So Much for Oversight

When he signed the phase three relief bill yesterday, Trump added a signing statement saying that the oversight part of the bill wouldn’t be enforced, and he’s not too keen on some other parts, either.  Here is the signing statement, obviously written for Trump by some lawyers, if you want to read it.

Charlie Savage wrote in the New York Times,

In a signing statement released hours after Mr. Trump signed the bill in a televised ceremony in the Oval Office, the president suggested he had the power to decide what information a newly created inspector general intended to monitor the fund could share with Congress.

Under the law, the inspector general, when auditing loans and investments made through the fund, has the power to demand information from the Treasury Department and other executive branch agencies. The law requires reporting to Congress “without delay” if any agency balks and its refusal is unreasonable “in the judgment of the special inspector general.” …

… But in his statement, which the White House made public about two hours after the president signed the bill, Mr. Trump suggested that under his own understanding of his constitutional powers as president, he can gag the special inspector general for pandemic recovery, known by the acronym S.I.G.P.R., and keep information from Congress.

Of course, the only reason he would want to keep such information from Congress is that he’s funneling the money to his deep pocket political supporters and his own businesses. An honest president wouldn’t have any problem with the oversight.

In other news, now Trump is pushing to get his signature on the $1200 checks going out to individuals. Usually, a disbursing officer’s signature would be on such checks. Those of us who get tax refunds through direct deposit will avoid the dreaded signature, of course. But considering that the paper checks will be considerably slower than the direct deposits, possibly by months, this may not do Trump any good, politically. (Does anyone remember if George Dubya Bush’s “tax rebate” checks of 2001 had his signature on them?)

Among the weirder bits of news today — Trump announced he was “thinking about” putting a quarantine on New York, and maybe New Jersey and parts of Connecticut as well. It’s not clear to me whether “New York” refers to the city or the state. It’s also not clear to me what good that would do now. Andrew Cuomo was not consulted.

Must Reads

The Lost Month: How a Failure to Test Blinded the U.S. to Covid-19, the New York Times.

Executive summary: Everyone in an administrative capacity in the Trump Administration is grossly incompetent, with the exception of Dr. Fauci.

The missing six weeks: how Trump failed the biggest test of his life, the Guardian.

“The US response will be studied for generations as a textbook example of a disastrous, failed effort,” Ron Klain, who spearheaded the fight against Ebola in 2014, told a Georgetown university panel recently. “What’s happened in Washington has been a fiasco of incredible proportions.”

9 thoughts on “So Much for Oversight

  1. I do not believe Democrats have the moral fortitude (Balls is a monosyllable but anatomically inaccurate as Liz Warren and AOC have shown.) to stare down the administration with a warning that the clause on oversight is binding and anyone who defies a subpoena to appear before Congress is subject to prosecution by the DOJ in 2021. Not that it matters, I think I suggested that oversight in the bill had to be linked to criminal penalties or Trump would direct people to ignore Congress and the law. 

    Nancy needs to note on the floor of the House that 40 of Nixon's people were indicted as a result of Watergate. She needs to note that if you are breaking the law by direction of the POTUS, that provides no protection if when the president leaves office. She won't. She's done a lot of savvy things but she doesn't have the moral fortitude to threaten people in DC with jail time for criminal offenses. She's going to extend immunity, even to Trump people because she expects immunity herself and for her people, many of whom are on the wrong side of the law. Example: If Feinstein knew the threat of a pandemic and she sold stock, it was in anticipation of a downturn based on inside information. That's criminal. 

  2. I knew "oversight" would be meaningless. Even without the signing statement, Congress is more and more supine w/r/t Trump.

    A signing statement isn't even necessary. It's more for Trump to show everyone who's boss.

  3. The articles from the Guardian and the New York Times are a must read and a reread might be in order also.  When clear and factual information is presented in a readable and organized way, one can get a view of the big picture of the problems we face.  Many thanks for the great guidance in this regard.  

    It seems the testing SNAFUs (Situation Normal All Fouled/F***ed Up) are at the heart of Americas problems in virus response.  South Korea's competency in testing (along with adult leadership) let them get ahead of the curve.  Testing allows one to see the problem, and then lets proper decisions to be made.

    For those in critical positions who must work with those infected by the virus, testing is essential.  We cannot expect workers to provide care if they do not have confidence their co-workers are not infecting them, they  are not infecting their co-workers, and that protective gear and procedures are working.  This requires tests that are quick, reliable, valid, inexpensive, and as painless as possible.  The concerns of the test giver and of those getting the tests both need competent attention.   That competent attention needs competent leadership, and we all know the problems we have there. 

    • And the next-worst rating is FUBAR, which the Navy (who loves acronyms) would go ballistic over when it showed in logs. F0uled/Fu**ed Up Beyond All Repair.  

  4. Unless someone explained to Baby Dumplin` what it is all about , then he wouldn`t know what he signed as he`s dyslexic .

  5. The question over signing statements may not be how Congress reacts, but how the courts will react under FOI requests. I'm not sure the courts will accept that how the government distributes money to corporations can be "classified."

  6. A. I think any number of courts in the USA will eagerly accept that how our government spends this money can be hidden from us.  


    B. The attempt to brand federal aid as cmng from one party was done in Canada where, under conservative Stephen Harper, letterhead etc. we're redone, changing from "Government of Canada" to "The Harper Government".

    • As Funkadelic might say:

      "One nation under a fool, getting screwed just for the hell of it!"

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