Senate Parliamentarian Rains on Chuck Schumer’s Parade

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Photo Credit: Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

H. L. Mencken, a well-known writer and journalist of the early twentieth century, is likely best remembered for the following quote: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

If, as we’re told, 81 million Americans voted for President Joe Biden, they are indeed getting it good and hard. In just over four months, the Democrats have radically transformed the United States of America.

Via a parliamentary procedure called budget reconciliation, which allows the Senate to pass “certain tax, spending, and debt limit” bills by a simple majority vote, the Biden Administration rammed through a bloated and unnecessary $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill without a single Republican vote. Reconciliation, however, has its limits. It can only be used twice each fiscal year.

Like a kid in a candy store, limitations simply will not do for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Knowing that the filibuster, which requires at least 60 votes to pass legislation, would otherwise prevent him from passing his socialist agenda, he has been desperately searching for a way to change the rules.

In April, he was convinced he had found one.

Specifically, Schumer and his aides had been eyeing Section 304 of the Budget Reconciliation Act of 1974 which covers “Permissible revisions of concurrent resolutions on the budget,” according to The New York Post.

You won’t be surprised to hear that their “interpretation” of the language is that they are entitled to use reconciliation to pass at least one (as opposed to only one) additional spending bill.

At the time, Axios’ Mike Allen wrote: “Top policy aides to Schumer recently argued to the Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, that revising this year’s budget resolution could ‘trigger an additional set of reconciliation instructions,’ which would allow for further 50-50 votes that are decided by Vice President Harris.”

“If the Senate parliamentarian upholds Schumer’s interpretation, Democrats can pass more pieces of the party’s agenda without having to bust the filibuster rule, which requires at least 60 votes — and therefore 10 Republicans in the 50-50 Senate.”

“It’s not clear how many additional reconciliation opportunities this theory would open up,” Allen explained. “But the conventional wisdom is that Democrats have just one more shot at reconciliation this year, and this route would give them at least one more.”

One of Schumer’s aide’s told Axios that “no final decision has been made on the legislative strategy. Schumer wants to maximize his options to allow Senate Democrats multiple pathways to advance President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda if Senate Republicans try to obstruct or water down a bipartisan agreement.”

Less than a week later, MacDonough appeared to hand Schumer a big win. Her ruling, according to the Democrats, meant that she agreed with Schumer’s interpretation and that they would likely be allowed to bypass the filibuster on two additional spending bills. In other words, Schumer would need only a simple majority to ram through two more bloated spending bills without a single Republican vote.

Following the ruling, Schumer’s spokesman Justin Goodman issued a statement which read: “The Parliamentarian has advised that a revised budget resolution may contain budget reconciliation instructions. While no decisions have been made on a legislative path forward using Section 304 and some parameters still need to be worked out, the Parliamentarian’s opinion is an important step forward that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed.”

It seems that Schumer might have misunderstood that there were conditions attached to MacDonough’s April decision which were spelled out in a new ruling issued late on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

In a memo to Senators about Friday’s ruling, MacDonough wrote: “The drafters and early users of 304 uniformly believed that it was to be used in extraordinary circumstances and not for things that should have been or could have been foreseen and handled in a 301 resolution. The potential for abuse was clear in 1974 and is all the more obvious now.”

Journalist Jake Sherman explains in the tweet below that in order for Democrats to use reconciliation more than once, “there would have to be reasons beyond political expediency – like an economic downturn.” It cannot be used to avoid the filibuster.

God knows we’re sorry Chuck.

(Note: The Hill’s Alexander Bolton provides a detailed explanation of the budget reconciliation process here.)

 

‘Right Now, I’m Scared’; Emotional CDC Director Says She Has a ‘Feeling of Impending Doom’ About COVID

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Photo Credit: Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

An emotional Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke at a White House briefing on COVID this afternoon.

Walensky said she promised two months ago that she would tell Americans the truth and today, in particular, she hopes we will listen.

Apparently, the number of new cases of COVID in the U.S. have ticked up over last week and she is concerned about a fourth surge of the virus. According to The Washington Post, the “U.S. seven-day average hovered at about 60,000 daily cases — a 10-percent increase compared to the prior seven-day period. Hospitalizations have risen, too. The seven-day average death rate, which typically lags behind cases and hospitalizations, increased by 3 percent.”

Walensky said she had a feeling of “impending doom” about the situation.

“I’m gonna pause here. I’m gonna lose the script and I’m gonna reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. ”

In a very emotional voice, she adds, “Right now I’m scared.”

Walensky’s predecessor, Dr. Robert Redfield, never spoke like this, not even at the height of the pandemic.

