On April 22, 2020, Senate Majority Leader Mitt McConnell stated that he is in favor of letting states swamped with high public employee pension costs, who are now pushed to the limit because of the Wuhan virus pandemic, to declare bankruptcy instead of receiving a federal bailout.
“I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route,” he declared on April 22 in response to a question that conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked him that day. “It’s saved some cities, and there’s no good reason for it not to be available.”
Hewitt alluded to California, Illinois and Connecticut as states that have bloated public sector union benefits. McConnell expressed his reluctance to pile up more debt through more bailouts.
“You raised yourself the important issue of what states have done, many of them have done to themselves with their pension programs,” he stated. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.”
McConnell’s remarks provoked great criticism from state and local officials.
New Jersey Democrat Governor Phil Murphy, said he was shocked by McConnell’s remarks, which he called “completely and utterly irresponsible.”
“He’s dead wrong. You have my word we won’t go bankrupt,” he stated. Without cash to states, Murphy commented, governors will be compelled to “gut the living daylights out of every state of America,” cutting budgets and eliminating essential services.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio went on Twitter and said that McConnell “wants police officers to lose their jobs. He wants firefighters to go broke. He wants hospitals to close and sick people thrown out on the street.”
McConnell’s statements were also countered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said on Bloomberg Television on April 21 that a “major package” of aid for state and local government will be tacked on to the next stimulus legislation that Congress is considering.
McConnell may also find himself in at odds with President Donald Trump. The president said April 21 after meeting with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that states will need assistance. “And I think most Republicans agree too, and Democrats,” Trump said. “And that’s part of phase four.”
On Fox News, McConnell said that any state or local aid must be specifically connected to the pandemic and shouldn’t be used for the purpose of “revenue replacement.”
“We’re not interested in solving their pension problems for them,” McConnell stated. “We’re not interested in rescuing them from bad decisions they’ve made in the past. We’re not going to let them take advantage of this pandemic to solve a lot of problems that they created for themselves with bad decisions in the past.”
Other skeptics of a federal bailout of the states say it would be in violation the federalist system and the sovereignty of states as outlined in the Constitution. If states were allowed to seek bankruptcy protection in federal court, a judge and Congress could exercise influence over states’ fiscal policy.
The National Governors Association claims that states and municipalities will need at least $500 billion in aid to handle the crisis brought about by the Wuhan virus pandemic as tax revenue plummets and demand for services grows.
The last time states have defaulted on debts was the Great Depression.
With looming economic uncertainty, many high-spending states could be in for a wild economic ride.
If Democrats Win, Will Guns Sales Go Through the Roof?
No matter who wins in 2020, the biggest story of this election cycle has been the record levels of gun sales. In a piece titled “Guns Sales Break Records With Gun Control Legislation Likely If Democrats Win”, Newsweek highlights the meteoric rise of gun sales in 2020 and how these sales will only go up under a Biden administration.
It’s likely that a Biden win on November 3, 2020 will give life to gun control measure such as universal background checks, assault weapons bans, and national gun buybacks. Scott Reeves of Newsweek noted that “coronavirus pandemic, urban riots and the likelihood of increased regulation if the Democrats win the White House, regain control of the Senate and hold the House” have led to the unprecedented firearms sales. A Biden win would only accelerate this trend, as people become frightened by the prospect of gun control.
Through September, background checks recorded by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reached 28.826 million. This total surpassed 2019’s record of 28.369 million, representing a 28 percent increase, according to the FBI report. As of September 30, Illinois was leading the nation in background checks with 5.6 million. Reeves noted that other states such as Kentucky (2.364 million) checks, Texas (1.730 million), Florida (1.386 million), Indiana (1.203 million), California (1.187 million) and Pennsylvania (1.030 million), were also experiencing significant upticks in gun sales.
Since NICS came into effect on November 1998, a total of 361.830 million background checks for all purposes have been completed since the program began in November 1998.
Zogby Analytics provided some more data showing how enthusiastic Americans are about buying guns:
Zogby Analytics in Utica, New York found that the number of gun owners increased 3.9% between October 2019 and October 2020 to 31.3% of the population. The number of individuals in a household keeping a gun at home, work, vacation cottage or club for personal protection, hunting or target shooting increased 7% to 42.2% in the last year. Membership in the National Rifle Association, a gun rights advocacy group, increased 6% to 17.7% in the last year, Zogby’s polling found.
“While there is fierce debate in Washington D.C. and among voters about what certain types of guns and accessories constitute ‘assault weapons,’ adults in the U.S. are buying and keeping more guns,” Jonathan Zogby declared.
Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, an anti-Second Amendment organization, is of the opinion that uncertainty brought about by the Wuhan virus pandemic, riots, and the election are contributing factors to the rise in gun sales.
“Typically, gun sales rise in times of fear,” he said to Newsweek. “We live in a time when there’s a lot of fear, including fear that there might be more gun regulation with a Democratic President and Democratic majorities in Congress. And, there’s been a lot of unrest.”
Americans actions speak louder than their words. Even if Joe Biden does the unthinkable (and the very unlikely) by winning on November 3, his administration will encounter stiff resistance from gun-owning Americans across the political spectrum.
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