TL(PM) DIGEST: Cut Federal Spending—No, Not Like That!
Plus Nashville police heroism, another Summit for Democracy, and a widening rift between the U.S. and Israel
1. Americans want to cut federal spending—just not spending on education, health care, Social Security, Medicare, and border security
What happened? A new AP/NORC poll finds that six in 10 Americans believe that the federal government is spending too much overall with slightly more than one fifth saying government spending is about the right amount and slightly less than one fifth saying there is too little spending.
When asked about spending levels in specific areas, though, the results are the complete opposite: nearly two-thirds of Americans say the government spends too little on education, roughly 6 in 10 say we spend too little on health care, Social Security, and Medicare, and more than half of all Americans think we spend too little on border security.
Why does it matter? Although Americans remain concerned about inflation and overall levels of government spending—estimated to make up nearly a quarter of U.S. gross domestic product over the next few years—they are reluctant to see cuts to important areas and, in fact, want the government to do even more to shore up the foundations of individual and family success: education, health care, retirement, and national security.
TLP’s take: In a time of rising economic distress and military threats, America needs to be strong at home and strong in the world. Robust government spending and effective public investments will play a vital role in helping American families succeed, laying the groundwork for American businesses to grow and create jobs, and bolstering our defenses against outside threats from Russia and China. These larger national priorities should determine the proper mix—and distribution—of taxes and spending to maximize success for all Americans in all parts of the country.
2. Nashville police heroes deserve America’s thanks
What happened? Body-camera footage from Nashville police officers, including officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo among others, shows the police courageously and methodically clearing the levels of the Covenant School before engaging and ultimately killing the heavily armed school assailant, Audrey Hale.
Why does it matter? Unlike the Uvalde school massacre from last year—where police officers and others inexplicably stood by unresponsive for 77 minutes as the attacker killed students and staff in the school—the Nashville police response has been called “textbook” by police responder experts:
“They did an awesome job in a very high-stress situation,” said AJ Yokley, an instructor in firearms and building clearing at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy in Nashville. “You’re going into a situation where you can hear the shots fired. It’s a difficult thing to run towards the sound of gunfire, but that’s what they did. Every single one of them displayed tremendous courage.”
TLP’s take: Police across America get an inordinate amount of grief from activists who often accuse them of being bad actors and threats to people. The Nashville police officers’ steadfast response to the Covenant School attack highlights how much these men and women do for our communities. It’s good to know cops like Engelbert and Collazo and other officers are on the front line saving lives when things go horribly wrong. America owes them our sincere thanks for a job well done.
3. Another Summit for Democracy begins
What happened? In case you didn’t notice—and like us, you probably didn’t—President Biden convened his administration’s second Summit for Democracy yesterday. Co-hosted with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Zambia, the largely virtual summit brings together 120 invited governments for three days to discuss how best to bolster democracy in the face of rising challenges from illiberal authoritarians at home and abroad.
Why does it matter? It’s hard to say. The Biden administration clearly views these summits as a cornerstone of its effort to protect democracy worldwide, but the most important outcome of the first virtual gathering held at the end of 2021 may have been the Chinese government’s wild overreaction to the conclave rather than the rather modest set of commitments made. Summits for and of democracies also raise questions about who to invite and who to keep away; this second summit excludes the likes of Hungary and Turkey while inviting governments like India, Israel, and Mexico with questionable commitments to liberal democracy—making the conference at once “both virtual and surreal.”
TLP’s take: The Biden administration’s Summit for Democracy epitomizes a technocratic approach to foreign policy that sees important political and ideological issues mainly as questions of effective management. Far more important to the fate of democracy around the world than any number of summits will be Ukrainian victory over Russia, for instance, and efforts by the United States and its allies to build new political economies that show democracy can deliver in concrete ways—literally.
4. A widening rift between the U.S. and Israel
What happened? President Biden made his first public comments on Israel’s ongoing political crisis last night, saying he was “very concerned” about the turmoil over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s temporarily postponed judicial overhaul and that Israel “cannot continue down this road.” In statement issued on Twitter after midnight in Israel, Netanyahu effectively told the Biden administration to butt out and mind its own business.
Why does it matter? Though divisions over the Iran nuclear deal and negotiations with the Palestinians ran deep, this so far brief war of words probably represents to the most open diplomatic rupture between an American president and an Israeli prime minister in years if not decades. It’s also had repercussions in Israel’s own domestic politics, with opposition politician and erstwhile Netanyahu coalition partner Benny Gantz calling Biden’s statement “an urgent wake-up call” for Israel.
TLP’s take: President Biden has rightly expressed public concern about the direction of Israeli democracy under Prime Minister Netanyahu, and it’s no surprise that Netanyahu and his political allies went on the attack afterward. This statement alone amounts to the most meaningful thing Biden and his administration have done to support freedom and democracy in Israel since Bibi returned to power late last year.
Just one more thing…
See how advances in prosthetic technology funded by the Pentagon and VA have made it possible for those with artificial limbs to feel, touch, and even control them with their thoughts.