Impending doom? Our CDC director is near tears and tells us she’s scared?

Hmmm.

A 10 percent week over week increase doesn’t strike me as crazy. If this became a trend, perhaps there might be more reason for concern. But considering the rate has dropped for ten straight weeks by a total of 77.2 percent, this shouldn’t drive our CDC director to tears.

Without looking at the breakdown of where the cases are the highest, it’s hard to know the reasons behind the increase.

We know that the Biden Administration’s disastrous decision to allow throngs of illegal immigrants into the country, many of whom are infected with COVID could be a factor. Biden’s unwise resurrection of the Obama era policy of catch and release has allowed infected illegal immigrants to move freely about the country, on buses and airplanes and everywhere else.

In the meantime, Americans returning to the U.S. from abroad are required to show a negative COVID test result from within 72 hours of boarding their flight before they are allowed back into the country.

So, what might be the reason for Dr. Walensky’s feeling of impending doom?

COVID was used as a control mechanism by many government officials, elected and appointed. Because it went on for so long, many of them, Democratic governors in particular, grew accustomed to their new power and are reluctant to give it up.

Frankly, I have no idea why the numbers increased last week.

Or even if the numbers increased last week.

Because I find it hard to trust anything this administration tells us.

Throngs of Supporters Showed Up to Welcome Biden at First Stop of ‘Help is Here’ Tour

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No, not really.

Biden arrived in Chester, Pennsylvania on Tuesday for the first stop on his “Help is Here” cross country tour to promote his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan. In the video below, a group of approximately 30-40 supporters are shown waiting for the President’s arrival.

Inexplicably, The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin reports that Democrats believe this stimulus package is going to be so “transformational” for so many Americans that even Republicans and Independents will flock to Democratic candidates in 2022.

Martin argues:

Triumphant over the signing of their far-reaching $1.9 trillion stimulus package, Democrats are now starting to angle for a major political payoff that would defy history: Picking up House and Senate seats in the 2022 midterm elections, even though the party in power usually loses in the midterms.

Democratic leaders are making one of the biggest electoral bets in years — that the stimulus will be so transformational for Americans across party lines and demographic groups that Democrats will be able to wield it as a political weapon next year in elections against Republicans, who voted en masse against the package.

Martin writes that Democrats are a bit worried because of their party’s results in the 2010 midterms. Prior to the election, they held the presidency and both chambers of Congress, as they do today. The Obama Administration had rammed through a $787 billion stimulus plan and Obamacare. Consequently, Democrats lost 63 seats and their majority in the House. While they still held the majority in the Senate, they lost six seats. The loss of control in the House prevented them from enacting the rest of their agenda – fortunately.

Anyway, it appears that Democrats have taken the wrong lesson from their 2010 experience and they’re moving full-steam ahead. Martin tells his readers that, “It has become an article of faith in the party that Obama’s presidency was diminished because his two signature accomplishments, the stimulus bill and the Affordable Care Act, were not expansive enough and their pitch to the public on the benefits of both measures was lacking. By this logic, Democrats began losing elections and the full control of the government, until now, because of their initial compromises with Republicans and insufficient salesmanship.”

Recently, Martin notes, President Biden discussed the 2009 Recovery Act with House Democrats and said, “We didn’t adequately explain what we had done. Barack was so modest, he didn’t want to take, as he said, a ‘victory lap.’ ”

If you say so Joe.

Americans understood precisely what they had done in both cases and didn’t like it. And Barack Obama was not exactly a shrinking violet. He also had a stable of surrogates who were happy to shill on his behalf.

I hope Democrats do run on it. Most voters won’t see it as they do. Americans aren’t going to be so happy to learn they’re now on the hook for the financial mismanagement of Democrat-run cities and states and union pension funds. Moreover, much of the spending from this boondoggle of a plan won’t even begin until 2022 or later.

Democrats, perhaps knowing they may lose (at least) the House next year, want to ram through as much of their agenda as they can before the midterms. They can still do a lot of damage without control of Congress.

If the scant showing of support in Chester, PA is any indication for their excitement over the relief plan, I’d say that Jonathan Martin is likely wrong and they may not want to remind people of this misguided, one party, piece of legislation in 2022.

Read Martin’s article here.

Report: Biden Administration Preparing First Major Tax Hike Since 1993

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Hard on the heels of the recently passed $1.9 Trillion Covid-19 relief bill, sources have told Bloomberg News that President Joe Biden is preparing the first major federal tax increase since 1993. The revenue would be used to fund an economic program that would include, among other items, infrastructure and a jobs package.

