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2019 in Photos: 35 pictures in politics | TheHill – The Hill

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See the photos chosen by The Hill’s photo editor, Greg Nash, of some of the events that shaped and influenced politics in 2019.

A runner passes overfilled trash cans at the Washington Monument during the partial government shutdown on Jan. 2. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBiden picks up endorsement from California Democrat Cárdenas Ocasio-Cortez: Trump ‘is afraid of strong women, of Latino women’ Sanders rolls out over 300 California endorsements MORE (D-N.Y.) greets Rep. Joseph Neguse’s (D-Colo.) daughter, Natalie, during the first day of the 116th session of Congress on Jan. 3. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump lashes out at Pelosi on Christmas, decries ‘scam impeachment’ Christmas Day passes in North Korea with no sign of ‘gift’ to US Prosecutors: Avenatti was M in debt during Nike extortion MORE presents fast food to reporters and photographers that will be served to the Clemson Tigers in celebration of their national championship at the White House on Jan. 14. (Chris Kleponis/Pool/Getty Images)

Post-it notes of encouragement are seen on the placard outside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) office on Jan. 17. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

Supporters of onetime Trump adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneTrump says he hasn’t thought about pardoning Roger Stone The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — House panel debates terms for impeachment vote Ex-Trump campaign official Gates sentenced to 45 days in jail MORE showed up on Jan. 29 at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington, D.C., where Stone pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a ‘failure’ Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE‘s probe into Russia’s election interference. (Stefani Reynolds/The Hill)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) speaks with reporters at a press conference at the governor’s mansion on Feb. 2 in Richmond as he denies allegations that he is pictured in a yearbook photo wearing racist attire. (Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump lashes out at Pelosi on Christmas, decries ‘scam impeachment’ Trump’s tweets became more negative during impeachment, finds USA Today Karl Rove argues Clinton’s impeachment was ‘dignified’ MORE (D-Calif.) motions to her caucus as President Trump gives his State of the Union address on Feb. 5. (Stefani Reynolds/The Hill)

 

President Trump’s onetime lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenWill the Supreme Court protect the rule of law, or Donald Trump? Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen asks judge to reduce sentence Trump request for Ukrainian ‘favor’ tops notable quote list MORE tears up during closing statements before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 27. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

A protester dressed as a swamp creature is seen during the confirmation hearing of Interior secretary nominee David Bernhardt on March 28. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsMcCarthy recommends Collins, Ratcliffe, Jordan to represent Trump in Senate impeachment trial House votes to impeach Trump ‘Irregardless’ trends on Twitter after Collins impeachment speech MORE (R-Ga.) holds up water bottles to counter House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerImpeachment’s historic moment boils down to ‘rooting for laundry’ Impeachment just confirms Trump’s leadership 2019 was a historic year for marijuana law reform — here’s why MORE‘s (D-N.Y.) point comparing former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report to Ken Starr’s report during a markup to issue subpoenas to five former Trump administration officials on April 3. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenGabbard under fire for ‘present’ vote on impeachment Gabbard votes ‘present’ on impeaching Trump Overnight Defense: Mattis downplays Afghanistan papers | ‘We probably weren’t that good at’ nation building | Judiciary panel approves two impeachment articles | Stage set for House vote next week MORE (D-Tenn.) eats chicken prior to a House Judiciary Committee hearing to discuss former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on May 3. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrMcCabe accuses Trump officials of withholding evidence in lawsuit over firing Trump says he hasn’t thought about pardoning Roger Stone Pornography consumption: The overlooked public health crisis MORE jokes with outgoing Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinRosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe Judge rules former WH counsel McGahn must testify under subpoena MORE during a farewell ceremony at the Department of Justice on May 9. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenLawyer for Giuliani associate to step down, citing client’s financial ‘hardship’ Buttigieg surrogate: Impeachment is ‘literally a Washington story’ Presidential candidates should talk about animals MORE throws his jacket to an aide before addressing supporters during his kickoff rally in Philadelphia on May 18. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

