Archive for Joseph Zeballos-Roig

Chuck Schumer cites the expiring monthly child tax credit as reason for Senate Democrats to swiftly pass Biden’s big bill by Christmas

Chuck Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a news briefing after the weekly Senate Democratic Policy Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol June 22, 2021 in Washington, DC.
  • Chuck Schumer is prodding Democrats to swiftly approve the Biden spending bill within weeks.
  • He warned that any delay would jeopardize the flow of child tax credit checks to families.
  • 9 million kids could either slip below poverty line or fall deeper into poverty if Congress fails to act.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York is doubling down on his ambitious timeline to pass President Joe Biden's $2 trillion social spending legislation by Christmas, citing the looming expiration of the expanded monthly child tax credit.

"Families need to know that critical programs like the Child Tax Credit will continue uninterrupted," he said Monday on the Senate floor. "This program has already done immense good for millions upon millions of families. Build Back Better will make sure these benefits stay in place."

Earlier on Monday, 95 House Democrats in the moderate-leaning New Democrat coalition urged the Senate to approve the bill by month's end, warning about an abrupt end to direct payments. The last scheduled payment is on December 15.

Experts at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities project that 9 million kids could either slip below the poverty line or fall deeper into poverty if Congress fails to step in.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a swing vote, has not thrown his support behind the plan, calling much of it "a work in progress." All 50 Senate Democrats must coalesce to approve the bill over a wall of GOP opposition.

This story will be updated.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden still has a rosy view on the economy despite a bad November jobs report. Here’s 3 reasons why he may be right to be optimistic.

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks to members of the press at the South Lawn of the White House on November 19, 2021.
  • Biden touted a sharp drop in the jobless rate and argued the economy is on the right track.
  • There's a problem, though: the economy added about half as many jobs as expected in November.
  • But there are three reasons Biden might be right to be optimistic.

The latest jobs report released Friday showed the US economy regained 210,000 jobs in November, a paltry sum that was roughly half what economists had forecasted. The soft report underscored the pandemic's ongoing impact on hiring.

But President Joe Biden kept his rosy view on the economy. On Friday, he gave brief remarks and touted a sharp drop in the unemployment rate and rising wages, particularly for hourly-paid workers employed at hotels and restaurants.

"Simply put: America's back to work and our jobs recovery is going very strong," he said on Friday.

There are other problems facing the economy. At least 1.5 million women still haven't re-entered the labor force and are sitting on the sidelines, restrained by the pandemic and many often shouldering the burden of childcare. Inflation also remains a problem, though the supply-chain backlogs that are mainly driving it may be easing.

But here are three reasons Biden may be right to be optimistic on other aspects of the jobs report.

The strong possibility of upward revisions

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is the federal agency that releases the jobs report every month. The pandemic has complicated their efforts to accurately gauge swift changes in the labor market. Some of the reasons include businesses being slower to respond to their official survey and it's simply more difficult to capture patterns in real time during a pandemic.

Insider reported last month that the BLS had reported revisions since May 2020 that added a whopping 1.2 million more jobs added than previously thought. It makes the possibility of another upward revision for November possible when the next report is issued next month. Indeed, the November report included yet more revisions for the last several months — all upward.

"I think the modeling is super challenging for @BLS_gov in this environment & I don't think this is a credible estimate," Tony Fratto, a former Bush administration official who served in the Treasury, wrote on Twitter.

A sharp drop in the unemployment rate

The unemployment rate fell to 4.2%, the lowest level during the pandemic. That's lower than any month during President Barack Obama's eight years in office.

As Insider's Juliana Kaplan, Ayelet Sheffey and Andy Kiersz reported, BLS data is showing that many millions of people want to work, but available jobs aren't aligned with the pay they seek — or other conditions. Trouble getting affordable childcare and COVID-19 fears are both obstacles as well. Still, experts say that unemployment will keep falling as the pandemic subsides.

"More workers came back to work last month as Delta wound down," Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody's Analytics, wrote on Twitter. "We still have a ways to go to get back to full employment, but it is coming into view."

More people are heading back to work

The labor force participation rate hit 61.8% in November — the highest level since March 2020, according to Steven Rattner, a former Obama administration official.

Part of that reflects an increase in the amount of people aged 25 to 54 — considered "prime-age workers" — re-entering the workforce, per Indeed economist Nick Bunker, many of them women. Should the US economy continue recovering at a fast clip, the recovery could be complete by the end of next year.

