In the name of preserving carefully negotiated legislation, Senate Democrats’ leaders united their caucus to vote down amendments that would have added the party’s Medicare expansion plan and expanded child tax credit into the final spending bill now moving through Congress.
That unity, though, was not universally enforced: soon after those votes, seven Democratic senators joined with Republicans to cast a pivotal vote shielding their private equity donors from a new corporate minimum tax.
The seven Democrats who joined the GOP to give private equity firms that $35 billion gift were: Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly of Arizona, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia, Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.
Five of the seven Democrats are among the Senate’s top recipients of campaign donations from private equity donors, according to data from OpenSecrets. The group collectively raked in more than $1.4 million of campaign cash from the private equity industry, which has become a huge source of capital for the fossil fuel conglomerates that are creating the climate crisis.
The contrast between voting to protect private equity donors and voting against programs for the working class effectively screamed the quiet part out loud about whom senators typically respond to — and whom they don’t.
In this case, Democratic and Republican senators responded to the demands of an industry that has not only spent more than a quarter billion dollars on the last two federal elections, but that also employs an army of government-officials-turned-lobbyists to influence lawmakers in Washington. The world’s largest private equity firm is headed by one of the Republican Party’s largest donors, and now employs the son-in-law of Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer as a lobbyist.
Days after Obama lamented Democrats’ 2010 electoral “shellacking,” his commission released a plan to slash Social Security benefits and raise the program’s eligibility age. Economist Paul Krugman noted at the time that the commission also suggested using newly gained revenue to finance “sharp reductions in both the top marginal tax rate and in the corporate tax rate.”
The plan ultimately did not receive the fourteen commission votes it needed to move forward, and a few years later in 2012, the House voted down a version of the proposal. That didn’t stop the Obama-Biden administration’s push: right after winning reelection — and after cementing much of the George W. Bush tax cuts — they tried to limit cost-of-living increases for Social Security, to the applause of Republican lawmakers.
Like Obama, Biden campaigned on a promise to protect Medicare and Social Security. But as we have reported, Biden is already affirming big Medicare premium increases and accelerating the privatization of that health care program. Biden also has not pushed to fulfill his promise to expand Social Security, even though there is new Democratic legislation that would do so.
And now with Graham’s comments, Republicans are banking on him becoming the old Joe Biden on Social Security if they win in November.
It’s not an insane political bet. After all, Biden for decades proposed cuts and freezes to Social Security and publicly boasted about it. Indeed, Biden spent most of his career depicting himself as an allegedly rare and courageous Democrat who was willing to push off his party’s base and tout austerity.
Science has provided America with a decent idea of which areas of our country will be most devastated by climate change, and which areas will be most insulated from the worst effects. Unfortunately, it seems that population flows are going in the wrong direction — today’s new Census data shows a nation moving out of the safer areas and into some of the most dangerous places of all.
Some of the examples are genuinely mind-boggling. For instance, upstate New York is considered one of the country’s most insulated regions in the climate crisis — and yet almost all of upstate New York saw population either nearly flat or declining. At the same time, there were big population increases in and around the Texas gulf coast, which is threatened by extreme heat and coastal flooding.
Similarly, the city of Philadelphia is comparatively well situated in the climate crisis — but it saw only modest population growth of 5 percent. It was surpassed on the list of biggest cities by Phoenix, which saw an 11 percent population growth, despite that city facing some of the worst forms of extreme heat and drought in the entire country.
As The Daily Poster reported back in January, congressional Democrats in states like New York and New Jersey have been pushing for a repeal of the SALT deduction caps. Biden declined to include the SALT cap repeal in the American Rescue Plan.
If the SALT cap was fully repealed, nearly all — 96 percent — of the tax benefits would flow to the top quintile of earners, and more than half of the benefits would go to the top 1 percent of earners, according to data from the Brookings Institution. Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation found that the majority of the benefits of a SALT cap repeal would flow to households earning more than $1 million.
The probe follows a Daily Poster investigative series detailing how one of Cuomo’s biggest donors, the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) — a lobby group that represents hospital systems and nursing home operators — said it “drafted and aggressively advocated for” the corporate immunity provision. Cuomo’s administration quietly inserted the measure into his state’s budget as thousands lay dying from COVID-19 in New York nursing homes.
Critics say that the immunity law removed a key deterrent to corporate malfeasance, and victims and their families were subsequently stripped of their legal rights. Cuomo’s original executive order shielding front line health care workers from lawsuits was widely reported, but not the governor’s separate budget language extending immunity to hospital and nursing home corporations’ executives and board members.
Author(s): David Sirota, Joel Warner, Andrew Perez, Julia Rock
As a spending bill, the ARP’s impact cannot be overstated. It is the mirror opposite of the Trump tax cuts, targeting most of its benefits to the bottom end of the income ladder, rather than the top. It will send stimulus checks up to $1,400 to an estimated 280 million Americans, continue additional $300 weekly unemployment benefits until the end of August, and distribute up $3,600 to families per child through monthly payments over one year beginning on July 1.
These three measures are expected to increase the incomes of the poorest 20 percent of Americans by an average of 33 percent, while the poorest 60 percent could see their incomes increase by an average of 11 percent, according to estimates from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. One estimate suggests that the legislation will slash child poverty in half.
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.
The study from University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago and New York University researchers evaluated data from 15,000 nursing homes across the United States, alongside Medicare patient data, to assess the impacts of private equity ownership on patient outcomes. In all, the researchers found that the deaths accounted for “about 160,000 lost life-years.”
Private equity firms typically take over existing corporations with borrowed or investor money and then impose cost-cutting measures to maximize revenues — often in preparation for selling off the newly stripped down firms at a profit. In the health care sector, private equity buyouts have been associated with lower staffing levels, more frequent citations for health and safety violations, shortages of supplies like ventilators that are crucial for COVID patients, and other failings tied to the constant imperative to cut costs.
In all, 70 percent of nursing homes currently operate as for-profit businesses, far more than other healthcare facilities. Only about one quarter of hospitals, for example, are for profit.
The Daily Poster had been coveringthe storyfor monthsbefore it exploded this week. The scandal is a cautionary tale of hubris, megalomania, and corruption that left a literal mountain of preventable COVID deaths in its wake. Now we are about to see whether a blue state’s democratic institutions can hold wrongdoers accountable, or whether America’s culture of impunity can once again protect the powerful from facing any consequences at all.
Two national news outlets todaydetailed Cuomo’s new campaign of retribution against one lawmaker in his own party who dared to ask questions about constituents and family members who died under Cuomo’s nursing home policies. Cuomo held a press conference to publicly berate the same Democrat, while another New York news outlet reported that other lawmakers are now facing threats.
Cuomo’s political machine received more than $2 million from the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), its executives, and its lobbying firms. The health care industry group also funneled more than $450,000 to members of the New York legislature in 2020.