Utah changed its drunk driving threshold and crash fatality numbers dropped

Link:https://thehill.com/changing-america/resilience/smart-cities/593871-utah-changed-its-drunken-driving-threshold-and-crash

Excerpt:

In 2017, the governor of Utah enacted a law that lowered the legal blood alcohol concentration to .05 percent from the previous limit of .08 percent.

New research found that the law resulted in a nearly 20 percent reduction in fatal car crashes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates every day 29 people in the country die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver.

Author(s): Shirin Ali

Publication Date: 11 Feb 2022

Publication Site: The Hill

SALT change likely to be cut from bill, say Senate Democrats

Link: https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/591378-salt-change-likely-to-be-cut-from-bill-say-senate-democrats

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Senate Democrats say a proposal to raise the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions, a top priority of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), is likely to be cut from the revised Build Back Better Act.   

Senate Democrats who were involved in negotiations over the bill before Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) blew it up last month say there’s simply not enough room for the expensive tax change, which Republicans argue would benefit wealthy suburban households in blue states.

….

Pulling the SALT fix out of the legislation also will make it tougher to pass the legislation through the House, where last week three Democrats from New York and New Jersey insisted they won’t support any bill that doesn’t raise the $10,000 cap former President Trump imposed on SALT deductions in 2017.   

….

“The problem that the Democrats have here is not only does SALT relief cost a lot of money, but it is extremely regressive,” Gleckman said. “We looked at a number of versions of this. We looked at an $80,000 cap, we looked at a $25,000 cap, we looked at a $400,000 phaseout … and there are real significant differences, but all of them are extremely distributionally regressive. All of them largely benefit the highest-income people, no matter how you do it.”  

Middle-income individuals and families hardly see any benefit because the vast majority of them do not itemize deductions.   

Author(s): Alexander Bolton

Publication Date: 26 Jan 2022

Publication Site: The Hill

Bonds are the key to reining in runaway municipal pension plans

Link: https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/588537-bonds-are-the-key-to-reining-in-runaway-municipal-pension-plans?rl=1

Excerpt:

In what is the product of the sustained low-rate environment, many municipalities are considering addressing their pension position through bonds. This should be encouraged by policymakers and explored by pension systems.  

Bond markets are offering municipalities the opportunity to exchange discount rates of 6, 7 and sometimes even 8 percent for bonds with yields below 3 percent. The spread between the discount rate and the bond yield is the root of the appeal of pension obligation bonds. 

Author(s): Eric J. Mason

Publication Date: 6 Jan 2022

Publication Site: The Hill

Nursing homes warn vaccine mandate could lead to staff shortages

Link: https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/570807-nursing-homes-warn-vaccine-mandate-could-lead-to-staff-shortages

Excerpt:

The Biden administration’s vaccination requirement is putting a squeeze on nursing homes as they try to balance protecting residents and retaining low-wage staff that have been reluctant to get the shot.

Later this month, the administration will outline a policy that requires all staff working at nursing homes to be vaccinated or risk the facilities losing federal funding.

The specifics of the policy are sparse so far, but it would effectively be a mandate for an industry that relies heavily on Medicare and Medicaid funding.https://aef67baff698e02f95a8ec2b0d53753d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Only about 62 percent of nursing home and long term care facility staff are fully or partially vaccinated nationally, according to federal data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

…..

“The biggest group of unvaccinated staff are certified nurse aides. They’re making close to minimum wage. They can make that, maybe even more, plus maybe even better benefits out in retail jobs, restaurant jobs. The vast majority of those employers are not imposing mandates,” Grabowski said.

Author(s): NATHANIEL WEIXEL

Publication Date: 4 September 2021

Publication Site: The Hill

Recent inflation figures should not be ignored

Link: https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/559121-recent-inflation-figures-should-not-be-ignored

Excerpt:

The sharp increase in consumer prices this Spring may be a blip but may also be a sign that inflation is returning as a chronic problem. For those of us who can accurately recall the 1970s economy, it is a frightening prospect. Everyone else would benefit from reading contemporaneous news coverage.

Recent events call into question pronouncements of the leading Modern Monetary Theorists who thought that the U.S. could sustain much larger deficits without triggering major hikes in the cost of living. Instead, it appears that the traditional rules of public finance still hold: deficit spending financed by Federal Reserve money creation is inflationary.

Analogies between today’s situation and the 1970s are not quite on target. By the early 70s, inflation was well underway. Instead, we should be drawing lessons from the year 1965, when price inflation began to take off. Prior to that year, inflation seemed to be under control with annual CPI growth ranging from 1.1 percent to 1.5 percent annually between 1960 and 1964 — not unlike the years prior to this one.

