The Score: Mister Rogers, Farm Bill, Trump Trade, Property Rights
This week on The Score – What is the Farm Bill, and why should you care? Does eminent domain protect or threaten your property rights? Will Donald Trump’s trade policy destroy jobs? What is Virginia’s political climate in 2018? And won’t you be my neighbor?
First up on this week’s episode of The Score: foreign trade, tariffs, surpluses and deficits have been in the news this year much more than in the recent past. This may be because President Trump’s ideas about trade are so diametrically opposed to the consensus that emerged after World War II and that was used by his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat, to build the American economy, create jobs, and improve the standard of living of virtually everyone.
Economist Christine McDaniel studies trade policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Northern Virginia. McDaniel has written for the Wall Street Journal, Politico, The Hill, and Forbes, among other publications, and (in addition to The Score) her media appearances include CNBC, CBC, Bloomberg, France 24, and MSNBC. I asked her about a couple of trade-related issues in the headlines, starting with: “What’s up with Harley-Davidson?” I also ask her about the tariff on newsprint from Canada (that’s the “paper” in “newspaper”), which is threatening the economic viability of small-town and community newspapers across Middle America.
Sugar quotas and SNAP
Late this week, the Senate passed the Farm Bill, a congressional exercise that comes every five years or so to determine how much money taxpayers will pay to farmers in direct or indirect subsidies. Eighty percent of the expenditures from the farm bill pay for food stamps (“SNAP”), however.
The day before the Senate vote, I spoke to Phil Kerpen of American Commitment about the Farm Bill: What is it and why is it controversial?
Phil Kerpen previously appeared on The Score to talk about FDA regulation of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and other smokeless nicotine delivery devices.
Sweater and sneakers
This week The Score’s film critic, Tim Hulsey, takes a look at the new documentary about Fred Rogers, the creator and host of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, the iconic public TV kids’ show that ran from 1968 (before there was a PBS) through 2001. Listen here for Tim’s take on Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and check out the official trailer here:
Attorney Chuck Lollar from Norfolk, Virginia, specializes in eminent domain cases. He was in Charlottesville last Thursday to speak on a panel of experts and activists that followed a special screening of Little Pink House, the current movie starring Catherine Keener about Susette Kelo and her struggle to keep her home in New London, Connecticut, which led all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and what the film characterizes as the court’s “most hated” decision. (That’s a bold claim, when you consider the competition from Dred Scott and Korematsu.)
To start our conversation, I asked Lollar what eminent domain means. He traces its history to Magna Carta, through the wranglings of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison over the wording of the Fifth Amendment, up through the present day. He argues that property rights are the foundation for all the other civil rights and liberties protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Senate and House
It’s election year in Virginia. Of course, we could say that every year. This year Virginians go to the polls to elect a U.S. Senator and eleven members of the House of Representatives. The Score visited political scientist Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Arlington, to get his perspective on politics in the Old Dominion in 2018, with a focus on Corey Stewart’s challenge to incumbent Senator Tim Kaine. Rozell is author of In Contempt of Congress: Postwar Press Coverage on Capitol Hill (1996) and Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy, and Accountability (2010) and co-author of The President’s Czars: Undermining Congress and the Constitution (2012, with Mitchel A. Sollenberger) and Interest Groups in American Campaigns: The New Face of Electioneering (2011, with Clyde Wilcox and Michael Franz)
Be Civil, Please
This week’s “From the Archives” segment features a 2011 interview with former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach, a Republican who also served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Barack Obama. He was a featured speaker at the Virginia Festival of the Book and the topic of his address was civility – more particularly, civility in politics (or, as he titled his presentation, “Civility in a Fractured Society”). An excerpt:
“Civility is not about dousing strongly held views,” Leach said. “It’s about making sure that people are willing to respect other perspectives.”
Those who feel “uncivil speech” is important, he continued, “have the effect of drowning out the ideas of others.”
Civility, therefore, “is designed to promote argumentation on the assumption that argumentation is important to society and that, if you don’t have good argumentation, there’s a tendency towards dogmatism (which means that people never can change their views) or towards tyranny (which means that people in public life can act with abandon),” Leach asserted.
The United States, he added, “was founded on the notion of good civil argumentation. That’s what the town meeting — that’s what the House of Burgesses — was intended to symbolize.”
Whether the level of civility has risen or fallen in American society, this is always a timely subject to discuss. Ask the folks at Red Hen in Lexington.
Next week on The Score, we’ll dig deeper into the archives for some conversations about the Fourth of July and the meaning of Independence Day. And who knows? There may be something new, too.