Americans favor mental tests, age limits, for politicians: Poll

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Americans favor mental tests, age limits, for politicians: Poll

Americans overwhelmingly favor mental competency tests for politicians over 75 — and for the results to be made public — as well as imposing age limits on who can serve in the White House and Congress, according to a new poll that highlights deep misgivings about older leaders they nonetheless elect time and again.

In practice, that would mean acuity assessments for people like President Biden, 80, the oldest to get the job; former president Donald Trump, the runaway front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024, 77; and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.), 81.

  • Overall, 76 percent of adult Americans strongly or somewhat support  the idea, though there’s a definite partisan gap: 70 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents, and 84 percent of Republicans like the notion, according to the poll from the Economist/YouGov.

Public reports from annual presidential physicals don’t include such a test. Trump claimed in 2020 that he had requested one and bragged about his performance. Former ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, seeking the GOP presidential nomination, has promoted the idea of mental competency tests for politicians over 75. She is 51.

And former vice president Mike Pence won chuckles when he was asked about the idea in the first Republican primary debate, quipping: “It might be a good idea to have everybody in Washington, D.C., pass a mental and health test.”

There are already age limits to serve as president or in Congress — but they’re a floor, not a ceiling. The poll found broad support for imposing an upper limit: 76 percent for the commander in chief, 73 percent for senators, 72 percent for representatives.

“When asked what the maximum age should be, the average ages given are 67 for president and 66 for senator and member of Congress (the median age given is 70 for all three positions). If an age limit of 66 were in effect, almost half of senators currently in office would be ineligible, given that the median age of Senators is presently about 65,” the poll authors wrote.

A crucial number on the economy

As is the case in many other polls, Biden is underwater when it comes to the economy: 41 percent approve of his handling of the issue, 52 percent disapprove. The picture gets worse when Americans are asked about his handling of inflation: 33 percent approve, 60 percent disapprove.

The president has been campaigning on “Bidenomics” — record-low unemployment, investments in manufacturing and infrastructure and the like. He has no choice: Voters will judge him on the economy whether he does, so he may as well tell his side of the story.

But the Economist/YouGov poll helpfully asked what was the best measure for how the economy is doing.

  • 4 percent said the stock market
  • 10 percent said their personal finances
  • 14 percent said unemployment and jobs reports

But a whopping 58 percent said the prices of goods and services they buy. The Daily 202 wrote nearly two years ago that the Biden economy was defined by roaring jobs creation and surging inflation. This figure tells the story of his political trouble on the issue.

Just to hammer home the problem: When asked which was the bigger problem, 4 percent said unemployment, 53 percent said inflation and 38 percent said both.

Some Biden supporters blame the news media for his poor showing on the economy. Does it seem plausible that Americans need a TV anchor to tell them gas and grocery prices are higher than before the president took office? Or is it that the reporting affects which issue they consider more important? We’d buy the latter.

See an important political story that doesn’t quite fit traditional politics coverage? Flag it for us here.

Biden expected to nominate former airline executive for top FAA job

“President Biden intends to nominate Michael Whitaker to run the Federal Aviation Administration, according to two people familiar with his plans, putting forth a former airline executive who previously was second-in-command at the agency to serve as its leader,” Michael Laris, Ian Duncan and Lori Aratani report.

Former congressional staffer defeats Trump critic in special Utah GOP primary

Celeste Maloy, a former staffer for Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and supporter of former president Donald Trump, has narrowly won a Republican congressional primary that included a Trump critic, according to an Associated Press projection. Maloy will advance to a special general election to fill Stewart’s seat, and is favored to win in the heavily Republican district,” Amy B Wang reports.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

Women win Mexican primaries; one is likely to be first female president

“Half of Mexico’s Congress is female. The cabinet is gender-balanced. And now, women have won the primaries of the two leading political blocs — making it likely that this traditionally macho nation will elect its first female president, ahead of the United States,” Mary Beth Sheridan and David Agren report.

  • Claudia Sheinbaum, 61, who until recently served as Mexico City’s mayor, defeated five men to secure the nomination of the governing party, MORENA, its officials announced Wednesday. If the leftist candidate triumphs in the election next June, she also will set another precedent, as Mexico’s first Jewish head of state.”
  • “Her victory came days after an opposition coalition, the Broad Front for Mexico, nominated Xóchitl Gálvez, 60, a business executive and senator of Indigenous origin.”

More from Mexico: Mexican court expands access to abortion, even as U.S. restricts it

Trump escalates false attacks on Biden as some Republicans push toward impeachment

“Former president Donald Trump is, by his own admission, attacking President Biden in increasingly vicious terms. The attacks on Biden center on allegations that are exaggerated or unfounded, frequently drawing on right-wing media reports about the foreign business dealings of Biden’s son Hunter Biden. The president has denied any involvement in his son’s affairs, and no evidence has emerged proving otherwise,” Isaac Arnsdorf reports.

Texas must move floating border barriers in Rio Grande, U.S. judge says

“A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Texas to reposition floating barriers the state placed in the middle of the Rio Grande, rebuking one of the more contentious elements of Gov. Greg Abbott’s effort to deter illegal border crossings,” Nick Miroff reports.

