for example, civil rights). A large number of great statesmen—and an occasional stateswoman—elevated the discourse and when necessary rose above partisanship and pettiness.

Stop Thanking Vets and Start Listening To Them

Phil Klay, an eloquent veteran of the Marine Corps, is weary of people dwelling on the damage our recent wars have inflicted on our soldiers. Instead, he suggests, we should turn our attention to the shortcomings of a society that deploys soldiers carelessly and then forgets about them. “For veterans looking at the society that sent them to war, it may not feel like they’re the ones with the most serious problem,” observes Klay, who is best known for winning the National Book Award for his short-story collection, Redeployment, in 2014.