The Wall Returns!, Budget Deal, Mueller, Facebook Fine, California Cuts a Deal
Mike and Jay kick off the show by looking at the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision allowing construction of a Mexico border wall to move forward pending litigation. The Court’s five conservatives didn’t rule on the substance of President Trump’s action but indicated that the plaintiffs were unlikely to have standing to sue. Jay feels that the court got it right, though Mike is more inclined to side with the four liberals who dissented, arguing that once the wall is up, the harm that’s been done cannot be undone and so building should be on hold until the matter is resolved.
Next, they talk about the testimony of former special counsel Robert Mueller before Congress. It was certainly political theater, but Mike feels it was a worthwhile ‘Hail Mary’ shot and bringing the often dry contents of the Mueller Report to life, even if it was unlikely to sway many people. Both Jay and Mike agree that Mueller’s performance in this political theater wasn’t very strong, though Jay still believes there will be both an impeachment inquiry and impeachment proceedings. Mike doesn’t see that happening.
After that, the Guys discuss a rare bit of bipartisanship - the two year budget and debt ceiling deal. Jay, like many fiscal conservatives, doesn’t like the fact that it raises spending by nearly a third of a trillion dollars without providing any way to pay for it. Mike points out that not all deficit spending is bad, and that the U.S. is able to borrow at extremely low rates of interest - investing that money in things with a higher return is smart, though he admits that this doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. He also points out that we’d be in much better shape if not for the massive GOP tax cut.
Following that is a look at the deal Facebook made with the FTC, agreeing to pay an unprecedented $5 billion fine as well as comply with a number of checks on its practices to better ensure user privacy. Mike wishes the deal had pushed Facebook more, but feels that on balance it may have been preferable to a long, drawn out legal battle with a highly uncertain conclusion. Jay agrees, though he’s less conflicted about it than Mike, and more reluctant to call for action such as breaking up Facebook or other big tech companies.
The show closes with a discussion of an emissions deal the state of California made with four auto manufacturers who together make up 30 percent of the US auto market. The car companies agreed to increased emissions standards that are lower than called for by Obama-era regulations, but higher than the freeze in standards the Trump administration is pushing for. Mike’s a bigger supporter of higher emission standards than Jay, but they both agree that California has a legal right to set its own standards and that if the Trump administration wants to change that, they should do so through the legislative process, not via administrative fiat.
Thanks to the great folks at Total Recorder. (This isn’t an ad, just appreciation for some help they recently gave us. Great recording software and excellent customer service.)