Bloomberg reports:

The tax hikes included in any broader infrastructure and jobs package are likely to include repealing portions of President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law that benefit corporations and wealthy individuals, as well as making other changes to make the tax code more progressive, said the people familiar with the plan.

The following are among proposals currently planned or under consideration, according to the people, who asked not to be named as the discussions are private:

  • Raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%
  • Paring back tax preferences for so-called pass-through businesses, such as limited-liability companies or partnerships
  • Raising the income tax rate on individuals earning more than $400,000
  • Expanding the estate tax’s reach
  • A higher capital-gains tax rate for individuals earning at least $1 million annually. (Biden on the campaign trail proposed applying income-tax rates, which would be higher)

It seems to me that Biden himself took advantage of these “so-called pass-through businesses” after leaving office in 2016. During his campaign, CNBC reported that the Bidens had set up a pair of “S” corporations to reduce taxes on over $10 million of income in 2017 and over $3.2 million in 2018. These earnings were generated by book deals and speaking fees.

According to Bloomberg, the (Urban-Brookings) Tax Policy Center conducted an independent analysis of this tax plan during Biden’s campaign and reported “it would raise taxes by $2.41 trillion” over the next ten years, an amount that represents “about 0.98 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

Former Biden economic aide Sarah Bianchi told Bloomberg, “His whole outlook has always been that Americans believe tax policy needs to be fair, and he has viewed all of his policy options through that lens. That is why the focus is on addressing the unequal treatment between work and wealth.”

It’s amazing how supportive people can be for a tax increase when it doesn’t affect them.

I can’t imagine any Republican lawmakers will endorse this legislation, although Bloomberg notes there might be bipartisan support for specific taxes “such shifting from a gasoline tax to a vehicle-miles-traveled fee.”

Nor do I foresee too many Democrats opposing it. One possibility is Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from the bright red state of West Virginia. Manchin has been known to vote with the Republicans as he did in the confirmation vote for now-Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The Hill reports that when previously asked about repealing the Trump tax cuts, Manchin said that would be “ridiculous.” However, he walked back that comment later on and said, “Everything’s open for discussion.”

Finally, Bloomberg ‘s sources told them that “any tax increases that are passed would likely take effect beginning in 2022 due to the current high level of unemployment.”

Still, raising taxes on those most likely to hire workers just as the country is pulling out of a downturn is not a smart strategy and will lead to a slower, longer recovery.

The Biden Lottery: If First Prize is a $2 Trillion Bill Without a Tax Increase, What’s Second Prize?

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It was a quiet Saturday morning and I was simply minding my own business, catching up with the news and sneaking a third cup of coffee. My reverie was suddenly disturbed when I came across the following article from Newsmax’ Sandy Fitzgerald entitled, Yellen: Tax Increases Will Come When Money Is Needed for ‘Priorities’.”

Americans will start seeing $1,400 federal stimulus checks showing up in their bank accounts this weekend, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said while defending the price tag of the $1.9 trillion COVID bill President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday afternoon — but she acknowledged the administration will be looking at “ways to fund” other projects beyond the landmark bill later on.

No tax increases were proposed to pay for the massive relief package, she added, but she acknowledged that they will come later when money is needed for other priority projects.

What? No new taxes for the nearly two trillion-dollar COVID relief bill.

I felt a quick second of euphoria. The government won’t be taking more out of my check. And I just might get a little relief check to boot. Directly into my account. The wonder of governmental efficiency.

Sotto voce, my inside voice began to murmur, “If it sounds too good to be true, you’d better read the article again.” I read it again.

Cue the announcer’s voice:  Richard Edward, go ahead and tell the folks what they’ve won.

Richard Edward:  With pleasure sir. It’s a free ride to COVID Relief land. You’ll thrill while watching the blinding speed of the printing presses as they churn out Benjamin after Benjamin. Feel your happiness soar as you watch giant public relief checks land on mismanaged blue states and cities and disadvantaged minority farmers too. And later, you’ll get the chance to give a blank check to your government to spend even more American taxpayer money on priority projects. **

** Priority projects will be determined by Joe Biden and his handlers. Contest rules apply and all judges’ decisions will be final. Not subject to challenge by the tax paying citizenry. Should be, but isn’t, void where prohibited.

Fitzgerald continues:

The size of the COVID package has been slammed by House and Senate Republicans, who unanimously opposed the measure and called it a bloated bill filled with liberal wish list items that come at a time when the pandemic is becoming easier to manage and the economy is improving.

Yet, Yellen told NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie, “I don’t believe we’ve overshot the mark. I think America has enough fiscal space to be able to afford this relief that Americans need.”

