Tag: Budget

Abolish the CBO

In the 2019 they used 11 studies, and found the median “directly affected employment” elasticities (closely related to the own-wage elasticity of employment) of around -0.25. Then they multiplied by 1.5 to capture “long run” effects, getting -0.38. pic.twitter.com/thBqW6t0Cj

— Arindrajit Dube (@arindube) February 8, 2021

The Twitter thread gets wonkier.  Short version:  The CBO juiced their report

The Republican hack running the CBO just released a report saying that raising the minimum wage would create unemployment.

That’s news to me, since the overwhelming majority of studies show no such effect.

The CBO report also disappointed people whose studies were actually used in that report.It also people who study this for a living, who note that the CBO report is complete sh%$: (I miss profanity SO much)


Michael Reich, a prominent minimum-wage expert at the University of California at Berkeley whose work is cited by the CBO, disputed the report’s more pessimistic estimates.

“Studies have found that wage floors have minimal to low effect on level of jobs or for inflation,” he said on a call with reporters. “Minimum-wage increases are generally paid for by small price increases, mostly in restaurants, but restaurants have increased sales….When low-wage workers get a wage increase they put it to good use — to improve living standards of themselves and their families.”

Reich did his own estimate of the minimum-wage proposal earlier this month, which found that instead of creating a budget deficit, it would increase federal tax revenue by $65 billion a year. This was due largely to increases in payroll taxes from higher wages and a reduction in government spending on safety net programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which are heavily used by people earning below minimum wage and living in poverty.

The problem is not that the CBO is full of crap now, it is that it is ALWAYS full of sh%$, and this is by design.

The CBO and the power that it is given by the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) through PAYGO rules is not, and has not, fulfilled its stated purpose, to give Congress accurate and timely budget projections and information.

Rather it is a place where bills that might inconvenience fat-cat donors go to die.

About F%$#ing Time

Finally, legislation proposed to reverse the absurd requirement that the US Post Office prefund its pension and benefits for 50 years has a chance to pass the Congress:

This is literally the only reason that the USPS is in dire financial straits, and this been the case for almost 15 years:

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a bill to ease a major financial burden on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) by eliminating a requirement that it fund retirement benefits decades ahead of time.

The USPS Fairness Act would do away with a 2006 law that mandated the USPS to form a $72 billion fund to pay for retirement health benefits for over 50 years, a requirement that is not imposed on any other federal agency.

The legislation was introduced in the House by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Colin Allred (D-Texas) and in the Senate by Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

“The unreasonable prefunding mandate has threatened the survival of the USPS and placed at risk vital services for the millions who rely on it. The prefunding mandate policy is based on the absurd notion of paying for the retirement funds of people who do not yet, and may not ever, work for the Postal Service,” DeFazio said in a statement.

The introduction of the legislation comes as President Biden faces pressure from the biggest Postal Service union to install new USPS leadership. The department was thrust into the national spotlight late in the Trump administration for changes to mail delivery that critics said would impact the collection of mail-in ballots in a way that would benefit then-President Trump.

A similar bill to the USPS Fairness Act was passed in the House last year but languished in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Here’s hoping that this actually happens.

The original bill was an attempt to privatize the post office as a way of breaking its union, and Donald Trump used the chaos in an attempt to subvert the 2020 election.

This needs to be repealed today.

In the Words of Marcel Marceau


Republicans had a proposition for Joe Biden, a Covid relief package that was clearly inadequate, and Biden gave them a (polite) brush-off.

While Biden might have an honest commitment to bipartisanship, unlike his former boss, he does not see it as an end in itself, nor does he see it as a demonstration of just how awesome he is:

Ten Senate Republicans attempted to sell President Joe Biden Monday night on a coronavirus relief compromise, even as Biden’s own party made plans to leave the GOP in the dust.

In the two-hour meeting, the GOP senators presented their $618 billion counterproposal to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and the president described his own $1.9 trillion plan to the senators. They agreed to keep talking, although senators conceded their discussions were just beginning.


Biden has spoken frequently of his ability to work with Senate Republicans after his long Senate service, and simply meeting with the group demonstrates his ability to hear his opposition out. But the reality is this: Republicans oppose Biden’s spending plans and are proposing something far smaller.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who helped organize the meeting, praised Biden for hosting GOP senators: “We’re very appreciative that as his first official meeting in the Oval Office that the president chose to spend so much time with us.” But she also acknowledged there wasn’t an explicit breakthrough between sides that are so far apart.


