Rand Paul Torches Democrats Over Bezos Bailout Tacked Onto Senate Bill: ‘Isn’t There Some Remnant of Decency in Congress’?

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Poor Jeff Bezos.

His space flight company, Blue Origins, just lost out on a $2.89 billion NASA contract to build a human landing system to land Artemis Project astronauts on the moon in 2024, according to a Fox Business News report.

To make matters worse for Bezos, who recently became the wealthiest man on the planet – again, he lost to his nemesis, Elon Musk’s, SpaceX. NASA reported the SpaceX bid was lower Blue Origins’ “by a wide margin,” Fox noted.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington state, where Blue Origins is headquartered, and Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, sought to soften the blow by adding an amendment to S. 1260, the $130 billion “Endless Frontier Act.”

According to the Senate website, the purpose of this bill is: “To establish a new Directorate for Technology and Innovation in the National Science Foundation, to establish a regional technology hub program, to require a strategy and report on economic security, science, research, innovation, manufacturing, and job creation, to establish a critical supply chain resiliency program, and for other purposes.”

This legislation seeks to strengthen “national competitiveness in science, research, and innovation to support the national security strategy.” The bill is designed to boost our ability to compete with China.

The Cantwell/Wicker amendment proposes to add $10 billion to the bill which would provide additional funding for NASA’s Artemis Project. It would “direct NASA to have two lander programs.” NASA would have the opportunity to “create another contract that Blue Origins would be favored to win.”

Fortunately, not all senators are on board with this ill-advised amendment.

Last Monday, Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced an amendment to block it. He told colleagues, “I worry very much that what we are seeing now is two of the wealthiest people in this country, Mr. Elon Musk and Mr. Bezos, deciding that they are going to take control over our space industry.”

Later, Sanders noted on Twitter: “Jeff Bezos is the richest guy on the planet. He’s gotten $86 billion richer since the start of the COVID pandemic. Does he really need $10 billion from Congress for space exploration?”

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, co-sponsored Sanders’ amendment. “Why would @SenSchumer and Democrats give billionaire Jeff Bezos a multi-billion dollar bailout? Happy to co-sponsor @SenSanders’ amendment,” he wrote on Twitter.

The amendment met with sharp criticism from other Republican members including Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri. “Why is the Senate preparing to give @amazon’s Jeff Bezos a $10 billion bailout?

Why indeed?

As always, the outspoken Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, cut right to the chase. He wrote:

No, the Senate is not thinking. Now that they’re dealing with trillions, they treat $10 billion like chump change. This is madness and it has to stop.

Although American science should be advanced and interest in STEM should be encouraged in a reasonable manner, these bills should not serve as vessels to bailout powerful billionaire’s private space programs.

Will the Biden Administration’s Out of Control Spending Turn the U.S. Economy into Venezuela?

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Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Prominent Manhattan attorney and conservative blogger Francis Menton points out the remarkable parallels between the current state of the U.S. Economy and 1998 Venezuela in a new must-read article entitled, “U.S. Gets Ready to go Full Venezuela on Economic Policy.”

I recommend you read Menton’s entire piece, but here are the highlights:

It was in 1998 — a mere 23 years ago — that Hugo Chavez first got elected President of Venezuela. From the start, his program was explicitly one of vastly increased government spending, which was supposed to make the economy grow, reduce income inequality, eliminate poverty and bring about social justice. Chavez called the social programs his “Bolivarian missions.” Among some 30 or so such “missions,” big ones included blowout spending on education, subsidized food, subsidized housing and healthcare.

Sounds a lot like the stated objectives of the Biden Administration, does it not?

In the early years, things seemed to be going swimmingly, at least if you believed the official statistics put out by Chavez’s government. Not only was there supposedly steady and mostly rapid economic growth (often over 5% per year, particularly 2004-10), but they also regularly crowed about how the redistributionist spending had greatly reduced the rate of poverty. Then, starting around 2013, it all started to fall apart. Today, eight years later, it continues to fall apart. More details on that later.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has so many plans, he’s trying to make an end run around the limitations on budget reconciliation bills. I posted about that here.

On March 1, prior to the passage of the bloated and unnecessary COVID relief bill, the U.S. national debt stood at $28 trillion and debt as a percentage of GDP was 129 percent.