Ms. Yellen’s definition of “fiscal space”? Well, maybe it’s like the prior mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s definition of “space to destroy,” but using debt instead of crowbars and bricks.

Yellen noted that this legislation “both addresses the pandemic and helps people get to the other side intact.” Yellen said, “We don’t want to have people be scarred by long spells of unemployment, being out of the labor market because children can’t go to school. We want to get the economy back operating in a normal way, and then we do have long-run challenges to address. We’re preparing to do that.”

I see it as a “mostly peaceful” debt increase leading to “kinder, gentler financial carnage at the end.”

“To date,” Fitzgerald explained, “the government has authorized $5.4 trillion in stimulus spending through six rescue packages that have been passed, including the CARES Act and others last year under then-President Donald Trump.”

Wow. What a deal. If first prize is an economy-wrecking, totally irresponsible drunken-sailor spending spree with the promise of more open-ended taxation for stuff we will really need down the road, all I want to know is, what’s second prize?

If the promise of additional tax and spend behavior isn’t an American Crisis, please tell me why in the comments below.

— Richard Edward Tracy

There’s One Thing that Scares Robert F. Kennedy Jr. More than COVID, That’s Losing his Constitutional Rights

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I’ve never been a fan of the Kennedy family.

However, I’ve just watched an hour-long podcast of a conversation between Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and liberal author Naomi Wolf, a one-time adviser to former President Bill Clinton, that I found riveting. And “riveting” is not a word I use lightly.

Kennedy’s podcast, called “Truth,” was recorded earlier this week. It can be viewed here.

Recounting an experience he’d had at a recent political rally in Berlin, Kennedy said, “I was shaking hands and I wasn’t wearing a mask. Nobody was. There were a million people there and no one was wearing a mask. An NBC crew came up and said, ‘Aren’t you scared of getting the coronavirus?’ I said, ‘There’s something I’m more fearful of.’ They asked, ‘Like what?’ ‘Like losing my constitutional rights.'”

He continued, “The American Revolution took place because you had people who were willing to die for the Constitution. Not lose their rights. The Constitution was not written for easy times or popular speech. … It was built for emergencies and to protect the speech that was unpopular, that was dissenting government policies. … For hundreds of years, our government protected that right religiously. You get to say things that offend other people.”

Recalling the occasion when a group of neo-Nazis demanded the right to march in Skokie, Illinois in 1978, Kennedy said, “Most liberals in this country came down on the right side of that.” Although we may not like the ideas they espouse, he feels strongly that “we need to fight for these groups to be able to express themselves. We need to win our issues in the marketplace, on debate and ideas, and not by silencing people.”

“Especially when it comes to medical issues, censorship has no place. Authoritarianism has no place.”

Both Wolf and Kennedy have lost friends over the past year because they’ve chosen to speak out against the “encroaching tyranny” that threatens to engulf our once (relatively) free society.

Wolf sees a growing “biofascism” and said “it’s led by Dems. I wish it wasn’t true.”

“The tech bros and Pharma to some extent have close ties with Democrats. … This cabal is investing new powers at the state level and at the federal level so that under the guise of a medical emergency, they can continue to burn and shred our Constitution.”

Elaborating on this point, Wolf said, “You have to not have human community. You have to give up freedom to assemble. You have to give up freedom to worship. You have to give up property rights. You get to watch small businesses get crushed. People selling their assets at fire sales. You have to watch a massive transfer of wealth. And you have to do all of that because the fear of this virus is so pervasive.”

“This narrative has been so unscientifically sold. I’m not surprised that people I love who only read the New York Times and listen to NPR believe this. It’s breaking my heart. The fear is so great that people give up all their rights in order to be safe from the fear.”

The truly fascinating – and terrifying – part of their  discussion addressed the collaboration, the “giant tangle of corruption” between the government, wealthy businessmen like Bill Gates and big corporations, specifically Big Tech and the pharmaceutical companies.

Certainly the Kennedy family is wealthy, but their fortune is dwarfed by those of the Big Tech oligarchs. Kennedy told Wolf to imagine the lawsuits he could file and the friends he could buy with a billion dollars and then multiply that by 133 to understand the influence of Bill Gates.

Gates, according to Kennedy, has used his wealth to wield enormous power. Specifically, he claimed that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has “neutralized once-independent media including The Guardian, NPR and public television through financial gifts.”

There’s been a trillion dollar transfer of wealth over the last year. “It is not the pandemic that’s caused it, it’s the lockdown.” Millions of small businesses have gone bankrupt and “60 percent of black-owned businesses will never reopen.”

The corruption between government health agencies and pharmaceutical companies runs deep, according to Kennedy. He cited many examples.