Retired NYPD detective Luis Alvarez gets a standing ovation as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee, advocating for the reauthorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund on June 11. (Aaron Schwartz/The Hill)

Former White House communications director Hope HicksHope Charlotte Hicks2019 in Photos: 35 pictures in politics Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe Former White House official won’t testify, lawyer says MORE is seen during a break in questioning by the House Judiciary Committee on June 19. (Aaron Schwartz/The Hill)

A flyover is seen during the “Salute to America” celebration at the Lincoln Memorial on July 4. (Aaron Schwartz/The Hill)

A child’s drawing from an immigration detention center is seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on July 12 to discuss President Trump’s family separation policy and alleged mistreatment of children in custody. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

Reps. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibTlaib to Republicans: ‘Your boy called Ukraine and bribed them’ McCarthy says impeachment ‘has discredited the United States House of Representatives’ Hillicon Valley: House panel unveils draft of privacy bill | Senate committee approves bill to sanction Russia | Dems ask HUD to review use of facial recognition | Uber settles sexual harassment charges for .4M MORE (D-Mich.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyHillicon Valley: House panel unveils draft of privacy bill | Senate committee approves bill to sanction Russia | Dems ask HUD to review use of facial recognition | Uber settles sexual harassment charges for .4M Democratic lawmakers call for HUD review of facial recognition in federal housing Ilhan Omar responds to ‘Conservative Squad’: ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ MORE (D-Mass.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOmar calls on US to investigate Turkey over possible war crimes in Syria Sanders surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Ilhan Omar responds to ‘Conservative Squad’: ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ MORE (D-Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) hold a press conference on July 15 to condemn President Trump’s recent tweets. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

Former special counsel Robert Mueller is sworn in before testifying to the House Judiciary Committee about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election on July 24. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

President Trump arrives to make remarks in front of a doctored presidential seal projected at the conservative Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit in Washington, D.C., on July 25. (Chris Kleponis/Pool/UPI Photo)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg surrogate: Impeachment is ‘literally a Washington story’ Michael Moore: Sanders can beat Trump in 2020 Buttigieg campaign introduces contest for lowest donation MORE (I-Vt.) and his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, are surrounded by staff, security and journalists as they walk along the midway at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 11 in Des Moines. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren in Christmas tweet slams CBP for treatment of detainees Buttigieg surrogate: Impeachment is ‘literally a Washington story’ Buttigieg campaign introduces contest for lowest donation MORE (D-Mass.) speaks to supporters at a house party in Hampton Falls, N.H., on Sept. 2. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

House Democrats talk to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Sept. 11 after a moment of silence for victims of the 2001 attacks. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

Climate activist Greta Thunberg participates in a youth climate protest on the Ellipse of the White House on Friday, Sept. 13. (Aaron Schwartz/The Hill)

