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Tag: chuck schumer

Manchin's Budget Deal Enrages Shocked Fox Hosts (VIDEO)

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Wednesday they had struck a deal on portions of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. Their proposal would fight inflation by reducing the federal budget deficit through tax increases on big corporations and lowered health care costs, while making a historic investment in clean energy. The Senate reportedly plans to vote on the bill, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, next week.

Fox News hates this bill. The network’s propagandists and their GOP guests were clearly reeling from the surprise announcement that Manchin had reached an agreement after repeatedly putting negotiations on ice. But even on short notice, they came up with a slew of reasons — at times contradictory — to oppose the nascent legislation.

The Inflation Reduction Act has fewer focuses than past Democratic proposals, making it relatively easy to explain.

But Fox, as usual, isn’t really interested in explaining the bill; it’s interested in ensuring that the network's viewers oppose it.

Fox: Tax Provisions Are Bad, Spending Is Bad, Deficit Reduction Goes Unmentioned

The Inflation Reduction Act would reduce inflation by cutting the federal budget deficit by more than $300 billion over 10 years. Fox’s right-wing personalities have spent months harping on how Americans are paying more for everything due to increased inflation, and they traditionally complain about federal debt and deficits. But of course, this is a bill proposed by Democrats, so for Fox, they must be fighting inflation and reducing deficits the wrong way — in this case, by raising taxes on the wealthy and big corporations rather than cutting unnamed spending.

The bill would raise revenue by setting a 15% tax floor for corporations with profits exceeding $1 billion a year, boosting IRS tax enforcement, and narrowing the “carried interest” loophole that lets hedge fund and private equity employees pay lower tax rates. A Senate fact sheet notes that it includes “no new taxes on families making $400,000 or less and no new taxes on small businesses.”

On Fox, hosts and guests are standing up for big corporations that prefer not to pay taxes, tax cheats, and money managers.

On Wednesday night, Sean Hannity claimed that “Democrats are once again lying to you, trying to claim their socialist spending bonanza will reduce inflation. Let me be clear: It will do the opposite. It is one big Democratic tax hike.” He focused in particular on the IRS enforcement funding, which he said means “you'll all get the Hannity treatment,” and repeatedly said that corporate tax hikes would simply be passed on to “we, the people, the consumer.”

Later, Laura Ingraham likewise panned the bill as a “spendorama,” while her guest, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), criticized it for spending “hundreds of billions of dollars more to sic the IRS on hardworking American families. It's only going to drive up inflation more and cost people their jobs.” Ingraham concluded, “This is an inflation explosion act, not reduction act."

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), meanwhile, responding to the deal on Jesse Watters Primetime, said the problem with the bill wasn’t that it would cause inflation but that it would be “pushing us over the edge into a major recession,” calling it “very risky and very dangerous to raise taxes.”

None of those programs’ hosts mentioned that the bill would reduce the deficit by $300 billion.

Fox: Climate Provisions Are Bad

Global reliance on fossil fuels has increased carbon emissions, resulting in shattered temperature records and deadly extreme weather events. To try to reduce these dangerous consequences, the bill makes unprecedented investments in clean energy, with $369 billion in spending over the next decade that Senate Democrats say will reduce emissions by 40% by 2030. The bill offers consumers tax credits for making homes more energy-efficient and buying clean-energy vehicles, increases energy security by supporting domestic solar and wind power, and provides money for states and utilities to transition to cleaner energy sources, among other provisions.

To Hannity, this is all summarized as “nearly $400 billion for what they're calling energy security and climate change which is code for climate change cult alarmism,” while Ingraham just sneered that the legislation is “a climate change bill.”

Fox: Joe Manchin Is Bad

Fox and its allies were counting on Manchin to scuttle Biden’s economic agenda, and they are extremely unhappy that the senator instead made a deal.

Hannity claimed Manchin “just gave in to the radical climate alarmist cult, new green deal cult,” and said “his deal is going to hurt the people specifically in his state of West Virginia and hurt them dramatically.”

He later frothed, “breaking tonight in Washington, Sen. Joe Manchin, he has made a sudden reversal. He went to build back broke, says he will now support the Biden-backed green new deal socialist bill on climate.”

Ingraham panned the “Manchin betrayal of the voters of West Virginia,” while Cotton alleged that the senator had signed “probably the longest suicide note in the history of West Virginia.”

“Joe Manchin, we are disappointed in you as my parents said to me often as a child,” Jesse Watters quipped.

They stayed mad on Thursday morning.


Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Budget Bill Revives Biden Vow To Tax Wealthy And Corporations

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Joe Biden's campaign promise to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy as part of a battle against glaring income inequality in the United States got an unexpected boost on Wednesday.