"As long as Nov is a blip, the 2021 average rate of 555,000 per month still means we are on track for a full recovery by the end of 2022," Elise Gould, senior economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, wrote on Twitter.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Top Senate GOP negotiator credits Trump for advancing infrastructure, who repeatedly sunk it and threatened to primary Republicans who backed it

Rob Portman
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio at the White House.
  • At Biden's bill signing, a top Senate Republican credited Trump for advancing infrastructure during his administration.
  • But Trump repeatedly failed to get "infrastructure week" off the ground, once rejected a $2 trillion deal, and is now bashing GOPers who backed it like Mitch McConnell.
  • Rob Portman, who is retiring, also raised eyebrows by saying Biden's infrastructure law could lower inflation.

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a key GOP negotiator who helped design President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure law, credited former President Donald Trump for helping advance the measure during his presidency.

"By making infrastructure a real priority in his administration, President Trump furthered the discussion and helped Republicans like me think differently about the positive impact of investment in core infrastructure," Portman said at the signing ceremony for Biden's infrastructure deal.

During his four years in office, Trump repeatedly sank efforts to address infrastructure. His efforts to lead "infrastructure week" to no avail become a running joke.

 

Portman also argued the bill Biden was signing would help dampen inflation by pouring money to repair roads, bridges, highways, and ports — shoring up a battered supply chain in the process.

"That's why economists say this bill is counter-inflationary, which is so important right now as American families are facing higher prices on everything from gas to groceries."

Other Republicans are messaging that Biden's policies are causing inflation, and they are increasingly optimistic about running on that message during the 2022 midterms, as top GOP fundraiser Sen. Rick Scott told The Wall Street Journal.

Trump had expressed interest in pursuing an infrastructure overhaul stretching back to his 2016 campaign. But he repeatedly failed to get it off the ground on Capitol Hill.

During his last push in May 2019, he stormed out of a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and demanded the pair stop investigating his administration while in striking distance of a $2 trillion deal. Trump ultimately shot it down.

Since the summer, the former president has threatened to primary Republicans who helped Biden lock in a major legislative victory. He recently assailed Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the top Senate Republican, as "an old crow" for backing the infrastructure law. Trump also said McConnell was jeopardizing the GOP's midterm election prospects by helping get the law passed.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Pelosi barrels ahead with chaotic House vote on Biden’s infrastructure bill, setting up showdown with progressives threatening to sink it

Nancy Pelosi Hoyer Clyburn
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accompanied by House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., left and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer D-MD, speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021
  • Pelosi barreled ahead with plans to pass Biden's infrastructure bill on Friday.
  • But progressives are threatening to tank it if it doesn't move alongside social spending plan.
  • "Conservative Democrats are trying to tell my community that we should just shut up and accept a half deal," Rep. Bush wrote on Twitter.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California plowed ahead late on Friday with plans to hold a vote on President Joe Biden's $550 billion infrastructure bill, setting up a showdown with progressives threatening to sink the measure if it doesn't move alongside a larger social spending bill.

Pelosi told reporters on Friday afternoon that nothing had changed from earlier in the day: She was still intended to send the infrastructure bill to Biden's desk and advance a larger package designed to expand healthcare, childcare, and mitigate the climate crisis.

"Today we hope to pass the BIF and also the rule of Build Back Better," she said, referring to a legislative terms for the infrastructure bill focused on roads and bridges and the social spending plan.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer later said it was their goal to pass the social spending bill and send it to the Senate before Thanksgiving.

It sets up a remarkable clash between Pelosi and progressives led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The California Democrat can only afford three defections, creating a thin margin for error.

House Democrats set out to pass both pieces of legislation earlier on Friday, especially after Biden personally appealed to the party to approve them "right now." But at least five House moderates opposed passing the $1.75 trillion social spending bill, arguing it lacked a score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office assessing its budgetary effects, such as whether it was fully paid for.

That prompted a chaotic scramble from Pelosi and House Democratic leaders to hunt for a compromise capable of satisfying their caucus's progressive and centrist wings. Instead of passing the social legislation, they settled on a procedural vote setting the social bill's debate rules in the House for a later date.

But that route prompted strong opposition from progressives like Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, who want both bills to be passed on the same day. "Conservative Democrats are trying to tell my community that we should just shut up and accept a half deal," she wrote on Twitter.

"St. Louis sent me to Congress to do the most for all of us. We won't accept anything less than the President's full agenda," Bush said.

