Biden Is ‘Buying Votes’ Ahead of Midterm Elections With Policy Decisions: Rep. Lauren Boebert
As the Nov. 8 midterm election draws near, some see recent moves by President Joe Biden as a desperate means to “buying votes.”
Pardons for Marijuana Offenses
On Oct. 6, Biden announced a blanket pardon for some federal marijuana possession convictions.
“No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” Biden said. “Sending people to prison for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives and incarcerated people for conduct that many states no longer prohibit. Criminal records for marijuana possession have also imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities.”
He went on to say that minorities are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement for marijuana offenses.
“First, I am announcing a pardon of all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana,” Biden said, adding that he is “urging all governors to do the same with regard to state offenses” as a second measure.
What Biden did not explain was that very few people go to prison for simple possession of marijuana.
According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC), there were 36 people in federal prison in fiscal year 2021 for possession of marijuana. That was down from 1,877 in fiscal year 2015.
Tom Basile, best known as host of the Newsmax program “America Right Now,” is an adjunct professor at Fordham University and a member of the New York State Bar Association.
“The feds don’t get involved with any small ball stuff,” Basile told The Epoch Times. “So it’s kind of insidious. They’re making it sound like he’s pardoning all of these people as some sort of social justice move.”
However, in terms of the actual prison population, Basile said “almost nobody in this country is in prison for possession of marijuana, unless it is a large quantity and is associated somehow with dealing.” Basile also said the White House offered no guidance as to how those pardon cases will be handled.
“They’re so desperate to demonstrate that the president is even remotely effective at trying to accomplish a lot of the goals of the Biden–Sanders Unity Taskforce, which was written by Bernie Sanders in 2020, they’re willing to just say and do whatever they feel like they need to say and do.”
Then, Basile said they either “fight this out in the courts” or “address the cleanup afterward.”
“That’s incredibly dangerous and incredibly damaging,” he said.
Debt Cancellation for Student Loans
On Aug. 24, the White House announced that “the Department of Education will provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education, and up to $10,000 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant recipients.”
Borrowers who qualify must make less than $125,000 a year as an individual or less than $250,000 a year for married couples.
“No high-income individual or high-income household—in the top 5 percent of incomes—will benefit from this action,” the statement said further.
The government also extended the pause on federal student loan repayment through Dec. 31, 2022, so borrowers will be expected to resume payment in January—after the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
The Biden administration defended the program as a way of “providing families breathing room as they prepare to start re-paying loans after the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.”
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Missouri in September, Republican attorneys general from Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina requested that the relief program be shut down, arguing that it’s unconstitutional and is “not remotely tailored to address the effects of the pandemic on federal student loan borrowers.”
On Sept. 26, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated (pdf) that Biden’s plan would cost American taxpayers $400 billion.
“Virtually every legal scholar that I have spoken to has said that the president of the United States really doesn’t have the authority to do this, and the people at the White House and Domestic Policy Council know that,” Basile said. “But they also know they couldn’t get it through Congress so they figure they would do this and let people believe they were going to be able to do this.”
In the meantime, Basile said Republicans would be baited into pursuing legal action, which the administration will use to make them “look like the bad guys by trying to uphold the rule of law.”
“They knew it would be litigated,” Basile noted, adding that the move is “very similar” to what the administration did with the eviction moratorium.
According to Basile, the Biden administration was “told they didn’t have the authority to do the eviction moratorium,” but they “wanted to look like they were trying to do something” for that particular constituency and “look like the good guys.”
“They knew it was going to get overturned but they did it anyway,” Basile said. “They are establishing a very dangerous and lawless approach to how they want to advance public policy.”
Basile said the left has been fighting to control public policy through the courts, rather than through the legislative process—where they know it would fail—for a long time.
“But they are getting bolder in what they are trying to do, because they figure they know there will be political benefit simply by proposing something, knowing it will get struck down,” Basile added. “The important thing for the American people to know and appreciate when they play these games, the end result always is that the government gets bigger and government costs more and the regulatory creep continues. They’re shooting for the moon and figure, ‘maybe we don’t get to the moon but we at least get into orbit,’ and they still feel like they’ve made progress—and they have.”
In an Aug. 31 letter (pdf) to Biden, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said “this election-year bribe would cost American taxpayers nearly $519 billion and overwhelmingly benefit highly-educated, wealthy borrowers.”
“While our nation faces historically high inflation, such broad student loan relief is an act of highway robbery and a slap in the face to hard-working American families struggling to compensate for your increasingly reckless economic policies,” Boebert said further in the letter, signed by seven other Republican members of Congress. “Your regime couldn’t even pretend to care about the cost of inflation for more than a few weeks before you initiated yet another spending spree.”
In a statement to The Epoch Times, Boebert said she called out the Biden administration on behalf of hard-working Americans.