The last time this ratio approached anywhere close to these levels was at the end of WW II. In 1945, this ratio was at 114 percent and in 1946, 118 percent. The booming post-war economy allowed the U.S. to reduce our debt to more manageable levels. A year-by-year comparison can be viewed here.

Still, when the war was over, we didn’t follow up with reckless spending,

When former President Donald Trump took office in 2017, this ratio stood at 104 percent and had crept up to 106 percent by 2019, possibly as a result of the trade wars.

Obviously, because large swaths of the economy had been shut down due to the pandemic in 2020, the U.S. was forced to provide financial relief to the American people.

The economy is strong at the moment and is poised to see far better than normal gains this year. The $1.9 trillion COVID package was about three times  larger than it needed to be.

But rather than exercising some fiscal restraint, the Biden Administration is planning a veritable shopping spree.

Yes, it’s blowout government spending, on the usual issues pushed by advocacy groups, which supposedly will shortly achieve all the usual promises of the left: economic growth, increased economic fairness, and social justice. In other words, it’s the Venezuela economic program, blown up to U.S. scale and then tweaked a little here and there to buy off the squeaky wheels of the moment.

Menton examines what’s included in the latest behemoth infrastructure bill the administration is pushing and concludes that, just as very little of the COVID-19 relief package will actually provide relief to those adversely impacted by the pandemic, only a small amount of the funds in the infrastructure bill will actually be spent on infrastructure.

“Back to Venezuela. The blowout government spending program in Venezuela got started in the very late 90s, but only really took off around 2004 (after Chavez consolidated control over the national oil company).”

Menton writes about the “useful idiots” in America who praised the Chavez economy.

This group included Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. In 2011, Sanders said, “These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger. Who’s the banana republic now?”

He mentions Salon writer David Sirota, who in 2013 wrote that the results of Chavez’s program were an “economic miracle.”

Menton includes several charts which illustrate the spectacular upward trajectory of the Venezuelan economy up until 2013, followed by the sharp decline afterward.

In 2013, fifteen years into Chavez’s rule, the government statistics still showed an “economic miracle” (although keen observers knew it was not real). Chavez and then Maduro used the time to change first the election system, and then the constitution, so that removing them from power became almost impossible.

He notes that the country “stopped publishing economic data in approximately 2014, so that all numbers after that year are informed estimates.”

Poverty? They claimed to have reduced the rate from 23.9% in 1999 to 8.5% in 2013. Today, USAID estimates that 90+% of Venezuelans are in poverty. Probably, you have seen the pictures of formerly middle class people going through garbage looking for something to eat.

Also, note that these numbers end in 2018. Trading Economics here has an updated figure for Venezuela’s most recent economic “growth” rate for 2019. It is -26.8%. However, they note that other estimates range up to -36.1%. In other words, the economy is much smaller today than when Chavez first came to power in 1998. The inflation rate remains in the range of 1,000,000% or more.

The Venezuelan economy has always been tied to the price of oil and strong oil prices concealed many of the country’s underlying problems in the final years of Chavez’ life. Upon his death in 2013, Nicolás Maduro became the president.

It wasn’t long before Venezuela’s economy finally buckled. The years of overspending and corruption had taken their toll.

When oil prices collapsed shortly afterward, the economy went into free fall. And we all know the rest of the story.

Menton closes with the following question: “How bad is the damage to the U.S. economy being inflicted by the blowout wasteful spending of Biden and the Democratic Congress? Likely, we will only know the first inklings by 2022, and still only a little by 2024.”

Read the whole article – and the comments.

Truth and (Unintended) Consequences: New York State Legislature Plans to Give $20,000 Checks to Illegals and Ex-Convicts

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Photo Credit: Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

I am diligently ingesting my daily intake of news, and what passes for news, in 2021 America. Since January 20, the range of news stories seems to have broadened from the simple, ‘Its Trump’s Fault’ to ‘Why everything bad that is happening now originated with Trump.’

Leaning back in my office chair, I close my eyes and let them rest, taking a momentary reprieve from the hard-news assault on my delicate, pearl-clutching conservative sensibilities.

Okay Richard Edward, back to work. You have a responsibility to stay informed and up to date on the issues of the day. My eyes land on a story in The Western Journal, a potpourri of news and information. The following headline stops me in my tracks. State Finalizing Plan to Immediately Give Illegal Immigrants Checks of Over $20,000. Have lawmakers in the New York State Legislature lost their minds?

