Republicans have criticized Democrats for continuing to push their pandemic stimulus package while accepting little to no Republican input. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Wednesday out of 286 amendments proposed by Republicans for the $1.9 trillion spending package, only two were accepted.
“Republicans offered 286 amendments to President Biden’s massive $1.9 TRILLION spending blowout. Democrats accepted 2 of them. So much for Biden’s calls for ‘unity,’” McCarthy said in a statement.
On Feb. 19, Democrats unveiled the full text of a 591-page bill (pdf) titled the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.”
House Republicans held a press conference on Wednesday in which they voiced their opposition to the Democrats’ “rescue” package that includes many items that have little to do with pandemic relief.
Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), who serves as the Republican Leader of the House Budget Committee, called the $1.9 trillion package a liberal “wish list” because so little of the total funds are going to fighting the effects of the pandemic.
“It’s very simple. We’re here today because Pelosi, Schumer, and Biden decided to use a pandemic to push forward a progressive wish list; items to reward political allies, friends, and donors at the expense of the American working class,” Smith said.
He said that less than 9 percent of the $1.9 trillion is allocated for COVID health spending and only 5 percent is marked to fund the extra needs at schools amid the pandemic.
“Why is it that this package spends more than 25%, according to the Congressional Budget Office, on items that kill millions of jobs,” he added.
The Republican Study Committee (RSC), the largest conservative caucus on Capitol Hill, released a fact-sheet on items “Democrats are hoping the public won’t find about [sic]” that are included in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the RSC’s newly elected chairman, said in a memo sent to caucus members that Democrats have included items of “special interest pork and other liberal goodies” in the proposal.
“If that’s not bad enough, Nancy Pelosi plugged in a $200 million earmark for an underground tunnel in San Francisco for Silicone Valley employees,” Banks said. “This is a bailout to the special interest groups that gave them power.”
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) said another reason why the GOP will oppose the package is because it does not help get kids back to school full time.
“That’s not what this $1.9 trillion liberal wish list, giveaway bill does and that’s why we’re strongly opposing it, and we’re also pushing to expose just what is really in this bill,” he said.
“Republican leaders are reportedly ‘maneuvering’ to get every single Republican member to oppose urgent, bold COVID relief. Every single one! Make no mistake: Democrats are working to quickly deliver the American Rescue Plan and big, bold COVID relief,” Schumer said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Democrat’s rescue package was not addressing the issues that would help reopen the economy.
“Only about 1% of the Democrats’ partisan plan goes to vaccines. Only about 5% of its K-12 funding would even go out this fiscal year. Democrats are not addressing the urgent needs of a re-opening America. They started with a preconceived liberal wish-list and worked backward,” McConnell said.
By dismissing the Chinese regime’s atrocities against the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority who live in Xinjiang in northwest China, as part of “different norms,” Biden could be plunging the world into an international crisis sooner than any of us could have imagined.
In 1968, the historian Will Durant wrote in his “Lessons of History,” that “War is one of the constants of history, and has not diminished with civilization or democracy. In the last 3,421 years of recorded history, only 268 have seen no war.” Sadly, there has been a war somewhere in the world every year since.
Regardless of the luxuries in which Americans live, it remains true that, in every era, there are regimes that are barbaric or seek domination of their people and often the regions around them, if not more.
China is one such country. Recently, it was reported by the New York Post that “The State Department said it was ‘deeply disturbed’ by a report that claims Muslim women being held in Chinese re-education camps detaining millions of Uyghurs are being systematically raped, sexually abused and tortured.”
While not every atrocity can be remedied by the United States, none of them should be tolerated. All of them should be met by statements from our Commander in Chief that America aspires for freedom for everyone and that no atrocity can be justified or tolerated.
Beyond that, an administration should use diplomacy and economic sanctions at a minimum to confront the atrocities. Military intervention, while a last resort, should never be taken off the table.
With respect to China, a country that permits live organ harvesting, military intervention is not an option for those atrocities. Clear-eyed resolve, diplomacy, and sanctions, however, are a must.
All of which brings us to Joe Biden’s statement related to China and the Uyghurs. In a rambling response on national television, Biden first justified China’s abuses by saying:
“If you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been, the time when China has been victimized by the outer world is when they haven’t been unified at home . . . So the central—well, vastly overstated—the central principle of [Chinese leader] Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that.”
He also said, “Culturally there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow.”
Atrocities are not justifiable norms and prior wrongs don’t justify current atrocities.
Not long after, the world was plunged into the Korean War after North Korea invaded South Korea in June of 1950. Many reasonably believe that Acheson’s statement that the United States’ sphere of concern, i.e. its defense perimeter, didn’t include what is South Korea today was a green light for North Korea, with the support of China and Russia, to invade South Korea.
