Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, pressed House leaders Tuesday to pass the Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust Act, H.R. 5723, which adopts the consumer price Index for the elderly as the basis of the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and applies the payroll tax to annual wages above $400,000.
“I wish to indicate our strong support for H.R. 5723 – Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust and encourage its prompt floor consideration this Congress,” Jayapal told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Monday in a letter.
The bill, Jayapal wrote, “increases benefits across the board at a time of higher inflation, protects low-income seniors, widows and widowers, ends wait-times for those with disabilities needing support and more. Crucially, it is paid for by making millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate as everyone else by ensuring the payroll tax is applied to wages above $400,000.”
She urged Pelosi to move the bill to a vote in the House “as soon as possible.”
It is time to depoliticize monetary policy. First, instead of making the Fed’s mandate broader, Congress should consider narrowing it to one of price stability. The Fed’s contribution to achieving full employment should be through focusing on long-term price stability. Next, as we learn to live with Covid and as the economy continues to recover, the Fed must go beyond merely tapering its bond purchases. It must set out a credible process and timetable to unwind its balance sheet.
Should the Fed be called on again to exercise emergency powers, Congress must ensure those powers are of limited duration and that any credit facilities created are quickly transferred to the Treasury Department. Finally, the more improvisational and discretionary the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy, the more difficult it is to withstand political pressures. The Fed should move to a monetary-policy framework that is more systematic, predictable and transparent.
If politicized monetary policy doesn’t prove transitory, it is doubtful the Fed will be able to deliver either stable prices or maximum employment.
Congressional lawmakers from both parties are considering incentives such as providing federal funding to pay for hiring bonuses for workers and expanded tax credits for employers. A handful of states are moving to implement such programs on their own, without waiting for Washington.
Some economists, Republican lawmakers and business owners say enhanced federal unemployment benefits are contributing to the labor shortage, because many workers receive more in government aid than they would get on the job. Those benefits — $300 a week on top of regular state payments — are due to expire after Labor Day.
Other economists say the payments have provided a boost to many lower-income families, who have disproportionately lost jobs in the coronavirus pandemic, while in turn pushing money back into the broader economy.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday urged Congress to include repeal of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction cap in future legislation as House Democrats from the state are pushing to include such a repeal in an infrastructure package.
“Don’t pass another bill until you fully repeal SALT,” Cuomo said during a news conference.
Cuomo’s remarks came as he signed a state budget that raises state taxes for wealthy individuals and lowers taxes for the middle class.
The legislation Cuomo signed Monday raises the top state tax income rate to 10.9 percent for income above $25 million. It also continues phasing in tax cuts for middle-class households that were first enacted in 2016 and provides an income tax credit for certain homeowners with income up to $250,000.
The Time to Rescue United States Trusts, or TRUST Act, would establish bipartisan, bicameral commissions to address the long-term solvency of major trust funds.
The Congressional Budget Office projects the Highway Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2022, the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund in 2026, the Social Security retirement fund in 2032, and Social Security Disability Insurance in 2035.
First, as I referenced in passing in my prior column, the long-lasting nature of infrastructure is what justifies paying for it over time. This proposal’s spending is meant to be accomplished over 8 years, with the tax increase funding it over 15 years. That could be justifiable for some types of infrastructure, when it is something new rather than ongoing maintenance, but is not at all appropriate for ongoing day-to-day spending.
There remains a striking contrast between the quick recovery of financial markets and the slower recovery of the economy, which experienced the highest unemployment rate since World War II (see Figures 5 and 6). The possibility remains for heavy ongoing credit losses and failures. Consumer spending and business investment face pervasive uncertainty about the course of the pandemic and its consequences.
Any standalone, substantial minimum wage bill will face a filibuster requiring 60 votes to overcome it. Despite the White House fantasizing that Republicans might support a serious minimum wage increase, there probably are not 10 GOP senate votes to break such a filibuster.
Meanwhile, if Democrats try to attach a minimum wage increase to a bill that Republicans actually really want to vote for — say, the National Defense Authorization Act — Republicans could move to simply strike it out of that underlying bill, which enough conservative Democrats might agree to, and then the GOP would vote en masse for final passage of the stripped-down legislation.
Everyone in Washington knows this script, so a move to attach a minimum wage to a bill like this would likely be a performative gesture, but not a legislative victory.
Coronavirus vaccines will hopefully get economies humming this year, as people feel comfortable returning to shops, businesses reopen and workers get jobs again. The International Monetary Fund expects the global economy to grow 5.5% this year following last year’s 3.5% plunge.
A stronger economy often coincides with higher inflation, though it’s been generally trending downward for decades. Congress is also close to pumping another $1.9 trillion into the U.S. economy, which could further boost growth and inflation.
A sizable portion, about $500 billion, is a bailout of state and local governments that for the most part do not need one. While state tax revenues took a small hit from the pandemic and associated economic lockdowns, the damage is far smaller than was once feared. States should handle their own finances.
But it’s not just a bailout; it’s a bailout in which the funding is allocated based on the size of each state’s unemployed population. In other words, states that imposed draconian and unnecessary economic lockdowns during the past year are going to get a larger share of the federal cash than states that managed to balance public health needs and the economy—an arrangement that New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu rightly calls “outrageous.”