Here are some of the topics our panel discussed on 4 The Record this week.
- Political battle lines become more entrenched after last week’s testimony from Bob Mueller before Congress.
- Illinois falls short on a promise to save money on pensions.
- Pressure is being applied to make it easier for marijuana businesses to manage their money.
All of these things came up for discussion with former Scott County Democratic Party Chair Karl Rhomberg and current Rock Island County Republican Party Chair Drue Mielke on 4 The Record.
Right now businesses that sell recreational marijuana in states where it’s legal are cash-only operations.
They can’t do business with banks because federal law forbids it because the drug is illegal at the federal level.
This week the Senate banking committee held a hearing on legislation that would change that.
Remember Illinois will be selling recreational marijuana in a few months.
We know cash businesses can be targets of crime.
Rhomberg and Mielke discussed if it is time for this law to change and how confident they are that Congress will make the change.
Illinois still struggles with its pension liability.
The Chicago Tribune reported this week the state’s pension buyback program fell short.
It promised to save $400 million last year. It saved only 13 million.
The buyout pays beneficiaries 60 percent of their total value in a one-time lump sum payment.
Only 79 of more than 3,200 pending retirees took the offer.
Year 2 estimates could be $35 million in savings.
This with unfunded liabilities of about $134 billion.
Mielke and Rhomberg addressed whether Illinois needs to sell this better and if the state should keep it while working on other options.
The testimony before Congress from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller only firmly entrenched the political divide among Democrats and Republicans.
The president maintained the appearance reaffirmed his stance that he was totally exonerated by the Mueller investigation of any obstruction of justice.
This exchange with Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado suggests otherwise.
ROBERT MUELLER: “The president cannot be charged with a crime.”
KEN BUCK: “But could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?”
ROBERT MUELLER: “Yes.”
KEN BUCK: “You believe that he committed– you could charge the President of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?”
ROBERT MUELLER: “Yes.”
KEN BUCK: “Ethically? Under the ethical standards?”
ROBERT MUELLER: “Well I’m – I’m not certain because I haven’t looked at the ethical standards, but the OLC opinion says that the prosecutor, while he cannot bring a charge against a sitting president, nonetheless can continue the investigation to see if there are any other persons who might be drawn into the conspiracy.”
There’s a lot more to his appearance than this excerpt.
Mueller makes the case that the only thing preventing indictment on obstruction of justice is because he’s the president.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is reluctant to pursue impeachment.
Republicans stand by the president at all costs.
Rhomberg and Mielke had a lively debate sparked by one question: What’s the cost of doing nothing?
See the full conversation in the video above.
Question of the week