Rep. Ted LieuTed W. Lieu2019 in Photos: 35 pictures in politics Democratic senators tweet photos of pile of House-passed bills ‘dead on Mitch McConnell’s desk’ Overnight Defense: Mattis downplays Afghanistan papers | ‘We probably weren’t that good at’ nation building | Judiciary panel approves two impeachment articles | Stage set for House vote next week MORE (D-Calif.) pauses his social media filming as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcConnell flexes reelection muscle with B gift for Kentucky McCarthy recommends Collins, Ratcliffe, Jordan to represent Trump in Senate impeachment trial Sunday shows preview: 2020 race heats up as impeachment moves to Senate MORE (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseA solemn impeachment day on Capitol Hill House votes to impeach Trump Overnight Defense: House poised for historic vote to impeach Trump | Fifth official leaves Pentagon in a week | Otto Warmbier’s parents praise North Korea sanctions bill MORE (R-La.) walk past to make a statement about the impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are seen during a photo-op in New York City at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) high-fives entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangButtigieg campaign introduces contest for lowest donation Yang asks ‘Where’s Tulsi?’ after video of Democratic candidates leaves her out Democratic strategist: Impeachment is ‘moral obligation’ MORE during the CNN/New York Times Democratic presidential debate at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, on Oct. 15. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Alex MooneyAlexander (Alex) Xavier Mooney2019 in Photos: 35 pictures in politics Ocasio-Cortez calls out GOP lawmakers asking to be arrested, citing privilege Ocasio-Cortez, Mooney spar on Twitter over closed-door impeachment hearings MORE (R-W.Va.) walks into a sensitive compartmented information facility, where Republicans were holding a protest during a closed-door impeachment inquiry hearing, with his phone on Oct. 23. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings pauses during a ceremony in Statuary Hall for her late husband, Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsOvernight Defense: House poised for historic vote to impeach Trump | Fifth official leaves Pentagon in a week | Otto Warmbier’s parents praise North Korea sanctions bill Pelosi opens impeachment debate: ‘Today we are here to defend the Democracy for the people’ Pelosi announces Porter, Haaland will sit on Oversight panel MORE (D-Md.), before he lies in state outside the House Chamber on Oct. 24. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

President Trump reacts to Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat as he welcomes the 2019 World Series champions to the White House on Nov. 4. (Kevin Dietsch/UPI Photo)

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandSchumer demands sensitive documents for impeachment trial Republicans eschew any credible case against impeachment Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: ‘What is Trump hiding?’ MORE arrives to give testimony before the House Intelligence Committee during an impeachment inquiry hearing on Nov. 20. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

President Trump holds his notes while speaking to the media before departing from the White House on Nov. 20.
(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lashes out at a reporter after he questioned whether she hated President Trump at the conclusion of her weekly press conference on Dec. 5. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

A Republican aide for the House Judiciary Committee puts a sign up before a markup of H.R. 755, articles of impeachment against President Trump, on Dec. 12. (Greg Nash/The Hill)

The House votes on the second article of impeachment against President Trump on Dec. 18. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Pool)

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Abortion ruling pushes businesses to confront divisive politics – PBS NewsHour

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The Supreme Court’s decision to end the nation’s constitutional protections for abortion has catapulted businesses of all types into the most divisive corner of politics.

Some companies that stayed silent last month — when a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to Politico — spoke up for the first time Friday, including The Walt Disney Company, which said it will reimburse employees who must travel out of state to get an abortion.

Facebook parent Meta, American Express, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs also said they would cover employee travel costs while others like Apple, Starbucks, Lyft and Yelp reiterated previous announcements taking similar action. Outdoor clothing maker Patagonia went so far as to post on LinkedIn Friday that it would provide “training and bail for those who peacefully protest for reproductive justice” and time off to vote.

But of the dozens of big businesses that The Associated Press reached out to Friday, many like McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Tyson and Marriott did not respond. Arkansas-based Walmart — the nation’s largest employer with a good portion of its stores in states that will immediately trigger abortion bans following the Friday’s Supreme Court ruling — also kept quiet.

Meanwhile, the Business Roundtable, an organization that represents some of the nation’s most powerful companies, said it “does not have a position on the merits of the case.”

READ MORE: The ‘air is thick with disbelief and grief’ at a Louisiana clinic as abortion ends

A lot is at stake for companies, many of which have publicly pledged to promote women’s equality and advancement in the workplace. For those in states with restrictive abortion laws, they could now face big challenges in attracting college-educated workers who can easily move around.

Luis von Ahn, the CEO of the language app Duolingo, sent a tweet Friday aimed at lawmakers in Pennsylvania, where the company is headquartered: “If PA makes abortion illegal, we won’t be able to attract talent and we’ll have to grow our offices elsewhere.”