Joe Biden’s comments just gave comfort to China that the United States won’t interfere in its domestic atrocities. The same words shall give comfort to Iran, Russia, and every dictator around the world—regardless of whether clarifying statements are made by the Administration in the days and weeks ahead.
God only knows what they will do with Biden’s green light.
The world, on the other hand, now knows just how weak Joe Biden is.
One lesson of history is that wars are started based on an adversary’s weakness and that is why the world will be living dangerously under Joe Biden.
Thomas Del Beccaro is an acclaimed author, speaker, Fox News, Fox Business, and Epoch Times opinion writer, and former chairman of the California Republican Party. He is the author of the historical perspectives “The Divided Era” and “The New Conservative Paradigm
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Birdpuk.com
Republican lawmakers took aim at reports that the Pentagon would give COVID-19 vaccines to detainees at Guantanamo Bay while millions of vulnerable Americans wait in line for their turn to get inoculated.
Recent reports indicate that the Pentagon plans to offer vaccines to the 40 prisoners housed at the facility starting as early as next week. Those detained in Guantanamo Bay include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks which killed 2,977 Americans.
Department of Defense spokesman Michael Howard told The New York Post that an order had been signed that will see vaccinations “offered to all detainees and prisoners” and will be administered on a voluntary basis.
Clayton Trivett, the prosecutor in the case against five Guantanamo Bay prisoners who stand accused of taking part in plotting the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, wrote a letter to defense lawyers saying that “an official in the Pentagon has just signed a memo approving the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to the detainee population in Guantánamo,” according to The New York Times.
The move has sparked anger among Republican lawmakers, with some accusing President Joe Biden of putting the needs of accused terrorists ahead of law-abiding Americans.
“It is inexcusable and un-American that President Biden is choosing to prioritize vaccinations for convicted terrorists in Gitmo over vulnerable American seniors or veterans,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said in a tweet Saturday.
“Outrageous. The Biden Administration is giving vaccines to terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. What do they say to American seniors and veterans still waiting for theirs?” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) wrote in a tweet Saturday.
“Nothing says #unity like letting the 9/11 mastermind & Gitmo detainees skip in front of millions of Americans for the COVID #vaccine,” said Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), in a tweet.
The U.S. naval base in Guantanamo began inoculating its 6,000 residents earlier this month, although detainees were not believed to have been included.
Biden has made ramping up vaccinations a priority, announcing a plan to inoculate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office.
The move to include Gitmo detainees in the vaccination rollout also sparked outrage from New Yorkers who witnessed the collapse of the World Trade Center firsthand and helped respond to the fallout.
“You can’t make this up. The ridiculousness of what we get from our government. They will run the vaccine down to those lowlifes at Guantanamo Bay before every resident of the United States of America gets it is the theater of the absurd,” said Tom Von Essen, who was city Fire Commissioner during 9/11 and lost 343 firefighters that day, according to The New York Post.
Eviction moratoriums have protected cash-strapped renters affected by the coronavirus pandemic for the past 10 months, but mom-and-pop landlords are finding themselves shouldering tremendous financial burdens.
Landlord Mario Tafarella is owed more than $30,000 in rent from two of his Las Vegas rental properties in Desert Shores, and it’s money he never will receive.
“Thirty grand — take it out of your bank account. Would it have a financial impact on you?” Tafarella said, referring to eviction moratoriums implemented by Gov. Steve Sisolak and the federal government. “It’s horrible what was done, and it should be illegal.”
Shannon Conley, a landlord in Reno, said the eviction moratoriums are frustrating. She found herself not only out rent money from her tenant but also discovered extensive damage to her property including “the carpet with all (their pet) ferret’s poop on it.”
Landlords looking to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent must wait longer before taking action.
That’s because Sisolak reinstituted his eviction moratorium last month. The directive is expected to expire March 31. Like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order, eligible tenants must opt in by signing a declaration form and giving it to their landlord.
The governor’s office did not respond to request for comment.
Tafarella said he was unaware of Sisolak’s latest directive but is concerned should his tenants stop paying rent.
“We’ve got tenants that have been with us five and seven years, and they paid us through the eviction ban … but who knows, anything can happen,” he said. “If all of them (stop paying) it would drive us to bankruptcy.”
Las Vegas resident and landlord Bob Smith said his worst-case scenario would be foreclosing on his properties in Pahrump and Las Vegas.