(Note: I have not verified this information.)

In 2020, 1.8 millon people in the world died from the coronavirus. Kennedy compared this figure to the 1.6 million people who die annually from tuberculosis. “It’s an airborne respiratory infection. Why aren’t we having lockdowns?” he asked rhetorically. “Because there’s already a vaccine and it costs two dollars a shot and there’s no patent on it and nobody can make money.”

On the other hand, (inaudible, however, based on the context, I believe this was a reference to patents on high profit drugs) $48 billion and Bill Gates owns half of them and Tony Fauci, whose agency owns the premier ones. NIAID [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] owns half the patent for the Moderna vaccine. Six of Tony Fauci’s [Director of NIAID] top aides own royalties to that. … So, people in Fauci’s agency collect $150,000 in royalties on that vaccine.”

The government put a $150,000 cap on the amount these officials can earn from royalties. There had been no cap prior to 2002.

At that time, Kennedy said, an HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) investigation found that Fauci had prevented information on very serious side effects from a drug called Interleukin 2 from being included in the product brochures. It turned out that Fauci owned the patent for the drug. Up until 2002, he was allowed to collect unlimited royalties. He agreed as a result of that investigation, informally … that he would give any money he made in royalties to charity. To Kennedy’s knowledge, nobody ever followed up on it.

He called Fauci the J. Edgar Hoover of public health. “He’s been there for 50 years and the only way that you last 50 years is by being in the tank with Pharma.”

“Fauci controls global medical policy and as we have seen,” he said. “It gives him more power than any politician in history. He shut down the global economy.”

The CDC owns 58 patents and Kennedy estimated that NIAID owns over one thousand.

“Money is currency for these people, but it’s the currency of power. It purchases power over other human beings.”

Wolf described what happens to people when they accumulate tremendous power. “Their own weird psyche starts to get played out on populations. Like you see it with Stalin, you see it with Mao, and now we’re really seeing it again. I’ve seen so many financial ties between Fauci and Bill Gates.”

The two went into some depth on the massive influence that Gates has been able to purchase with his enormous wealth.

Finally, they addressed the strategies and the goals of this cabal of elites. Kennedy explained that “one of the strategies, clearly, of the totalitarian forces is to keep us all divided. … It’s called the bourbon strategy, the strategy that was used in the old South to divide poor people from each other to keep the plantation owners in power.”

Wolf has studied the “closings of democracies.” She spoke about this in an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show last month.

I’ve been writing…for months and months about what I see as the terrible crisis that we’re in, that we have to recognize. Under the guise of a real medical pandemic, we’re really moving into a coup situation, a police state situation and that’s not a partisan thing, That, as you say, that transcends everything you and I might agree or disagree on that should bring together left and right to protect our Constitution. We’re absolutely moving into what I call step 10.

I wrote a book in which I pointed out there were 10 steps that would-be tyrants always take when they want to close down a democracy. Whether they’re on the left or the right they always do the same 10 things and now we’re at something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. … It is step 10 and that’s the suspension of the rule of law, that’s when you start to be a police state and we’re here, there’s no way around it.

… once I realized New York State had emergency powers, I know from history that no one gives up emergency powers. They always drag it on and drag it on…

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say this can be suspended if there’s a bad disease…never has there been months and months and months of emergency powers when we weren’t fighting a war. 

It is not hyperbole to say this is an American Crisis.

Democrats Just Used Your Tax Money to Bail Out Their Failing Cronies

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In October, actress Jane Fonda made headlines when she said the coronavirus was “God’s gift to the left.” That statement has proven true on many levels. Some, including myself, believe that, had the pandemic never materialized, former President Donald Trump would have easily won reelection.

Anyway, the economic devastation caused by the lockdowns has forced the government to pass several enormous COVID-19 relief bills into which the Democrats have been able to tuck away a myriad of wish-list items, the most recent $1.9 trillion aid package being perhaps the most egregious.

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that the bill passed by the Senate last weekend includes an $86 billion bailout for failing pensions. The article’s subtitle informs readers that “Democrats pushed through a big aid measure for multiemployer pensions whose problems predate the pandemic.”

Actually, I’m surprised the Times reported this.

The Times tells us the $86 billion aid package “has nothing to do with the pandemic” and represents “a taxpayer bailout for about 185 union pension plans that are so close to collapse that without the rescue, more than a million retired truck drivers, retail clerks, builders and others could be forced to forgo retirement income.”

