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Enjoy the day; rougher times are lurking

Happy Halloween!

It seems Halloween is becoming the kickoff for the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s holiday season. Sales have started and brochures are out. Our Christmas tree goes up, and all the pumpkins are getting elfin hats.

And some things worth celebrating happened this month. After 148 days the writers’ strike ended Oct. 9 with strikers getting much of what they asked for. Now if the studios would give the actors a similar deal, we could look forward to holiday specials.

The amazing news though is that the economy grew at an annual rate of 4.9% from July through September. The rate before COVID was just 2.5% – 3.0% was considered the goal. As Biden advocated, government investment is spurring corporate ventures throughout the country.

And Idaho can celebrate the hundreds of students who are making plans to take advantage of the Launch program paying for a variety of post-high school educational opportunities. We’re among the states with good job growth–and it will get even better.

But not all is well. Since Hamas troops from the Gaza Strip brutally attacked Israel on Oct. 7, much of the world is waiting to see the full scope of Israel’s retaliation. President Biden, fearing that Israel might overreact and prompt other neighbors to attack that country, has helped get hundreds of truck loads of food and water for civilians trucked into the Strip. The wait, however, means Hamas troops may be harder to find.

And, after 20-months of fighting in Ukraine, estimates are that Ukrainian deaths are more than the U.S. suffered in the Vietnam War–and Russian deaths about twice as many. NATO countries sent ample support through one winter without Russian oil. Will they stand strong through a second one? Will Americans? Republicans in the U.S. House blocked support for Ukraine from the recent compromise bill granting more time to pass the budget bills.

And, last week, House Republicans again elected a Trump disciple as Speaker. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), has served eight years in the House without chairing a committee or becoming part of the leadership.

“Representative Pete Aguilar (D-CA) said that for the Republicans, the search for a speaker hadn’t been about looking for someone interested in ‘growing the middle class, helping our communities, keeping the cost of healthcare lower, and making life for everyday Americans better.’ Instead, Aguilar said, ‘this has been about one thing…who can appease Donald Trump’” (Heather Cox Richardson, Oct. 25).

It’s possible that the new Speaker made some promises to the 102 Republicans that voted against Trump’s previous choice. More likely, as Rep. Mike Simpson suggested, those representatives voted for Johnson so the House could deal with appropriations.

The compromise bill that cost Rep. Kevin McCarthy his position as speaker only extended the deadline for passing the budget for 45 days, i.e. until November 17. Over half of that time has passed.

Funding the entire Defense Department, line by line, is just one of the six (or more) bills that need passed. With Republican majorities in every committee, we can expect bills with serious cuts, especially in social programs. Once passed by the committee, each bill goes to the Republican-dominated Rules Committee which decides if amendments are allowed.

Democratic representatives may be forced to accept cuts that are totally contrary to their beliefs – and to voter expectations.

And if Democratic senators amend these bills, they too risk the House refusing the amendments and forcing a shutdown.

May you share some sweets with cute children from witches to Stitches today. Enjoy the one holiday before the showdown.

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