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Posts Tagged ‘CARES Act’

Erie Times E-Edition Article-Reform PA cyber charter funding provisions

Posted by M. C. on January 4, 2021

But the financial implications to our school districts is only one concern. The dismal academic performance of Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools is the other. And this was well established before the pandemic hit. Cyber charter school proficiency rates on the most recent state assessments were on average more than 24% lower; and four-year graduation rates were more than 33% lower than traditional public schools.

Lets us not be misdirected – There is a reason vouchers, charter and cyber schools were demanded.

Lets us not be misdirected on the solution.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/dec/07/world-education-rankings-maths-science-reading

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=0b87f5a13

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there has been a huge increase in cyber charter school enrollment across the country, including in Pennsylvania, where cyber charter school enrollment is up by 63% to 62,000 students as of Oct. 1.

This trend should have Pennsylvania parents and taxpayers extremely concerned for two glaring reasons. First, the financial implications this enrollment increase will have on school districts. To put this impact into numbers, school districts can expect as much as a $350 million increase in their cyber charter tuition bills this year alone due to the pandemic-generated cyber charter school enrollment increases. It’s important to keep in mind that this massive sum is only part of the overall $475 million overall charter school tuition increase this school year that school districts are facing in addition to navigating through a global pandemic.

The $475 million increase in charter school tuition this school year effectively nullifies the majority of the federal funds public schools received under the CARES Act. This means most of those funds will not have their intended impact — to aid our public schools in a time of crisis. Moreover, for many districts, their Act 1 index rate will not allow for them to increase property taxes to cover the gap in increased charter school payments, leaving hopelessly unbalanced budgets.

In the Central York School District alone, this has resulted in an increase of 25 students since May at an unanticipated increased cost of $412,581 to the current budget year.

But the financial implications to our school districts is only one concern. The dismal academic performance of Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools is the other. And this was well established before the pandemic hit. Cyber charter school proficiency rates on the most recent state assessments were on average more than 24% lower; and four-year graduation rates were more than 33% lower than traditional public schools. As a result of this performance, every cyber charter school currently operating has been identified by the Department of Education as needing support and improvement.

Pennsylvania’s charter school law is undeniably outdated, ineffective and damaging to our school districts. Financially, comprehensive charter school reform is essential. The current charter funding mechanism forces school districts to overpay cyber charter schools and overpay for charter special education costs by hundreds of millions of dollars each school year. Until there is a change to the underlying policy, school districts and taxpayers will continue to ultimately foot the bill no matter how you slice it.

Many people in Pennsylvania are rightfully disappointed with the poor quality of cyber charter schools and how they are disproportionately funded at the expense of school districts. Given the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially frustrating since so many more families turned to these virtual operators in desperation. Simply put, Pennsylvania policymakers need to drop the politics and put kids first. Level the playing field for public schools by reforming the charter school law’s antiquated provisions related to cyber charter authorizing and funding.

Eric Wolfgang is president of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

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Erie Times E-Edition Article-There is no time to wait, pass COVID relief now

Posted by M. C. on November 18, 2020

Ooops ET-N forgot to mention the CARES act gives away thousands of dollars hospitals get for every hospitalized COVID “case”.

Or that anything that moves is tested for COVID, symptomatic or not.

Or that in California for example if you go in for a re-test you are counted again if still positive.

Death rates are down but “cases” are up. “Cases” were invented to keep the fear and control factor up. See this government sponsored source (NPR) for death rates dated a MONTH ago. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/10/20/925441975/studies-point-to-big-drop-in-covid-19-death-rates

It is getting harder to flog fear.

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=03ca57827

A version of this editorial first appeared in USA Today.

Like it or not, states are going to impose more shutdowns and social distancing orders as COVID-19 numbers rise and as people move indoors.

Also, like it or not, on Dec. 31 a number of benefits provided in the March CARES Act expire. Among the lapsing provisions are protections against homeowner and renter evictions, increases in the dollar amount and duration of unemployment benefits, and provisions that make these benefits more available to freelancers, small businesses, gig workers and others.

These events could take a huge toll on the economy. Which is why Congress needs to pass an additional relief package now and not wait for the arrival of the Biden administration and a new Congress.

This is not a radical idea espoused only by the deficits-don’t-matter crowd. Nor is it something that benefits one party. It’s a mainstream, pragmatic position espoused by large sectors of the business community as well as the more liberally minded.

Just last month, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell — an appointee of President Donald Trump — urged more stimulus, even at the expense of greater deficits. Without prompt action, Powell said, “household insolvencies and business bankruptcies would rise, harming the productive capacity of the economy, and holding back wage growth.”

These things could play out in many ways. Restaurants and other small businesses could close, leaving empty storefronts in once vibrant commercial zones. Widespread defaults on commercial real estate loans could lead to a tightening of credit for everyone.

The next few months are the most critical period America has yet faced with the pandemic. New cases of COVID-19 are twice what they were during the summer peak, and the infection rate shows no signs of slowing even as the nation awaits the arrival of safe and effective vaccines.

On Capitol Hill, the two sides dug in as they started the lame-duck session. The Democrat-controlled House passed a $3 trillion measure in the spring, then cut it down to a $2.2 trillion plan before the election. The latest version includes a new round of $1,200 checks to individuals and aid to schools, among other things.

The Republican-controlled Senate has considered, but not passed, a $1 trillion measure in the summer, and a plan about half that size just before the election.

Neither side seems inclined to budge. And Trump is a wild card.

