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House Passes 5593 Page Stimulus Bill Without Anyone Having Read It
In the immortal words of Nancy Pelosi: “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”
Because, as Utah Senator Mike Lee so rambunctiously pointed out tonight, the bill is so huge that Lee said it will take three hours just to print out. And they’ll still have to vote on the bill tonight. It’s unreal.
Lee noted that “this is by far the longest bill I’ve ever seen,” and added that members won’t be allowed to amend the bill in any way:
Here’s the really sad thing: we’re being told that there will be no opportunity to amend or improve it.
As a result, nearly every member of Congress – House and Senate, Democrat or Republican – will have been excluded from the process of developing this bill, which will cost American taxpayers trillions of dollars.
This process, by which members of Congress are asked to defer blindly to legislation negotiated entirely in secret by four of their colleagues, must come to an end.
It won’t come to an end until no longer works for those empowered by it. That can happen, but only when most members of both houses and both political parties stop voting for bills they haven’t read—and, by design, cannot read until after it’s too late.
And so it came to pass that the House passed the bill… without a single member possibly being capable of reading it:
*HOUSE HAS VOTES TO PASS COVID RELIEF-FUNDING BILL; VOTE ONGOING
There was some confusion on Monday afternoon when the release of the full text of the stimulus bill was prevented due to a computer glitch, because the file was – no joke – corrupt.
But that was promptly resolved (we can only hope the hacked password wasn’t Pork123), and moments ago Congress released the full text of the bill… all 5593 pages of it.
Needless to say, the bill is chock-full of garbage:
This bill is beyond.
Example: It literally legislates the process for the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.
See pg 5099 of the PDF.— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) December 21, 2020
Good luck to anyone tasked with reading this porkulus monster from cover to cover.
Full text below (pdf link here)
Satan Soldiers Working Hard For — Themselves, Here’s A Breakdown Of Everything Inside The $900BN Stimulus Bill, And What It Means For The US Economy
Within hours, Congress is set to vote on (and pass) a $900 billion Covid-19 aid bill that includes assistance for households and businesses, as well as funding for vaccine distribution and more. As discussed previously, the bill excludes the Republican priority of liability protections for businesses and other entities, and left the key Democrat demand of state and local bailouts.
In a nutshell, the new package extends federal UI programs (e.g. PUA, PEUC) with an extra $300/week for all UI claimants for at least an additional 11 weeks.
It also sends another round of stimulus checks worth $600 per individual per household for those making less than $75k ($150k for married couples) and gradually phases out at higher incomes. The bill renews funding for PPP to support small businesses and provides targeted aid to transportation and other hard hit sectors of the economy. Similar to the prior bipartisan proposal, $325bn would go to small businesses support, including $284bn for a second round of PPP grants. Of note: the bill also allows businesses to deduct expenses paid with the first round of loans, which the Treasury had previously disallowed (i.e., a double dip). With around $525bn in forgivable PPP loans issued and more coming, this looks likely to reduce tax receipts by tens of billions and possibly more than $100bn, though it depends on the profitability of the businesses that received the loans
It also provides additional funding for schools, healthcare, SNAP, childcare and various other programs. While the package excludes aid for state and local government and language around liability protection for businesses and schools as BofA notes, many of the provisions (e.g. aid for public transportation, schools, funding for vaccine distribution, testing and tracing) will channel aid to state and local governments
Here are the details of what is in the legislation.
Workers and Households
Direct Payments: The legislation would authorize a second round of economic-impact payments, following the checks Americans received in the spring and summer, at a cost of $166 billion. Households would receive $600 for each adult and $600 for each dependent, instead of $1,200 and $500, respectively, in the first round. Mixed-status households, where some people are ineligible noncitizens, would get payments based on the number of eligible people in the households, as opposed to being shut out as they were in the first round.
The payments would be based on income from 2019 and begin phasing out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes over $75,000 and married couples over $150,000. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that the first electronic payments could reach bank accounts by the beginning of next week. Households whose incomes were too high to qualify or who added dependents in 2020 might not qualify for full payments immediately. But they can request additional money as part of the 2020 tax returns they will file in early 2021.