Shortly before the meeting, Democratic leaders announced they would begin a process that would allow passage of Biden’s coronavirus stimulus plan without GOP votes, a sign that Democrats have little confidence that a suitable deal can be struck with Republicans. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a centrist, said succinctly of the GOP’s plan: “The package has to be bigger than that.”

“This needs to be big enough to get the job done. If we’re having to come back time and time again, I just don’t think that’s good for the economy or for certainty,” Tester said at the Capitol.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced they would continue setting up budget reconciliation this week, which would evade the Senate’s 60-vote requirement. They will pass a budget this week instructing committees to write a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which includes items like raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and giving $400 in additional weekly unemployment assistance through September.

“While there were areas of agreement, the President also reiterated his view that Congress must respond boldly and urgently, and noted many areas which the Republican senators’ proposal does not address. He reiterated that while he is hopeful that the Rescue Plan can pass with bipartisan support, a reconciliation package is a path to achieve that end,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said after the meeting.

It’s refreshing that we have a President who does not believe his own PR spin.

We have not had that in at least 20 years.

Read His Lips

$2000.00 stimulus checks are popular. Their popularity was such, even in Georgia, that it led to the Democrats taking control of the Senate.  (It was a big part of the campaigning for the runoff)

Now, the very serious people are trying to scale back and means test the stimulus to irrelevancy.

It is patently clear that this is bad policy and even worse politics.  It is George H.W. Bush’s no new taxes pledge all over again:

On January 4, Joe Biden made an unequivocal pledge, telling voters that by electing Democrats to Georgia’s senate seats, “you can make an immediate difference in your own lives, the lives of people all across this country because their election will put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check, that money that will go out the door immediately to people who are in real trouble.”

Now they are counting the $600, so $1400 is the new 2000, saying that it will take months to pass the bill, making overtures to Republicans, etc.

A little more than a decade later, the public option fight should be a harrowing cautionary tale for Biden on both the policy and the politics. He had a front-row seat in watching a bad-faith Republican opposition kill a much-needed initiative, and then use Democrats’ failure to deliver to win at the polls. He of all people should know that this story never ends well.


The $2,000 checks initiative does not have to go down the same way the public option went down. The president and congressional Democrats do not have to do what weak-kneed, wimpy Democrats of the past have so often done. They do not have to negotiate against themselves, word-parse their way out of campaign pledges and delude themselves into thinking that Republicans are good-faith legislative partners.

They could instead try to use their election mandate — and the weakened state of the GOP — to demand full survival checks, rather than pretending that bad-faith Republican senators have any standing to make policy arguments.

The “Very Serious People” are going to “reasonable” themselves into losses in 2022 that make the 2010 blood letting look like a walk in the park.

The Squad Notches a Win

One of the 1st votes I ever cast broke w/ my party over House rules that strangled transformative legislation for working people + climate. It was honestly terrifying.

Now, CPC has pushed these critical rule changes in House negotiations. Grateful for @RepMcGovern’s leadership🙏🏽 https://t.co/4N0NfF5Arz

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 2, 2021

One of the great failures of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) is their insistence on austerity politics.

Nothing exemplifies this more, and hamstrings the progressives in the Congress more, than the PAYGO rules, which the Democrats have assiduously followed over the past 3 decades, even while Republicans ignore it.

Basically, it says that any legislation has to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and if it costs money, then there have to be offsetting spending cuts or tax hikes in that bill.

It means that unelected staff in the CBO can hold up a bill, and kill it with the numbers that they generate.

It also means that conservative Democrats, Nancy Pelosi (Seriously, look at her record, and who she gives committee chairmanships to) who are more interested in careerism and getting large campaign checks in, have an excuse not to do anything to help the average American.

It suits them just fine, but it also gave us Donald John Trump.

Well now, clearly as a result of pressure from the progressive wing of the Democratic Caucus, I honestly think that this was a price of their vote for Pelosi as speaker earlier today, House rules have been change to both soften Pay Go and the motion to recommit. (The motion to recommit was frequently used by Republicans, and almost never by Democrats, to force meaningless votes that could be used as election fodder)

The House rules package for the 117th Congress, released Friday, would weaken a procedural tool of the minority, provide key exemptions to a budget rule requiring the cost of legislation to be offset and strengthen congressional oversight provisions.