Early proposals to increase tax rates from Biden and his fellow Democrats hit a brick wall in Congress after Republicans -- and some Democrats -- opposed them. But a sudden reversal by West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a swing vote in the divided Senate, has given Biden's tax agenda a new lease on life.

The amount U.S. companies contribute to tax revenue that funds roads and schools has plummeted since the 1940s.

Biden has often said in office that companies should instead pay a "fair share," a contrast to deference to private markets begun by Republicans with former President Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, and buoyed by rounds of tax cuts and deregulation, by both parties.

The new compromise bill includes $430 billion in new spending on energy, electric vehicle tax credits and health insurance investments. It more than pays for itself by raising minimum taxes for big companies and enforcing existing tax laws, Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

Biden said during a speech on Thursday that the deal would "for the first time in a long time begin to restore fairness to the tax code - begin to restore fairness by making the largest corporations in America pay their fair share without any new taxes on people making under $400,000 a year."

The bill would impose a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations with profits over $1 billion, raising $313 billion over a decade, they wrote. Companies could claim net operating losses and tax credits against the 15 percent.

The U.S. corporate tax rate dropped to 21 percent from 35 percent after a 2017 tax cut pushed by then-President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans, but many companies pay much less than that, and some of the largest pay no federal taxes, research groups including the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy have found.

Biden proposed raising that rate to 28 percent last year as part of an infrastructure spending bill, but the tax component was struck from the bill.

The new Manchin-Schumer bill also aims to close the so-called carried interest loophole, long a goal of Democrats.

Carried interest refers to a longstanding Wall Street tax break that let many private equity and hedge fund financiers pay the lower capital gains tax rate on much of their income, instead of the higher income tax rate paid by wage earners.

Eliminating the loophole would raise $14 billion, the senators say.

Schumer said he expected the Senate to vote on the legislation next week, to "lower prescription drug prices, tackle the climate crisis with urgency and vigor, ensure the wealthiest corporations and individuals pay their fair share in taxes, and reduce the deficit."

The Manchin-Schumer measure is substantially smaller than the multi-trillion-dollar spending bill Democrats had envisioned last year.

But it still represents a major advance for Biden's policy agenda ahead of midterm elections on Nov. 8 that could determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress.

It came just as Biden celebrated Senate passage of a bill aimed at boosting the U.S. semiconductor industry, another key priority of his administration, and as he struggles with low job approval ratings and ebbing support from his own party after a series of conservative Supreme Court rulings.

"This bill will reduce the deficit beyond the record-setting $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction we have already achieved this year, which will help fight inflation as well," Biden said in a statement.

"And we will pay for all of this by requiring big corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, with no tax increases at all for families making under $400,000 a year," he said.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; editing by Heather Timmons and Mark Porter)

Top Senate Leaders See Bipartisan Support To Pass Gay Marriage Bill


By Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Top Senate Democrats and Republicans said on Wednesday they may have the votes to pass a bill protecting same-sex marriage rights nationwide, the day after the measure passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan majority.

The measure, intended to head off any Supreme Court effort to roll back gay marriage rights, passed the House on Tuesday with all Democrats and 47 Republican representatives - just over a fifth of their caucus - voting in favor.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday said he was "really impressed by how much bipartisan support it got in the House."

When the Supreme Court last month struck down its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling protecting the right to abortion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court should also reconsider its past rulings that guaranteed access to contraception and the right to gay marriage because they relied on the same legal arguments as Roe.

Under Senate rules, Schumer would need at least 10 Republicans in favor to pass the bill in the 50-50 Senate.

Senator John Thune, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, said he believed a bill codifying gay marriage could receive enough Republican support to pass.

"I wouldn’t be surprised. We haven't assessed that at all, yet," he told reporters when asked if 10 Republicans could back such legislation. "But as a general matter, I think that is something people in the country have come to accept."

Republican Senator Ted Cruz said on Saturday that the Supreme Court was "clearly wrong" in establishing a federal right to gay marriage. Senator Lindsey Graham said he would not support a bill codifying same sex marriage.

Several other Republicans have said they could support the bill. Senator Susan Collins co-sponsored a Senate version of the House bill. Senator Thom Tillis told CNN on Wednesday that he would "probably" vote in favor.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton, additional reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)

As America Mourns Gun Victims, Republicans Block Domestic T​​error Bill

Washington (AFP) - Republicans in the US Senate prevented action Thursday on a bill to address domestic terrorism in the wake of a racist massacre at a grocery store in upstate New York.

Democrats had been expecting defeat but were seeking to use the procedural vote to highlight Republican opposition to tougher gun control measures following a second massacre at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.

There was no suggestion of any racial motive on the part of the gunman who shot dead 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

But the shock of the bloodshed, less than two weeks after the May 14 murders in Buffalo, New York, has catapulted America's gun violence crisis back to the top of the agenda in Washington.

