As a former corporate pilot for Cirrus, I certainly hope Dave Crockett is more careful with his sabbatical work for the airplane manufacturer than he was with his facts in his July 18 commentary in the News Tribune, headlined, “Today’s Democrats selling snake oil.”
First, as often is the case with folks with strong opinions, Crockett’s column painted with way too broad a brush. A lot of us moderates have never bought snake oil. Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton got 2.8 million more votes than President Donald Trump in 2016. That’s a total of 65,845,063 people that voted Democrat. That adds up to a whole lotta snake oil. The Democrats running for the House in 2018 received about 10 million more votes than Republican candidates. More snake oil?
I, like many Democrats, agree we need to deal with the national debt. Certainly we didn’t need to go another $1.9 trillion into debt to pass a tax cut that primarily benefits the wealthy, as the Congressional Budget Office determined. What little tax relief the bill offered to middle-income folks will disappear automatically in 2025. If there’s any solace to be taken from the column’s figures, it is that roughly half the interest payment referenced goes from the federal government to the federal government. (Don’t believe it? Google “national debt pie charts.”)
Now we get to the factual part.
“The Democrats spent more than two years trying to find collusion between President Donald Trump and the Russians. None was found.”
First, the Democrats were virtually powerless during those two years. Republicans controlled the Senate, House, White House, and (I hope it doesn’t matter) Supreme Court. The Trump-appointed Republican attorney general recused himself (rightly) because he had been active in Trump’s campaign and had talked to the Russian ambassador. The Republican, Trump-appointed deputy attorney general appointed Republican Robert Mueller as special prosecutor, with a mandate to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and to see if there was any coordination between members of the Trump campaign and foreign actors. The majority of the people Mueller brought on board were also registered Republicans. If one doesn’t believe Democrats can be trusted, how about Republicans?
No collusion? It’s like saying, “no fun.” Collusion is a legally meaningless term. The Mueller report (I assume Crockett has read it) discusses that exact point in volume 1, page 2.
Obstruction? The column suggested there can be no obstruction if there is no underlying crime. Volume II of the Mueller report, which deals with the question of obstruction, says otherwise. The vast majority of legal scholars also say otherwise.
The Mueller report clearly states (in volume 2, page 8) that, “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.”
The column suggested the Dems are finding nothing wrong with Trump’s tax returns, no matter how hard they try. I agree. It’s hard to find a problem with tax returns you’re not allowed to see. The president refuses to make them public. He has gone so far as to sue to keep his taxes private, even though the law says that at least two congressional committees have a right to look at any federal tax return.
Finally, the student loan issue: Unlike Crockett, I don’t have a solution, but I fear we are developing a ruling class whose parents have the means and will do what they must to get their children into “good” schools. How many junior-college grads do we have in Congress? How do middle-income and poorer students get into high-class schools? The poor have to saddle themselves with debt just to get themselves through junior college. More importantly, how many world-class people, the kind we really need in government, are we losing because they can’t afford college? Perhaps we could just pay their tuition for the first two years at a live-at-home community college.
So, I disagreed with Crockett’s commentary. So far, at least, we’ve disagreed without being disagreeable. Who knows, this could start a trend.
Russ Rothe of Duluth is a retired pilot for Cirrus Aircraft.