Democratic leaders said they were focused on securing passage of Biden's infrastructure bill and then advancing the social spending package. Even in the face of a progressive revolt threatens to deal a political setback to Biden, Democrats were unfazed and barreled ahead.

"We're not developing a plan B," Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the chamber's chief Democratic vote-counter, told Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Donald Trump bashes Democrats’ new billionaire tax and suggests he might flee the US, but he’ll ‘stick it out’

Trump
Trump
  • Donald Trump bashed Democrats' proposal to tax billionaires to pay for their social spending bill.
  • This comes after House Finance Chair Richard Neal said the proposal is off the table.
  • But his Senate counterpart and author of the proposal Ron Wyden said the tax is not "dead."

Former president Donald Trump assailed the new billionaire tax proposal from Democrats on Wednesday, suggesting he might flee the United States to escape taxation. But he says he'll be sticking around.

"I just wonder, will I be allowed to run for president again if I move to another country?" he said in a statement. "No, I guess I'll just stick it out, but most others won't!"

Trump was referring to the new billionaire tax proposal that's already on life-support in the Senate only hours after it was introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. It would levy a 23.8% capital gains tax rate on assets like stocks and bonds in an effort to compel roughly 700 billionaires to pay annual taxes on their gains, regardless if they sell or not.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia imperiled the measure after criticizing it as both punitive to successful people and unworkable. "I don't like the connotation that we're targeting different people," he told reporters, floating a 15% "patriotic tax" without elaborating further.

As Insider previously reported, this proposal would slap people like Tesla CEO Elon Musk with a $10 billion annual bill, which Musk himself spoke out against on Twitter: "Eventually, they run out of other people's money and then they come for you."

An analysis from economist Gabriel Zucman found that the tax could bring in $500 billion, $275 billion of which would come from just the top 10 richest billionaires. If the proposal came to fruition, it would be a "a major structural reform to the tax system" to tax income from wealth like income from wages, according to Frank Clemente, executive director at the left-leaning advocacy group Americans for Tax Fairness.

But just a day after the proposal was brought to the table, House Finance Chair Richard Neal struck it down, telling reporters on Wednesday that it's "very unlikely" the tax will be used to finance Democrats' scaled-down social-spending bill. At the same time, though, Neal's counterpart Wyden was far from throwing in the towel on the proposal he authored.

"I'm not saying that it's dead!" Wyden told Insider, noting that the White House still backs the proposal.

This disagreement is emblematic of the negotiations Democrats are undergoing as they work to develop a framework for their scaled-down bill. Free community college, paid family and medical leave, and an extended five-year child tax credit are already reportedly on the chopping block, and a major Democratic priority to roll back Trump tax cuts were struck down by Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden pushes back against Joe Manchin, saying he doesn’t think people need to work to get the expanded child tax credit

Joe Biden CNN town hall
President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Baltimore Center Stage Pearlstone Theater, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Baltimore.
  • Biden pushed back against Manchin's efforts to restrict eligibility for the child tax credit on Thursday.
  • The president responded "no" when asked if he backed work requirements.
  • Biden pitched a one-year extension of the CTC, which was slammed by Democrats for being too short.

President Joe Biden said at a CNN town hall on Thursday evening that he didn't believe people needed to work to receive the monthly child tax credit, pushing back against a key Democrat's effort to restrict eligibility for the cash benefit.

The president flatly responded "no" when asked if he backed a work requirement for the bulked-up child tax credit.

Biden's comments are pushing back against Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a centrist who holds outsized influence over the future of his economic legislation in the 50-50 Senate. Manchin has pushed a work requirement for the child tax credit over the opposition of most Congressional Democrats.

Instead, they favor ensuring families who pay little or no taxes are able to get up to $300 in monthly checks depending on the child's age. The vast majority of families earning below $150,000 are eligible for the one-year expansion, set to expire next year.

A recent analysis from the Niskanen Center indicated that at least 60% of all kids benefiting from the child tax credit would face aid cuts if Democrats adopted Manchin's idea.

The child tax credit makes up only one part of the sprawling Democratic social spending plan. Democrats also aim to include at least four weeks of paid leave, federal subsidies so people can purchase coverage from the Affordable Care Act exchanges, and more.

Biden pitched a one-year extension of the child tax credit during meetings with Democrats at the White House on Tuesday. It triggered a backlash from senior Democrats like Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Massachusetts, House Appropriations Committee chair and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, who heads the Senate Finance Committee.

"I'm gonna get longer than that," Wyden told Insider on Tuesday. Other Democrats involved in the child tax credit negotiations argue a longer extension is necessary so it becomes a benefit program that's impossible to dislodge like Social Security.