I read the headline again and immediately check my calendar.

Mr. Narrator (interrupts): “I know Richard Edward, it’s April Fool’s Day, but this is real.”

Richard Edward: “It can’t be Mr. Narrator. I am reading a headline that absolutely must be from the Babylon Bee or it’s someone’s idea of a grotesque April-fool joke. No sane governmental entity in the US would simply hand cash out to illegal aliens, more money than most of our homeless non-criminal citizens collect in a year, would they?”

Mr. Narrator: “Before you completely lose it Richard Edward, try reading the remainder of the article.”

Okay, a deep breath and I begin to let my eyes and brain start down the page, left to right, just like they taught me in school.

Democrats in New York are working on creating a fund that would give some illegal aliens and ex-convicts more than $27,000 apiece in direct payments for financial hardships related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Again, I am stopped in my intellectual tracks.  Illegal aliens AND ex-convicts? Why, what the…..? Another deep breath.

Richard Edward: “Why? What could these folks possibly have in common and what makes them so special that they deserve this much of our tax dollars?”

Mr. Narrator: “Richard Edward, Democrats posit that these folks have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. What do they have in common?  All of them have broken the laws of the USA; the illegal aliens in arriving here and the ex-convicts when it was convenient for them to do so.”

Mr. Narrator points to the apologetic, outlined in the article, for the proposed law:

Under the state Senate’s plan, illegal immigrants and people who have been released from prison since October 2019 would be eligible for the big payouts, as Democratic lawmakers believe these individuals were not able to establish a requisite work history that would make them eligible for unemployment benefits.

Some illegal immigrants and ex-convicts could see an immediate payment of $20,700, with an additional $6,600 coming later.

Vanessa Agudelo of the New York Immigration Coalition praised the proposition.

“This level of investment is absolutely historic for our communities,” Agudelo told Politico. “It’s the biggest investment any state has made to provide this level of relief to those workers who have been excluded from those unemployment benefits as well as what’s been passed in the stimulus package.”

Richard Edward: “Mr. Narrator, Agudelo called them ‘workers’, but then goes on to say they weren’t working and that’s why the need help. Even if they did work, they (or their employers) didn’t pay into the unemployment system. What about those folks who lost their legitimate jobs or who had to quit because their kids had to stay home from school?”

Mr. Narrator: “Richard Edward, don’t you understand anything about woke politics? Illegals and ex-cons will someday be granted the right to vote, such laws to be passed and forced down the collective throat of the residents of NY by that state’s majority Democratic Party. Those ‘new’ votes will keep the Democrats in office. What a great narrative, right? The disenfranchised, unprivileged and rehabilitated given the same rights as law abiding citizens. What a winning narrative! And what about those real, normal, law abiding New Yorkers who lost their jobs or had to quit cause their kids couldn’t go to school? Dude, they got a $600 or $1200 check here and there. At least some of them did. Like they should be bold enough to ask for more?”

I am stunned. Hardworking American citizens are intermittently getting Nancy Pelosi’s ‘crumbs’ and those who came here sans invitation, worked (maybe) in an underground economy, most likely have taken advantage of Medicaid, SNAP, Section 8 and other government handouts are now hitting the NY State Democrat Lotto?  Oh yes, accompanied by those who have been felonious enough in their own neighborhoods to have served time….

Mr. Narrator (interrupts again): “Richard Edward, now that you’ve been enlightened, tell the folks about the Democrats’ new gameshow, “Truth and Unintended Consequences.”

Richard Edward (reverting to gameshow mode): “With pleasure. Well Mr. and Mrs. New  York, where do we begin? This is a simple game. You just give away large sums of citizens tax dollars to people who have not earned them, and then wait and see what happens. What could be more fun? What if anything, could possibly go wrong?

“Let’s start with the unintended consequence of these hand-outs. How much will even stay in NY, let alone the USA? Can’t you just imagine the rush at the Western Union counter when the checks arrive, all those overseas money transfers made to the mother countries of origin? Any bets on how much local, struggling New York businesses will benefit?”

“Yes, Mr. Narrator, we realize not everyone getting a large check will send it overseas, in fact, some of our lucky recipients will most assuredly cash that check and re-invest it back into the same criminal enterprises that landed then in jail in the first place. C’mon man, what’s more American than giving back?”

