Let’s clean out the notebook ...
• My take on the federal shutdown: Could it have been avoidable? Heck, yeah, it could have been avoidable. The two sides have not been that far apart, as both sides want the children’s insurance. Even many in the House, if truthful, would approve the Dreamers program, although that may also take some give on the wall and leadership may be more dug in against amnesty. What you are seeing is political posturing and leveraging on both sides, with little essentially changed except coming up on the deadline. Many Democrats are not be happy that they did not secure the Dreamers relief in legislation, but polls show running the government ranks higher. I do think both sides will get the Dreamer situation worked out in time; it will be a mark on the GOP if they do not, but many Dreamers are not happy with Democrats right now, either.
Of course, the big question mark is the president, who is becoming so unpredictable that no one knows how to negotiate. The problem with the meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was that by later in the day, President Trump talked to other aides who turned him around again, leading him to back off from earlier agreements with Schumer. If the president is supposed to lead in these situations, it seems unworkable because he flips and sways so easily, based on the last person he talked to. I take it in the end, senators from both parties had to do it the old-fashioned way and work out a compromise, as they were the adults in the room.
On the other hand, maybe it is the staff that is causing some of the problems. I watched an unedited hallway interview with Sen. Lindsey Graham gave over the weekend, who said the president’s staff, particularly Steven Miller, have intervened in ways that have been unhelpful, such as adding demands or issues that have not been needed or agreed to earlier. If that is the case, it will not help matters and only worsens the argument that the White House in general can’t be trusted to negotiate with.
Meanwhile, Trump’s one-year anniversary was ruined, for sure, with a shutdown coupled with polls showing him at record first-year lows.
One thing I get from reports at mid-week is that some are taking tougher stands and some Democrats feel Schumer gave in too early. We could see this drama played again. Republicans may give more resistance than expected to the Dreamers, or amnesty as I’ve heard it, which may mean the whole final deal in the Senate means nothing. And with nine Democrats needed in the Senate to yet and pressure rising to do something more permanent, it could be a very bumpy road, especially in an election year.
• I won’t say much about the war between the Sheriff Jim Underwood and the Walker County Commission except to say this: Both sides sincerely feel they are in the right, that they are trying to do the best thing for the taxpayers and for the county government. They are entrenched, and now it is tied to the courts. It is early in the budget year, but some resolution has to come eventually to again avoid problems. Everyone feels that legislators will not work during an election year to put a tax back on the ballot (and some are pessimistic even beyond then).
And added to all this is the June primaries could be considered a referendum on the matter; if no Democrat runs and Underwood wins, the commission is stuck. If an opponent wins, we might have to wait for a switch over past November, which is also past the start of the new budget year (unless Underwood were to resign and the governor appoints the winner). If there is a Democrat, everything is on hold until past November. so fasten your seatbelts, because it could be a long year.
• I notice Todd Fetter’s book that was featured recently, “The One Things: A Heartwarming Story About What’s Most Important,” is on sale at Amazon, in various editions, including Kindle. The book is illustrated by Caleb Grace of Jasper. However, Fetter can be contacted at 205-412-3128 to get a Jase Meeks edition, which will support the Jase Meeks Memorial Scholarship at Desperation College. Fetter and Grace both attend Desperation Church in Jasper.
• I can understand about Rick Allison’s hesitation about giving up the probate judge’s seat — it would likely have been safe, and starting retirement is always a big step. Now that it is done, and in the middle of the qualifying (better late than never), we will have a last-minute, three-week soul search among potential candidates, as this is a prime position to snag.
• I imagine accountants are especially glad that the government shutdown was settled quickly. IRS personnel were among those laid off, and accountants are already under pressure to find answers to questions arising from the new tax bill. A prolonged shutdown would have been disasterous to taxpayers, as IRS personnel has already been cut in recent years.
• I am still experimenting with the Echo Dot, which I got on sale for $30 at Black Friday. I know one friend who has found it useful for communicating with the kids, but in my case it has only been used for weather and news reports, and from time-to-time some music. My biggest aggravation is I will be talking on the phone and the device interrupts saying it can’t understand me, which I didn’t want it to since I didn’t say the magic word, “Alexa.” (If you had a child named Alexa, I don’t even want to know what would happen.)
• Tech and communication services appear to be going up. Netflix is going up to $11 a month, and Amazon is increasing its Prime monthly price (if not the $99 annual price) from $10.99 to $12.99. SiriusXM Radio is raising several of its subscription rates. I got to thinking the other day how TV and radio used to be free, even if you didn’t have many choices. But it was free. (Then again, so was the static and fuzzy picture ... )
Ed Howell is the Daily Mountain Eagle’s news editor.