The rules package is expected to get a vote on Monday, the second day of the new Congress.

One of the main requests from Democrats across the caucus was that leadership either eliminate or defang the motion to recommit, or MTR, which is a vote afforded to the minority on most bills.

The MTR has been used in the past as a procedural vote to kill legislation by sending it back to committee, but in recent years it has become a substantive vote that would actually amend the bill if adopted. In either scenario, it is mostly used as a political messaging vote in which the minority tries to trap the majority into going on the record on controversial policies.

The new rules would prevent MTRs from being used to alter bills on the floor. Instead, the minority would only be able to use the motion to send a bill back to committee.

The change makes it easier for Democrats — concerned about opposing whatever policy Republicans use the MTR to highlight — to vote against the motion as purely a procedural maneuver.


Progressives were also pushing for the rules package to eliminate a longstanding pay-as-you-go, or PAYGO, provision that requires legislation that would increase the deficit to be offset.

While the rules package does not get rid of PAYGO, it would provide the Budget Committee chairperson the authority to declare legislation providing economic and heath responses to the pandemic, as well as measures designed to combat climate change, as having no cost — effectively a PAYGO exemption.

One of the main reasons progressives wanted to repeal PAYGO was to make it easier to pass measures to respond to the climate crisis, so the rule change may be enough to satisfy them.

Basically, if you can credibly argue that a bill pertains to the pandemic, or climate change, it can proceed without all the rigamarole that has been required up to now.

It’s a good start, and I would note that the only reason the Pelosi is still speaker is because she has meticulously prevented any alternatives to her rule to come forward.

This should be the next item on the Progressive Caucus, because even if the Democrats to not retain control of the house in 2022, pretty likely giving the Joe “Nothing will Fundamentally Change” Biden will be in the White House, Pelosi is an impediment to the success of the Democratic Party and the well-being of the nation.

Muck Fitch

In responce to increasing calls from both sides of the aisle to hold a vote on the House’s clean $2000.00 stimulus check bill, Mitch McConnell has introduced a dirty bill, including a provision for a complete repeal of Section 230 of the CDA, not because he gives a crap about Section 230, and also a bit about setting up a commission to study election fraud, but because he is trying to kill the movement toward making a larger payment.

This will give Democrats an excuse to cave, and I think that they will try to do so.

Hopefully, Sanders will stick to his guns, and keep the Senate in Session for the mandatory debate the Senate rules require without unanimous consent.

In the mean time, if you see McConnell, throw your shoe at him, and if you see Amy McGrath, thank her for 6 more years of Moscow Mitch:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has thrown a wrench into Congressional approval of an increase in government stimulus relief checks from $600 to $2,000. The House voted overwhelmingly on Monday to increase the payments, as President Trump had advocated for. Instead of voting on the House bill, however, McConnell blocked it and instead introduced a new bill tying higher stimulus payments to Section 230’s full repeal, according to Verge, which obtained a copy of the bill’s text.

It’s a tangled web, but the move is tied to Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes $740 billion in defense spending for the upcoming government fiscal year. “No one has worked harder, or approved more money for the military, than I have,” Trump said in a statement about the veto, claiming falsely that the military “was totally depleted” when he took office in 2017. “Your failure to terminate the very dangerous national security risk of Section 230 will make our intelligence virtually impossible to conduct without everyone knowing what we are doing at every step.”


So what does this have to do with McConnell’s latest political maneuvering? Think of it as a move to appease Trump with regard to Section 230, while also effectively ensuring that the $2,000 increase in stimulus checks will never pass in the Senate. “During this process, the president highlighted three additional issues of national significance he would like to see Congress tackle together,” McConnell said in a floor statement Tuesday afternoon. “This week, the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus.”

McConnell is a cancer on the American body politic, but the last election cycle, the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) decided that it was more important to have an expensive candidate, who would generate lots of consultant commissions, than it would to have a good candidate.

This Does Not Bode Well

It turns out that Biden was involved in negotiations for the Stimulus package, and he actively worked to keep it small.

I knew that he has fetishized deficit reduction for years, but these are extraordinary times, and Joe Biden appears unable to move behind old habits.

