04/28/2017
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Carl Cannon’s Morning Note

Repeal Misfire; Estate Tax Targeted; Schumer’s First 117 Days; Hoover’s Gift

By Carl M. Cannon on Apr 28, 2017 08:57 am
Good morning, it’s Friday, April 28, 2017. Eighty-seven years ago today, a beleaguered U.S. president sent a special message to Congress that revealed — as did so many of his actions in a long public service career — pro-active impulses along with a discerning and empathetic nature. This is not how Herbert Hoover would be perceived by the end of his presidency, which was undone by the onset of the Great Depression. Most Americans came to believe that the White House response to that crushing economic crisis was wholly inadequate. Hence the adjective “beleaguered” above. In any event, what President Hoover was nudging Congress to do in his April 28, 1930 communication to Capitol Hill was streamline federal law enforcement to make it more efficient and reform the federal prison system to make it more humane. I’ll have more on this in a moment. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion pieces spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following: * * * House GOP Still Short on Obamacare Votes. Republicans failed to mend their rifts over the health care measure, despite hard-liners’ buy-in, James Arkin reports. Trump Targets Estate Tax to Save Time, Effort for Wealthy. The president believes helping successful families by killing the tax will create jobs, Alexis Simendinger writes. The First 117 Days of Chuck Schumer. Scott Jennings asserts that it’s only fair to evaluate the new Senate minority leader — and so he does. A Democratic ‘Contract With America.’ Bryan Dean Wright spells out his proposal. A Woman Who Made the World Better. Ann Corkery has this appreciation of conservative commentator Kate O’Beirne. ACA Favorability Stays Positive. Ford Carson reports on the polling numbers as Trump nears his 100th day in office. Running for Your Life? Not So Much. In RealClearHealth, Alex Brill analyzes a recent study claiming that running can add years to your life. No Animals Required: Lab-Grown Meat Can Help Fight Antibiotic Resistance. Also in RCH, Scott Romaniuk & Tobias Burgers argue that the future of food safety rests in the lab, not in the slaughterhouses. Republicans: Don’t Tax Reinsurance. In RealClearPolicy, Steve Pociask urges GOP lawmakers to exempt reinsurance services from the proposed border-adjustment tax. On Russia, Trump Should Follow Reagan. In RealClearDefense, Rep. Jim Banks has this advice for the president. Europe’s China Pivot. In RealClearWorld, Robert Manning explains how China’s One Belt, One Road plan might shift European priorities and policymaking eastward. The Legacies of President Bill Clinton. In RealClearBooks, Nicholas Evan Sarantakes reviews two new works on the 42nd president. Is the Death Penalty Anti-Christian? In RealClearReligion, Mathew Schmalz explores a topic made relevant by multiple executions this week in Arkansas. * * * In June and December of 1929, Herbert Hoover had proposed several reforms concerning federal law enforcement. Some had been enacted, some ignored. But in the spring of 1930, even as the Depression was starting to dominate the political landscape, Hoover pushed hard for the remainder of his program. The president noted that the number of federal prisoners had doubled in the previous nine months, meaning that 12,000 inmates were housed in facilities designed to hold 7,000. The most obvious culprit was Prohibition — nearly one-third of federal prisoners were locked up for offenses relating to producing and smuggling alcohol — but Congress had also expanded the number federal crimes, including car theft and narcotics possession, in ways that strained the system. Hoover called for strengthening and reorganizing the Border Patrol, relieving congestion in the federal courts, and better treatment of the incarcerated. “There must be extension of federal prisons with [a] more adequate parole system and other modern treatment of prisoners,” he wrote to Congress. “The overcrowding of the prisons themselves is inhumane and accentuates criminal tendencies.” Out of this push came a 10-point program signed into law by Hoover two weeks later. It included a formal federal bureau of prisons inside the Justice Department, a national parole board, provisions for medical care for federal prisoners under the auspices of the Public Health Service, “reformatories” for youthful offenders, work camps for non-violent criminals, and a two-tiered classification designed to keep the most violent criminals away from the rest of the prison population. Some of these reforms worked, some didn’t. The point is that the president often caricatured as an unfeeling incompetent pushed hard for improvements in the most thankless of government functions. Helping those who needed it most was Herbert Hoover’s calling card. During World War I, this Iowa-born and California-educated Republican answered the call of a Democratic administration and set up and ran a food distribution program subsequently credited with preventing the starvation of millions of Belgians and other western Europeans. Hoover reprised this mission again after World War II, at the behest of another Democratic president, Harry Truman, who became a lifelong friend. Before he departed the scene, Herbert Hoover gave the world one last gift: the creation of a think tank at Stanford University devoted to studying the issues of war and peace and freedom. I’ve spent this past week at Hoover, thinking deep thoughts, interviewing Stanford academics and, yes, taking in a college baseball game at Sunken Diamond. Of more import, the Hoover Institution served as a recent way station for one Jim Mattis during his transition from retired Marine Corps general to his appointment as the 26th U.S. secretary of defense. In this way, the Hoover Institution lived up to its founding purpose. “This Institution supports the Constitution of the United States, its Bill of Rights and its method of representative government,” Herbert Hoover said in a 1959 statement to Stanford’s board of trustees. “The overall mission of this Institution is … to recall the voice of experience against the making of war, and by the study of these records and their publication, to recall man’s endeavors to make and preserve peace, and to sustain for America the safeguards of the American way of life.” Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)
ccannon@realclearpolitics.com

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