Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., makes her...

Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., makes her argument against advancing the nomination of Bill Barr to be attorney general, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 7, 2019. Credit: AP / J. Scott Applewhite

She’s progressive, she’s smart, she’s tough and it’s a good thing that Sen. Kamala Harris right now seems to be standing in the front of a line of 32 Democrats who want to run for president. So say any number of observers, including some who count themselves as moderate.

The question is whether they want to make a joke out of justice and wreck the American economy. If that sounds like ideologically inspired hyperbole, spend some time with some revelatory information, starting with an op-ed that appeared in The New York Times. It shows that, as district attorney in San Francisco and attorney general in California, Harris was not what you maybe thought she was.

Two stories particularly disturbed me. In both of them we had men who were probably innocent, who suffered from withheld evidence in one case and incompetence by a defense attorney in another and who were kept in prison because Harris found technicalities that served the cause of cruelty.

In two other cases not unlike these, she was once again relying on technicalities to encage justice, but then there was publicity, there was embarrassment, and she changed her mind. Politicians can be like that. If it serves their political cause to do the right thing, they will do the right thing, and if it serves their cause to do the wrong thing they will do the wrong thing.

That brings us to Harris’s plan to buy your votes. She wants to hand out checks as high as $6,000 a year, or $500 a month, to middle class Americans with jobs. You will be eligible if you are single or married and have kids or don’t and make less than $100,000 a year, and you will be better off and happier until it’s discovered the money’s nowhere to be found and the debt crisis has arrived.

The freebie cost is variously estimated, maybe something like $2.8 trillion the first decade, and I wonder if some of the 31 other possible candidates will come up with plans for spending more to win more votes. Whatever, the cost would still look like next to nothing when you compare it to the multi-trillions it could take to execute the Green New Deal. Harris likes this idea of getting rid of most fossil fuels within 10 years and saying goodbye to just about everything that makes America work to rely on renewable fuels that do keep some houses warm.

In my experience, it is not such a good idea to depend on confused beginners such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to solve major problems. And even if we somehow rendered America free of CO2, gasoline cars, airplanes, functioning factories, bunches of jobs, the economy and modernity, it would do little to solve global warming. As the name implies, it’s a global problem and without China, India and all other major countries doing something of major consequence, our efforts would make next to no difference at all. What does not seem to be widely known, by the way, is that America has already done more than any other country on this interesting planet to scoot CO2 from its throne.

Harris also seems to mistakenly believe that Medicare for all will make us healthier, wealthier and wiser. Sorry, but it won’t make us healthier because there won’t be enough money to make it do what it has to do. It won’t make us wealthier because the cost projected by experts of at least one plan is about $3 trillion a year out of a $4 trillion annual budget. Where do we get that money? Taxes? More debt? Getting rid of a whole bunch of other programs? It won’t make us wiser because the wisdom of going this direction is nil.

None of this means there are not real problems we have to solve and that the current president is solving them, only that Harris does not look like an answer.

Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at

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