When Biden said, “Nothing would fundamentally change,” he meant it, and and he intends to stick to it.

This is a recipe for disaster:

If there is any consistent throughline in Joe Biden’s long career, it is his commitment to the ideology of austerity.

He has obsessively pushed for Social Security cuts for decades, and he is stocking his administration with deficit hawks — including today’s announcement that notorious Social Security cutter Bruce Reed will be White House deputy chief of staff. Biden has even threatened to veto Medicare for All legislation on the grounds that it costs too much (even though Congress says it would actually save a lot of money).

Now, in the whittling down of the stimulus legislation, we see the first concrete example of how Biden’s ideology can change policy in the here and now — and in deeply destructive ways.


However, the New York Times reminds us today that Biden was “not an idle bystander in the negotiations.” On the contrary, the paper of record tells us that the president-elect played a decisive role in making sure the legislation was cut in half. Here is the key excerpt:

With Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate far apart on how much they were willing to accept in new pandemic spending, Mr. Biden on Dec. 2 threw his support behind the $900 billion plan being pushed by the centrist group. The total was less than half of the $2 trillion that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, had been insisting on.

Mr. Biden’s move was not without risks. If it had failed to affect the discussions, the president-elect risked looking powerless to move Congress before he had taken the oath of office. But members of both parties said his intervention was constructive and gave Democrats confidence to pull back on their demands.


That last line of Biden’s statement is arguably the most disturbing foreshadow of all: He is depicting the process — which starved America for months and now skimps on benefits — as a terrific “model” for the future.


But now we see what Biden austerity means in practice. It means meager $600 survival checks instead of $1,200 checks in the same package that pours money into the Pentagon, gives rich people big new tax breaks and doubles funding for Congress’s own private health care system. It means inadequate unemployment benefits in a bill that devotes $6 billion to making business executives’ meals tax deductible and $3 billion to a tax break for landlords.

If Biden is allowed to be Biden, the way that Obama was allowed to be Obama, and the activists and progressives allow themselves to be put back into the “veal pen,” in 2024, we are going to see someone far worse, and far more competent, than Donald Trump elected in 2024.

Not enough bullets

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson is doing his best to kill payouts to ordinary Americans in the next Covid relief bill, while in the past he has been pushing big tax breaks for himself

Republican values, neh?

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson on Friday moved to block emergency survival checks to millions of Americans, citing concerns about the federal deficit. Johnson’s move not only follows his vote for a massive $500 billion corporate slush fund — it also follows his successful effort to enrich himself with a giant tax cut that expanded the deficit.

Johnson, who is worth an estimated $39 million, led the fight in 2017 to create special tax breaks for so-called “pass-through” businesses, or real estate shell companies. Johnson was one of several Republican senators who backed the last-minute provisions inserted in the bill — and who listed income from those pass-through entities on their federal financial disclosure forms.

Based on those federal filings, Johnson stood to personally reap up to $205,000 from the tax cut provisions he championed.


On Friday, Johnson moved to block a bipartisan proposal, from Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., to give Americans emergency $1,200 checks, amid a sudden increase in poverty and mass starvation across the country.

Johnson argued that the direct payment proposal would be “mortgaging our children’s future” — an argument that he did not make when he led the fight to personally enrich himself with a massive tax cut only three years ago.

Mr. Johnson, go Cheney yourself.

So Nice that Pelosi Supported the Homophobic Campaign of Richard Neal

Because after winning the primary, and the general, Ways and Means Chairman Neal is blocking surprise medical billing legislation, because he is owned by the hedge funds who have purchased medical practices, particularly emergency medicine practices, across the country to profit from massively overcharging people in emergency rooms:

A broad bipartisan effort to pass legislation protecting patients from massive “surprise” medical bills is now on life support as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) digs in on a separate proposal.

Democratic and Republican leaders of three committees in the House and Senate have been pushing for months to pass their measure, which would prevent Americans from unexpectedly getting hit with medical bills for thousands of dollars for common scenarios like treatment from a doctor outside their insurance network when they require emergency care.

Neal has been holding out for his own rival proposal and has not shown any willingness to budge despite concessions offered by top lawmakers on the three committees.