“Speaking of (not) giving back, let’s speculate on what could have been done if that much money were directed into the unemployment system, where tax paying citizens may have gotten some additional, much needed assistance, too.”

“And of course, let’s not forget the psychological and emotional consequences to the unfortunate, the homeless, the poor American citizens. Nothing like a good slap in the face when they see illegals and ex-cons with ‘walking-around money,’ flush with government fiat, right Mr. and Mrs. New York?”

Mr. Narrator:  “Thanks Richard Edward. You do sound like you feel a little bitter, a little racist and a little America first-ish. But that may become an unintended consequence of how many New York citizens might start to feel, too.”

If you think government handouts to illegal aliens and recently released convicts could become an American Crisis (or at least a NY State crisis), please leave a comment for us to ponder.

— Richard Edward Tracy

Black Leaders Take Aim at Sens. Sinema, Manchin Over Refusal to Nix Filibuster; ‘They Are, in Effect, Supporting Racism’

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Photo Credit: Image by mjimages from Pixabay

The Senate website defines the filibuster as an “informal term for any attempt to block or delay Senate action on a bill or other matter by debating it at length, by offering numerous procedural motions, or by any other delaying or obstructive actions.” This device is meant to prevent the party in the Senate minority from being completely overpowered by the majority party.

Prior to the election, the Indivisible Project, a movement dedicated to advancing the election of progressive candidates, explained why the filibuster is bad news for Democrats:

“It’s simple: none of the progressive issues that Democratic candidates and congressional leaders are discussing today will become law unless we do something about the filibuster.”

“If [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell expects to be the Grim Reaper of progressive policies, the scythe he’ll use is the Senate filibuster. Unless we change the rules.”

With a 50-50 balance of power in the Senate, Democrats control the upper chamber by the slimmest margin possible.

Current Senate rules require a minimum of 60 votes to pass legislation. Some Democrats have hoped to abolish the filibuster so that only a simple majority of 51 votes (50 Democratic senators plus Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote) would be necessary to advance their progressive agenda.

Their latest challenge is that two Democratic Senators, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have both quite strongly announced their opposition to abolishing the filibuster.

Just two months ago, a representative for Sinema told The Washington Post’s White House reporter, Seung Min Kim, that “Kyrsten is against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster.”

Up until then, conservatives had been counting on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to save us from being overrun by leftist lesiglation. Manchin won re-election in 2018 in a state that went overwhelmingly for former President Donald Trump by nearly 40 points in 2020 and over 41 in 2016.

Shortly after the announcement from Team Sinema, Politico reported that Manchin was “emphatic” that he “will not vote to kill the filibuster.” Asked if there were any scenario in which he would change his mind, the senator replied: “None whatsoever that I will vote to get rid of the filibuster.”

Protecting the filibuster is essential to protecting us from the tyranny of the majority.

Even with the filibuster in place, Democrats can do and have already done a lot of damage. But their major radical initiatives, such as the Election Reform bill which passed the House earlier this month, granting statehood to Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and stacking the Supreme Court, can be blocked by the Republicans.

Naturally, Democrats are trying to exert maximum pressure on Sinema and Manchin to change their minds.

Politico has interviewed several black civil rights leaders to find out what they plan to do about this. According to Politico, “top [civil rights] officials framed the choice as existential for a party that depends on Black and brown voters — and they are planning pressure campaigns privately and publicly to make that clear.”

Rev. Al Sharpton plans to hold town halls and rallies in Sinema’s and Manchin’s home states. He said, “The pressure that we are going to put on Sinema and Manchin is calling [the filibuster] racist and saying that they are, in effect, supporting racism. Why would they be wedded to something that has those results? Their voters need to know that.”

Sharpton cautioned Democrats that if they fail to end the filibuster, then “civil rights leaders might have less reason to help generate enthusiasm and turnout in the 2022 midterm elections without being able to point to actual laws Democrats passed.”

Sounds like a threat.

He added, “Many of us, and certainly all of us in the civil rights leadership, are committed to policies and laws and causes, not to people’s political careers. We’re not into that. We want to change the country. And if there is not feasible evidence that we’re doing that, it is not in our concern to be aggressively involved.”

