A reporter appeared to push for the White House to do more to protect people from being evicted at a news conference on Monday.
During the news conference, press secretary Jen Psaki and Gene Sperling, senior adviser to the president and coordinator of the White House American Rescue Plan, discussed what the administration was doing to extend protections to those who have not kept up on their rent during the pandemic and how they are working to prevent evictions.
According to an official White House transcript of the new conference, in his opening remarks, Sperling said that he wanted to provide some background regarding the statement coming out of the White House about evictions, executive actions and the Emergency Rental Assistance Plan for government at the state and local level.
He said President Joe Biden had fought for an eviction moratorium and wanted to extend it until Sept. 30, but this was impossible because of reconciliation rules. Sperling also alluded to the Supreme Court’s opinion regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an extension of the eviction moratorium.
“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court declared on June 29 that the CDC could not grant such an extension without clear and specific congressional authorization. But given the rising urgency of the spread of the delta variant, the president has asked all of us, including the CDC, to do everything in our power to look for every potential legal authority we can have to prevent evictions,” Sperling said.
He noted the CDC has been unable to find any legal authority to extent the eviction moratorium, but the president is trying to do everything within his administration’s power to prevent avoidable evictions.
Sperling said Biden has requested that state and local governments pass eviction moratoriums or extend those in place for the next two months. He has also asked departments that provide mortgage-backed lending, such as the United States Department of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to extend the moratoriums they have authority over.
The president has reportedly also asked that those with mortgages that are federally backed give 30 days’ notice before evicting tenants. Additionally, those benefiting from government-backed mortgages or housing-related tax relief should seek Emergency Rental Assistance funding prior to seeking an eviction, Sperling said.
Sperling, ending his opening remarks, said, “But you can be sure of one thing: Whatever is in the power of this president to do to prevent evictions, he is committed to doing.”
The briefing was then opened up to questions from the media, which is when Yamiche Alcindor of PBS appeared to do more advocating than questioning.
Alcindor asked Sperling, “I guess my question is — it’s two part: One, why not force the Supreme Court to make this decision? And, two, is that decision not to actually go to the Supreme Court and force them to strike it down — does it have anything to do with fears that the Supreme Court might strike down the administration’s broad use of public health laws for other policies?”
In his response, Sperling said that he believes people have been investigating if there is a legal authority to go forward.
“For me personally: Yeah, I — you always have to worry about whether you do something that could create harm. That’s a factor to think about. Is it an overwhelming factor? I can’t tell you. But, you know, I think when you’re governing, you have to look at all these issues and — and see.”
.@Yamiche: Is the administration not forcing the Supreme Court to rule on the federal evictions moratorium because of concerns that may strike their broad use of public health laws for other policies?
WH Advisor Sperling: “For me personally? Yeah.” pic.twitter.com/Pg2OiRL9UB
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) August 2, 2021
Alcindor followed up on Sperling’s response by asking if he could give an example of what they are worried about the Supreme Court striking down or what unintended consequences they are concerned with.
He responded rhetorically by asking if Alcindor was trying to get him in trouble with White House Counsel Dana Remus before simply stating, “I’ll pass.”
This exchange highlights a couple of things.
First off, the eviction moratorium is simply not responsible policy, and it is not something that should continue to be extended.
I understand why it was implemented and I can be empathetic to those who the moratorium has sought to protect during the trying times of the pandemic. However, the economy has improved since the early days of the pandemic and unemployment caused by it seems to be lessening. Additionally, we already have programs in place to assist people with their housing.
Nobody has a right to limitlessly live on another person’s property without compensating them.
The other important thing to note here is that this kind of slanted, pointed questioning is a large reason why people distrust the media.
The question though, has a particular angle to it which gives away Alcindor’s own position on the issue — that being clearly in favor of extending the eviction moratorium. It shows a biased intent, largely, because it had already been explained why the White House was not going this route.
Earlier during the news conference and in response to another reporter’s question, according to the official transcript, Sperling had acknowledged that it does not appear there is much that Biden can do on the matter.
“He is — the reason why he is pressing and pressing, even when legal authority looks slim, is because he wants to make sure we have explored every potential authority,” Sperling said.
Later, the adviser noted that the wording in the Supreme Court’s opinion was clear — the CDC could not create an extension of the moratorium without specific authorization from Congress.
Sperling laid this out throughout the news conference and what he was saying seems to be pretty clear. The Supreme Court gave an opinion that the CDC could not extend the moratorium. While the White House is doing what it can on the matter, it is up to Congress to grant authorization for the moratorium to be extended.
Yet, Alcindor thought it was pertinent to ask why the White House would not just force the Supreme Court to make the decision, even though the reasoning had already been explained as to why that did not appear to be an option.
I agree with the assessment of Curtis Houck, the managing editor of NewsBusters, who tweeted his take on the exchange Monday.
Our tax dollars at work: PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor lobbies White House American Rescue Plan coordinator Gene Sperling to have President Biden unilaterally extend the eviction moratorium and worry about the Supreme Court striking it down later.
Cause who needs laws, amirite?! pic.twitter.com/oBWCK03MAY
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) August 2, 2021
The question does seem to suggest that Biden should just ignore the rule of law and how our system of checks and balances works in order to do what the left thinks should be done.
Besides showing a disdain for our laws of governance and a desire for the president to take action, the question also seems to subliminally paint the Supreme Court as too powerful and blame SCOTUS for why the moratorium has not been extended. Even the previous tweet by PBS News Hour appears to be framed with a certain undertone that could potentially elicit a response from the “expand the court” crowd.
Regardless of what the intent might be, this kind of questioning highlights another example from the growing sector of “activist journalists,” which have only made more people turn away from establishment media.
Suggesting that the White House should do something that will likely only be ruled in a similar way by the Supreme Court shows a clear disregard for our system of checks and balances and the country’s laws.
The state of journalism has been in decline for a while now. This is just another example of why Americans seem to be trusting the media less and less.
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