Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

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Nov. 4

The State on incumbent Lindsey Graham winning another U.S. Senate term.

The power of incumbency is a massive one, and on Tuesday night its force across South Carolina easily carried Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham to a fourth term in the U.S. Senate

Graham decisively defeated Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison by a margin far wider than most expected given the hard-fought nature of their race.

It’s clear that Graham’s 18 years of experience in the Senate — which has brought him widespread influence that includes chairing the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee — has won him a level of goodwill among South Carolinians that can’t always be easily measured in pre-election polls.

It can, however, always be counted upon on Election Day itself to strongly validate Graham’s work in Washington with another six-year term.

“No candidate owes so much to so many as I do,” Graham said during his victory speech Tuesday night.

“I will never take my eye off the ball of looking out for the state’s interests in Washington.”

It would have taken a supreme leap of faith for South Carolinians to forsake Graham for Harrison, a well-funded and energetic candidate who was nonetheless making his first run for elected office.

It was a leap of faith that the overwhelming majority of South Carolina’s voters felt little reason or desire to take.

And the credit for that goes more to Graham’s deep strength as a familiar political figure than any weakness on Harrison’s part as a relatively novice politician.

It’s beyond debate that Graham’s keen ability to reflect the conservative values of the widespread South Carolina electorate is the key reason why he continues to receive its trust to serve it in Washington.

And it’s the main reason why Graham will now serve the Palmetto State in Washington for another six years.

Online: https://www.thestate.com

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Oct. 30

The Post and Courier on the ‘crisis’ of unpaid rent in South Carolina:

Like other programs that help individuals and companies cope with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal rental assistance under the CARES Act has now been exhausted, and rent delinquencies are becoming a national crisis that will soon hit South Carolina, bringing misery to renters, landlords and banks alike.

For example, the rental assistance program operated by the nonprofit SC Thrive for the state Department of Housing Finance and Development Authority stopped taking applications in early October.

The program covered rent shortfalls up to $1,500 for qualified applicants with the payments going to landlords. The generosity of anonymous donors providing nearly $100,000 made it possible to settle some rental arrears in excess of $1,500. Details of the program will become available next week, but it helped thousands of renters and landlords.

But a rental crisis still looms here and in other states. The Wall Street Journal reported that federal — as well as some state and local — eviction moratoriums will expire across the country between now and January. Then months of unpaid rents will become due.

Moody’s Analytics estimates that almost $70 billion will be owed, with 12.8 million Americans owing an average of $5,400. That’s an overwhelming bill for many who have jobs and a nearly impossible sum for those still unemployed due to the pandemic. Renters may face evictions, and court judgments and lower credit scores will make it even harder to find a new apartment without putting down larger security deposits or advanced rent payments.

In addition to the human toll, this multibillion-dollar debt would ripple through the economy, undermining the credit of landlords and putting a large burden of uncollectible debt on bank balance sheets, restricting their ability to lend.

University of Texas economist James Galbraith has suggested that uncollectible debt caused by the COVID-19 financial crisis should be written off through an act of Congress. Congressional action of any sort seems unlikely, given lawmakers’ inability to come to an agreement on a new stimulus bill, despite overwhelming evidence of the damage to ordinary lives.

The data compiled by The Wall Street Journal on the impact of the rental crisis opens yet another window into the disparately heavy impact of COVID-19 on poor and minority communities.

In South Carolina and across the nation, black people are more likely to die from COVID-19 than other racial and ethnic groups. The reasons revolve around poverty, including a less healthy population and greater exposure to the virus in service jobs. Such jobs also have been more likely to be lost during the COVID-19 crisis than jobs that can be done from home. Similarly, The Journal reports, black tenant households are more than twice as likely as white tenant households to lag behind on rent payments.

These shocking disparities should be a call to action. If not, the looming rental crisis will deal a serious blow to millions of Americans and the nation’s economy.

Online: https://www.postandcourier.com