Sinema and/or Manchin may yet flip, but I would be willing to bet it wouldn’t be because Al Sharpton and his merry band of civil rights leaders come to their states and call them racists.

Although politicians are famous for flip-flopping, after putting out such a strong statement of opposition as her representative did in conversation with the Washington Post reporter, I would be surprised if Sinema caved. Sharpton’s actions might just make her dig in her heels a little deeper.

Manchin, on the other hand, strikes me as less resolute than Sinema. However, he did say he was “emphatic” he wouldn’t vote to end the filibuster.

There is another option. The Senate could potentially create a carve-out specifically for voting rights legislation, a measure they’ve taken before. The Senate has created exceptions to the filibuster in the past for confirmations of Supreme Court nominees and for budget reconciliation (which is how the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill was passed).

Manchin is currently the only Senate Democrat who is not a co-sponsor of the voting reform bill known as S. 1.

On Wednesday, Manchin told reporters, “I think all of us should be able to be united around voting rights, but it should be limited to voting rights.”

But if the bill were to be limited to votings rights, according to CBS News, “it would strip provisions related to campaign finance and ethics reform, which are key priorities for progressives.”

In a Tuesday statement, “Manchin expressed concerns about S. 1, and said that he would support bipartisan legislation on voting rights.” The statement said:

As the Senate prepares to take up the For the People Act, we must work toward a bipartisan solution that protects everyone’s right to vote, secures our elections from foreign interference, and increases transparency in our campaign finance laws. Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the U.S. government.

He issued another statement on Thursday in which he reiterated his opposition to creating a carve-out to the filibuster rule specifically for voting rights. He noted that would be “like being a little bit pregnant.” You either kill the filibuster or you keep it.

Let’s hope that both he and Sinema stand by their pledges not to abolish the filibuster. All Republican senators, even those whose votes can’t always be counted on, such as Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are unanimously opposed to ending the filibuster. They are also opposed to the voting reform bill.

Sinema and Manchin are the only thing standing between us and the enactment of the Democrats’ entire radical agenda.  Let’s hope they stand strong.

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

Buddy, can you spare a troy ounce? How to Prepare for the Inevitable Inflation Ahead

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My mom is an octogenarian who still works two to three days a week and loves what she does.

She tells me that she just sent her invoice off for the current billing period and was excited over the prospect of a big paycheck. She then turns to me and asks the dreaded question:

“Son, I’ve got xxx dollars in my savings and 401K accounts.  What should I do with all that cash?  I most likely won’t survive to spend it all and I’ve heard you talk about inflation and how our dollars might be devalued, so what do you think, should I buy something, like real estate?”

Do I think she has far too much fiat currency in the bank?  Do I think she should move it into a different asset class to hedge against inflation and preserve some of that ‘wealth’?  Am I risk averse with the disposition of my own ‘fiat currency’? Do I put some of my saved ‘fiat currency’ where my mouth is (precious metals)?

Absolutely yes, to all of the above.

At the end of the day, will my 88-year-old mom, a product of the Great Depression era, let go of any amount of the ‘money’ she has in the bank to invest in a hedge asset to preserve her wealth?  Absolutely NOT.

When you spend a lifetime working for a living, constantly repeating the mantra of “saving up for your retirement, don’t buy on credit, a penny saved, etc.,” you don’t easily embrace the idea that the thing you have worked for all of your life is becoming more and more worthless by the day.  I am old enough to have the same reaction when my sons ask me about investing in that newfangled thing, Bitcoin.

However, if money becomes worthless, what do we do?

I tell her that President Biden has just signed a bill that injects $1.9 trillion (with a ‘T’) of additional debt into the economy – which our liberal friends refer to as stimulus.

This new debt will be added to the already massive amount of U.S. debt. The Associated Press reported this week that the “The U.S. government’s budget deficit through February hit an all-time high of $l.05 trillion for the first five months of this budget year [October through February], as spending to deal with the coronavirus pandemic surged at a pace far above an increase in tax revenue.” This represents an increase of 68 percent from the year earlier period.

According to the Associated Press:

It easily surpassed the previous five-month deficit of $652 billion set in 2010 when the government was spending to try to lift the country out of the deep recession caused by the 2008 financial crisis.

The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the deficit for the budget year that ends on Sept. 30 will be $2.3 trillion. However, that estimate does not include the cost of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief measure, which cleared Congress on Wednesday.

