Tag: chuck schumer
Chuck Schumer

Senate Democrats Move To Expose GOP's Reckless Debt Scheme

The Senate will be doing what Speaker Kevin McCarthy refused to do: hold hearings on the big funding cuts package House Republicans passed last week. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the hearings in a letter to colleagues Monday, first reported by Punchbowl News.

“Last week, House Republicans sent a hard-right ransom note to the American people,” Schumer wrote. “The Republicans Default on America Act (DOA) offers two choices: either default on the debt or default on America, forcing steep cuts to law enforcement, veterans, families, teachers, and kids. Democrats will not allow it.” That’s Schumer doubling down on the fact that the Senate will not vote on this bill, officially dubbing it DOA.

The McCarthy bill fulfilled almost every part of the Freedom Caucus’ wish list for spending cuts for 2024. It rolls back total government spending levels to 2022, excluding defense, which takes up a huge chunk of annual expenditures. Because defense spending is excluded, most other programs bear the brunt of the cuts to the tune of almost one-quarter of their funding. That means a 22% across-the-board cut on all the other programs—including health care, education, science, and labor.

Despite the much bally-hooed “regular order” McCarthy promised he would bring to the House, he and his leadership team—and the Freedom Caucus—wrote the bill, had no hearings, no public input, and negotiated privately in the middle of the night, a point Schumer made sure to highlight. “This bill was hastily drafted and forced through the House at a break-neck speed. Not a single Committee of jurisdiction held a hearing or a mark-up,” he said.

The Senate will hold a series of hearings, Schumer wrote, to “expose the true impact of this reckless legislation on everyday Americans.” The first hearing will be Thursday in the Budget Committee, chaired by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. Witnesses will include Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, and leaders of the Environmental Defense Fund and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats are holding firm to their position that lifting the debt ceiling is not open for negotiation, and that budgeting for 2024 has to be done in separate negotiations. McCarthy is operating on the supposition that what the House just passed is their budget, despite the fact that it doesn’t actually propose any budgets for any agencies.

There are few specifics in the bill beyond punishing people on Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by forcing them to prove they meet a work-reporting requirement or qualify for an exemption. If they can’t comply with the new bureaucratic hurdles, the benefits are taken away. Meanwhile, House Republicans are also giving wealthy tax cheats a break while ending student debt relief for millions of borrowers.

Because the bill is so vague, it gives Senate Democrats free rein to lay out in their hearing precisely what is at risk. Schumer promised to do precisely that in the upcoming hearing, and to focus on the threat to the nation’s economy. “The Republican Default on America Act does nothing to actually resolve the looming debt crisis, and it has no hope of ever becoming law. If anything, the MAGA House Republicans actions have increased the likelihood of default,” he wrote. “It locks the House into an unacceptable and extreme position that pulls us even further apart. If Speaker McCarthy was a serious good-faith negotiator, he would not have let extremists take him hostage and move this debate in the wrong direction.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Senate Democrats Will Retain Majority Despite Sinema's Sudden Shift

Senate Democrats Will Retain Majority Despite Sinema's Sudden Shift

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced Friday that she changed her affiliation from the Democratic Party to independent. But she indicated that this move would not functionally change the new Senate's 51-49 Democratic majority.

"Like a lot of Arizonans, I have never fit perfectly in either national party," Sinema wrote in an Arizona Republicop-ed. "Becoming an independent won't change my work in the Senate; my service to Arizona remains the same."

While Sinema did not promise to formally caucus with the Democratic majority on Friday, she indicated she plans to continue to get her committee assignments from the Democrats and told Politico, "I don't anticipate that anything will change about the Senate structure." She also explicitly told the paper that she will not join the Republican caucus.

If she is counted as a member of a 51-49 Democratic majority or forms her own bloc in a 50-49-1 Democratic majority, control of the Senate will not be impacted and Democrats will still likely hold an outright majority on committees and the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer confirmed that Sinema would keep her committee assignments with the Democratic caucus.

"I believe she's a good and effective Senator and am looking forward to a productive session in the new Democratic majority Senate," he said in a press statement. "We will maintain our new majority on committees, exercise our subpoena power, and be able to clear nominees without discharge votes."

Two other current senators — Maine's Angus King and Vermont's Bernie Sanders — identify as independents but caucus with the Democrats and get their committee assignments as Democrats.

In the 2022 midterm elections, Democrats held every single Senate seat they controlled and gained an open Republican seat in Pennsylvania. This gave their caucus a 51 seat majority, rather than the current Senate's 50-50 split, where Vice President Kamala Harris breaks ties in favor of the Democrats.

Sinema has clashed with most of the Democratic Party in the past on issues such as filibuster reform and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. She has voted with President Joe Biden more than 93 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.

In a statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre praised Sinema as a "key partner on the historic legislation President Biden has championed over the last 20 months," and observed, "We understand that her decision to register as an independent in Arizona does not change the new Democratic majority control of the Senate, and we have every reason to expect that we will continue to work successfully with her."

The move could have ramifications for Arizona's 2024 Senate election.

Sinema has not said whether she plans to seek another term. If she had remained a Democrat, she may have faced a primary challenge from Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, who has frequently criticized her record. As an independent, she can run in the general election without participating in a party primary.

The last Democratic senator to leave the party to become an independent was Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, in 2006.

In 2003, the Hartford Courantcovered an anti-Lieberman protest organized by Sinema during his presidential campaign visit to Arizona.

"He's a shame to Democrats," Sinema, then a social worker, told the paper. "I don't even know why he's running. He seems to want to get Republicans voting for him — what kind of strategy is that?"

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

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

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

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)