The ruling and the coming patchwork of abortion bans also threatens the technology boom in places like Austin, Texas as companies like Dell — which was already becoming more flexible to remote work because of the tight labor market — struggle to recruit newly minted tech graduates to their corporate hubs, said Steven Pedigo, a professor who studies economic development at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Rather than stay in Austin, do you go to New York or Seattle or the Bay Area? I think that’s a real possibility,” Pedigo said. “It becomes much more challenging, particularly when you’re looking at a young, progressive workforce, which is what technology workers tend to be.”

Emily M. Dickens, chief of staff and head of government affairs for the Society for Human Resource Management, said in a statement that nearly a quarter of organizations in a recent poll agreed that offering a health savings account to cover travel for reproductive care in another state will enhance their ability to compete for talent.

“But how these policies interact with state laws is unclear, and employers should be aware of the legal risks involved,” she said.

Dickens noted that companies that use third-party administrator to process claims on their behalf — typically big employers — are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act rather than state law. But companies that have to buy their own health insurance for their employees — typically small businesses — are subject to state regulations and have less flexibility in designing benefits.

READ MORE: Missouri’s last abortion clinic finds itself in center of Roe fallout

Offering to cover travel expenses could also make companies a target for anti-abortion lawmakers. In March, Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain, a Republican, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Citigroup, saying he would propose legislation barring localities in the state from doing business with any company that provides travel benefits for employees seeking abortions.

In his concurring opinion released Friday, Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested it would be unconstitutional for a state to bar residents from traveling to another state to get an abortion.

“In my view, the answer is no based on the constitutional right to interstate travel,” Kavanaugh wrote.

[embedded content]

But a corporation’s right to fund what would be an illegal act in another state is still questionable, argues Teresa Collett, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas.

“That’s not an interstate commerce question, per se,” she said. “So you’d need the right plaintiff.”

Meanwhile, tech companies are facing tough questions about what they’ll do if some of their millions of customers in the U.S. are prosecuted for having an abortion. Services like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft routinely hand over digital data sought by law enforcement agencies pursuing criminal investigations. That’s raised concerns from privacy advocates about enforcers of abortion laws tapping into period apps, phone location data and other sensitive online health information.

A letter Friday from four Democrats in Congress called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the phone-tracking practices of Google and Apple, warning that location identifiers used for advertising could fall into the hands of prosecutors or bounty hunters looking “to hunt down women who have obtained or are seeking an abortion.”

The Supreme Court ruling comes at a time when companies have become increasingly reliant on women to fill jobs, and especially as they face a nationwide labor shortage. Women now account for nearly 50% of the U.S. workforce, up dramatically from 37.5% in 1970 — three years before the Supreme Court ruled abortions to be legal in Roe vs. Wade — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Denied access to abortion could hit low-income workers the hardest because they’re typically in jobs with fewer protections and that are also demanding, from loading groceries onto store shelves to working as a health aide.

“As a direct result of this ruling, more women will be forced to choose between paying their rent or traveling long distances to receive safe abortion care,” said Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union, which represents nearly 2 million janitors, health care workers and teachers in the U.S. “Working women are already struggling in poverty-wage jobs without paid leave and many are also shouldering the caregiving responsibilities for their families, typically unpaid.”

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants told The Associated Press that the ruling was “devastating.”

“It cuts to the core of all the work that our union has done for 75 years,” she said. “This decision is not about whether or not someone supports abortion. That’s the distraction … This is about whether or not we respect the rights of women to determine their own future.”

Maurice Schweitzer, a professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, said the handful of companies are taking a stand on the court’s ruling because their customers and employees are expecting them to speak out.

“We’re in this moment in time where we’re expecting corporate leaders to also be leaders in the political sphere,” he said. “A lot of employees expect to work in companies that not only pay them well, but whose values are aligned with theirs.”

But the vast majority of executives will likely avoid the thorny topic and focus on things like inflation or supply chain disruptions, he said.
That, too, comes with risks.