Not only is the new stimulus, in and of itself, an enormous amount, but it turns out to be a dog’s breakfast of drunken-sailor spending.

Now, Mom is the kind of person who has always managed to balance her checkbook, so she really doesn’t appreciate that the U.S. government cannot do the same.

I didn’t have the heart to inform her of the following news from Fox Business News’ Megan Henney, who provides a closer look at some components that you may be surprised to discover were included in the relief bill:

$500 million for museums and libraries:

Roughly $500 million will go toward doubling the budgets of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment of the Arts and Humanities.

About $200 million in the bill is set aside for The Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent federal agency that provides grants to libraries and museums, and also helps to fund policy development and research. Its budget in fiscal year 2019 was about $240 million.

The relief measure also allocates $270 million for the National Endowment of the Arts and the Humanities, an institute that had a budget of $253 million in fiscal year 2019.

“The legislation would appropriate $480 million for grants to fund activities related to the arts, humanities, libraries and museums, and Native American language preservation and maintenance,” the Congressional Budget Office said in its analysis of the proposed measure.

$5 billion for ‘disadvantaged’ farmers:

Introduced by Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., the $5 billion Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act, which is part of the stimulus bill, will provide direct payments to Black, Hispanic and Indigenous farmers.

It also includes $1 billion to address systemic racism at the U.S. Agriculture Department and provide legal assistance to farmers of color.

I can see the latest screed from the mainstream media now: “COVID devastates American agri-business, farmers of color hit hardest.”

Affordable Care Act expansion:

It will fully subsidize ObamaCare subsidies for people earning up to 150% of the federal poverty level and unemployed individuals. The measure also makes Americans earning more than 400% of the poverty level — about $51,000 for one person, and $106,000 for a family of four — eligible for subsidies for the first time and will cap their premium costs at 8.5%.

The subsidy boosts, which Democrats have sought for years, will only last for two years, through 2022.

Sure, only last two years, wanna bet?  Remember, they don’t think its YOUR money they are spending.

So, now what do I tell mom?

I tell her about physical silver and gold, one more time. “Just buy a little and protect the rest of those ones and zeros you have in the bank from the inevitable inflation.  Mom, you don’t want to have to take a wheelbarrow full of greenbacks to the market to buy a loaf of bread when too many dollars are chasing too few goods and services.  Democrats (okay, Republicans are guilty too, but to a lesser degree) are only going to add to the problem.”

Regardless, at some point, someone will have to pay for this unchecked spending.

I then try to explain why gold and silver can inflate in value, keeping pace with inflation, as more and more dollars in circulation will need to be supported by something other than the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

She understands, but it’s a tough sell. In her world, ‘money’ in the bank is all you need. “Who will buy my gold or silver,” she asks. I tell her that if worst comes to worst, the grocery store and the gas station will take an ounce or two when she goes to shop. Understandably, this rattles her. To be honest, it rattles me, too.

Are metals the best way to protect your dollars? My bank thinks that while gold might have a decent future, it doesn’t pay dividends and has other ‘headwinds’ against its (value) price.

Business Insider’s Carla Mozée wrote last month:

A decline in physical demand for gold by central banks has been a challenge for gold, says Bank of America…

Jewelry sales have been disappointing as the COVID-19 pandemic suppressed customer activity…

A “lack of interest” from investors in buying gold has also been a pressure point for the market…

Yet, out of the other side of their teller cage, comes the following prediction: Gold prices traded around $1,790 an ounce on Wednesday. Bank of America still expects prices to average $2,063 in 2021, a forecast it set last year.

Hence, the age-old question: What’s a mother to do?

Personally, I am going to keep asking her to buy some precious metals, hedge a little of what is in her bank accounts and spend the rest of her stash on Hawaii cruises and excellent wine.

Is this huge addition to our national debt for COVID relief necessary? Some, but not all.

Our economy is on life support and many of our neighbors aren’t making it. We do need to reach out and help them. But that ‘other white meat,’ pork, seems to appear far too often in the bill’s line-item details. It is, after all, OUR money.

Let’s help those who need it, but only those who need it.

If you think our government’s excessive spending, money printing and growing national debt, under the guise of a COVID bailout is an American Crisis, leave a comment below.

— Richard Edward Tracy

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.