Aug 02, 2020
Federal Unemployment Benefits Expiring as Democratic Leaders Demand Non-COVID-19 Related Policies
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The additional $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits expire Friday after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rejected a White House offer to temporarily extend them.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that, “Senate Republicans tried several ways to extend the expiring unemployment assistance.Democrats blocked them all and refused another dime for COVID-19 relief unless they get to pass a bill that includes an unrelated tax cut for rich people in blue states.”
During late-night negotiations with congressional Democrats on Thursday, White House officials offered a short-term extension of the $600 additional weekly federal payment, even though 68 percent of workers that have been receiving it are earning more income than when they were working.
Roughly one in five on unemployment received at least double the amount of their prior wage, a recent report found. The Heritage Foundation projects that increased federal unemployment checks will cost the economy 13.9 million jobs and $1 trillion in lost GDP because they provide a disincentive to work.
The speaker and senate minority Leader rejected the White House’s offer, instead demanding that the terms of their $3 trillion HEROES Act be met.
McConnell said Pelosi and Schumer “have refused to move one inch from the Speaker’s far-left proposal that was so absurd, and so unserious, that their own moderate Democrat members began trashing it the instant it came out.
“This is the multi-trillion-dollar boondoggle that would tax and borrow in order to provide a massive tax cut to rich people in blue states – the SALT giveaway – fund diversity studies of the legal pot industry, and do a thousand other things with no relationship to this crisis,” he added.
The Democrats’ bill would reinstate the SALT itemized deduction for 2020 and 2021 for the wealthiest income filers, which was eliminated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The 2017 tax reform measure limited the amount of state and local tax deductions filers could claim on their tax returns to $10,000.
The write-off includes income taxes paid at the state and local level, hitting high-income taxpayers in the highest-taxed states the hardest.
But because the tax overhaul roughly doubled the standard deduction for singles to $12,000 in 2018 (and to $24,000 for married-filing-jointly), a lesser number of filers needed to itemize deductions.
“Unemployed people, schools, hospitals, and American families will not see another dime unless they get to cut taxes for millionaires in Brooklyn and San Francisco,” McConnell said.
The House Judiciary Committee said, “The Pelosi bill includes a wish list that has nothing to do with #COVID-19. Green New Deal mandates on airlines, a $15 minimum wage, $35 million for the Kennedy Center, requiring same day voter registration,” among others. It said the Democrats “couldn’t this pass in normal times.”
The bill requires every airline company that receives federal funding to have a union representative on its board, and would nullify several executive orders issued by the Trump administration regarding collective bargaining.
Any airline that accepts federal funding would also be required to “offset their carbon emissions and reduce their overall emissions by 50 percent by 2050.”
It also includes “$50 million for environmental justice grants, including investigating links between pollution exposure and the transmission and health outcomes of coronavirus in environmental justice communities.”
A summary of the bill published by Politico notes that the HEROES Act cancels federal student loan debt for nearly 16 million borrowers.
It also requires the release of prisoners who are 50 years old or older, have health problems, or are due to be released within a year into “community supervision,” according to Politico’s analysis. It would also suspend cash bail requirements for pre-trial detainees.
The HEROES Act would also eliminate the U.S. Postal Service’s $11 billion worth of debt.
It also requires the U.S. Treasury Department to “eliminate the $3 billion annual borrowing limit in current law,” according to a summary of the bill released by House Democrats.
“I think the Democrats are willing to allow the enhanced unemployment to expire, they made that very clear, not once, not twice, but three times, and so I’m not very optimistic on anybody who’s counting on enhanced unemployment, to have any relief anytime soon,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said.
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Bethany Blankley is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Chuck Schumer” by Chuck Schumer. Photo “Nancy Pelosi” by Nancy Pelosi.
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Georgia Governor Plans Special Session to Fix Tax Bill
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that he plans to call a special session of the state legislature in order to fix a technical error on a bill that exempts hurricane relief payments from certain taxes.
Kemp said in a statement that he signed House Bill 105 despite the problem.
The bill, passed by the legislature in June with bipartisan support, shields farmers from having to pay state income tax on relief payments received after Hurricane Michael, which caused widespread damage across southern Georgia in Oct. 2018. It also imposes a 50-cent tax on ride-hailing service, taxi and limousine rides instead of leaving them subject to higher, regular sales taxes.
Experts from the University of Georgia have estimated that the hurricane caused more than $2 billion in damage to Georgia’s agricultural industry.
“When House Bill 105 was amended, it appears an incorrect legislative counsel number (i.e., tracking number) was assigned to the draft,” Kemp said in a signing statement. “Whereas this error is not necessarily a fatal flaw, this bill is far too important to our state to leave room for a legal challenge on its legitimacy.”
The Republican governor did not specify when the special session would be held. His statement says that the special session “may also be timely to address other budgetary and oversight issues.” That could include further addressing state budget woes that have followed the coronavirus pandemic.
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