Jobless Aid: Workers would be eligible for a $300-a-week federal unemployment subsidy. As with the prior aid package enacted in March, gig workers and others who don’t ordinarily qualify for benefits would be eligible for the jobless aid. The money is available through March 14. The legislation would also extend to 50 weeks the amount of time for which workers may claim benefits through both state and federal programs. Most states typically provide 26 weeks of jobless benefits.
The measure also provides an additional $100-a-week subsidy for workers who have both wage and self-employment income but whose basic unemployment benefits don’t take into account their self-employment income. The cost of the enhanced unemployment benefits are projected at $120 billion.
Rental Assistance: The bill provides $25 billion of assistance to tenants in arrears on their rent. It also extends until the end of January 2021 a federal eviction prohibition, which the incoming Biden administration may extend again. The Treasury Department would be responsible for dispersing the rental assistance to states via a formula based on population. Landlords and building owners can apply on behalf of tenants meeting the eligibility requirements, generally those who make less than 80% of median income in their area, have at least one person in their households who has lost a job and can demonstrate they are at risk of losing their home.
Health Care: The bill includes $9 billion for health-care providers and $4.5 billion for mental health, as well as more than $1 billion for the National Institutes of Health to conduct Covid-19 research.
Schools: The bill provides $82 billion for public and private K-12 schools, as well as colleges. Of that, the bulk would go to a $54.3 billion fund for public schools, while $22.7 billion would go to public and private higher education.
Testing and Tracing: States would receive $22 billion for testing, tracing and Covid-19 mitigation programs. Of this, $2.5 billion would be sent as grants targeting rural areas and communities of color.
Vaccines: States and federal agencies would receive funding for vaccine distribution. About $20 billion would go to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or Barda, for procuring vaccines and therapeutics. Nearly $9 billion would go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and states for further distribution of the vaccine, and $3 billion is designated for the national stockpile. Included in those sums is $300 million that is directed to go to high-risk areas and to communities of color.
Airlines: Tens of thousands of airline employees would get their jobs back, at least for a few months, under the new bill, which includes $15 billion to cover airline salaries and benefits through the end of March. The bill also includes $1 billion for airline contractor payrolls. Airlines received $25 billion under the Cares Act in the spring to cover workers’ pay and benefits, and in exchange agreed not to lay off or furlough employees until Oct. 1. As that date neared without much improvement in their outlook, carriers and labor unions warned that job cuts would be coming and pleaded for another round of aid. When it didn’t arrive in time, they furloughed tens of thousands of workers, including 19,000 at American Airlines Group Inc. and over 13,000 at United Airlines Holdings Inc. The bill also includes $2 billion for airports and airport-based businesses.
Banks: The bill would provide $12 billion in support to small lenders focused on low-income and minority communities, buttressing minority-owned banks and firms known as community financial development institutions.
Entertainment Venues: The bill has $15 billion for independent movie theaters, live entertainment venues and cultural institutions.
Farms: The U.S. agriculture sector is set for another multibillion-dollar injection in the new relief bill, which directs $13 billion to crop farmers, cattle ranchers and rural communities. The new aid would come on top of roughly $46 billion that the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects the federal government will directly pay to the nation’s farmers this year, a record. That sum includes previous Covid-19 relief for farmers who had to plow up fields of produce ordinarily destined for restaurants, as well as hog producers who had to euthanize livestock because of pandemic-driven shutdowns at meatpacking plants.
Rail and transit: The bill would provide $1 billion in relief funds to Amtrak, aimed at helping the national passenger railroad avoid further layoffs and furloughs of its workers. Amtrak receives a regular operating subsidy of around $2 billion a year from the federal government, but its ticket revenue was devastated by the pandemic and lockdown orders. Ridership on some routes fell by more than 90% this year. The company says it will need a total of $4.9 billion in relief aid to get through the remainder of the year without deeper worker and service cuts. The bill also sets aside $14 billion for transit systems, many of which are considering major cuts in service and layoffs. In New York City alone, elected officials say they need an immediate $4.5 billion infusion to stave off severe reductions in subway and bus service. The bill also sets aside $2 billion for the bus industry and $10 billion for state highways.
