Tax refunds flow into economy far behind last year's pace
Tax refund checks are flowing into pocketbooks — and the overall economy — at a much slower pace so far in February. The Internal Revenue Service reported Thursday that the total dollar amount of tax refunds was down 59.2% through Feb. 19 — just one week after the IRS began processing tax returns on Feb. 12. That's the latest data available. Nearly $47.4 billion in tax refunds have been issued so far this year, but that's a far cry from more than $117 billion in federal income tax refunds issued through Feb. 21, 2020. The slowdown reflects the fact that the IRS was not dealing with coronavirus...
Detroit Free Press
Martin Schram: Can we reclaim lost decency and courage?
In these pandemic days, when social distancing is not just polite but public policy, you would think famous former government officials, whose titles alone could fill a place to capacity, would know better than to cluster enthusiastically just to help an old friend. But if you’d been in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearing room Wednesday you’d have realized that you were watching and listening to decades of Washington’s most famous titled newsmakers who were so eager to help they were virtually speaking at once. You’d have recognized the famous Republican newsmakers: President Gerald Fo...
Tribune News Service
Commentary: Nuclear war was barely averted in 1983. Let that guide US-China relations now
Like many who have been locked down at home this past year, I’ve been passing the time by binge-watching TV, mainly foreign series. Among the best of these is the “Deutschland” series, about East German spies in the latter days of the Cold War, much of it based on real events. The first season, which takes place in 1983, at a time of heightened East-West tension, deals with the growing fears in Moscow and East Berlin that NATO might launch a surprise nuclear attack under the guise of one of its annual military exercises. We have long known about Soviet fears of war at the time, but newly decla...
Trudy Rubin: Chris Coons talks bipartisan foreign policy as strategic necessity, not political gamesmanship
It would be easy to dismiss President Joe Biden’s hopes for a return of bipartisanship as naive when one looks at the GOP record since he took office. Most GOP legislators still refuse to denounce their cult leader’s infamous Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen, a lie he keeps promoting. They showed no serious interest in compromise on the critical COVID-19 relief bill, rightly Biden’s first priority. They are trying to curb voting rights in states across the country. So you might think Biden’s push for bipartisanship is an irrelevance in this viciously partisan era. You would be dead wr...
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Will Bunch: Why Biden needs a prime-time, Oval Office speech to declare war on voter suppression
The Democratic president had won a strong victory in the November election, and now the nation's best-known civil-rights leaders were urging him to take strong federal action to override a number of states where conservative lawmakers and sheriffs were impeding Black and brown Americans from voting. The president agreed with them in private — but he also insisted that he had to go slow, because a voting rights showdown might cost him centrist votes he needed for his bold economic agenda to fight poverty, expand health care and overhaul immigration. But within weeks, something dramatic happened...
The Philadelphia Inquirer
SC Republican files bill to allow Donald Trump to be buried on State House grounds
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Republican state legislator wants to give former President Donald Trump the option of making the State House grounds his final resting place. A bill from GOP state Rep. R.J. May would require the South Carolina Department of Administration to offer any president acquitted of impeachment twice to be buried on State House grounds, according to a statement from May's political consulting firm, Ivory Tusk Consulting. The bill is a rebuttal to one introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would bar any president impeached twice from being buried at Arlington National...
The State (Columbia, S.C.)
Stacey Abrams backs federal protection as Georgia election bills draw more criticism
WASHINGTON — Stacey Abrams says new federal protections for voting rights are needed because too many states, including Georgia, are trying to hinder access. Legislation proposed this year by Republicans in the Georgia's General Assembly would eliminate or limit automatic voter registration, early in-person voting and mail-in voting, Abrams said. These changes are unnecessary and amount to voter suppression, she told the U.S. House Administration Committee on Thursday, urging members to move forward with a bill that could prevent those changes from becoming law. "Federal legislation and federa...
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A transgender flag and a personal attack: Illinois Democratic Rep. Marie Newman and Georgia Republican Rep. MarjorieTaylor Greene feud over LGBTQ rights
Rep. Marie Newman’s push for LGBTQ rights in the name of her transgender daughter has sparked a political feud with controversial Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia congresswoman who has espoused baseless conspiracy theories. The controversy featured dueling displays in the hallway of a congressional office building, a personal attack from Taylor Greene against the Illinois Democrat's daughter and an apology from Facebook after it mistakenly labeled a video posted by Newman as “hate speech.” All of it came in advance of the House’s vote Thursday to pass the Equality Act, which would ...
Overwhelmed federal courts ask Congress for more judges
Overwhelming caseloads, substantial litigation delays and spiraling costs have prompted Congress to take a fresh look at expanding the number of judges sitting on lower federal courts. In a hearing Wednesday held by the House Committee on the Judiciary, both congress members and witnesses characterized the situation as a crisis that has been decades in the making. "For 20 years-plus we've been in a judicial emergency," Chief District Judge Kimberly Mueller of the Eastern District of California testified to the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. The Judicial Confer...
The San Diego Union-Tribune
Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Washington ‘outsider,’ spent donations on insider expenses
ATLANTA — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene rode into Congress on a message of “people over politicians” and fueled her bid with small-dollar donations from around the country. Once in Washington, the Georgia Republican quickly spent her donors’ money to gain access to the halls of power, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of her spending found. In her year-end campaign filing, Greene reported spending campaign donations on a $717.60 dinner at BLT Prime, a pricey steakhouse inside the Trump International Hotel; another $653.15 to dine at the Beltway hangout Capital Grille; a $4,000 sponsorship...
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution