|Cokie Roberts: Shutdown Fight is About Donald Trump
“It’s not about the wall. It’s not about a crisis at the border. It’s not even about border security. And, despite the excellent job done by ABC News fact-checkers during and after the president’s speech, it’s not about the facts, not about terrorism, crime, drugs, who supported what barrier when. It’s all about Donald Trump,” writes ABC’s Cokie Roberts. Roberts argues that if the president were to give up on the border wall, his supporters would fall in line. Citing PRRI research, Roberts writes, “Look at the polling by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), which specializes in religious and ethnic surveys, as well as partisan sampling. In 2016, about two-thirds of Republicans supported the wall, that number has climbed to 80 percent, including 45 percent who strongly favor it.” Using polling data, Roberts argues that people who really like the president are the only demographic to really support the wall. President Trump, Roberts asserts, “knows this is not about the wall.”
|Pastor Claims Biblical Precedent to Support Wall
Robert Jeffress, an evangelical pastor and staunch Trump supporter, appeared on Fox News this week with a claim that there is biblical precedent for a wall on the country’s southern border. “The Bible says even Heaven itself is gonna have a wall around it,” Jeffress says. “Not everybody is going to be allowed in. So if walls are immoral, then God is immoral.” Jeffress, like many evangelical leaders, frequently defends the president in the media. According to Jeffress, the Bible “teaches that the primary responsibility of government is to maintain order and keep its citizens safe.” A wall, he argues, is a perfectly reasonably way to do that. PRRI data has consistently shown that white evangelical Protestants are very loyal to Trump and his policies. The 2018 American Values Survey shows that 76 percent of white evangelical Protestants approve of Trump, and 67 percent support the wall.
|Bloomberg Businessweek: “Do Economic Booms Die of Old Age?”
“The open secret of the economics profession is that its practitioners don’t have a theory for why expansions die. Or rather they have several theories, each of which contradicts the others and none of which is fully supported by the data. Because economists don’t know why recessions start, they can’t predict when one will start,” Peter Coy notes at Bloomberg Businessweek. Because of the long-running debate about when recessions start, there is some disagreement among policymakers about whether the last 10 years of economic expansion are poised to end in the near future. In the article, Coy cites PRRI research from 2015, writing: “In November 2015, 72 percent of Americans surveyed by the Public Religion Research Institute said the country was in one [economic recession],” even though the nation was not in a recession at the time. This discrepancy in perception could be due to differences in how ordinary Americans and economists define the word “recession.”
|Young Mothers Could be Hit Hard by Government Shutdown
According to a new report at Vox, young mothers could soon be at risk due to the government shutdown. Dylan Scott writes about the uncertain fate of WIC, a federal program that helps young mothers and their babies with food assistance, breastfeeding support, and formula. State and local governments have enough funds to keep the program going without more federal support through about mid-February, but after that, eight million new mothers and their babies could lose crucial financial support. Scott writes, “Benefits could start to be cut in a number of ways: WIC programs could start issuing benefits for just one month, instead of the usual three, or they might cut or end benefits for new mothers and older children, in order to prioritize the pregnant mothers and infants who rely on the program.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees WIC, has not commented on whether emergency provisions will be made to protect those below the poverty line.