Monday, August 7, 2017
TIME FOR 25TH AMENDMENT?
Don't be shocked, I am about to say something good about President Trump. In just six months, his presidency has taught citizens of our country more about how our government works than all the government and civic classes we had in school. We were educated about how the popular vote pales in comparison to the electoral college vote. We've learned much about how Congress works. Unfortunately, what we have learned has not always been the “norm” of how our Congress has traditionally governed. But, these are not normal times.
THERE'S ANOTHER subject concerning government I feel you will be hearing and learning about, and that is—the 25th Amendment. This amendment was adopted to define the line of succession of the President. After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, it was decided the 25th Amendment needed more clarification and the Amendment was ratified by all the states to include what to do if a President died, was removed, resigned or became incapacitated. Constitutional scholars (something I am not), believe that “fitness to serve” is addressed in the 25th Amendment.
TO REMOVE a President under the 25th Amendment, it requires the Vice-President and eight members of the cabinet secretaries to just state in writing the President is unfit to serve. These statements are presented to the House and Senate and they have three weeks to debate and vote. In the meantime, the Vice-President is acting. That ain't gonna happen! As Trump said, he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and it would be okay.
HOWEVER, the 25th Amendment outlines another way to remove an unfit president from office. Congress is legally allowed to impanel a body beyond the Senate and House. This panel would consist of medical, mental health professions, and other members appropriate, such as former presidents. Among many other things, they would take into consideration whether the President is capable of maintaining a reasonable command of facts or understanding reading materials presented to him. That would be a simple test. Just write something that doesn't have his name on every other line and according to his staff, he won't read it. Barring a complete meltdown by the President ripping his clothes off and running naked down Fifth Avenue (sorry for the visual), the likelihood of the Republican Congress eating their own is very low.
AT LEAST two bills have been introduced by Democrats to impeach President Trump. This starts the conversation and instead of whispers among Members of Congress about their concerns regarding the President's fitness to serve, they will have to be more open with this discussion. Also, as Trump's poll numbers continue to plummet, look for Republicans to be more outspoken about Trump's radical, unacceptable behavior. This week, Trump's approval rating was at an all-time low of 33%. For the first time, polls show his “base” peeling away.
THERE IS a glimmer of hope President Trump could be impeached under the 25th Amendment but we will probably have to wait until after the 2018 elections. The Democrats in the U. S. House are only outnumbered by 23. Historically when one party is in complete control at a mid-term election, they lose an average of 35 seats. Considering the Republican gerrymandering, I don't look for the loses to be that great, but it could happen with the right Democratic message and candidates. It is not normal to impeach a President using the 25th Amendment, but these are not normal times.
SPEAKING OF elections in 2018, I am reminded of our Eighth District Congressman, Austin Scott. We have barely heard a peep out of him in two years and since the election of President Trump, Scott has not shown his face in the District to talk to voters in a Town Hall. Now with the election looming, he has to have something to hang his hat on. So, he introduced a bill to stop poor and elderly people from having cell phones. Congressman Scott calls it a “big waste.” I beg to differ. I don't think giving the poor and elderly a way to contact their family, make doctor appointments, or parents being able to be connect to their children's schools, is a waste. Also, as someone pointed out to me, many low paid health workers have to have cell phones to work in the field. To qualify, you must be at or below 135% of the poverty line.
THIS CELL phone program, called “Life Line” was started in 1985, and during Republican George Bush's presidency, he added broadband service to the cell phones. This program is not paid for with tax monies. It is paid for by one of many surcharges on all cell phone bills and managed by a non-profit organization. Interestingly, Congressman Scott says the bill would not return those surcharges to us, the consumers, but would instead go into the general fund of the treasury for deficit reduction. With the current deficit at nearly 20 trillion, that wouldn't even be a gnat on an elephant's butt.
YOU MAY recognize this program by the term “Obama Phones” even though it was not a program created by Obama. There was no objections heard about this program until President Obama was elected and the Republicans coined the term “Obama Phones.” This term was used as yet another rallying point for their “base” against President Obama. Republicans think they can appeal to voters' inner most “meanness” and win. Scott is hoping to do that in the Eighth District and he and his bill should be rebuked. If there is fraud and waste by a few, then clean it up. Don't punish all the people that need a life-line for the actions of a few.
I THINK Austin Scott underestimates the charitable nature of the people of the Eighth District. I don't believe anyone objects to paying pennies a month to provide someone in need a “life line.”