"The bill is so important, because the mass shooting in Buffalo was an act of domestic terrorism. We need to call it what it is: domestic terrorism," Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said ahead of the vote.

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act would have created units inside the FBI and Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to combat domestic terror threats, with a focus on white supremacy.

A task force that includes Pentagon officials would also have been launched "to combat white supremacist infiltration of the uniformed services and federal law enforcement."

Schumer had urged Republicans Wednesday to allow the chamber to start debate on the bill, offering to accommodate Republican provisions to "harden" schools in the wake of the Texas murders.

Just ahead of the vote, Schumer said he had wept while studying pictures of the young victims, calling the state's pro-gun governor, Greg Abbott, "an absolute fraud."

Abbott has made efforts to loosen gun restrictions in Texas, including signing into law a measure last year authorizing residents to carry handguns without licenses or training.

The domestic terrorism bill's 207 co-sponsors included three moderate Republicans in the House.

But there was not enough support in the evenly split 100-member Senate to overcome the Republican filibuster -- the 60-vote threshold required to allow debate to go forward.

Republicans say there are already laws on the books targeting white supremacists and other domestic terrorists, and have accused Democrats of politicizing the Buffalo massacre, in which 10 Black people died.

They have also argued that the legislation could be abused to go after political opponents of the party in power.

Democrats are looking for Republicans to support a separate gun control bill, and said Wednesday they would work over the coming days to see if they could find common ground with enough opposition senators to circumvent a filibuster.

"Make no mistake about it, if these negotiations do not bear fruit in a short period of time, the Senate will vote on gun safety legislation," Schumer said

House Passes Marijuana Legalization, But Senate Prospects Are Dim

By Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill to end the federal ban on marijuana, which has created legal headaches for users and businesses in the states that have legalized it, though the measure was seen as unlikely to pass the Senate.

It passed by 220-204, with few Republicans supporting the measure.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, which is in the process of legalizing the drug, removes marijuana from the list of controlled substances and eliminates criminal penalties for individuals who grow, distribute or possess it.

But the MORE act will need to gain 60 votes in the evenly divided Senate before moving to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature, an outcome widely seen as unlikely given the lack of Republican support for the measure.

The bill would "end decades of failed and unjust marijuana policy," Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) said on the House floor on Thursday ahead of the vote. "It is clear prohibition is over. Today we have an opportunity to chart a new path forward on federal cannabis policy that actually makes sense."

He added that the bill does not force any state to legalize marijuana.

Marijuana users and businesses that sell it face a complicated legal patchwork in the U.S, where 37 states have legalized it in some form -- either for recreation or medical use -- while 13 still ban it entirely.

Because federal law classifies cannabis as an illegal drug with no medical uses, researchers are severely limited in how they can study the drug and its impacts, making policy difficult to write.

Cannabis businesses are also largely blocked from the U.S. banking system because of the federal ban.

Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) called the legislation "not only flawed but dangerous," arguing on the House floor that it did not protect minors and would encourage people to open marijuana businesses.

Legalization of marijuana is extremely popular among Americans: a 2021 Pew Research Center poll found that 91% agreed that either medical or recreational use should be allowed.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has proposed his own bill that would legalize marijuana, and has committed to moving forward with it in April.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone and Alistair Bell)

Wrong Turn: A Gas Tax Holiday Would Frustrate Biden's Critical Goals

In politics, there are proposals that are so sensible they are bound to become law. There are ideas so awful that they are quickly discarded and forgotten. Then there are the ones that have no chance of being enacted but keep coming back.

They are the zombies of public policy: not exactly alive, but never quite dead. A prime example is the gas tax holiday. Several Democratic senators have signed on to a bill to suspend the 18.4-cents-per gallon federal levy to reduce the cost of fuel and combat inflation.

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), argues that lifting the gas tax would be "something that directly helps people right now when they need it." Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says, "It's one of the many things that we're looking at in terms of reducing costs." The White House declines to rule it out.

No one likes paying taxes or feeling gouged at the pump, which explains the appeal to politicians. Democratic pollster Celinda Lake regards it as "a great populist issue because people are always mad at gas prices and gas taxes."

Democrats would do well to recall the example of Barack Obama. During his 2008 presidential campaign, he had to contend with two rivals, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain, who proposed the same thing. Obama had the backbone to deride it as "a gimmick that would save you (the cost of) half a tank of gas over the course of the entire summer so that everyone in Washington can pat themselves on the back and say they did something." He found an unlikely ally in George W. Bush.

It's a lousy idea, for reasons that should be most obvious to Democrats. They united to help pass Joe Biden's $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which will be financed partly with revenue from the federal gas tax. As the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget notes, a gas tax holiday would deprive the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for roads, bridges and mass transit, of $20 billion a year.