Small Business: The $325 billion allotted to help small businesses includes $284 billion for first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans, and expands eligibility for local newspapers and TV and radio broadcasters. The bill also includes $20 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Businesses that received PPP loans would be able to take tax deductions for the expenses covered by forgiven loans, overcoming objections from Mr. Mnuchin. The provision would save businesses about $200 billion, according to an estimate from Adam Looney of the Brookings Institution. But it doesn’t count as part of the overall cost of the legislation.
U.S. Postal Service: The bill loosens some of the strings imposed on the U.S. Postal Service from the Cares Act, which provided a $10 billion Treasury loan after terms were negotiated. The bill would still provide $10 billion to the financially strained institution, but the Postal Service wouldn’t be required to repay it, and the conditions imposed by the Treasury wouldn’t apply. In exchange, the bill would require the Postal Service to provide more information to Congress, including a plan about its long-term financial solvency, within 180 days of the bill’s passing and information about how it plans to use the funds in reports to the Postal Regulatory Commission.
Taxes: Aside from the PPP break, the bill would extend a tax credit for struggling employers who keep workers on the payroll, and it would let recipients of certain tax credits qualify based on their 2019 incomes; in some cases, lower 2020 incomes could reduce their eligibility. The bill would also temporarily extend tax breaks for renewable energy, including incentives for wind energy and carbon capture. It also includes deductions for business meals, a provision that President Trump backed but that faced criticism from Democrats as a subsidy for three-martini lunches and indoor dining during a pandemic. Lower excise taxes on beer, wine and spirits that were set to expire Dec. 31 will be permanently extended, and tax incentives for investing in low-income areas and hiring workers from disadvantaged groups would be extended for five years.
* * *
Based on cost estimates of the various provisions and applying the corresponding fiscal multipliers (Chart 1), Bank of America estimates that the new stimulus package will contribute approximately 2.7% to growth in 2021. The bank now expects that more of the stimulus impact will be frontloaded into 1Q (Chart 2). The start of the year has cross currents with weaker economic data but an earlier and more targeted fiscal stimulus (we had expected passage after inauguration). On balance, the bank now sees upside risk to the bank’s forecast of 1% GDP growth in 1Q.
One final point: no more stimulus?
As we reported last week, Goldman’s economists believe that this is the last major COVID-focused fiscal package. Assuming that President-elect Biden is facing a divided Congress next year, this looks likely to be the last fiscal package that Congress passes worth several hundred billion dollars or more (as by 2021 covid vaccines will be widely distributed making the passage of another broad-based stimulus virtually impossible). That said, Goldman does expect another debate over fiscal support in Q1, ahead of the expiration of the extended unemployment provisions in March. However, since Congress left the most difficult issues out of the current package, it seems unlikely that lawmakers will be able to agree on those in subsequent legislation. Of course, this would likely change if Democrats win both Senate seats in Georgia on January 5 and reach 50 seats in the Senate. In that scenario, Goldman would expect at least another few hundred billion in additional fiscal measures, including aid to states.
While Members of Congress got paid $130,000 to spend 9 months arguing about whether we deserve $600 — the Peasants Get the Scraps Don’t worry though, here’s $600, peasants! Don’t spend it all in one place!” Corporate America Gets Fat…
$15BN For Airlines, Corporate Meal Tax Breaks And Other Pork: What’s Inside The $900BN Stimulus Bill
With the latest, $900 billion covid-stimulus deal now done (which unless the Democrats win the Georgia Senate runoffs in 2 weeks will be the final covid stimulus bill according to Goldman), attention turns to what’s actually in it.
First: the good news – the bill will include a fresh round of benefits for small businesses as well as the usual one-time pittance for peasants, amounting to a $600 check. Here are the key components:
- Direct payments of $600 to most Americans ($600 per adult and $600 per child); the amounts decrease for individuals with more than $75,000 in income and $150,000 for couples.