Supporters say they are extremely frustrated with Neal, given that lawmakers have been working on a bipartisan basis for two years to solve an issue many view as an especially egregious practice that should be low-hanging fruit for Congress. Lawmakers tried to pass the measure last December, but disagreements with Neal derailed the measure.


All sides agree that patients should be protected from getting massive medical bills through no fault of their own. But fierce divisions have emerged over how much the insurer would then pay the doctor or hospital once the patient is taken out of the middle.

The three committees — House Energy and Commerce, House Education and Labor and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions — have in general favored an approach called benchmarking, which sets the payment rate based on the median amount that insurers in that area already pay in-network doctors. That approach is backed by insurers, unions and consumer groups who say it will save both consumers and the government more money than Neal’s proposal.

Hospitals and doctors, on the other hand, warn that would lead to damaging payment cuts. They favor an alternative process where an outside arbiter would decide the payment, through arbitration. That’s the approach proposed by Neal and Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas), the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, with Neal touting the support of hospital groups.

Backers of the three-committee approach say they offered a range of concessions to Neal, including one that only used Neal’s preferred method — arbitration — but he still did not agree.


The fierce lobbying from powerful doctor and hospital groups has caused further problems. Private equity firms that own doctor staffing companies previously funded millions of dollars in ads against the three-committee legislation.

Surprise billing became an issue in Neal’s primary race earlier this year; his progressive challenger, Alex Morse, [Against whom Neal and the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) ran a viciously homophobic campaign] accused him of blocking surprise billing legislation because the private equity firm Blackstone is a major contributor to Neal. Neal ended up handily defeating Morse before going on to win reelection to Congress, where he has served since 1989.

Neal is now saying he wants to again delay the issue until next year, which backers of the three-committee approach take as a sign that he does not want to address the issue at all and is trying to delay it indefinitely.

Of course he is trying to delay it indefinitely.

He sees his job as to ensure that Blackstone and their Evil Minions™ get their vigorish so that he gets his campaign donations.

Round Up the Usual Wankers

In an attempt to prevent money from getting people who actually need it, Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin III (D-WV), and Mitt Rmoney (R-UT) and Mark R. Warner (D-VA) have proposed an emergency stimulus package that does little and will be an excuse for not doing more:

A bipartisan group of senators introduced a coronavirus aid proposal worth about $908 billion on Tuesday, aiming to break a months-long partisan impasse over emergency federal relief for the U.S. economy amid the ongoing pandemic.


It would provide $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits for roughly four months — a lower amount than the $600 per week Democrats sought, while still offering substantial relief to tens of millions of jobless Americans. The agreement includes $160 billion in funding for state and local governments, a key Democratic priority opposed by most Republicans, as well as a temporary moratorium on some coronavirus-related lawsuits against companies and other entities — a key Republican priority that most Democrats oppose. The measure also includes funding for small businesses, schools, health care, transit authorities and student loans, among other measures.

It’s weak tea, and does not do anything meaningful, but for these folks, it’s a feature, not a bug.

They are not there to solve problems, they just want to preen on the Sunday gas-bag circuit, because it is always about them.


A spokesman for Republican Senator John Cornyn has declared that Neera Tanden’s nomination for head of the Office of Management and Budget is dead on arrival

This is a good thing, even if the reason, “She says mean things about Republicans on Twitter,” is stupid beyond belief, because she yet another case of a member of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) failing upwards while wasting millions dollars of donors.

The bill of particulars against Tanden is extensive:

The bigger case against her nomination is that it is CLEARLY motivated, at least in part, as another indignity directed towards Bernie Sanders that the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment).

Neera Tanden has been the most vociferous critic of Bernie Sanders online, accusing him of being racist, sexist, a Russian agent, and everything short of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.

As OMB chair, her nomination would be managed the ranking member (or chairman if the sky falls in Georgia) of the Senate Budget Committee, one Bernard Sanders of Vermont.

It’s clearly an attempt to, “Try to publicly humiliate,” Sanders.

To quote someone not named Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, “It is worse than a crime, it was a mistake.”

Spending political capital on “Hippie Punching” because it gives the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) a stiffie is stupid and wasteful.

There is a midterm election in 2 years, and neither Nancy Pelosi nor Chuck Schumer are going to bring out the base.

It’s a Sucker Bet

So, you want your buddies to get their tax dollars so that they can buy a better boat, but you don’t want to tarnish your reputation as a good government Republican?

The solution is simple: A public-private partnership.

Your friends get their vig, and you get to pretend that you are working for the taxpayer.

Unfortunately, as Maryland Governor Larry “Governor Rat-F%$#: Hogan as demonstrated, these efforts never save a dime, and frequently cost money, as Richie Daley’s infamous Chicago Parking Meter Deal.

Well, sooner than anyone expected, Hogan’s public private partnerships are descending into chaos and litigation:

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan differs from President Trump about as much as possible for a Republican, but they share one characteristic: Both won their offices in part by selling themselves as experienced business executives who would run government efficiently and cheaply.

Hogan has applied that approach to his two biggest transportation projects, the light-rail Purple Line and a plan to add toll lanes to the Capital Beltway, Interstate 270 and the American Legion Bridge. He brought in private companies to share responsibility with the state for the enterprises, saying they would complete the work more efficiently than the government and save taxpayers money.

If it saves taxpayers money, then how are the profits generated, particularly the ridiculously high profits that the finance types demand?

It isn’t working out that way, and the difficulties threaten to tarnish Hogan’s legacy as he approaches the midpoint of his second and final term as governor. (Maryland governors are limited to two terms.)

The construction contractor for the Purple Line quit mid-project in a dispute with the state over a reported $800 million in unpaid cost overruns. The Maryland Transit Administration has taken over hundreds of subcontracts to continue the work while the state negotiates with the consortium of companies managing the project over whether the larger $5.6 billion partnership can be salvaged.

The Purple Line problems raise fresh questions about whether the much larger toll lanes project will fare any better.


“With the Purple Line, we have basically a fiasco on our hands,” said Melissa Deckman, chair of the political science department at Washington College in Chestertown, Md. “It calls into question in some way his legacy, his promotion of having the private sector solve big public problems.”

The Purple Line project is structured as a public-private partnership (P3). The state is also pursuing a P3 for the toll lanes project. In such deals, private companies help finance and construct the projects, then receive a return over the long-term either from state payments or money earned while managing the enterprises.

The theory is that taxpayers gain more from the private investment and promised efficiency than they lose by letting the companies reap a profit.

Which never happens.  Just profits for the private sector, with perhaps a nickel on the dollar up front to the politicians.

The strategy has backfired with the Purple Line, a 16-mile light-rail line running from New Carrollton in Prince George’s County to Bethesda in Montgomery County. The construction contractor has quit and the consortium managing the project, Purple Line Transit Partners, is in a legal battle with the state over extra costs caused by more than 2½ years of delays.


Critics say the experience highlights the risk in some P3s that private companies get too much power.

“The private entity can essentially hold the government and taxpayers hostage to ask for more money,” said Jeremy Mohler, communications director for In the Public Interest, a think tank.

Meanwhile, concerns have arisen about Hogan’s ambitious plan to add four toll lanes — two in each direction — to I-270 and the Maryland portion of the Beltway and build a new, wider American Legion Bridge. Tolls would vary according to congestion, and the existing lanes would remain free.

Hogan famously promised that using a public-private partnership would mean the project, with an estimated total price of up to $11 billion, would not cost taxpayers any money. But a draft state study warned in July that the plan could require a government subsidy of up to $1 billion, depending on how toll revenue compares with construction and financing costs.



Even if both projects collapsed entirely, which seems unlikely, Hogan could point to other accomplishments in what has generally been a politically successful governorship.

He was the state’s first Republican governor in 64 years to win reelection and has consistently had one of the highest favorability ratings among the nation’s state chief executives. He has blocked tax increases — his signature issue — and acted early to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

Which is what the PPP is all about:  He wants to keep his no new taxes pledge, and doesn’t care that he will be shafting the next 2-3 generations.  

Same as Richie Daley.

“Rat Faced Andy” Cuomo Doing it Again

New York state is in the midst of a revenue crisis because of the pandemic, and Andrew Cuomo is the sole roadblock to raising any revenue at all from the hyper-rich:

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has stood firm against intensifying pressure to avert massive budget cuts by raising taxes on the many billionaires who live in his state.

As that campaign to tax billionaires received a recent boost from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and New York’s Democratic state legislative leaders, Cuomo has insisted that he fears that the tax initiative will prompt the super-rich to leave the state. On Wednesday, he doubled down, warning that if the state tried to balance its budget through billionaire tax hikes “you’d have no billionaires left”.

But in defending billionaires, Cuomo is protecting a group of his most important financial boosters. More than a third of New York’s billionaires have funneled cash to Cuomo’s political machine, according to a Too Much Information review of campaign finance data and the Forbes billionaire list.

New York disclosure records show that 43 of New York’s 118 billionaire families have donated money to Cuomo’s campaigns and the state Democratic party committee he controls. In all, those billionaires and their family members have delivered more than $8m to Cuomo’s political apparatus since his first gubernatorial campaign. That includes large donations from billionaires in the last few weeks as Cuomo has fought to stop tax hikes on billionaires.

It is remarkable just how completely one politician completely encapsulates what is wrong with both the Democratic Party and US politics in general.

Literally Turning Down Free Money in Order to Hurt the Poors

Once Again, Andrew “Rat Faced Andy” Cuomo, decides that pissing on the poor is more important than doing the right thing.

The Governor has decided that he’s going to cut Medicaid, even though it will cost the state $6.7 billion in federal aid.

Basically, this is some sort of twisted affirmation of manhood, and it’s poor women and children who suffer as a result.

Actually everyone suffers as a result, because by removing capacity from the New York healthcare system, the next epidemic would be even worse:

On Sunday, amid his regular coronavirus updates, inspirational slides, and Italian family dinner anecdotes, Governor Andrew Cuomo was asked to respond to New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s charge that the governor was rejecting billions in federal funding from emergency federal COVID-19 legislation simply because Cuomo wanted to tinker with the state’s Medicaid system. “It would be nice if he passed a piece of legislation that actually helped the state of New York,” Cuomo shot back.

Cuomo has been feuding with Schumer over the past couple of weeks, accusing the senator of trying to hamper his plans to make changes to Medicaid, the public health program that insures roughly a third of New Yorkers. Cuomo has made it clear that he is determined to cut Medicaid in the midst of a massive public health crisis—even if it means risking federal funds designated to provide relief.

New York stood to gain up to $6.7 billion through the federal legislation Schumer helped pass (that’s if the intervention program lasts a full year) but only under the condition that it didn’t put any new restrictions on Medicaid eligibility.

Andrew Cuomo is a profoundly evil son of a bitch.

Of Course She Is

Nancy Pelosi has a plan for additional stimulus, and the details, that it will only put meaningful money in the pockets of people who make significantly more than $100,000.00 a year should surprise no one:

As lawmakers prepare for another round of fiscal stimulus to address economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested the next package include a retroactive rollback of a tax change that hurt high earners in states like New York and California.

A full rollback of the limit on the state and local tax deduction, or SALT, would provide a quick cash infusion in the form of increased tax rebates to an estimated 13 million American households — nearly all of which earn at least $100,000 a year.


The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated last year that a full repeal of the SALT limit for 2019 alone would reduce federal revenues by about $77 billion. Americans earning $1 million a year or more would collectively reap $40 billion of those benefits. Most of the rest would go to households earning $200,000 or more.

Well, we now know who her REAL constituency is.

As an aside, this change is literally the least bang for the buck possible as a stimulus, but it does appeal to overpaid pundits living in places like DC, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and I guess that this is all that matters to her.

Of Course He Does

It appears that Donald Trump’s plan for dealing with economic disruption from the Covid-19 outbreak is a waiver of the payroll tax, but only through the election.

Why am I not surprised that he is viewing this entire crisis as a nothing more than an opportunity to score political points?

Donald Trump told Republican senators on Tuesday that he wants a payroll tax holiday through the November election so that taxes don’t go back up before voters decide whether to return him to office, according to three people familiar with the president’s remarks.

Trump spoke to the Republicans at their weekly conference lunch at the Capitol as his administration prepares a package of economic measures to combat the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. But the administration does not have a particularly detailed plan, several Republicans said including John Thune of South Dakota.

Other Republicans are suggesting a bailout of the fracking industry, because that never profitable industry faces a more immediate reckoning* over collapsing oil prices.

*The investments have not passed from the Vampire Squid and its Evil Minions down the financial food chain to ordinary investors, and the Republicans must prevent that.

From the Department of “About F%$#ing Time”

There is a bill in California which would tax companies with overpaid CEOs:

In response to growing income inequality, some California lawmakers are looking at the possibility of tying tax rates for corporations to the gap between how much they pay their CEOs and what their average employees take home. That’s the idea behind state Senate Bill 37, legislation first introduced by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) in December 2018.

Currently, California taxes corporations at a rate of 8.84 percent, and financial institutions at a rate of 10.84 percent. Under SB 37, corporations making over $10 million annually would be subject to a tax rate between 10.84 and 14.84 percent (12.84 and 16.84 percent for financial institutions), depending on the ratio of their CEO salaries to average worker wages. Companies with a ratio of more than 300 to one would pay the highest rate. SB 37 would also increase these tax rates for companies outsourcing to independent contractors or workers in foreign companies.

Revenue generated by the law would go to educational and early childhood programs. “The goal of SB 37 is to shrink income inequality,” said Sen. Skinner in a January 2020 hearing, adding, “The design of SB 37 … recognizes that reliance on state services increases when corporations underpay their workers.”

Personally, I’d just start levying a payroll tax on companies for a salary over $400,000.00 (The Salary of the President of the United States), but I’ll take what I can get.


A study has shown that public spending on public goods results in greater satisfaction and happiness by the citizenry.

This is yet another data point showing that privatization of public goods is a bad thing:

Baylor University political scientist Patrick Flavin’s forthcoming study in Social Science Research finds that people in states with higher public goods spending (on “libraries, parks, highways, natural resources and police protection”) report higher levels of happiness. 

It’s not clear whether they are happier because they have better services, or whether people who choose to live in places where they don’t have to pay for their neighbors’ kids’ education, parks, etc, are selfish, miserable f%$#s.


Thank You Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

It has now been revealed that New York State offered even more taxpayer money to Amazon than was previously revealed:

State officials offered Amazon.com Inc. almost a billion dollars more of incentives than was previously known to win its second-headquarters contest and were even prepared to pay part of some employees’ salaries if the tech company developed a campus in New York.

Documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show the scope of what state and local officials initially put on the table as part of the 2017 HQ2 competition, in which more than 200 cities submitted bids to host a facility that Amazon said would house 50,000 jobs.

The company said in November 2018 that sites in Northern Virginia and the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens would split the new headquarters. New York state and city officials agreed to give $3 billion of incentives to the e-commerce giant to hire as many as 40,000 employees.

Facing opposition from some local elected officials, Amazon abandoned its plans for New York on Valentine’s Day last year.

The Journal obtained the records through a Freedom of Information Law request to Empire State Development, the state’s economic development authority.

The documents show that in its first formal bid to Amazon, in October 2017, the state offered to provide up to $2.5 billion of incentives to the company for a campus in New York. The offer also applied to sites that state and local leaders proposed in the Hudson Valley, Albany, Central New York, Buffalo, Rochester and on Long Island.

The state’s initial offer included $1.4 billion of tax credits based on the number of employees hired and $1.1 billion of various grants. That was $800 million more than the ESD agreed to in a memorandum of understanding signed a year later: The state provided $1.2 billion of tax credits and $505 million to reimburse some construction costs.


On top of the state’s final $1.7 billion package, New York City ultimately offered Amazon up to $1.3 billion of extra incentives through two programs open to any company.


ESD initially proposed to spend $500 million to create a Center for Commercial Innovation near the selected site that would let Amazon partner with various colleges for research relevant to its business. The site would also subsidize job-training programs, according to the proposal, and the state pledged to pay 25% of certain graduates’ first-year wages with Amazon to help it achieve workforce diversity.


State Sen. Mike Gianaris, a Democrat from Queens and one of the leading opponents of the Long Island City campus, said news of the initial offer underscored his call to re-examine state incentive programs.

“The more we learn about this twisted process, the worse it appears,” Mr. Gianaris said. “I think it’s good we didn’t have to provide any incentives to get Amazon here, because they appear to be coming anyway.”

Taxpayer incentives are a scam.  They never pay for themselves, and when the additional taxes to pay for them on other, smaller, employees are factored in, they don’t generate any jobs either.

Unfortunately, without federal legislation to prevent this, companies like Amazon will continue to play states and localities against each other, and everyone will lose but robber barons like Jeff Bezos.