  • “The preliminary injunction granted by Judge David A. Ezra sided with the U.S. Justice Department, which filed a lawsuit in July arguing Texas had no authority to install a 1,000-foot-long segment of the spiked orange buoys in the river, an international waterway where the federal government has jurisdiction.”

U.S., EU plan new Chinese steel tariffs in bid to end Trump-era trade conflict

“The US and European Union are working on an agreement that would introduce new tariffs aimed at excess steel production from China and other countries, as well as put behind them a Trump-era trade conflict,” Bloomberg’s Alberto Nardelli and Jenny Leonard report.

  • “The levies would primarily be focused on imports from China that benefit from non-market practices, according to people familiar with the discussions, who said talks were ongoing. The scope of the measures, including other countries that could be targeted and the level of the tariffs, are still being discussed. It’s also expected to provide a framework for other nations to join in the future.”

U.S. seized Iranian oil over smuggling incident that escalated tensions in gulf

“The United States government has seized nearly one million barrels of Iranian crude oil that it says was being smuggled to China in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran, after it raised the threat of prosecution to get the tanker brought to American waters, newly unsealed court papers show,” the New York Times’s Charlie Savage and Ronen Bergman report.

  • “The seizure of the oil from the vessel, the M/T Suez Rajan, is part of a larger and shadowy conflict with Iran. After the tanker began to steam toward the United States last spring, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps seized two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, prompting the U.S. military to increase patrols and deploy additional assets to protect shipping lanes.”

Do they mask? Are they eating out? How covid experts are living now.

Q: What worries you as we head into the fall and winter months?

William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine in health policy and professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center:

  • “I am most concerned that a large proportion of the public will not take advantage of the new monovalent [coronavirus] booster that will become available in mid-September. That could lead to a substantial number of preventable hospitalizations and deaths.”

Biden to block oil drilling in ‘irreplaceable’ Alaskan wildlands

“President Biden moved Wednesday to protect more than 10 million acres of Alaska’s North Slope from development, barring oil drilling across giant swaths and canceling leases in the iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge issued under President Donald Trump,” Timothy Puko reports.

  • “The conservation push covers nearly half of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), the nation’s largest expanse of public land, which provides habitat for a range of sensitive Arctic wildlife, including caribou and shorebirds. It would impose a permanent ban on oil and gas development for 10.6 million acres of the reserve but would not block ConocoPhillips’ Willow project, which Biden approved there earlier this year and is poised to produce 576 million barrels of oil over the next three decades.”

Detroit UAW workers strike threat tests Biden’s plan to win union votes

“In a reminder of how hard it is to appease energized workers while tamping down on price hikes that cause inflation, Biden and auto workers union UAW — the only major union not to endorse his 2024 presidential run — are at loggerheads. Biden’s Labor Day prediction that the union would not strike against Detroit’s automakers ahead of a Sept. 14 contract deadline was soundly rejected by UAW President Shawn Fain,” Reuters’s Nandita Bose and David Shepardson report.

Which co-defendants face the most charges in Georgia election case, visualized

The Georgia 2020 election-interference indictment is wide in scope. The case, brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis, includes activity spanning more than two years and encompasses multiple efforts to try to overturn former president Donald Trump’s loss in Georgia. The indictment lays out 135 charges against 19 people,” Hannah Dormido and Kati Perry report.

Google tries to protect its monopoly under cover of darkness

Google … stands accused of doing essentially what Microsoft did: paying outside companies to make the Google search engine the preset on iPhones, Android phones, and other devices, thereby preventing competition in the search space. In fact, Judge Amit Mehta cited the Microsoft case in his ruling allowing the lawsuit to go forward,” David Dayen writes for the American Prospect.

  • Google has said that consumers could always switch the preset option, thereby preserving competition. But as the Justice Department and Judge Mehta have asked, if the outside contracts were so inconsequential, why did Google pay billions of dollars for that privilege? The answer, the Justice Department will argue, can be seen in Google’s close to 90 percent market share in search engines.”

A few schools mandated masks. Conservatives hit back hard.

Even though these campuses are the exception, as few schools require masks, lawmakers and presidential candidates have seized on the issue. A group of Senate Republicans unveiled legislation this week to prohibit federal mask mandates on domestic air travel, public transit and public schools through the end of 2024. On Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) shared a warning in response to the Maryland elementary school action: ‘If you want to voluntarily wear a mask, fine, but leave our kids the hell alone,’” Hannah Natanson, Fenit Nirappil and Maegan Vazquez report.

  • Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, suggested in a Fox News interview Wednesday that mandated school mask-wearing is an attack on parental rights, and former president Donald Trump promised last month that, if reelected, he would ‘use every available authority to cut federal funding to any school’ that imposed a mask rule.”

At 4:45 p.m., Biden will leave the White House for Joint Base Andrews, where he will fly to Ramstein, Germany. 

The man who built the biggest match-fixing ring in tennis

On the morning of his arrest, Grigor Sargsyan was still fixing matches. Four cellphones buzzed on his nightstand with calls and messages from around the world,” Kevin Sieff reports.

  • Sargsyan was sprawled on a bed in his parents’ apartment, making deals between snatches of sleep. It was 3 a.m. in Brussels, which meant it was 8 a.m. in Thailand. The W25 Hua Hin tournament was about to start.”

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

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