The Week Ahead: Death and Taxes
To be honest, we cannot be sure what the coming week may hold for our country, or for the rest of the world. If we have learned anything from this past week’s events, it is that this president is completely unpredictable, and completely inappropriate in his responses to world events. Last week we witnessed the horrific aftermath of a chemical attack on Syrians. The photos of murdered children and adults are unspeakably terrible. Bewilderingly, the death and destruction in Syria is not terrible enough for Trump to rethink his efforts to stop Syrian refugees from resettling in the US.
The plight of Syria weighs heavily on the world community, and the UN had begun investigating the tragedy. Yet most of us can probably say that the subsequent Tomahawk missile attack ordered by Trump was unexpected, considering that he has repeatedly opposed US involvement in Syria. Both Democrats and Republicans have praised the retaliatory attack, with the exception of only a few legislators. Liberal and conservative press outlets latched onto the story, seemingly with morbid glee.
One thing is for certain–there will be continuing discussion in the coming week to determine if Trump should have unilaterally ordered the missile attack without consulting Congress. Senator Elizabeth Warren is one of the few attempting to hold both Assad and Trump accountable for actions in Syria:
The President’s erratic approach to Syria is not a strategy. It underscores why our Constitution doesn’t let Presidents wage war alone.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 8, 2017
Some might say that the entire series of events was a masterful move by the president to raise his approval ratings and move the focus off of his administration’s incompetence. Time will tell how the aggression will unfold.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) asking him to bring House members back from their spring recess early to discuss the president’s bombing in Syria, but it seems unlikely that he will comply. WIth Congress in recess at this critical juncture, it becomes even more important for constituents to contact their senators and representatives. The 115th Congress will resume business on April 25, so time is of the essence.
Tax Day is coming! Although taxes are technically due on the 18th this year, we still recognize April 15 as the infamous deadline for reporting our financial status to Uncle Sam. The day holds special significance this year, since we still have not seen our own president’s tax returns. Despite calls from many different groups and individuals, Trump has resisted demands to show us the money. However, just like everyone else Trump has to file his returns for last year, and we shall see what happens then.
Look for actions and marches in your community calling for the president to provide his tax returns for public scrutiny. To bring heightened awareness to the issues, share your actions, photos and thoughts on the events with friends and family and on social media . The more we shed light on the improper and possibly illegal activities of this administration, the more leverage we give our elected officials to defend our democracy from further injury.
Congressional report card
After 78 days with the new administration, Congress will be coming home with little to report in the way of progress, no matter the party or persuasion. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of this Congress so far is the successful confirmation of Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court Justice. Other notable achievements include:
- The passage of 22 bills since Trump took office, half of which were repeals of Obama era bills.
- The repeal of a rule that prevented cable companies from selling your private browsing history and other personal information.
What Congress did NOT do was pass any new healthcare legislation. This was the biggest defeat of the new administration. Before Congress left for the recess, it appeared that Republicans and Freedom Caucus members were signalling that they will indeed return to that inflammatory issue when the session resumes. So the fight for healthcare is far from over.
Trump continues to spend time at his Mar-a-Lago property conducting presidential business, despite criticism over the cost and lack of security. He even oversaw the missile strike in Syria from the de facto situation room, furnished with banquet style chairs. The room was at full occupancy, and I think everyone had the chicken tetrazzini. It looked like Jared was trying to think of a good toast.
Attendees included, strangely, secretaries of the Treasury and Commerce, as well as Steve Bannon, who was recently pulled from his role on the National Security Council. Apparently, anyone who was at dinner with Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping was invited to watch him direct missiles near a Syrian airfield as the after dinner entertainment. And Trump’s good friend, Putin, got a note passed to him in advance of the attack so there were supposedly few casualties.
It is chilling to think what Trump will do next to top his latest display of power. While the rest of us rush to get our taxes postmarked, Trump will be doing his best to misdirect and distract us once again. The level of uncertainty we live with each week serves to assure a climate of instability for the foreseeable future.
Jacqui Viale is an educator living in Long Beach, California with her family, enjoying a temperate climate and clean air. Her social activism focuses on education and equal rights for all. Her local TWW group is working to help flip seats in neighboring districts by spreading the word about progressive challengers.
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