“These responsible Americans paid off their student debt, worked their way through college, or chose a career path that did not require student debt—but Biden is now forcing them to pay off other people’s loans.”
Like Basile, Boebert noted that Biden lacked the authority to do this, saying even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Department of Education (DOE) have admitted he doesn’t have the unilateral authority to waive student loan payments.
“But Biden and his law-breaking regime don’t care,” Boebert wrote. “The American people see through Biden’s student loan bailout and know it is nothing short of an election year bribe. The economy is crumbling, inflation is out of control, the border is open, fentanyl deaths are going up, and crime rates are skyrocketing—Biden has nothing to run on, so he has resorted to buying votes.”
In a reversal from the original sweeping proposal in August to cancel federal student loans up to $20,000, the DOE announced Sept. 29 that it would not forgive debt from borrowers whose student loans are owned by private entities.
Depleting Strategic Petroleum Reserves
As The Epoch Times reported July 18, oil prices rose “$4.53, or about 4.5 percent, to $105.70 a barrel as of 4 p.m. EDT on July 18, after a 2.1 percent gain on July 15,” after President Joe Biden’s failure to secure a pledge from Saudi Arabia to boost crude oil output.
In 2021, when green energy policies caused gasoline prices to soar, Biden directed the Department of Energy to release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), which amounts to about two and a half days’ worth of the nation’s consumption.
When gas prices continued to climb, Biden dipped into the reserves several more times. By July 29, the SPR had reached its lowest level since 1985. As of Oct. 14, the SPR had about 405 million barrels, down from 638 million barrels in January 2021 when Biden took office.
Congress created the SPR in 1975 to protect the United States from volatility in oil markets and to ensure an inventory of energy supplies in emergencies, such as war or natural disasters. The United States just reached the end of peak hurricane season, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently threatened NATO forces with nuclear weapons.
Boebert said Biden and Democrat lawmakers are skirting legislative procedure to buy the votes they haven’t earned over the past two years.
“The Democrats have absolutely no long-term plan to stop the insanely high gas prices,” Boebert asserted. “If they did, they’d have passed it through the House they control, the Senate they control, and had it signed in the White House they control. Instead, they are artificially lowering prices before the election by selling off the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Worst of all, this is at the expense of our national security.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Basile.
“The claim by the White House that this has nothing to do with politics simply doesn’t pass the laugh test,” Basile said. “It’s a significant national security concern for this country that we have drawn down those oil reserves. This is press release politics because it has minimal, short-term impact. It does nothing to address the larger, systemic problem we have when it comes to achieving energy independence and reducing costs for consumers.”
“This is America acknowledging that it cannot power itself and people should be outraged by this,” Basile said, referring to Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia to ask for more oil to be released. “They should also be outraged that he is running, hat in hand, to our enemies while at the same time declaring war on the American energy industry in virtually every speech.”
As Basile sees it, “if Republicans frame this the right way,” the issue of whether or not someone believes climate change exists becomes irrelevant when compared to “the lunacy of knowing we could be totally energy independent” yet are choosing to be dependent and purchase what we already have from our enemies.
“We don’t have to rely on the Saudis,” Basile noted. “We don’t have to rely on Russia or Venezuela. We don’t have to rely on the Chinese for lithium. We have lithium here, we just don’t mine it. It’s lunacy, in the guise of climate cultism for the sake of advancing a cultish sentiment around climate change, that you would intentionally make the country less secure and threaten the stability of the American economy. ”
“The left in this country think that people are stupid,” Basile surmised. “If anybody believes that Joe Biden, by virtue of him signing a piece of paper, is going to impact the climate today, tomorrow, five years from now, 10 years from now, you should question their basic competency. But I think people are starting to get that.”
The Nov. 8 Pushback
According to Basile, none of these tactics will help Democrats in November.
“Whether it’s about climate, whether it’s about student loan forgiveness, or it’s about this inquisition about so-called threats to democracy and white extremism in America, all of this is part of the program that [Biden] agreed to with Sanders and [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren during the campaign,” Basile said, noting it’s all part of the 110-page Biden–Sanders Unity Task Force (pdf) aimed at “combatting the climate crisis and pursuing environmental justice.”
“Nobody read it,” Basile noted, adding that the “so-called moderate Biden” nonetheless “allowed a socialist to write the agenda for his administration,” which the Domestic Policy Council has been using as a policy blueprint to destroy the country over the past two years, Basile said.
“But they didn’t count on the intelligence of the American people and they never considered the damage to people’s lives that are done by these policies,” he said. “That’s why on Nov. 8 they’re going to see some substantial pushback.”
In her summation of Biden’s latest efforts, Boebert was a bit more direct.
“Student loan forgiveness and now blanket marijuana pardons,” Boebert stated. “Biden is really looking for that hacky sack vote.”