Smith had to tap into his savings when one tenant stopped paying rent last year after the eviction moratorium took effect. He’s lost more than $6,500 and had to requested a mortgage forebearance on the home.
“I used it on that house — I had to,” he said. “They put it on the back end of the loan (but) I did try to catch up on the payments.”
Smith said that like during the Great Recession, when he had to foreclose on four properties, he doesn’t recall very many government programs aimed at helping smaller landlords.
Attorney Rory Vohwinkel of Las Vegas-based Vohwinkel Law, which specializes in bankruptcies and foreclosures, said there’s very little help for smaller landlords.
“The CARES Act has a lot of incentives for larger property owners to be able to apply for benefits, but the smaller homeowners are really struggling,” he said.
The main lifeline for mom-and-pop landlords is a mortgage payment forbearance option first made available after last year’s passage of the federal coronavirus relief package, or the CARES Act.
The program allows for homeowners to pause their mortgage payments for up to 12 months on government-backed home loans, but they’re required to eventually make repayments.
A lender or loan servicer is also prevented from foreclosing on a property until the end of March. The moratorium on foreclosures was set to expire Feb. 28, or Jan. 31 for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-backed loans, but President Joe Biden extended the protection Wednesday.
Rental assistance also is offered through the CARES Housing Assistance Program (CHAP), said Bailey Bortolin, policy director at Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers.
“Rental assistance is available, and it’s given directly to landlords so that landlord relief element is still there and has been there the entire time,” she said.
Clark County has an estimated $125 million budgeted for housing and utility assistance, which is being paid out through the CHAP program, according to Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin.
‘Full of flies’
For landlords like Tafarella, whose rental properties are paid off and serve as retirement income, the forbearance program offers no help, and one of his tenants was unable to receive rental assistance because the funds had run dry at the time he applied.
Tafarella, who lives in Santa Barbara, California, owns 12 rental properties — 11 condominiums and a house — in the Las Vegas Valley.
He stopped receiving monthly rent payments at two of his properties in March when Sisolak announced his first eviction moratorium.
When Sisolak’s moratorium expired Oct. 15, Tafarella quickly learned about another moratorium in place. The CDC issued a national moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent Sept. 4. It was extended this week by Biden through at least the end of March.
Tafarella recalls learning about the CDC order when his tenant handed him a signed declaration form. The tenant was on the lease with his girlfriend, who was working as a nurse.
“I contacted our eviction company and said, ‘What’s the deal? There’s two tenants. Can you please check with the legal staff and see if one form is sufficient,” he said. “The (eviction) company said I was right — we need a form from both tenants — so we kicked off the eviction process.”
Tafarella was able to evict the couple in December because the girlfriend was not covered by the CDC moratorium.
Meanwhile, his second tenant stopped responding to emails, phone calls and texts about creating a payment plan.
“We went through the full eviction process, which was very lengthy, so we could have access (to the property) because we presumed she was still there,” he said. “That presumption was wrong. We found out she vacated months ago and never told us — left food, furniture and just totally trashed the place. It was full of flies.”
Real estate broker Tom Blanchard of Signature Real Estate Group said other than restaurants and bars, smaller landlords have “had to bear the brunt of this pandemic.”
He said mom-and-pop landlords are those who purchase one or a handful of properties expecting some extra income, especially as a part of a retirement plan.
“They’re not the large corporate conglomerates that can handle taking a loss because they’re making money (on other investments),” said Blanchard, who last year served as president of trade association Las Vegas Realtors.
Nevada could see a rise in foreclosures should smaller landlords fail to keep up with their multiple mortgage payments, according to Blanchard.
The latest report from CoreLogic found 6.1 percent of mortgages in October were delinquent by at least 30 days or more, including those in foreclosure, up 2.4 percent from October 2019. In Nevada, the delinquency rate was 7.5 percent and 8.5 percent in the Las Vegas metro area.
Serious delinquencies, those 90 days or more past due including loans in foreclosure, was 4.1 percent in the U.S. for October. Nevada reported 5.5 percent, making it No. 8 for the state with the highest serious delinquency rate. New York ranked No. 1 with 6.4 percent, while Hawaii was No. 4 at a rate of 5.7 percent.
Real estate broker and Las Vegas Realtors President Aldo Martinez said smaller landlords usually don’t have enough leverage to cover a tenant’s missed rent payments for an extended period of time, adding that some clients are now looking to sell their rental properties.
“They’re just cutting their losses where they can,” he said. “If you think owning rental properties is a good idea because there’s someone helping you pay down the property plus you’re making some income, all of that makes sense. But then you run into COVID and an eviction moratorium and now a state that was actually very good for landlords has become a catastrophe for them.”