Commentary

Hugh Hewitt: The Coming Battle Over COVID

The vast fiscal crisis descending on states as a result of COVID-19 will challenge them all.

But the financial burdens brought about by massive tax-revenue losses caused by the virus should not be conflated with the preexisting financial conditions of many states.

Some states will try to secure financial bailouts for long-practiced profligacies and do so at the expense of the more thrifty, prudent states.

New York Governor Cuomo has been raising his voice, literally, trying to divert attention from this core dilemma, using the genuine suffering and an anti-McConnell press as a shield. But Governor Cuomo shouldn’t be allowed to cloud the clear vision of the massive problem.

The coming debate really isn’t about Trump, Cuomo or McConnell. It’s about structural federalism, the genius of our republic.

This isn’t about grace. Much grace, in the form of vast grants of funds, has already been given.

It’s about federalism.

And it’s about prudence.

That which gets rewarded gets repeated.

If we reward that financial mismanagement, we’ll get more of the same.

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Lanhee Chen: The Schools: A Key to America’s Reopening

California’s governor recently floated the idea of reopening the state’s K-12 schools as early as July. It’s an idea that should be applauded and encouraged in other states. Reopening America’s schools is not only important for the future of our kids, but also for bringing our workplaces back online and jumpstarting the economy.

One of the few glimmers of hopeful news we’ve heard about the coronavirus is that it tends not to be as deadly or harmful for school-aged kids. Even so, reopening the schools has to be done carefully and with special attention paid to the students, parents, teachers and staff who might be at greater risk.

Classrooms and student interactions will need to account for social distancing norms to help prevent the spread of the virus, and not all schools can begin at the same time. But re-opening our schools should be a priority for policymakers as we try to bring America back from the depths of this horrible disease.

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Jerry Bowyer: The Cultural Component of Our Recovery

We’re now engaged in a national discussion about how to balance public health and economic health.

It’s the right discussion to have.

We need to embrace both as goals, not sacrifice one to another. But I’d like to add culture to the equation. Quarantines are essential during a pandemic. Economic growth is essential too, because poverty kills.

But so are certain cultural institutions and patterns. Private associations can also be essential. Churches, synagogues and recovery groups stand between us and despair and between us and death.

No. I’m not calling for civil disobedience by worshippers.

But, I am calling for civil officials to obey their mandate to uphold the public good by fully counting the cost of what is shut down—and for how long it’s shut down.

As we move toward resumption of our activities, our public servants should give deference to what is the most life-sustaining public gathering for tens of millions of Americans.

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Michael Medved: Making Sense of a Localized Crisis

Even the New York Times now acknowledges it: the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t so much a national crisis as it is a localized New York catastrophe. Columnist Bret Stephens shows New York City alone—representing less than 3 percent of the national population—suffered more coronavirus deaths than 41 states combined.

New York State has registered 79 deaths per 100,000 residents; only three states outside the North East—Louisiana, Michigan and Illinois—even show a death rate of more than ten per 100,000. California and Texas, the largest states by population, report combined death rates of less than 4 per 100,000—less than one-nineteenth the New York rate.

Nevertheless, the Big Apple remains the headquarters for national media and financial institutions, which amplifies the impact of the city’s agony. All Americans must care about New York’s losses, but the restrictions applied to citizens in much less afflicted regions don’t need to follow the New York model forever.

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David Davenport: Coronavirus Crisis Revives Federalism

One silver lining in the dark coronavirus cloud is the revival of federalism, the old-fashioned idea that not every issue has to be decided in Washington. While most every policy issue—from education to health care and beyond—has traveled a one-way road from states and local governments to Washington, the coronavirus crisis rediscovered a leadership role for state and local government.

Early on we learned that states like New York, California and Washington needed to address the crisis more quickly and their governors began to lead. In California, there were higher concentrations in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, so mayors and county commissioners took action. Important work was done well before there was a national consensus, and these laboratories of experimentation informed larger policies.

This is exactly how the founders saw our government working. Hooray for the revival of federalism.

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Hugh Hewitt: Tangible Help for Today’s Heroes

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

So Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared to the British House of Commons in 1940 as the Battle of Britain raged in the skies and the Royal Air Force defended the United Kingdom from Hitler’s Luftwaffe.

That salute from Churchill echoes across 80 years to this day and is amplified in the praise for every front-line responder—health-care professionals, hospital staffs, nursing home workers and so on.

There’s an idea circulating through Donald Trump’s White House right now that would indeed grant eligibility to the GI Bill’s benefits to all those front-line responders who are battling the virus every day.

We should do it. Now.

Yes: We should clap these workers to and from work when we can, but we should also create for them a concrete set of economic thank-yous for those seeing us through the crisis.

It would be a tangible help for the heroes.

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Owen Strachan: Harvard Goes After Homeschooling

Picture the scene: several studious young children translate Latin, discuss Shakespeare, and consider polynomials together.

Would you think you’re looking at a seedbed of white supremacy?

That’s how a recent article from Harvard Magazine, entitled “The Risks of Homeschooling,” presents religious parents who practice homeschooling. Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet argues that homeschooling evangelicals are “extreme religious ideologues.” In her view, these fearsome fathers and mothers pose some sort of major threat to national health.

This paranoid perspective is not new. For over 100 years, figures like John Dewey have argued that the state, not the family, has the fundamental right to shape children. And—for over 100 years—Christians and many other fair-minded citizens have pushed back against this view, even if they have their kids in school.

After all: The family is the first institution—not the state.

You could well label homeschooling traditional.

It certainly is not extreme.

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