Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, saw President Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Joe Biden) waking from his dreams of his actions from the previous day. He was in the White House, home to every American president since our second president, John Adams, supervised the mansion’s construction on a swamp located approximately in the middle of the former 13 colonies.
This 68-acre territory was called “Washington,” in honor of George Washington, or the “District of Columbia” (D.C), in honor of Christopher Columbus.
Any questions about D.C. being built on a swamp was confirmed by the summer humidity that stopped many a jogger, like me, with Rudyard Kipling’s words, “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” Was this the inspiration behind D.C. initially having the label “swamp?”
The White House remains as special as my experience, which I am sure is typical. There were chills running down my spine the first time I entered it. Its address of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, is impressive, but not as impressive as my first lawyer’s business card of “1 Presidential Boulevard.” OK, mine was in Bala Cynwyd and not D.C.
Jan. 22, 2021, would be “deja vous all over again,” to quote Yogi Berra, for the signing pen of the “walk softly and carry a big check book” signer of documents that would end-run Congress to alter our lives through executive orders:
EO 14002. This order, covering economic relief related to the COVID-19 pandemic, stated, “The current economic crisis has affected Americans throughout the nation, but is particularly dire in communities of color.” This order directed that “all executive departments and agencies shall promptly identify actions they can take.” Besides EO 13985 and EO 13995?
EO14003. Protecting the federal workforce. This order said, “It is the policy of the United States to protect, empower and rebuild the career federal workforce. It is also the policy of the United States to encourage union organizing and collective bargaining.”
It continued, “Protecting the federal workforce, and bargaining over matters under section 7106 (b)(1) of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute,” where this section defines managements’ rights to manage projects. Encouraging union organizing and collective bargaining? In the private sector such activity by an employer violates the National Labor Relations Act, where, ironically, charges of such violations are decided by federal employees.
EO 14004. Enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform. The order said, “The All-Volunteer Force thrives when it is composed of diverse Americans who can meet the rigorous standards for military service, and an inclusive military strengthens our national policy.” Despite this proclamation, it continues, “enabling transgender individuals to serve openly in the United States military would only have a minimal impact on military readiness and healthcare costs” and have “no ‘significant’ impact on operational effectiveness or unit cohesion in foreign militaries.” What do “minimal impact” and “significant impact” mean? How “minimal” is the impact on schools and women’s sports? Remember Clinton’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell?”
It appears the president “put a lid,” the terms Press Secretary Psaki uses to describe the president’s retiring for the day, and sometimes starting a long weekend in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware. Wilmington, from when I arrived in 1989 until 2020, had its violent crime rate grow to 481% higher than the national average while its population only grew by one percent to 70,898 as Delaware’s grew by 46%. In 2021 our president would spend an estimated 25% of his time in Wilmington.
Tuesday, the signing pen returned from Wilmington to sign:
EO 14005. Ensuring the Future is made in all of America that “established a substantial role for the MEP network” where “MEP” is the Hollings manufacturing Extension Partnership.” Space prohibits a discussion here.
EO 14006. Reforming Our Incarceration System to Eliminate the Use of Privately Operated Criminal Detention Facilities. The order empowered the Department of Justice to “not renew any existing contracts with privately operated facilities.” Private prisons, which are for-profit facilities, were created to house the overflow in federal and state facilities, that, at times, judges ordered be reduced due to crowding. In 2019 private prisons held 115,428 private persons, which represented 8% of the total state and federal prison populations. Since the federal and state prisons being full was the reason for their creation, their destruction required prisoners be released before completing their sentences: How has that worked for the crime rates in Wilmington? In U.S. cities, such as N.Y., Philadelphia or your town?
EO 14007, signed on Jan. 27, 2021, provided that the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology was created and “shall be composed of not more than 26 members.” The order said the council would advise the president on the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, the environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics.” Another committee? How are they doing on energy? Environment? Public health? Security? Another committee on “racial equity?”
EO 14008. Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad “places climate change at the forefront of foreign policy and national security planning.” “The United States will work with other countries and partners, both bilaterally and multi laterally, to put the world on a sustainable climate pathway.” The White House’s Executive Summary included “Scaling-Up International Climate Financing and Enhancing its Impact, ending International Official Financing for Carbo-Intensive Fossil Fuel based Energy, and Making Capital Flows consistent with Low-Emissions, Climate-resilient Pathways.”
Does “scaling up” on international financing mean anything besides giving other countries the power to spend U.S. taxpayers’ dollars? Are they aware that the goal of climate change is to reduce the temperature increases by half a degree in 80 years? Any ideas of how to live until then?
On Friday Jan. 29, President Biden signed EO 14009. Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. It was designed to shortn the waiting time.
January was a busy time for the signing pen: 24 EOs (plus eight revocations), which set the structure for an oil shortage that would cause the highest inflation in 40 years, as well as 7,000 a day unvetted, unvaccinated border crossers. The structure was also set for race becoming the primary factor for presidential appointments, transgenders canceling the protections of Title IX for women’s sports, the closure of some schools.
The president and congress spent borrowed money while searching for ways, including impeachment, to blame a former president for the destruction caused by the executive orders.
Such was life 2021 in the ” low lying area where things get bogged down.”
Brent E. Zepke is an attorney, arbitrator and author who lives in Santa Barbara. Formerly he taught at six universities and numerous professional conferences. He is the author of six books: “One Heart-Two Lives,” “Legal Guide to Human Resources,” “Business Statistics,” “Labor Law,” “Products and the Consumer” and “Law for Non-Lawyers.”