“They can either support travel for out-of-state care and risk lawsuits and the ire of local politicians, or they can not include this coverage and risk the ire of employees,” Schweitzer said.
___
AP business writers Matt O’Brien in Providence, Rhode Island; Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit; Barbara Ortutay in San Francisco; David Koenig in Dallas and Ken Sweet in New York contributed to the story.

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Opinion: The vacuum at the centre of Canadian politics: an incompetent, unethical government faces an intemperate, unhinged opposition – The Globe and Mail

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Over the last few weeks and months it has become impossible to escape the feeling that Canadian politics has come loose from its moorings. There is a manic edge to it, as if the inmates had suddenly and collectively declared themselves absolved of any remaining obligations to common sense, or the ordinary routines of democratic politics, or the rule of law.

On the one hand, you have a Liberal government that is now embroiled in half a dozen crises of its own making, the fruit of a peculiar mix of cynicism, moral vanity, incompetence, doctrinaire ideology and apparently habitual abuse of power – a culture that originates with the leader, to be sure, but which appears to have spread throughout the party.

Thus you have, simultaneously, the airport mess, the passport mess, and the Russian embassy party mess; the abject retreat on vaccine mandates, in the face of a panicky Liberal backbench; the revelations that its centrepiece climate plan is in disarray, its 2030 carbon emissions reductions targets acknowledged, within government, to be a distant fantasy; all while it is engaged in the utter madness of attempting to regulate the internet, through no fewer than three separate bills.

That’s four or five ministers in trouble, and we haven’t even got to the matter of the Public Safety Minister, Marco Mendicino – and, let us not forget, the Prime Minister – apparently lying to Parliament about why they invoked the Emergencies Act, and on whose advice.

Or, worst yet, the jaw-dropping allegation that the Prime Minister’s Office, and the then Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair, prevailed upon the commissioner of the RCMP, Brenda Lucki, to interfere in the investigation of the murder of 22 people by a gunman in Nova Scotia two years ago, for the purpose of selling gun control legislation the government had planned.

The allegation, that Ms. Lucki demanded local RCMP officers reveal to the public, contrary to procedure and at the risk of compromising the investigation, the precise make and model of the guns the killer used, has been officially denied. Nevertheless it is hard to shake: the allegation is precise, detailed, and contained in a contemporaneous note by the officer involved.

More to the point, whether or not the allegation is true, it is easy to believe this government, and this Prime Minister, would be capable of it. Seize on a horrible crime to unveil showboating legislation, cooked up on the fly, to no apparent public benefit? Checks out. Lean on a law enforcement official to meddle in what is supposed to be an independent legal process, wholly off limits to politicians? What was SNC-Lavalin about?

So much for the government: tired, directionless, massively overcentralized, coasting on self-satisfaction and increasingly overwhelmed by the actual business of governing, including the tiresome necessity of respecting the rights of Parliament and the principle of the rule of law.

But what lurks across the aisle? What of the government-in-waiting, Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the Conservative Party of Canada? How are they shaping up as an alternative?

Funny you should ask. The party is just now in the throes of a leadership race – the traditional opportunity for a party in opposition to define itself, and its core beliefs. What, by the lights of the current campaign, are the core beliefs of the Conservative Party? On matters of ordinary policy, things like deficits and taxes and foreign policy, we are not much further ahead than when we started.

But if it’s lunatic conspiracy theories you would like to know about, on these the Conservatives have plenty to say, ranging from unfounded fears about the health effects of vaccines, to paranoia about the baleful influence of the World Economic Forum, to the dystopian possibilities of central bank digital currencies, as a means of surveilling and controlling the population – or if you really want to know the “truth,” how all of these are bound up together.

On the day after the allegation surfaced, earlier this week, that the government had interfered in a murder investigation for political ends – a day that ought to have been reserved for asking the most searching questions of those involved – several Conservative MPs were feting the organizers of a new anti-vaccine, anti-government, anti-everything rally planned for Ottawa this summer, some of whom were involved in the one that paralyzed the capital for three weeks earlier this year. Just in case anyone had forgotten the party’s disgraceful cheerleading for that particular outbreak of lawlessness.

