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The Cynicism Behind Graham-Cassidy Is Breathtaking

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Kevin Drum notes:

It’s hard to know how to react to the cynicism of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. For starters, of course, it’s as bad as all the other Republican repeal bills. Tens of millions of the working poor will lose insurance. Pre-existing conditions aren’t protected. Medicaid funding is slashed. Subsidies are slashed.

But apparently that’s not enough. Republican senators (and President Trump, of course) obviously don’t care what’s in the bill. Hell, they’re all but gleeful in their ignorance. Nor is merely repealing Obamacare enough. Graham-Cassidy is very carefully formulated to punish blue states especially harshly. And if even that’s not enough, after 2020 it gives the president the power to arbitrarily punish them even more if he feels like it. I guess this makes it especially appealing to conservatives. Finally, by handing everything over to the states with virtually no guidance, it would create chaos in the health insurance market. The insurance industry, which was practically the only major player to stay neutral on previous bills (doctors, nurses, hospitals, and everyone else opposed them) has finally had enough. Even if it hurts them with Republicans, Graham-Cassidy is a bridge too far:

The two major trade groups for insurers, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, announced their opposition on Wednesday to the Graham-Cassidy bill….“The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions,’’ said Scott P. Serota, the president and chief executive of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

….America’s Health Insurance Plans was even more pointed. The legislation could hurt patients by “further destabilizing the individual market” and could potentially allow “government-controlled single payer health care to grow,” said Marilyn B. Tavenner, the president and chief executive of the association. Without controls, some states could simply eliminate private insurance, she warned.

Literally nobody in the health insurance industry likes this bill. The chaos and misery it would unleash are practically undebatable. It’s being passed for no reason except that Republicans have screwed up health care so epically that they have only a few days left to pass something, and Graham-Cassidy is something.

If there’s any silver lining at all to this mess, it comes from AHIP’s Marilyn Taverner:  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2017 at 8:26 am

The Only Problem in American Politics Is the Republican Party

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Jonathan Chait writes in New York magazine:

Political scientist Lee Drutman argues in a Vox essay that American politics is descending into what he calls “doom-loop partisanship.” Drutman notes that Americans have been “retreating into our separate tribal epistemologies, each with their own increasingly incompatible set of facts and first premises,” each heavily racialized, in which “[t]here’s no possibility for rational debate or middle-ground compromise. Just two sorted teams, with no overlap, no cross-cutting identities, and with everyone’s personal sense of status constantly on the line.”

Drutman attributes this to winner-take-all elections, the expanding power of the presidency, and the growing influence of money in politics. I think, despite all the very real design flaws in American politics, the problems he describe stem mainly from the pathologies of the Republican Party.

It is certainly true that the psychological relationship between the parties has a certain symmetry. Both fear each other will cheat to win and use their power to stack the voting deck. “If Republicans win in close elections, Democrats say it’s only because they cheated by making it harder for Democratic constituencies to vote; if Democrats win in close elections, Republicans say it’s only because they voted illegally.” But while it is nottrue that Democrats have allowed illegal voting in nontrivial levels, it isextremely true that Republicans have deliberately made voting inconvenient for Democratic-leaning constituencies. The psychology is parallel, but the underlying facts are not.

Likewise, there is a superficial similarity to the terror with which partisans now greet governments controlled by the opposing party. Obama’s presidency made Republicans terrified of rampant socialism and vengeful minority rule. (Rush Limbaugh in 2009 instructed his audience, “In Obama’s America the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering ‘Yeah, right on, right on, right on.’ Of course everybody said the white kid deserved it, he was born a racist, he’s white.”) Trump’s presidency has inspired a similar terror among liberals terrified that Trump would take their insurance and deport immigrants.

Liberal fears have had a much closer relationship to reality. The reason is that the Democratic Party is racially and economically heterogeneous. Even if he had wanted to take vengeance upon white America for its sins, Obama had far too many white supporters to make such a course of action remotely practical. (A majority of Obama’s voters were white, in fact.) On economic issues, the Democratic Party relies on support and input from business and labor alike. Whatever terrors of rampant Jacobinism may have gripped the economic elite, there are limits to the fiscal and regulatory pain Democrats can impose on a constituency that has a seat at the table (many seats, actually).

There is little such balance to be found in the Republican Party. Republicans concerned about their party’s future may blanch at Trump’s pardoning of the sadistic racist Joe Arpaio or his gleeful unleashing of law enforcement. In the short term, however, they have bottomed out on their minority support and proven able to win national power regardless, by using racial wedge issues to pry away blue-collar whites. Advocates for labor or the poor have no voice whatsoever in the Republican elite. It took a massive national mobilization to narrowly dissuade the party from snatching health insurance away from millions of people too poor or sick to afford it.

Then of course there are the competing tribal epistemologies. There is nothing on the left with the reach and scope of the conservative media universe defined by talk radio, Fox News, and other outlets that have functioned as state media. Certainly pockets of epistemological closure exist, especially in the way social media has allowed curated media streams that exclusively cater to one’s prejudices. But the fact is that the Democratic Party is fundamentally accountable to the mainstream news media. And that media play try to follow rules of objectivity that the right-wing alternative media does not bother with.

The most striking revelation in Devil’s Bargain, Josh Green’s account of the rise of Steve Bannon, is that Bannon understood both the importance and the permeability of the mainstream news media to his ideas and messaging. Bannon knew that the right kind of research could influence the New York Times’ coverage of Hillary Clinton, and thereby deeply shape the views of Democratic voters.

Whether or not the Times was correct to use this research, and whether or not it treated Clinton fairly overall, is not the point. What matters is that Democratic politicians need to please a news media that is open to contrary facts and willing — and arguably eager — to hold them accountable. The mainstream media have have its liberal biases, but it also misses the other way — see the Times’ disastrously wrong report, a week before the election, that the FBI saw no links between the Trump campaign and Russia and no intention by Russia to help Trump. One cannot imagine Fox News publishing an equivalently wrong story against the Republican Party’s interests — its errors all run in the same direction. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 September 2017 at 1:33 pm

What Really Happened at the White House

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Martin Longman has an interesting article in the Washington Monthly from September 6, the day after the White House meeting with Congressional leaders. He writes:

Let me just spell some basic things out that should be familiar to you since I’ve been writing about them incessantly for months, and in some cases since before the inauguration.

First, the president was sold on a dual-reconciliation strategy by Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan that he was told would enable him to repeal Obamacare quickly and then pivot to tax reform. The strategy would take advantage of the fact that Congress did not pass a budget last year to pass two budgets this year. Health care would be attached to the first budget and tax reform to the second. Using this trick, both could be passed without fear of a Senate filibuster and therefore, supposedly, without having to make any concessions to the Democrats.

This strategy did not work. It never really had a chance of working. I said from the beginning that it was doomed and I was right.

The consequences of Trump adopting this plan have been catastrophic. He hasn’t signed a single significant piece of legislation. He hasn’t been able to keep most of his key promises. His relationships with both the Republicans (for failing him) and the Democrats (for his scorning and disrespecting them) are in ruins.

So, that’s the starting point for understanding yesterday’s meeting between Schumer, Pelosi, McConnell, Ryan, and the White House team.

To make things worse, though, Ryan and McConnell came to the meeting with no plan and no prospects for accomplishing a long list of must-pass legislation through Congress in the twelve legislative days available to them in September. They could ask the president to do certain things, but the only people in the meeting yesterday who could actually deliver something for Trump were the Democrats. That’s point two.

Now, of course, everyone there had their ideological dispositions and items on their wish lists. But there were three things they all agreed on that had no real ideological component.

1. they urgently needed to raise the debt ceiling.
2. they urgently needed to pass a disaster relief bill for Hurricane Harvey.
3. they would strongly prefer to avoid a government shutdown.

For Ryan and McConnell, they knew they needed Democratic votes for the debt ceiling and that Boehner had been pushed out of power for going to the Democrats too many times to lift it. The more Republicans they could get, the better, and if they could get most of them that would be best of all. That’s why they wanted to attach the disaster relief to the debt ceiling. What they really wanted, however, was some cover so they could say the deal they came up with was Trump’s idea, not theirs.

For Pelosi and Schumer, they needed a visible victory. They couldn’t trade their votes for nothing.They were under pressure to get impossible concessions on the DREAM Act and other items, but what they really wanted was a clean disaster relief bill, a clean debt ceiling bill, and a clean continuing resolution that would continue Obama’s budget spending for the entirety of Trump’s first year in office. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 September 2017 at 11:52 am

House Conservatives Demand That Tax Reform Add to the Deficit

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Odd, isn’t it? It’s almost as though they lack consistency and/or rational thinking. Eric Levitz writes in New York magazine:

The House Freedom Caucus believes that the national debt poses such a profound threat to our grandchildren’s prosperity, true conservatives must threaten to sabotage the economy unless Congress agrees to pass draconian spending cuts.

They also believe that the corporate tax rate should be cut from 35 percent to 16 percent — and that true conservatives must resist any attempt to offset the (roughly) $2 trillion revenue loss that this would generate by closing loopholes in the tax code.

On Wednesday night, Axios’s Jonathan Swan reported that the 35 Über-reactionary House members are preparing to release their own tax plan, much to the chagrin of their party’s leadership. The exact details of that plan have yet to be hammered out, but Swan’s sources outline its core features:

• Slashes the corporate tax rate from 35% to 16%.

• Doubles the standard deduction for individuals.

• Abandons “revenue neutrality,” the dogma that tax reform mustn’t worsen currently projected deficits.

It’s worth noting that even Republicans who endorse “revenue neutrality” generally use “dynamic scoring” to get there — which is to say, they presume that tax cuts for the rich are partially offset by generating higher economic growth. The Freedom Caucus position isn’t that giant tax cuts don’t add to the deficit, but that growing the deficit is perfectly fine, so long as the national “credit card” is being used to redistribute wealth to the rich, and not to the poor.

To be fair, the conservatives will, ostensibly, call for offsetting the cost of their tax cuts by soaking the latter. Members of the Freedom Caucus have, historically, reconciled the tension between their deficit-hawkery and support for giant tax cuts by insisting on commensurate reductions in social spending. And according to Swan, their proposal will include “some form of ‘welfare reform.’”

But conservatives have consistently failed to pass “welfare reforms” draconian enough to close the current deficit. The fact that they are willing to grow that deficit by more than $2 trillion over ten years, amid decades of evidence that their movement lacks both the influence necessary to roll back Social Security and Medicare and the will to cut defense spending — suggests that these tea-partyers don’t actually believe that the debt poses a catastrophic threat to their progeny, or else they love income inequality more than their grandkids. One could argue that these conservatives believe cutting taxes actually helps reduce the deficit in the long term, because “starving the beast” is the only politically feasible way of rolling back entitlement spending. But we now have decades of evidence to suggest this isn’t the case — the Bush and Reagan tax cuts did not produce an outpouring of popular support for cutting Social Security. In fact, cutting taxes actually seems to increase public support for the social safety net, since doing so makes government programs seem like a better deal. So, the cause for doubting the sincerity of the Freedom Caucus’s deficit scaremongering remains the same: They are blithe about increasing the national debt through tax cuts, even though they have no basis for thinking that they can subsequently offset lost revenue through massive cuts in social spending.

The only alternative explanation is that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 September 2017 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Congress, Daily life, GOP

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rule Fight Forces Senators to Choose: Military Families or Big Banks

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Paul Bland writes in Huffington Post:

When Gary Childress of Raleigh, North Carolina learned in July 2008 that he was being deployed to Iraq as part of his Army National Guard service, one of the things he did before reporting for duty was to contact Bank of America, where he and his wife Anne had a credit card account. He wanted to let the bank know that he was on active-duty status because under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act or SCRA, a law passed by Congress in 2003 to reduce burdens on military families, all interest rates on debts that servicemembers owed before going on active status must be reduced to 6%. This interest rate protection was significant to the Childresses, who owed over $5000 on their Bank of America credit card with an interest rate of around 27% when Gary left for Iraq.

Bank of America began sending Anne Childress monthly statements suggesting that the interest rate on the account had been reduced to 6% as the SCRA requires. But according to a lawsuit the bank just settled in federal court in North Carolina, these statements were deceptive. In fact, the bank was actually continuing to charge a much higher interest rate. And the Childresses were not alone; the bank’s own internal audits, as well as an investigation conducted by the Office Of the Comptroller of the Currency, revealed that nearly 130,000 servicemembers and their families were affected by Bank of America’s illegal and deceptive practices, which went on for over a decade.

One of the other families affected was Jackie and Raymond Love of Garrett, Indiana, who had a mortgage with Bank of America with an interest rate of 7% when Raymond was deployed to Iraq in 2004. Like the Childresses, the Loves asked Bank of America to reduce their monthly payments to 6% in accordance with the SCRA, and Bank of America began issuing monthly statements suggesting that it had complied, but later investigations showed that the Loves’ mortgage rate was not in fact reduced. What’s worse, the formula Bank of America used to make it appear that the Loves’ rate had been reduced to 6%, known as interest subsidization, caused the Loves’ mortgage payments to be recorded as late even when they paid on time, which in turn damaged their credit score. The Loves filed for bankruptcy in 2011, and their house was sold at auction.

In 2015, the Childresses and others fiiled a class action lawsuit. And in July of 2017, they reached a settlement with Bank of America that will award nearly $30 million, after fees and expenses, to the approximately 130,000 military families who were overcharged and deceived by the bank. The cheated servicemembers will not need to file claims in order to receive compensation under the settlement; the amount owed to each class member will be calculated based on Bank of America’s records, and checks will be sent out automatically. If any class members can’t be found or their checks go uncashed, the remaining funds will be donated to nonprofits that provide assistance to servicemebers and veterans.

This class action lawsuit was possible because Bank of America does not force its credit card customers to enter into arbitration provisions that ban class actions. But most banks do. In fact, in a comprehensive report to Congress in 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that over half of credit card contracts include provisions requiring customers to settle disputes in private arbitration rather than in court, and nearly all of those provisions ban class actions. Moreover, the CFPB’s study found that large banks were far more likely than small banks and credit unions to include forced arbitration provisions and class action bans in their account agreements. The CFPB study found that where bank arbitration clauses ban class actions, only an infinitesimal number of consumers ever go to arbitration; more than 99.9% of cases just disappear and no consumers receive anything.

So if another large bank systematically overcharged servicemembers interest in violation of the SCRA and lied about it like Bank of America did, those affected would not have been able to join together in a class action lawsuit like the Childresses and Loves. Instead, they would each be forced to go up against the bank by themselves in a secretive arbitration proceeding, where confidentiality rules would prevent each servicemember from sharing information with others. Given the many demands on military families’ time, most people affected by such a scheme would never even find out that their rights had been violated, let alone pursue in arbitration the money they were owed. And instead of paying nearly $30 million to around 130,000 military families as Bank of America did, a bank with an arbitration provision banning class actions would have paid nothing, or at most might only have to pay out a few thousand dollars to a handful of servicemembers if any went forward with arbitration.

Now, the Senate will soon be asked to decide whether it is better if Americans can enforce consumer protection laws, as the servicemembers in these cases did, or if it’s better to let banks pocket millions of dollars in illegal profits at the expense of those who defend our nation. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 September 2017 at 1:40 pm

Republicans Want to Sideline the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But It May Be Too Popular.

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Steve Eder, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, and Stacy Cowley report in the NY Times on how the Republicans, although strongly opposed to protecting consumers (while strongly supporting the protection of businesses), have not been able to shut down the CFPB:

With the election of President Trump, the nation’s consumer watchdog agency faced a quandary: how to shield the Obama-era institution from a Republican administration determined to loosen the federal government’s grip on business.

In the weeks after the election, Richard Cordray, the Democrat who leads the agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, directed his staff to compile stories from ordinary Americans thanking it for resolving complaints.

The anecdotes, which he solicited in an email to share with the Trump transition team, could provide a counterpoint to critics who had cast the agency as a regulatory scourge on the economy. And implicit in his request to employees was the belief that some accolades would come from parts of the country that helped elect Mr. Trump — evidence that the popularity of consumer safeguards transcends party divisions.

“There must be hundreds of such stories,” Mr. Cordray wrote in the email in November, which was obtained in a public records request. He added, “I can think of no better vindication” of the agency’s consumer relief efforts.

While many federal agencies have begun to loosen the reins on the companies they regulate, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, born out of the Dodd-Frank financial law in 2010, has taken the opposite course. Congress granted it unusually broad authority — and autonomy from the White House and Congress — to both enforce existing federal rules and write new ones, including issuing fines against financial companies.

Under Mr. Trump it has openly embraced its mission, cracking down on debt collectors, pushing out a major new financial rule on arbitration and pursuing a flurry of enforcement actions against payday lenders and others.

The approach, outlined in emails and other documents obtained through the public records request by The New York Times, comes as the Trump administration has taken an uncharacteristically low-key public stance toward the agency, a prominent blue holdout in a federal regulatory regime newly awash in red.

The White House’s restraint was based in part on a pragmatic assessment, according to people familiar with the strategy. At one point, contemplating a high-profile run on the agency, the White House examined polling data from political bellwether states, two people briefed on the matter said. The agency, they concluded, was too popular to pick a public fight with.

Republicans in Congress, who have vehemently opposed the agency since its creation, have also been unable to muster enough support to derail its work. Efforts to strike down a rule ordering new consumer protections on prepaid debit cards never made it to a vote in either the House or the Senate.

“The public does not share the G.O.P.’s ire toward the agency or its mission,” said Dean Clancy, a Tea Party activist who worked in the White House under President George W. Bush and is now a policy analyst who tracks actions of the consumer bureau. “It is an agency about protecting the little guy, and that is tough to oppose.”

The stories of gratitude rounded up by the agency’s staff for Mr. Cordray illustrated its appeal. Among them was a homeowner in Tennessee who got a disputed lien removed from a property, someone in Kentucky who got assistance warding off a debt collector pursuing a medical bill that had been paid, and a person in Pennsylvania who said the agency helped resolve a contested credit card debt.

That doesn’t mean the Trump administration and other opponents have given up on neutralizing the bureau’s work.

Administration officials have isolated the bureau from parts of the government that, under President Barack Obama, helped fulfill its mission. In public statements and documents, officials at the Justice Department, the Treasury Department and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have all turned a cold shoulder toward Mr. Cordray and his staff.

Lobbyists for the financial industry are working behind the scenes on efforts to dismantle some of the bureau’s signature initiatives, according to people directly involved in the plans. They include lawsuits to be filed in reliably conservative courts when new regulations are issued.

For now, though, it is mostly a waiting game. Mr. Cordray’s term as director expires next July, when he could be replaced with a sympathetic Trump appointee.  . .

Continue reading.

Does it strike you, as it does me, that the GOP really does not like most Americans?

Written by LeisureGuy

31 August 2017 at 5:37 pm

Ted Cruz repeats tired lie that he voted against disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy because the bill was loaded with extraneous expenditures

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Ted Cruz is shameless and a liar to boot. Glenn Kessler reports in the Washington Post Fact Checker column:

“The problem with that particular bill is it became a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork. Two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy.”
— Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), interview with NBC’s Katy Tur, Aug. 28, 2017

Hypocrisy watch! Now that Houston and much of southeastern Texas is swamped by Hurricane Harvey, critics (including Northeastern lawmakers) have complained that Texas senators and members of Congress are seeking emergency federal aid but refused to back relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The defense, as shown in the quote above by Cruz, is that the Sandy legislation was a bad bill, filled with pork-barrel projects. A similar defense is indicated by a spokesman for Cruz’s colleague, Sen. John Cornyn (R) — that he did vote for Sandy aid, just not the bad bill that was signed into law.

So what’s going on here? Did the bill for Sandy have so much pork in it that two-thirds was unrelated to the disaster at hand?

The Facts

Like many complex pieces of legislation, there were a number of votes and various versions of the emergency aid. The help for Sandy came in two parts — an uncontroversial vote in late 2012 for a $9.7 billion increase in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s borrowing power for flood relief, and then a $50.5 billion package that was approved in January 2013, without the votes of Texas Republicans (or many Republicans).

Many Republicans said that the emergency spending should have been offset by cuts elsewhere. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), at the time chairman of the Budget Committee, was one arguing the money needed to be offset. “This legislative abuse is an insult to families facing real emergencies in the wake of the storm,” he declared.

Many Republicans in the House voted for an alternative bill, crafted by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), now President Trump’s budget director, that would have funded a smaller emergency bill with a 1.63 percent across-the-board reduction in spending on discretionary programs. “It’s so important to me that I think we should pay for it,” he said. But his gambit was rejected.

(AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, did not directly respond to a question about whether Ryan would require funding for Harvey relief to be offset, as he had demanded in 2013. “We will help those affected by this terrible disaster,” she said. “The first step in that process is a formal request for resources from the administration.”)

So was the $50 billion bill filled with pork — two-thirds of which was unrelated to Sandy?

No.

The Congressional Research Service issued a comprehensive report on the provisions, and it’s clear that virtually all of it was related to the damage caused by Sandy. There may have been some pork in an earlier Senate version, but many of those items were removed before final passage. There were also some items that appear to have been misunderstood.

Ryan, for instance, referred in a statement to “non-Sandy expenses,” such as “sand dunes at the Kennedy Space Center, highway repairs in the Virgin Islands, and roof repairs in Washington, D.C.” But Sandy was a storm that stretched far beyond New Jersey and New York as it raced up from the Caribbean.

The Smithsonian Institution suffered roof leaks from heavy winds and torrential rain, resulting in a $2 million request. The shoreline near Launch Pads 39A and B at the Kennedy Space Center also suffered major erosion, leaving the ocean less than a quarter-mile away, so $15 million was added to deal with that problem and repair a NASA facility on Wallops Island in Virginia that also was damaged by Sandy. We couldn’t find a line-item for Virgin Islands highway funding, so it appears to have been relatively minor.

The bill did wrap in some other 2012 disaster funding, including disasters that had been declared over Alaska Chinook salmon, New England groundfish, Mississippi fisheries and American Samoa bottomfish. Those are the fisheries that the Cornyn spokesman referenced — but they were disaster declarations. So one would think it would make sense to include relief in a disaster bill.

Some lawmakers complained about $100 million in funding for Head Start, but that was limited to facilities that had been damaged in New Jersey and New York.

This being Congress, one of course can find some eyebrow-raising provisions. In particular, there was $16 billion for the account that funds Community Development Block Grants, which were aimed at Sandy relief but also could be used for eligible disaster events in calendar years 2011, 2012 and 2013. So the main focus was Sandy, but the money could be moved to assist other disaster relief efforts over a three-year period.

Still, it’s all related to disaster relief.

The bill also included tribal and state clean water and pollution mitigation grants ($600 million), funds to improve weather forecasting ($25 million), and upgrades to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aircraft ($44.5 million). Those provisions were intended to prevent future disasters but arguably were not related to Sandy. But that’s less than 2 percent of the total.

When Cruz opposed the bill in 2013, he complained that “two-thirds of this spending is not remotely emergency; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 30% of the authorized funds would be spent in the next 20 months, and over a billion dollars will be spent as late as 2021.” We suspect he meant to say that, rather than incorrectly claim that two-thirds had “nothing to do” with Sandy.

The CBO score did indicate that the money would be spent relatively slowly — 30 percent by September 2014 and 80 percent by September 2017. But this is not unique to Sandy.

The CBO has explained that it based its analysis of the Sandy legislation on how quickly the government has spent such relief funds in the past. “The estimate . . . simply reflected historical patterns for the expenditure of disaster relief funds, most notably the pace of spending following the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005,” a CBO analyst posted on the agency blog in 2013. Debris removal is a big expense in the first year, and then it often takes several more years to rebuild infrastructure and develop post-disaster hazard mitigation, he noted.

Because of the slow payout, sequestration actually reduced the $50.5 billion by about $3.1 billion.

We sought a comment from Cruz’s staff, who understandably are busy. Update: As we suspected, Cruz’s reference to two-thirds was in reference to the slow spending of the funds, not pork, but that’s a misunderstanding of the CBO score. Spokeswoman Catherine Frazier cited $33 billion in long-term spending, including the $16 billion in Community Development Block Grants for a range of disasters. She flagged $10.9 billion in Federal Transit Administration aid, but according to CRS half of that was directed toward Sandy response and recovery efforts. Beside many of the line items described above, she also cited $122 million for Amtrak, of which about a quarter was for repairs of the Manhattan terminal and the rest for recovery and resiliency projects in the affected area. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 August 2017 at 11:16 am

Posted in Congress, GOP, Government

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