- $300-per-week in enhanced unemployment benefits through March. Expiring programs for gig workers and the long-term unemployed also would continue.
- $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program that provides
grantsforgivable loans to small businesses, arguably the most successful and also most abused program of the CARES act. This represents the bulk of the $325 billion the bill puts toward small businesses
- $82 billion for education: includes $54.3 billion for K-12 schools and $22.7 billion for colleges; governors would get $4.05 billion to spend on education aid at their discretion. For-profit colleges would get $908 million for grants to students, and another $1.7 billion would be set aside for historically black colleges, tribal colleges, minority-serving institutions
- $10 billion for child care.
- 15 billion in grants for theater operators and owners of small performance venues.
- $25 billion in rental assistance and an extension of the moratorium on evictions
- $13 billion in funds for food-stamp and child-nutrition benefits.
- $30 billion for the procurement and distribution of a Covid vaccine, as well as testing and tracing.
- $1.8 billion in tax credits for businesses to provide paid leave.
Of course as with any fiscal stimulus that is nearly $1 trillion, there will be lots of pork and other shady components, thrown into the bill. One such questionable kicker is the $15 billion in payroll assistance to airlines that will in theory allow them to return more than 32,000 furloughed workers to their payrolls through March 31, according Reuters. In reality, since there is no enforcement clause, we wouldn’t be surprised if many of the airlines continue to quietly layoff employees and use the funds to repurchase stock.
U.S. airlines furloughed more than 32,000 workers in October, after a six-month $25 billion bailout measure expired on Sept. 30. According to Reuters, airline workers would be paid retroactive to Dec. 1 and airlines would have to resume flying some routes they stopped after the aid package expired, congressional aides briefed on the talks said earlier. While airline workers could not be furloughed through March 31 as a condition of the assistance, airline lawyers will find countless loopholes around this contingency in the next 24 hours.
Unfortunately, even if it is used as intended, it won’t last airlines even 3 months at current cash burn rates: US carriers are losing $180 million in cash daily, with passenger volumes down 65% to 70% and cancellations rising, industry lobby Airlines for America said.
The new assistance program is expected to mirror the $25 billion program approved by Congress in March, which required larger airlines to repay 30% of the payroll grants over time and offer the government warrants. It is also expected to include minimum flight requirements. The aviation assistance comes after five months of furious lobbying – first by aviation unions and later by airline executives – who argued the industry (which repurchased over $50 billion of its own stock in recent years) desperately needed new government help as travel demand remains devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $45 billion COVID-19 transportation package is also set to include $1.75 billion for airports and $200 million for airport concessionaires and $2 billion for the private motorcoach, school bus and ferry industries. Aside from airlines, the stimulus will include $1 billion to the Amtrak railroad, $14 billion for public transit systems and $10 billion for state highways. It is also expected to include significant changes to how the Federal Aviation Administration certifies new airplanes following two fatal Boeing Co 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people.
In addition to a $15 billion airlines rescue bridge line, the draft language of the emergency coronavirus relief package includes a tax break for corporate meal expenses. President Trump has talked about securing the deduction – derisively referred to as the “three-martini lunch” by critics – as a way to revive the restaurant industry badly battered by the pandemic; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin included the meal deduction as a White House priority in negotiations. But critics said it would do little to help struggling restaurants and would largely benefit business executives who do not urgently need help at this time.
While Democrats opposed the proposal, during negotiations Democratic leaders agreed to the provision in exchange for Republicans agreeing to expand tax credits for low income families and the working poor in the final package.
Since the 1980s, businesses have only been able to deduct 50% of their meal expenses off their federal taxes. A proposal championed by the White House and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) would increase that deduction to 100% allowing companies to deduct the full cost of a business meal off their federal taxes.
The cost to taxpayers of the proposal is not known, though tax experts expect it to not exceed a few billion dollars a year.
We will update this list as we learn more.
The process itself is corrupting. It corrupts everything it touches.
Watchmen does not confuse truth with consensus The Watchmen does not confuse God’s word with the word of those in power…
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