Author(s): Marc Joffe

Publication Date: 18 June 2021

Publication Site: The Hill

CDC says vaccine link to heart inflammation is stronger than previously thought

Link: https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/prevention-cures/558321-cdc-says-vaccine-link-to-heart-inflammation-is

Excerpt:

Males under 30 may face heart problems after getting vaccinated.

Myocarditis and pericarditis share the same symptoms.

Treatment for myocarditis can be solved with over-the-counter medication or resolve itself.

Author(s): Christian Spencer

Publication Date: 14 June 2021

Publication Site: The Hill

Wuhan researchers sought hospital care in late 2019: US intel

Link: https://thehill.com/policy/international/china/555013-three-wuhan-researchers-were-sick-enough-to-be-hospitalized-in

Excerpt:

Three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became ill enough with symptoms similar to COVID-19 that they sought hospital care in November of 2019, according to a U.S. intelligence report obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

According to the Journal, the intelligence report, issued in the last days of the Trump administration, said researchers at the lab became sick “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.”

….

The Wuhan Institute of Virology has reportedly not provided raw data, safety logs or lab records on its work looking into coronaviruses in bats. Many consider the virus to have originated in bats before jumping to humans.

Author(s): Joseph Choi

Publication Date: 24 May 2021

Publication Site: The Hill

Trump has been receiving presidential pension since January: report

Link: https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/554197-trump-has-been-receiving-presidential-pension-since-january-report

Excerpt:

Former President Trump has been receiving a presidential pension since he left office in January, Business Insider reported Tuesday 

A spokesperson for the General Services Administration confirmed to Insider that Trump has been paid $65,000 in presidential pension payments through May 14. 

Former presidents are entitled to receive pensions after their terms under the Former Presidents Act, which Congress passed in 1958 largely in response to former President Truman’s financial troubles after leaving office in 1953.

Author(s): OLAFIMIHAN OSHIN

Publication Date: 18 May 2021

Publication Site: The Hill

Cuomo: Congress must include SALT cap repeal in future legislation

Link: https://thehill.com/policy/finance/549083-cuomo-congress-must-include-salt-cap-repeal-in-future-legislation

Excerpt:

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.

Author(s): Naomi Jagoda

Publication Date: 19 April 2021

Publication Site: The Hill

NY House Democrats demand repeal of SALT cap

Link: https://thehill.com/policy/finance/548046-ny-house-democrats-demand-repeal-of-salt-cap

Excerpt:

House Democrats from New York on Tuesday escalated their push for the repeal of the cap on the state and local tax deduction, threatening to oppose future tax legislation that doesn’t fully undo the $10,000 limit.

“As members of the New York Congressional Delegation, we urge you to insist on full repeal of the limitation on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction passed by Congress in 2017 and signed into law by former President Trump,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). “This issue is so critical to our state and our constituents that we will reserve the right to oppose any tax legislation that does not include a full repeal of the SALT limitation.”

Every Democrat in New York’s House delegation signed the letter except Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kathleen Rice.

Author(s): Naomi Jagoda

Publication Date: 13 April 2021

Publication Site: The Hill

Democrats make low-tax states an offer they should refuse

Link: https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/543992-democrats-make-low-tax-states-an-offer-they-should-refuse#new_tab

Excerpt:

States are discovering and news outlets are reporting some surprising features of the new law. For starters, the President Biden-approved American Rescue Plan tweaks the funding formula to distribute funding based on average unemployment during the three final months of 2020 — rewarding Democratic-controlled states like New York, California and Illinois for their draconian COVID policies that resulted in the nation’s highest levels of unemployment. And it offers states billions more in Medicaid funding if they agree to boost their own Medicaid spending. 

Perhaps the most troubling is a legislative rider barring states that accept the aid from using the funds “to either directly or indirectly offset a reduction in the net tax revenue” derived “from a change in law, regulation, or administrative interpretation during the covered period that reduces any tax (by providing for a reduction in a rate, a rebate, a deduction, a credit, or otherwise) or delays the imposition of any tax or tax increase.” 

Author(s): MICHAEL G. FRANC

Publication Date: 19 March 2021

Publication Site: The Hill

Puerto Rico debt restructure plan threatens public pensions

Link: https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/542318-puerto-rico-debt-restructure-plan-threatens-public-pensions

Excerpt:

A federal control board created by Congress to address Puerto Rico’s debt on Monday filed a restructure plan that threatens a 10-percent cut to public pensions without any deal with retirees.

The board presented a 233-page plan that would reshuffle at least $35 billion in public debt and more than $50 billion in public pension liabilities, The Associated Press reported.  

The proposal, which was filed in U.S. court, includes an up to 8.5 percent cut to monthly pensions of at least $1,500 to help the territory deal with the biggest U.S. municipal bankruptcy filing in history. The board said it received “substantial” support for the plan from creditors, specifically those who have more than $13 billion worth of bonds.

Author(s): Justine Coleman

Publication Date: 9 March 2021

Publication Site: The Hill