Specifically, “the bailout targets multiemployer pension plans, which bring groups of companies together with a union to provide guaranteed benefits. All told, about 1,400 of the plans cover about 10.7 million active and retired workers, often in fields like construction or entertainment where the workers move from job to job. As the work force ages, an alarming number of the plans are running out of money. The trend predated the pandemic and is a result of fading unions, serial bankruptcies and the misplaced hope that investment income would foot most of the bill so that employers and workers wouldn’t have to.”

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said last week, “It goes back to the fact that these workers didn’t do anything wrong. They have earned these pensions.”

Two things, Senator. First, the countless owners of small businesses who were forced to shut their doors because of the lockdowns, didn’t do anything wrong either.

Secondly, the precarious condition of these union pension plans is the result of years of poor management. The state of these pensions was dire long before the pandemic reached our shores.

Republicans have called this provision “a union handout masquerading as pandemic relief.” They do have a point.

Tennessee Sen. Bill Hagerty, a Republican, said last week, “Just to show you how bad this bill is, there’s more money in this to bail out union pension funds than all the money combined for vaccine distribution and testing.”

According to the Times, “Using taxpayer dollars to bail out pension plans is almost unheard of. … The federal government does provide a backstop for certain failing pension plans through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which acts like an insurer and makes companies pay premiums, but does not get taxpayer dollars. Currently, the pension agency has separate insurance programs for single-employer and multiemployer pensions. The single-employer program is in good shape, but the multiemployer program is fragile.”

Several conservatives react to the pension bailout in the following tweets.

Frankly, there are far more contemptible provisions in the relief package that have received almost no media coverage. Nor is it a coincidence that they benefit the home city of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the home state of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Republicans argue that due to years of fiscal mismanagement in blue states and cities combined with their longer and more drastic lockdowns during the pandemic, this provision will “disproportionately benefit blue states.”

The stimulus package includes $350 billion to bail out state, local and tribal governments, a provision that has Republicans outraged.

“They want to send wheelbarrows of cash to state and local bureaucrats to bail out mismanagement from before the pandemic,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told colleagues last week, according to USA Today. “They’re changing the previous bipartisan funding formula in ways that will especially bias the money toward big blue states.”

The article quotes Kentucky Rep. James Comer, a Republican, echoing McConnell’s sentiments. He said, “The bill contains a $350 billion bailout for locked-down, poorly managed states with no strings attached. The sneaky formula used by Democrats ensures that most of the money goes to liberals in California and New York rather than to rural communities.”

It’s not surprising that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer disagrees. USA Today reports that Schumer sees this provision as “an American wish list” instead of a “liberal wish list.” He said, “Funding to keep teachers, firefighters, transit workers, first responders in red states and blue on the job. So many of the people affected by this bill are not liberals or Democrats. They may be Republicans, they may be independents, they may be conservatives. But they’re Americans who want some help to get out of this morass.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Tuesday that funding from this bill “will erase the majority of San Francisco’s projected $650 million budget deficit over the next two years, saving City Hall from having to make painful service cuts and layoffs — for now.”

Conservatives will be so relieved to hear that.

Biden Forced to Intervene as Sen. Manchin Stalled Passage of COVID-19 Relief Bill for 10 Hours

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Every once in a while, Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from bright red West Virginia surprises his Republican colleagues by taking their side. For instance, in October 2018, he voted for the confirmation of then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, Manchin led a group of eight Senate Democrats to vote against raising the minimum wage to $15.

As if $1.9 trillion was not already an astonishing ask from American taxpayers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to sneak a $15 minimum wage increase into the bill. A hike in the minimum wage has long been on the Democrats’ wish list. If it were included in this reconciliation bill, it would have only required a simple majority (51 votes) to pass in the Senate. Due to the legislative filibuster, as a stand-alone bill, 60 votes would be needed for its passage.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, such a move would cost Americans approximately 1.4 million jobs. In 2020, the U.S. lost nearly 10 million jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a CNBC report.

Small businesses which have so far weathered the COVID-induced lockdowns would immediately be forced to close their doors.

But there was another equally valid reason to remove the minimum wage hike from the bill.

In addition to its effect on the economy, Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough “ruled that the inclusion of the $15 minimum wage hike in a reconciliation bill violated Senate rules.”

Immediately, there were calls for McDonough to resign.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley explained:

By using reconciliation, the Democrats triggered the ‘Byrd rule’ –  which limits the type of provisions in the reconciliation process to taxing and spending. The purpose is to limit an add-on through reconciliation to measures designed to have a direct impact on the federal budget—barring the use of reconciliation to introduce “extraneous” measures. Otherwise, reconciliations could circumvent the normal legislative process and the filibuster option for the minority. The rule allows a senator to object when a reconciliation bill is brought to the floor through a Point of Order on the bill. After the Byrd Rule is raised, the Senate Parliamentarian informs the Presiding Officer on how to rule and the Presiding office conveys that to the Senate. Senators can then vote to overrule the Presiding Officer but the process protects the minority and the parliamentarian by requiring that a vote to overrule secure a three-fifths majority.

