Accuse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of being doddering at your own peril.
Sure, there are going to be days where the 80-year-old California Democrat’s borderline coherence will make for great memes (“Good morning. Sunday morning“), and there are going to be plenty of young activists wondering why a party in the midst of a youth movement is being led in the House of Representatives by someone who’s obviously been hanging out in the Stygian departure lounge for some time now.
All that may be true. When it comes to bringing home the vegan pork to her home state of California, however, she’s still got it.
According to Forbes, a change in the allocation formula put forward by Pelosi’s House Democrats for disbursing state bailout money from the COVID relief bill will see California getting a cool $6.7 billion more than it would have if the bill had passed the House in its original form.
The change in the legislation has to do with one of the more controversial elements of the $1.9 trillion, 591-page bill: the $350 billion set aside for states, local governments, territories and other jurisdictions.
That provision had already been unpopular among conservatives, mostly because the bailouts weren’t entirely based on budgetary exigencies forced upon states and cities by COVID-19. In fact, much of the problem had to do with drunken-poker-player spending by blue states and cities that was already going to be onerous.
True, some of the bill came due a bit early thanks to the coronavirus, but the vast majority of the problem lay with the states and cities themselves — which are now relying on the American taxpayer and the more fiscally prudent parts of this fruited plain to bail them out.
On Wednesday, the results of an audit commissioned by Forbes revealed things were a bit worse than that.
Under the original allocation formula for the $350 billion in COVID-19 bailout money, states and cities would receive the money based on population. Pelosi’s Democrats changed that, however, and now states will receive money based on their respective unemployment rate.
Want to take a gander at who benefits the most from this?
“The four biggest winners were Democratic strongholds: California — which reaped an extra $6.7 billion; New York — which added another $6 billion; Illinois — increased by $2.1 billion; and New Jersey — a $2 billion increase,” Forbes reported.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will be loving this, in other words.
Red states, perhaps not so much. Florida will be losing the most under the new formula, with $2.3 billion being reallocated away from the Sunshine State. Vermont will lose $2.1 million and Wyoming $2 million.
“Overall, California was allocated the most money ($42.3 billion), followed by Texas ($27.3 billion), New York ($23.5 billion), and tribal governments ($20 billion). They’re followed by states like Florida ($17.3 billion), Illinois ($13.5 billion), Pennsylvania ($13.5 billion), Ohio ($11 billion), Michigan ($10.1 billion), and New Jersey ($10 billion),” Forbes reported.
The unpleasant irony here is that these states are being punished for pursuing policies that kept businesses open and people employed. Instead, that money is being diverted to lockdown havens like California, New York, Illinois and New Jersey.
Consider that Florida, which has a larger population and lower death rate from COVID than New York, will be receiving more than $6 billion less. Mismanagement has its privileges, evidently.
Whether this survives in its current form when it hits the Senate is another question entirely.
While the GOP and swing Democrat votes have all but given up fighting the inevitability of state and local bailouts, adjusting the calculus so heavily in favor of a handful of blue states — in particular California — may present issues if the Democrats hope to pass this on a straight party-line vote.
The first question anyone should ask when it comes to whether the Democrats can keep their 50-vote caucus together in the Senate is this: Whither Joe Manchin? Down $991 million, that’s where the West Virginia senator is, since that’s what the Democrats’ formula would cost his state.
Also, while newly minted Democratic Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock might not be swing votes, neither is likely to be happy that their state just lost $1.5 billion in the deal. Warnock, in particular, has to go home next year to run again for a full term. Given that their victories are the only reason the Democrats can even talk about passing the relief bill in anything resembling its current form, Ossoff and Warnock might have something to say about this as well.
This isn’t the only problem with the bailout portion of the bill, which doles out plenty of money to blue cities — including some of the toniest in the nation.
“The largest cities received huge allocations of aid. For example, New York City received $4.3 billion, which is more money than 25 state governments. Chicago, with their bonds at junk status, was allocated $1.98 billion, an amount more than 12 state governments,” Forbes reported.
“Democrats apparently don’t believe anyone will object to giving big bailouts to prosperous towns. Beverly Hills, CA, will receive $6.3 million while the Hamptons, NY, will get $8.6 million. They’re followed by Key West, FL ($10.1 million); Greenwich, CT ($21 million); Oyster Bay, NY ($32.7 million); and Cambridge, MA ($65 million).”
Most importantly, however, the change that Pelosi and the House Democrats made to how the disbursement is calculated demonstrated this was never about passing a bill for COVID-19 relief. This was a Democrat blue-state Amazon Wishlist. All of this had been sitting in the Democrats’ shopping cart for years, only they didn’t have the means to pay for it.
Now, unfortunately, they’ve been handed our credit card — and Nancy Pelosi and her Democrats are going to try and pass as much of this under the aegis of coronavirus relief as they can get away with.
Call it reprehensible. Call it spendthrift. Just don’t call it the work of a doddering, ineffectual speaker of the House.
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