Pelosi Thumbs Her Nose at Congressional Budget Office Warnings

IMPORTANCE of article – Prior to the passage of Obamacare, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously told an audience: “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy.” To this former Capitol Hill reporter, voting in favor of Pelosi’s $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act in bullet-train speed, without understanding the contents and implications of the legislative package, is a fundamental abdication of responsibility by members of the House of Representatives.  

By: Jeffrey Winograd

Older folks will remember Willie Sutton, the much-beloved (in some quarters) and crème de la crème of American bank robbers, who, when asked why he robbed banks, supposedly retorted “Because that’s where the money is.”

“Why did I rob banks? Because I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was more alive when I was inside a bank, robbing it, than at any other time in my life. I enjoyed everything about it so much that one or two weeks later I’d be out looking for the next job. But to me the money was the chips, that’s all.”

Now along comes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who wants to emulate Sutton to the tune of $3 trillion, a sum far beyond the wildest imagination of the bank robber.

On May 12, Pelosi unveiled what she has dubbed the HEROS Act, which carries the $3 trillion price tag and is being promoted as “a bold response to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic collapse.”

All of this in a matter of less than four full days with a floor vote scheduled for May 15 and not even one committee of jurisdiction, excluding the House Rules Committee, conducting a hearing on germane provisions.

Congressional Budget Office Warns of Fiscal Earthquake

In an April 16 letter to Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, CBO offered a preliminary estimate that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) will increase federal deficits by about $1.8 trillion over the 2020-2030 period.  

CBO noted that the estimated budgetary effects of the CARES Act are uncertain for several reasons, including:

– “The effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic on economic output and the labor markets are difficult to predict, and those effects drive CBO’s estimate of the act’s changes to unemployment compensation benefits.”

– “The duration of the emergency declarations related to the coronavirus pandemic and the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 could differ significantly from what CBO has projected, and the budgetary effects of some provisions, such as those affecting Medicare, will depend on those factors.”

On May 8, CBO, in its Monthly Budget Review for April 2020, said that the federal government incurred an estimated deficit of $737 billion in April compared with a surplus of $160 billion in April 2019.

“The federal budget deficit was $1.48 trillion in the first seven months of FY 2020, CBO estimates, $949 billion more than the deficit recorded during the same period last year,” the budget review said.

“Overall, if laws currently in place governing spending and revenues generally remained unchanged and not significant additional emergency funding was provided, the federal deficit would be roughly $3.7 trillion in fiscal year 2020 (which ends on September 30) and $2.1 trillion next year,” CBO said.    

This is the financial state of the U.S.A. as Pelosi and House Democrats self-righteously promote a $3 trillion Pandora’s box of woes upon the nation.

An In-Depth Look At One Murky Provision

One provision allows Economic Impact Payments to be made to an individual who provides a Taxpayer Identification Number [TIN], rather than a Social Security number (SSN).

According to the IRS website: “The TIN is generally a Social Security number. However, in some cases, individuals who become U.S. resident aliens for federal tax purposes are not eligible to obtain an SSN. These individuals must apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) which is a tax processing number issued by IRS. It does not authorize work in the U.S., provide eligibility for Social Security benefits, or qualify a dependent for earned income tax credit purposes.”

A person in one of the following categories requires an ITIN:

  • Nonresident alien who is required to file a U.S. tax return
  • U.S. resident alien who is (based on days present in the United States) filing a U.S. tax return
  • Dependent or spouse of a U.S. citizen/resident alien
  • Dependent or spouse of a nonresident alien visa holder
  • Nonresident alien claiming a tax treaty benefit
  • Nonresident alien student, professor or researcher filing a U.S. tax return or claiming an exception

Can Nancy Pelosi tell us if this means an illegal immigrant or some other foreigner with an ITIN can receive $1,200 payments from the government?

A Quick Look at Some Other Provisions of the Bill

What follows is just a sampling of provisions that stuck out during a cursory review of a summary of the bill.

My purpose is to demonstrate the complexity of what is being voted on and to suggest that those who vote in favor of passage of the bill are clueless about what they are actually supporting in a coronavirus-related bill.

  • Second Chance Act grants – $250 million for grants to help facilitate the reintegration of ex-prisoners back into society and to prevent recidivism.
  • Elections – $3.6 billion for grants to states for contingency planning, preparation, and resilience of elections for federal office.
  • Postal Service – $25 billion for revenue forgone due to the coronavirus pandemic, plus language providing additional protections to postal workers.
  • Environmental Protection Agency – $50 million for environmental justice grants, including investigating links between pollution exposure and the transmission and health outcomes of coronavirus in environmental justice communities.
  • Department of Labor – $925 million to assist states in processing unemployment insurance claims.
  • Department of Education – $100.15 billion to support the educational needs of states, school districts, and institutions of higher education in response to coronavirus.
  • House of Representatives – $5 million, in part to provide funding for the newly formed Select Committee that will provide oversight of the funds provided for coronavirus and economic aid. {Author’s Note: this new committee will, in practice, usurp the jurisdiction of standing committee’s and would likely be used by Democrats as a purely partisan attack dog against the Trump administration.)
  • Refundable tax credit – Temporary special rule for determining earned income for purposes of earned income tax credit (EITC). Allows taxpayers in 2020, for purposes of computing the EITC, to substitute their 2019 earned income for their 2020 earned income if their 2020 earned income is less than their 2019 earned income. (Author’s Note: IRS estimates 25.3% (or $17.4 billion) of the total EITC payments of $68.7 billion made in FY 2019 were improper.)
  • Authorizes payments for private education loan borrowers as a result of the COVID–19 national emergency and provides up to $10,000 in debt relief to be applied to a private student loan. The Treasury Department will make monthly payments on behalf of the borrower up to $10,000 until September 2021.
  • Early voting and voting by mail – This provision requires at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections. Prohibits states from requiring notarization or witness signatures to obtain or cast an absentee ballot.   

THE BOTTOM LINE = House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic stooges are willing to plunder the Treasury (or wherever the money will originate), at a cost of $3 trillion, to the detriment of the current and future generations. Will President Trump let them get away with it?

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