If that weren't bad enough, the trust fund has been spending more than it takes in, putting it on schedule to go broke by 2027. Suspending the gas tax would move that date up by a year.

It would also contradict another core Democratic goal: reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. High gas prices, as it happens, are a good way to encourage conservation, enhance the appeal of electric vehicles and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Larry Summers, who was director of Obama's National Economic Council, said last summer, "There's no more important price to increase in the American economy than the price of carbon-based fuels.

"Summers was rebuking Biden for urging oil-producing nations to boost output to lower prices — even though the more oil they produce and the world consumes, the faster the planet will heat up. "On the surface, it seems like an irony," Biden acknowledged. Actually, a better term would be "self-contradiction."

That wasn't Biden's only divergence from sensible methods of combating climate change. In November, he released 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The White House explanation: "Oil supply has not kept up with demand as the global economy emerges from the pandemic." Never mind the obvious way to balance demand and supply: letting prices rise.

Contrast these efforts with what Biden said in canceling the Keystone pipeline from Canada: "The United States and the world face a climate crisis. That crisis must be met with action on a scale and at a speed commensurate with the need to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory."

Not that Republicans are any more honest or consistent. As prices were rising in 1996, presidential nominee Bob Dole advocated not merely suspending but abolishing the federal gasoline tax. He and GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich said it was "the least we can do for hard-working Americans whose pocketbooks are taking a major hit." McCain said similar things in 2008.

Both parties are prone to irresponsible pandering, and each has found occasions to target the gas tax for political exploitation. But it's never energized public support, most likely because most people don't see 18.4 cents per gallon as that big a deal.

The consolation is that each time the idea emerges, cooler and smarter heads make sure it goes nowhere. It will probably go nowhere this time. But only after we've had our intelligence insulted.

Follow Steve Chapman on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Fearful Senate Republicans Will Filibuster To Stop Capitol Riot Commission

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The odds that the Senate will pass a bipartisan commission to study the origins of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol are growing increasingly slim, as Senate Republicans are coming out one by one to say they do not support the probe.

Even Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump for inciting the violent insurrection say they do not support the commission, twisting themselves in pretzels to justify their decision.

And that makes it increasingly likely that the commission will be the first thing Republicans filibuster during President Joe Biden's tenure. Current filibuster rules say that legislation in the Senate must garner 60 votes in order to proceed. Given that the Senate is split 50-50 along partisan lines, that means Democrats need 10 GOP votes to pass bills.

"I don't think there will be 10 votes on our side for it," Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), told Politico. "At this stage, I'd be surprised if you're gonna get even a handful."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will bring the commission up for a vote, whether or not it has enough GOP support to avoid a filibuster — meaning that if 10 Republicans do not vote in favor of the commission, it will be officially blocked.

"Senate Republicans can show everyone if they want to pursue the truth about January 6th or just want to cover up for Donald Trump and insurrectionists," Schumer tweeted on Thursday. "I will bring the House-passed legislation for the January 6th Commission to the Senate floor for a vote."

Republicans who have come out against the commission have falsely claimed it's not bipartisan and will be used as a witch hunt by Democrats.

"The current commission proposed by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats appears to be a platform to score partisan political points," Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said in a statement about why he opposes the commission.

The framework of the commission, however, was brokered by the Democratic chair of the House Homeland Security Committee and the GOP ranking member on that same body.

The members of the commission would be equally appointed by Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, according to the agreement. And any subpoenas would require a majority vote, meaning there would need to be buy-in from the GOP-appointed members.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who came out against the commission on Wednesday, said the arrests by federal law enforcement are sufficient, even though the arrests will not lead to a comprehensive report about what went wrong and how to prevent future attacks like the Jan. 6 insurrection again. That's something a commission would explicitly do.

Even Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), one of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump of inciting the insurrection, came out against the commission.

Burr told Politico that part of his opposition to the commission is that it would drag into the midterm elections.

Multiple GOP lawmakers have said that they believe the commission could hamper Republican chances of taking back the House and Senate in November 2022, with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) saying that a probe could uncover that some Republican lawmakers played a role in the attack.

"I want our midterm message to be on the kinds of things that the American people are dealing with: That's jobs and wages and the economy and national security, safe streets and strong borders — not relitigating the 2020 elections," Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told CNN.

Republicans filibustering a bipartisan commission to probe a deadly attack on democracy gives progressive Democrats who have been railing against the arcane Senate procedure more fuel to their argument that the filibuster must go.

"Filibustering a bipartisan Commission regarding the January 6 insurrection is a three dimensional way to make the point that the filibuster is primarily a destructive force in American politics," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.