It isn’t only at the federal level that Conservatives seem to have abandoned their traditional belief in law and order. The Alberta Conservative leadership race has barely begun, yet has already featured proposals either to ignore the Constitution altogether – that is, to refuse to enforce federal laws the provincial government dislikes – or to dictate constitutional changes to the rest of the country that have no actual hope of passing.

There is precedent for this, of course, notably in the revolutionary fantasies of certain Quebec separatist leaders. But given how signally these have failed, and how much worse it would have been for the province if they had succeeded, it’s hard to imagine anyone citing them as an example to follow, rather than avoid. Yet that is where we have arrived, in both Quebec and Alberta – with political leaders pretending they can rewrite the Constitution unilaterally.

At the federal level we would seem to be left with something of a vacuum, with neither main party displaying much interest in governing responsibly. This is sometimes described as “polarization,” as if the problem could be solved by everyone agreeing to meet in the centre. Not so: this country has big, challenging issues confronting it, some of which may require radical changes in policy. Radicalism is not the same as extremism.

What’s needed is not centrism, if that is interpreted to mean blindly hugging the middle on every issue. Neither is pragmatism the answer, if that means governing without an ideological compass, but merely blowing this way and that according to the latest poll or interest group lobby.

What’s needed – what is sorely lacking – is judgment: political, moral, intellectual. Judgment is the foundation of leadership, and leadership is the only way we’re going to get back to something resembling functional politics.

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Are Politics A Problem For The Markets? – Forbes

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As an economist and market analyst, I try to shy away from politics and focus on the facts. Nonetheless, I often receive politically charged questions that are usually some variation of the following: “With X party in office, the country is doomed. How can you say otherwise?” I have heard this in every presidential election from George W. Bush to Joe Biden. But the truth of the matter is this: both the economy and the markets grew during all of those administrations. Of course, each one had its own challenges and problems, but as a country we continued to move forward. Companies found ways to grow and make money. Given this, are politics really a problem for the markets?

A Limited Effect

No matter which side, the administration actually has a very limited effect on the national economy and on the financial markets. In fact, if you look at a chart of the economy or of the markets, and cover up the dates, you really can’t pick out when your party was in charge. Similarly, when you look at economic and market performance under various permutations of which party is in charge, there are differences, but they are not consistent over time. For all of the headlines and the fearmongering, politics and governance don’t make a significant difference.

Who’s In Control?

How can that be? Simple. Every president and Congress would like to have control—but they don’t. States push back. The Supreme Court pushes back. Municipalities push back. It is rare that something significant actually gets through. And even when it does? The genius of the American system is that companies then set their collective minds on how to avoid it, if they don’t like it, and/or how to make money off it. For example, look at literally any tax bill ever passed.

Fundamentally, that is the strength of the American system. When you say that Washington will derail the economy or the markets, you are saying that it really controls all of the shoppers and the companies, which simply isn’t true. It is certainly in the interest of politicians to exaggerate their power (to motivate their supporters) and to exaggerate their opponents’ powers (again, to motivate their supporters). But the fact of the matter is that the U.S. economy is driven by millions of profit-motivated companies that will find ways to work around or profit from pretty much anything the politicians can do. Thank goodness for that.

Which doesn’t answer those who maintain that this time is different. That somehow today’s problems are worse than they have ever been before. There is always a constituency for panic. But if you really believe that, if you really believe that Washington—of one party or the other—can derail the country, then what you are saying is that Washington already has full control. That is not what I see when I look around.

This Too Will Pass

What I see is the same vivid debate on policy we have always had and the same back-and-forth that ultimately results in a reasonable solution. Perhaps it is louder now, but it is still the same process.

One of my favorite quotes, from Winston Churchill, notes that you can always count on Americans to do the right thing once they have tried all the alternatives. I would argue that is what is happening now and that despite the short-term damage, which can be real, ultimately we will move ahead again.

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