Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry Christmas, the govt is funded!

Now that we've avoided a government shutdown, with a $1.7 trillion spending bill getting through Congress and heading to President Biden, let's take a look at Politico's rundown of some of the items in that the bill.

And I'll start with a couple of COVID-related items, one that ends a COVID-era adjustment, and another that will keep one big change in service going.
Earlier end to Covid rules:  The bill includes a bipartisan deal to end a Covid-era Medicaid policy that gave states more funding and barred them from kicking people off federally funded insurance, setting a new end date of April 1, 2023, instead of July 2023.

Telehealth extension:  Tucked in the bill is an extension of HHS rules that made telehealth more accessible during the pandemic. But the provision, which extends the flexibility through the end of 2024, falls far short of a push from some lawmakers who wanted to make that flexibility permanent.
Both are interesting moves, and deal with health care for low-income Americans. Former UW professor Donald Moynihan noted that the end of additional Medicaid funding and the ability to remove people from the program could lead to serious disruptions this Spring. And confusion from both current Medicaid recipients and state officials, as they try to figure out if people are still eligible.

In addition, the end of the 6.2% increase in Federal help for Medicaid is going to shift those costs back down to the states, especially if you're a state like Wisconsin that hasn't expanded Medicaid and taken the extra federal funds for that. Keep this one in the back of your mind for the coming months.

In addition to the boost of $45 billion to help Ukraine fight off the Russians, I noted this budget boost, which is along the lines of the earlier increase in IRS funding to speed the processing returns and go after rich tax-dodgers.
Boost for NLRB:  Lawmakers increased the budget for the National Labor Relations Board by $25 million for the first time in nearly a decade — a top priority for unions amid a surge in union organizing across the country. Its funding now exceeds $299 million.
Now let me go over some of the items that were taken out.
Popular tax provisions tossed:  An extension of the enhanced Child Tax Credit pushed by Democrats and a provision allowing businesses to immediately write off their research expenses, rather than over a period of five years, didn’t make the final cut.

Pandemic aid:  Biden had wanted $9 billion to help combat the Covid pandemic and address emerging needs, but Republicans never wanted to provide any extra cash.
Former UW Professor Pamela Herd notes how the Child Tax Credit was set up to fail after it wasn't sending automatic paychecks to individuals, and now a great tool in reducing child poverty to record lows last year has been diminished.

As what often proves out - you make assistance easy/automatic for people to get, they will get it and the program will work. If you don't, things get a lot harder. Both are conscious choices.

On the positive side, protections for pregnant workers and breastfeeding mothers were put back into the bill via a Senate amendment later Thursday night and went through the House. But guess who voted against both of these common-sense items.

Oh, but the a-hole who tells pregnant women and new mothers to "suck it up" was the one who was "one of us". Not like that "dangerous radical" Mandela Barnes who would have...given these accomodations and demanded that they get health care?

Democrats were able to get this budget through before Republicans take over the House on January 3. Which is not what happened the last time an outgoing House majority had to pass a budget in December.

After dropping that gavel, Pretty Boy Pau-lie ran out of DC, retired to cash in on Fox's corporate board, and left it to Nancy Pelosi to end the shutdown that his incompetent self allowed.

Paul Ryan will look like a beacon of governance compared to the ass-clownery that is sure to come from the new House “majority”.
House Republicans, meanwhile, all but refused to take part in government funding talks, with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy under intense pressure from his party’s right wing as he seeks to claim the speaker’s gavel with a flimsy majority.

In fact, McCarthy took a particularly fierce attitude toward the bill, including going to the upper chamber to lobby against it before Senate Republicans earlier this week. And he used his privileges as a party leader to speak in opposition to the legislation for roughly 25 minutes on the House floor Friday, denouncing it as a “monstrosity and one of the most shameful acts I have seen in this body.”

Privately, however, House Republicans are breathing a sigh of relief that the issue of government funding will be off their plate for the time being, particularly as they prepare to enter the majority with a paper-thin majority.
Nothing but a bunch of two-stepping poser morons. And watch them try to wreck things with the debt ceiling in 2023, then end up doing nothing beyond angering financial markets and turning even more people against them for both malice and stupidity.

Like a lot of other things, you can see the potential for economic peril, with some federal supports diminishing just as things may be maxed out and cutbacks happen along with heightened (and re-setting) interest rates. And a Republican Party that would have no problem with injuring the economy in the year before a presidential election, and not doing a thing to get it back on its feet (see 2011 for more guidance).

Fortunately, we don’t need to worry about that for a while. We have things funded for the next 9 months, and some things are in a better spot after this bill gets signed by President Biden before New Year’s. And unlike 2011, we don’t have a new round of GOP lowlifes taking over Governor’s offices and actively sabotaging the stimulus measures that the Dem Congress and President put in place, so let’s keep ‘er moving!

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