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

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!