The Parliamentarian’s role is key to a system of orderly legislative process. To simply disregard such rules (and fire those who seek to maintain them) is yet another example of the rage that has replaced reason in our current politics. Byrd was famous for putting the interests of the Senate and the Constitution before his own party. This effort shows increasingly rare such institutional defenders have become in this age of rage.

On Friday, seven Senate Democrats and one Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, joined 50 Republicans to remove the minimum wage hike from the COVID relief bill. The Democratic Senators included Joe Manchin (WV), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Jon Tester (MT), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Maggie Hassan (NH), Chris Coons (DE) Tom Carper (DE) and the Independent, Angus King (ME).

Echoing then-Sen. John McCain’s famous “thumbs down” on a vote to overturn Obamacare in 2017, Sinema made the gesture to signal her vote, USA Today reported.

Politico reported Friday that Manchin delayed passage of the massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill for 10 hours last week before a phone call from Biden, as well as a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and several concessions on unemployment benefits persuaded him to side with Democrats.

The Senate eventually passed the bill on Saturday by a vote of 50-49, with no Republicans in favor. Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan was not present after going to Alaska for his father-in-law’s funeral, according to The Hill. That made it unnecessary for Vice President Kamala Harris to case a tie-breaking vote.

Now that Democrats hold such a slim majority in the Senate, Manchin’s vote matters more than ever. After leading the charge on taking the minimum wage hike out of the bill, Democratic leaders perhaps took his objections to other features of the bill a bit more seriously.

Given that so little of this bill will actually help those affected by COVID, we kind of wish he had used his vote to derail this wasteful expenditure altogether. It would have been especially nice if Manchin had addressed some of the more egregious parts of the bill such as the $350 billion in what Republicans are calling “blue-state bailouts.” These are the payments to states such as New York, Illinois, and California whose fiscal mismanagement has left them deeply in debt.

In remarks to their colleagues ahead of the vote, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell said, “The Senate has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard way. … Their [Democrats’] top priority wasn’t pandemic relief. It was their Washington wish list.”

Ultimately, Manchin’s hesitance cut “several weeks of unemployment benefits off of Sen. Tom Carper’s (D-DE) compromise amendment from earlier in the day and added a $150,000 cap to the proposal’s tax deduction for up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits,” according to Politico.

Instead of unemployment benefits continuing until September 30, they “will expire on Labor Day in the middle of a scheduled recess.”

Politico wrote that Manchin had “hinted” in a Tuesday interview that he might try to make changes in the bill. He expected the economy to improve by June or July as more and more Americans get vaccinated. And he questioned the logic in “paying people more than $1,000 extra a month to stay home.”

Manchin said, “We want people to get back to work. We’re gonna have a hard time getting people ready to go back in to keep the economy going. It’d be awful for the doors to open up and there’s no one working. … That’s the problem.”

This surprised his Democratic colleagues, Politico reported, who thought they had already reached a compromise with Manchin. They had agreed to lower the weekly benefit to $300, to making those payments nontaxable, and to allowing them to run through September (as per Carper’s amendment).

In the meantime, according to sources familiar with the matter, Manchin had told Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, that he would support his amendment to the bill which would end unemployment benefits in July.

When Portman’s amendment came up for a vote on Friday, Manchin voted yes. However, noted Politico, Manchin “also supported the Democratic alternative he pushed to change, effectively overwriting his vote with the GOP.”

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, told Politico that “for Democrats, their 50th vote siding with Republicans was not a palatable option.” They were “worried about getting to final passage ‘without doing major injury to the bill.'”

Politico wrote that “Manchin’s dramatic play on Friday perplexed even his West Virginia counterpart, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito,” a Republican, noting that the West Virginia governor “had been pushing Congress to go bigger, not smaller.”

“I have no idea what he’s doing, to be quite frank,” Capito told Politico. “Maybe you can tell me.”

 

Elizabeth is the founder and editor of The American Crisis. She is also a contract writer at The Western Journal and a previous contributor to RedState, The Dan Bongino Show, and The Federalist. Her articles have appeared on HotAir, Instapundit, RealClearPolitics, MSN and other sites. Elizabeth is a wife, a mom to three grown children and several beloved golden retrievers, and a grandmother!

