National Emergency(?), Public Lands Bill, Amazon Cancels NY HQ2

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Mike and Kristin open this week’s show with President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in order to fund border wall construction. Mike argues that there’s no real emergency in the first place, though Kristin doesn’t quite agree. They go on to consider whether or not the president’s declaration will hold up in court (probably) and if he’ll then have the legal authority to build a wall (maybe not). Mike and Kristin agree that Trump did this not necessarily because he cares about a wall, but because he wants to keep his base happy – a strategy Mike thinks might end up working to Democrats’ advantage in 2020.

Next is a look at a major public lands bill that passed the Senate with a huge bipartisan majority and is set to sail through the House and be signed into law by President Trump, who’s signaled his approval. How did it happen? Largely because there was something for everyone in the bill. Mike says we could have more positive-sum outcomes like this if Congress brought back earmarks, which were banned in 2011. Kristin is concerned about both waste, and the potential for corruption from earmarks, but agrees that they’re a very useful legislative lubricant.

Finally, Mike and Kristin discuss Amazon’s decision to not build a second HQ in Long Island City, New York after pressure from area activists. Mike sees this as a good thing, argues that Amazon should have engaged with the community from the beginning, and claims that the entire HQ2 competition exemplifies the disaster of ‘race to the bottom’ corporate giveaways by state and local governments. Kristin feels that Amazon’s decision is a loss to New York, in that the tax subsidies would have more than been made up for in long-term economic growth.

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