June 6, 2023
Far-right Republican representatives from the House Freedom Caucus today launched a battle against House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), accusing him of violating the agreement he made with them in order to get their backing for the speakership. Angry at the passage of the deal to suspend the debt ceiling and keep the United States from defaulting, they blocked two bills today and apparently have decided to oppose all legislation that comes before the House unless McCarthy puts in writing what they understand to be the deal they made.
Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) said: “The end game is freedom, less government, less spending.”
If the far right is trying to dismantle the federal government, the White House is working to advertise the effects of its use of the federal government for the American people.
Today the administration unveiled a new website called “Investing in America.” The site tracks both the public infrastructure and the private investments sparked by the laws like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act, breaking those investments down by category.
While the Republicans since 1980 have claimed that tax cuts and deregulation would spur private investment in the economy, it appears that Biden’s policy of public investment to encourage private investment has, in fact, worked. So far, during his term, private companies have announced $479 billion in investments under the new system, while the government has directed more than $220 billion towards roads, bridges, airports, public transportation, addressing climate change, and providing clean water. The website locates and identifies the more than 32,000 new projects underway.
The site also highlights the high rates of employment in the U.S. and the addition of new manufacturing jobs, as well as lower costs for prescription drugs and health insurance.
Separately, the administration noted that its plan for migration across the border is “working as intended.” The pandemic-era Title 42, put in place by Trump in early 2020 to stop the spread of COVID, went out of operation at midnight on May 12, and while Republicans insisted the reversion to the normal laws governing immigration would create a crisis, in fact unlawful crossings have dropped more than 70%. Still, the administration emphasized yet again today that Congress must address “our broken immigration and asylum system.”
While President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are returning to the traditional idea—embraced by members of both parties before 1980—that investing in the country benefits everyone, much of the Freedom Caucus has thrown in its lot with former president Donald Trump, who calls the Democrats’ ideology “communism.” So convinced were Trump’s supporters that Democrats should not be allowed to govern that they tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
One of the key figures in that attempt was Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, who as a representative from North Carolina was a founder of the House Freedom Caucus (along with Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Ron DeSantis of Florida, among others). As Trump’s chief of staff, Meadows was close to the center of the attempt to keep former president Trump in the White House. His aide Cassidy Hutchinson provided some of the most compelling—and damning—testimony before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Meadows refused to cooperate with that committee and was found in contempt of Congress, but the Department of Justice declined to prosecute. When he seemed largely to drop out of public view, there was speculation about his role in the investigations into Trump’s role in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
This afternoon, Jonathan Swan, Michael S. Schmidt, and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times reported that Meadows has testified before a federal grand jury in the investigations led by Special Counsel Jack Smith. It is not clear if Meadows testified in the matter of the election sabotage or in the matter of documents taken from the White House when Trump left office, or both. One of his lawyers refused to comment but told the New York Times reporters that “Mr. Meadows has maintained a commitment to tell the truth where he has a legal obligation to do so.”
I cannot help but contrast that statement with one from another American leader seventy-nine years ago.
On June 5, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was preparing to send Allied troops across the English Channel to France, where he hoped they would push the German troops back across Europe. More than 5,000 ships waited to transport more than 150,000 soldiers to France before daybreak the following morning. The fighting to take Normandy would not be easy. The beaches the men would assault were tangled in barbed wire, booby trapped, and defended by German soldiers in concrete bunkers.
On the afternoon of June 5, as the Allied soldiers, their faces darkened with soot and cocoa, milled around waiting to board the ships, Eisenhower went to see the men he was almost certainly sending to their deaths. He joked with the troops, as apparently upbeat as his orders to them had been when he told them Operation Overlord had launched. “The tide has turned!” his letter had read. “The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!”
But after cheering his men on, he went back to his headquarters and wrote another letter. Designed to blame himself alone if Operation Overlord failed, it read:
“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
The letter was never delivered. Operation Overlord was a success, launching the final assault in which western democracy, defended by ordinary men and women, would destroy European fascism.
A year later, General Eisenhower was welcomed home as the hero who had won World War Two. But for all those noisy accolades, it was the letter of June 5, that he wrote in secret, alone and unsure whether the future would find him right or wrong but willing to take both the risk and the blame if he failed, that proved his heroism.