The NY Post Editorial Board Lets the Cat Out of the Bag About Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID Bill

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Last week, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed written by Mark Makary, M.D., an epidemiologist and professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. It was entitled, “We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April.” Its lede informed us, “Covid cases have dropped 77% in six weeks. Experts should level with the public about the good news.”

Makary explains that the “natural immunity” of those who have had the virus is “far more common than can be measured by testing.” Specifically:

Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.

Now add people getting vaccinated. As of this week, 15% of Americans have received the vaccine, and the figure is rising fast. Former Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb estimates 250 million doses will have been delivered to some 150 million people by the end of March.

There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.

“Some medical experts privately agreed with my prediction that there may be very little Covid-19 by April but suggested that I not to talk publicly about herd immunity because people might become complacent and fail to take precautions or might decline the vaccine. But scientists shouldn’t try to manipulate the public by hiding the truth.”

Makary is far from alone in his optimism. The New York Times published the results of a survey of 175 experts in early February who “largely agreed that it was safe for schools to be open to elementary students for full-time and in-person instruction now.”

So why are so many Biden Administration officials, including Biden himself and Dr. Fauci providing such pessimistic scenarios? Fauci is telling us we may be wearing masks through 2022, even those who’ve been vaccinated.

The NY Post Editorial Board explained it in a weekend editorial. Democrats want to pass the $1.9 trillion COVID spending bill. There’s very little in this bloated behemoth that will actually go toward helping everyday Americans cope with pandemic-related problems.

But there’s a whole hell of a lot in the bill that will help Democrats pass projects that have been on their radar for years. $1.9 trillion dollars is a massive amount of money. And it buys a lot of pork.

In an appearance on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” last week, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said, “This isn’t a coronavirus bill. This is a left-of-Lenin, neo-socialist wish list. He added that it was “chock-full of spending porn” that had nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic.

Obviously, if the end of the pandemic is within our grasp, there would be no need to pass it. That’s why Democrats are ignoring the good news.

From The NY Post Editorial Board:

…President Biden, after vowing the nation will have enough vaccine doses by July’s end to vaccinate every American, just said he only hopes for a return to normal by “next Christmas.” Huh?

“I don’t want to overpromise anything here,” “A year from now,” he told CNN, “I think that there’ll be significantly fewer people having to be socially distanced, having to wear a mask.” That’s not avoiding overpromising, as he claimed: It’s outright telling everyone to expect yet another year of economic and social devastation.

Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, says the worst of the pandemic “might be” behind us. Yet he’s also telling Americans they’ll need to wear masks (maybe two at a time) at least through 2022 — even if they get vaccinated.

This is absurd: Our leaders should be nonstop pushing reluctant Americans to get jabbed so we can all get on with our lives.

[…]

Hospitalizations and deaths keep dropping, even as variants have gained ground: Deaths dropped 20 percent these last two weeks. The UK variant predominates in Britain, Switzerland, Denmark and Israel — and all are also seeing cases dive.

[…]

…while America’s vaccination process has rolled out more slowly than it should’ve, it’s still moving inexorably along.

More than 13 percent of Americans have gotten at least one dose, and the majority are health-care workers or those in nursing homes or other high-risk settings.

Add to that the number of us estimated to have already been infected — 35 percent of Los Angeles County and more than half of Miami-Dade County, for example — and you can see why Johns Hopkins prof Marty Makary predicts we’ll have herd immunity by April.

And the most at-risk Americans have gained immunity. Data scientist Youyang Gu estimates that the number of “susceptible” Americans, those over 45 without immunity, has fallen from a third of the country at the start of the year to 10 percent or fewer now.

Cases in nursing homes fell more than 80 percent from late December to early February. When deaths spiked over the holidays, they actually fell at nursing homes.
[…]

Perhaps it’s just that normalcy makes it too hard to justify the rush to pass a $1.9 trillion “relief” bill filled with Democrats’ pet projects. We’d rather not think cynical politics is behind Biden’s gloom, but it’s hard to see any other reason he’s denying that the pandemic’s end is staring us in the face.

Just as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to pass a COVID relief bill prior to the election for political reasons, the Biden Administration doesn’t want Americans to know that herd immunity and therefore the return to normalcy, is right around the corner.

The pandemic has been such a great gift to the Democratic Party, it will be hard for them to let it go.

 

Elizabeth is the founder and editor of The American Crisis. She is also a contract writer at The Western Journal and a previous contributor to RedState, The Dan Bongino Show, and The Federalist. Her articles have appeared on HotAir, Instapundit, RealClearPolitics, MSN and other sites. Elizabeth is a wife, a mom to three grown children and several beloved golden retrievers, and a grandmother!