"I think that we've got to try harder," Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, an architect of the measure, told Insider on Thursday morning.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden pushes back against Joe Manchin, saying he doesn’t think people need to work to get the expanded child tax credit

Joe Biden CNN town hall
President Joe Biden participates in a CNN town hall at the Baltimore Center Stage Pearlstone Theater, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Baltimore.
  • Biden pushed back against Manchin's efforts to restrict eligibility for the child tax credit on Thursday.
  • The president responded "no" when asked if he backed work requirements.
  • Biden pitched a one-year extension of the CTC, which was slammed by Democrats for being too short.

President Joe Biden said at a CNN town hall on Thursday evening that he didn't believe people needed to work to receive the monthly child tax credit, pushing back against a key Democrat's effort to restrict eligibility for the cash benefit.

The president flatly responded "no" when asked if he backed a work requirement for the bulked-up child tax credit.

Biden's comments are pushing back against Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a centrist who holds outsized influence over the future of his economic legislation in the 50-50 Senate. Manchin has pushed a work requirement for the child tax credit over the opposition of most Congressional Democrats.

Instead, they favor ensuring families who pay little or no taxes are able to get up to $300 in monthly checks depending on the child's age. The vast majority of families earning below $150,000 are eligible for the one-year expansion, set to expire next year.

A recent analysis from the Niskanen Center indicated that at least 60% of all kids benefiting from the child tax credit would face aid cuts if Democrats adopted Manchin's idea.

The child tax credit makes up only one part of the sprawling Democratic social spending plan. Democrats also aim to include at least four weeks of paid leave, federal subsidies so people can purchase coverage from the Affordable Care Act exchanges, and more.

Biden pitched a one-year extension of the child tax credit during meetings with Democrats at the White House on Tuesday. It triggered a backlash from senior Democrats like Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Massachusetts, House Appropriations Committee chair and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, who heads the Senate Finance Committee.

"I'm gonna get longer than that," Wyden told Insider on Tuesday. Other Democrats involved in the child tax credit negotiations argue a longer extension is necessary so it becomes a benefit program that's impossible to dislodge like Social Security.

"I think that we've got to try harder," Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, an architect of the measure, told Insider on Thursday morning.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Kyrsten Sinema is torpedoing Democrats’ plans to roll back the Trump tax law, forcing a last-ditch scramble for alternatives

Kyrsten Sinema
Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
  • Sinema's opposition to rolling back swaths of the Trump tax law is prompting a scramble for alternatives among Democrats.
  • Other options include stepping up IRS enforcement and tightening international tax rules.
  • Democrats have little room for error and its unclear which tax proposals could get Sinema's support.

Opposition from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to lifting tax rates on individuals and large businesses is derailing Democrats' plans to roll back President Donald Trump's tax law, setting off a last-ditch effort to seek alternatives that can lock in the centrist Democrat's support.

A Senate Democratic aide familiar with the discussions told Insider that other options were still on the table, including stepping up IRS tax enforcement and tightening international tax rules. The Wall Street Journal first reported the story.

Insider reported last week that Sinema was opposed to bumping up tax rates on large firms and wealthy individuals, dealing a major setback to a centerpiece of the Democratic agenda: rolling back the 2017 GOP tax law.

Democrats argued for years that the law provided outsized financial benefits for the rich and helped accelerate inequality. Sinema's opposition to both individual and corporate rate increases strips over $700 billion in new revenue for their nascent safety net plan.

President Joe Biden initially sought to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% and lift the top individual income tax rate to 39.6% from 37%. For his part, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, another key vote in the 50-50 Senate, has signaled he'd accept a 25% corporate tax rate.

Still, that leaves the party with few alternatives that can garner support from every Senate Democrat as they try to mold Biden's economic plans into law over staunch Republican opposition. They have three votes to spare in the House and none in the Senate.

Some Democrats are starting to express frustration with the tumultuous negotiations on the safety net bill. "We didn't have a new tax plan every half hour," Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters on Wednesday. "We laid out a plan that was fully paid for, and we set our priorities."

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, chair of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, has said for weeks that Democrats can draw from an extensive menu of revenue-raisers to pay for their ambitious plans to expand healthcare and education, as well as mitigating the climate emergency.

