Allen Texas Shooting and the Debt Limit

The latest news says there are nine people dead from the Allen, Texas, mass shooting. Gov. Greg Abbott will be in Allen today to utter pointless words that will fail to address anything real about mass shootings. Already he is blaming “mental health,” which he does after every mass shooting. Note that in 2021 Abbott cut more than $200 million from the Texas department that handles mental health services.

However, the Texas legislature recently passed a bill that provides a lot of funding for better mental health services in schools, so I can’t say they’ve done nothing. But the Texas mall shooter was a man in his 30s, which is about all that news stories have said about him as of this writing.

And note, one more time, that according to the American Psychological Association there is no clear link between mental illness and mass shootings. And this is from the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry:

The public tends to link serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia or psychotic disorders, with violence and mass shootings. But serious mental illness—specifically psychosis—is not a key factor in most mass shootings or other types of mass murder. Approximately 5% of mass shootings are related to severe mental illness. And although a much larger number of mass shootings (about 25%) are associated with non-psychotic psychiatric or neurological illnesses, including depression, and an estimated 23% with substance use, in most cases these conditions are incidental.

I’ve read elsewhere that about a quarter of the U.S. population at any given time arguably has some kind of non-psychotic psychiatric or neurological illness, so the percentage of mass shooters with such conditions is about what you’d expect from any random sampling of people. And according to HHS, about 16.5 percent of Americans aged 12 and older have some kind of substance abuse problem, so drugs/alcohol might be a factor in some situations. But some shooters are stone cold sober at the time of the shootings.

And we go through all of this every time there’s a mass shooting, and the Greg Abbotts of America never get off the same talking points — mental illness, thoughts and prayers. Blah blah blah.

The Dumbest Response So Far award goes to Texas State Rep. Keith Self (R-Allen), who, in a mumbling defense of “thoughts and prayers,” more or less said that God lets shootings happen.

In other news: People are having fun with something Bill Barr said recently.

Digby: Now you admit it? Now?

By all accounts Bill Barr got himself into the Trump administration because he wanted to promote his long-held theory that the president has nearly unchecked power. Instead, he unwittingly held a national master class on why the unitary executive theory is a really, really bad idea.

Also: On the other hand, Lawrence Tribe is now on board with President Biden just declaring the debt ceiling irrelevant and authorizing the Treasury to borrow what it needs to borrow. I’m on board with that too, actually, and look forward to seeing the Chaos Caucus in the House devolve into a sputtering and toothless mass. We need to put a stop to this nonsense of allowing a handful of radicals hold the global economy hostage just to score political points. But here is a bit of what Tribe wrote (no paywall; do read the whole thing):

The question isn’t whether the president can tear up the debt limit statute to ensure that the Treasury Department can continue paying bills submitted by veterans’ hospitals or military contractors or even pension funds that purchased government bonds.

The question isn’t whether the president can in effect become a one-person Supreme Court, striking down laws passed by Congress.

The right question is whether Congress — after passing the spending bills that created these debts in the first place — can invoke an arbitrary dollar limit to force the president and his administration to do its bidding.

There is only one right answer to that question, and it is no.

And there is only one person with the power to give Congress that answer: the president of the United States. As a practical matter, what that means is this: Mr. Biden must tell Congress in no uncertain terms — and as soon as possible, before it’s too late to avert a financial crisis — that the United States will pay all its bills as they come due, even if the Treasury Department must borrow more than Congress has said it can.

The president should remind Congress and the nation, “I’m bound by my oath to preserve and protect the Constitution to prevent the country from defaulting on its debts for the first time in our entire history.” Above all, the president should say with clarity, “My duty faithfully to execute the laws extends to all the spending laws Congress has enacted, laws that bind whoever sits in this office — laws that Congress enacted without worrying about the statute capping the amount we can borrow.”

By taking that position, the president would not be usurping Congress’s lawmaking power or its power of the purse. Nor would he be usurping the Supreme Court’s power to “say what the law is,” as Chief Justice John Marshall once put it. Mr. Biden would simply be doing his duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” even if doing so leaves one law — the borrowing limit first enacted in 1917 — temporarily on the cutting room floor.


Also, too: This is a PayPal link to my “help me move back to New York” fundraiser. Thanks for all donations so far!

Update: Here is the GoFundMe link for those who don’t want to deal with PayPal.