Wyden's proposals include what he calls a billionaires' income tax, modeled on an earlier proposal he unveiled in 2019 to tax the accumulated wealth of the richest Americans. The plan hasn't been released yet and it's unclear how much revenue it could raise. Other possible alternatives include levies on large firms that issue stock buybacks to shareholders.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The House approves 2-month debt limit extension, teeing up another showdown with McConnell’s GOP in December

DEBT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi/Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
  • The House passed a two-month debt limit patch, buying time until the US approaches default again.
  • "This is America's debt," Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a floor speech ahead of the vote.
  • McConnell is pledging to block any effort to raise the debt ceiling in a bid to force Democrats to do it unilaterally.

The House approved a two-month debt limit patch that will run through early December, sending the bill to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature. It amounts to a momentary ceasefire as Senate Republicans are already pledging to block any future renewal of America's ability to repay its bills.

The vote was 220-206 with every House Republican lined up against the measure. Democrats relied on a procedural maneuver packaging the bill - which cleared the Senate last week - with votes on other measures.

It staves off a catastrophic federal default that the Treasury Department projected would occur in six days. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a speech ahead of the vote, saying he "was playing Russian Roulette with the economy. Russian Roulette for Moscow Mitch."

"This is our debt. This is America's debt," Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a floor speech.

Now, the bill heads to the White House, buying lawmakers a few more months before it runs up the edge of default again. Another showdown looms in December with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowing to block any effort to raise the debt limit, unless Democrats do it on their own using a party-line mechanism called reconciliation.

"I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement," the Kentucky Republican wrote in a scathing letter to Biden on Friday. "Your lieutenants on Capitol Hill now have the time they claimed they lacked to address the debt ceiling."

McConnell argued Democrats must employ the arduous reconciliation procedure to approve a debt-limit hike unilaterally, the same demand he's made since July. The process allows some measures to be passed with only a simple majority, shielding it from the filibuster's 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Congress just set up another debt ceiling showdown in December. It will probably be fine since neither party really wants to default.

Joe Biden Chuck Schumer
President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
  • The past two weeks underscored one thing: Both parties want to avoid defaulting on the debt.
  • When the debt ceiling expires in December, things will probably be okay, just as they were in October.
  • Also, the US may have a longer window to act next time around.

Congress is poised to barely avert a default this month with Republicans and Democrats striking a deal to extend the debt limit in what will amount to a two-month truce.

The deal sets up another showdown over the nation's ability to repay its bills in early December, a battle that will be coupled with government funding. It threatens to jam Democrats as they labor to get President Joe Biden's economic agenda across the finish line, relying on their reed-thin majorities.

Yet the odds are better than not that the US will continue averting a default that experts warn would cut Social Security payments, roil financial markets, and jeopardize the global economy. Despite the intense political posturing, events from the past two weeks underscored one thing: Neither Republicans nor Democrats want to see the nation plunged into a fresh economic crisis.

"The debt limit is going to be raised," Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told Insider earlier in the week. "Republicans want it raised. Democrats want it raised."

"There's never been any danger that the US is going to default on its debt," Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told Insider at the same time.

Mitt Romney congress
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.

Congress may have a longer window for December showdown

Senate Republicans led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had been blocking attempts from Democrats to lift the debt ceiling, even as the clock was ticking and the US inched closer towards a fiscal abyss. The GOP's obstruction ramped up calls among Democrats to blow a hole in the filibuster - the 60-vote threshold most bills need to pass - if it meant averting disaster.

The prospect of Democrats nuking the filibuster and ramming through an extension unilaterally caused McConnell to offer a two-month debt limit extension to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Eleven Senate Republicans ultimately voted to pave the way for final passage of a debt limit extension, including McConnell.

Democrats did express some concern about Congress punting priorities that it sets up a traffic jam for the legislative body. Republicans are "absolutely are trying to slow down the legislative agenda and make it harder to actually get things done," Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan told Insider.

With Republicans backing off their demands that Democrats use the party-line reconciliation process, Schumer insisted that the GOP must share the burden come December.

"For the good of America's families, for the good of our economy, Republicans must recognize in the future that they should approach fixing the debt limit in a bipartisan way," Schumer said in a floor speech that was condemned by Republicans. "We hope Republicans will join in enacting a long-term solution to the debt limit in December."

Still, even if Republicans and Democrats fail to agree on a debt limit deal before December 3, they may have a longer window to act before the US runs up against fiscal ruin once again. Donald Schneider, a former economist for GOP staff on the House Ways and Means committee, projected that the Treasury Department could launch emergency cash conservation measures to finance US debt until early February.

Read the original article on Business Insider