Something in the range of $1.5 trillion seems like the most practical idea. The two sides can negotiate what goes into it. They appear to agree on the need for additional stimulus checks, but little else. They must prioritize funding for programs that will directly impact the spread of COVID-19, including money to expedite the distribution of vaccines.

It is time for Congress to put the lives and livelihoods of Americans first and pass an economic relief measure now.

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The Pentagon Took Money for Covid-19 Relief and Bought… More Weapons – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on October 3, 2020

The military says that the “health” of the defense industry is crucial to national security. But the CARES Act money was specifically allocated to protect the health of the people of this country – not the companies that build weapons.

Burn pits, agent orange and sacking a carrier captain for putting the health of his crew over government PR should tell you what the pentagram thinks of soldiers health.

https://original.antiwar.com/?p=2012341064

by Phyllis Bennis

As the pandemic continues to claim lives across the country, new information keeps coming out about how the Trump administration has made it harder for Americans to protect themselves.

We now know, for example, that early in the pandemic the U.S. Postal Service had planned to deliver five face masks to every US household. It could have made mask-wearing a lot more common a lot earlier – and maybe saved a lot of lives. But the White House scrapped the idea.

Now we also know that the Trump administration took $1 billion in stimulus funds that were supposed to go towards making masks and other protective equipment for the pandemic – and gave most of it to weapons manufacturers.

Those funds were part of $10.6 billion in CARES Act money allocated to the Pentagon – a staggering sum, especially since the bloated military budget already claims 53 cents of every discretionary federal dollar available to Congress.

The Pentagon’s CARES money was supposed to help military employees and military families survive the pandemic.

The $1 billion in question was granted under a special law that lets the Pentagon require companies to manufacture urgently needed goods in case of a national emergency. This time, it was to make sure companies producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like N-95 masks, ventilators, and more, were making all they could.

But most of that money didn’t go to making PPE at all. Trump’s defense department gave it to corporations that make jet engines, drone flight controllers, and dress uniforms for the military. Two-thirds of it was distributed in big contracts worth more than $5 million each.

The military says that the “health” of the defense industry is crucial to national security. But the CARES Act money was specifically allocated to protect the health of the people of this country – not the companies that build weapons.

This comes at a moment when US military spending is already near all-time highs – and when military contractors are doing better than lots of other companies.

“Major defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman,” the Washington Post reports, “have remained financially healthy despite some pandemic-related disruption, and have continued to pay stock dividends to investors.”

Indeed, the CEOs of those companies rank among the highest paid corporate executives in the country. Last year General Dynamics’s CEO raked in $18 million, Northrup Grumman’s made $20 million, and Lockheed-Martin’s pulled in a whopping $31 million.

Still, many of those same military corporations paid out of the $1 billion Pentagon slush fund also applied for – and received – funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program that Congress designated specifically to prevent COVID-related layoffs. These extra Pentagon grants came on top of that, except without any requirements to protect jobs. Those companies could take the money and still fire as many employees as they want.

An additional $1 billion would have made a huge difference in the fight against COVID-19. My colleagues created a federal budget calculator. It shows that $1 billion could have funded nearly 28 million COVID-19 tests or purchased over 294 million N-95 respirator masks.

What makes us safer in the pandemic – access to more testing and a lot more face masks, or helping military corporations and their CEOs make a killing on our tax money?

Add that to the canceled Postal Service plan to distribute hundreds of millions more masks, and the record keeps getting more appalling. Make no mistake: The Trump administration’s heartlessness and militarism are costing lives.

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She’s the author of Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer. Reprinted with permission from OtherWords.

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The CDC Is America’s New Landlord | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on September 2, 2020

The CDC wants to effectively vitiate contracts: when you tell one party that it need not perform and the other that it cannot sue for nonperformance, you radically alter the bargaining power of those parties. The contract they signed becomes nothing more than an aspirational document, a legislative (or administrative!) tool to be rewritten at the will of politicians. The effects of this moratorium undoubtedly will spill over in unforeseen ways as Americans get used to the idea that their financial obligations can be erased by state edict.

https://mises.org/power-market/cdc-americas-new-landlord

Jeff Deist

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, operating under the US Department of Health and Human Services, has asserted jurisdiction over private residential leases nationwide. It intends to curtail evictions until at least the end of the year, and in fact its new directive threatens federal criminal penalties against landlords who ignore tenant “declarations” made using CDC forms.

It is unclear, to put it mildly, exactly how this jurisdiction over private contracts and state/local courts flows even to Congress, much less an administrative agency acting on its own. One federal official justifies the bizarre and legally dubious action based on the CDC’s broad charter to stop the spread of communicable diseases—a charter at which they’ve failed miserably with covid:

Congress has delegated broad authority to HHS, the Surgeon General and CDC, to take reasonable efforts to combat the spread of communicable diseases, and frankly I think it makes sense for those authorities abroad because we don’t know for any given situation or scenario what steps will be needed to stop the spread. I think, in this particular order, the CDC has made a very compelling case that it is quite problematic at this particular time. It’s focused on this particular pandemic, which is obviously the uniquely powerful grasp in the nation’s entire history in terms of the effect it’s had that for a bunch of reasons in particular, that the home has been sort of the focal point of people social distancing and building, sort of a safe space themselves over the past few months, and also the fact that if people get kicked out, they may end up in overcrowded congregated living facilities or homeless shelters, and that is a potential recipe for a big spread of COVID-19.

Thanks to the oft-criticized but in fact essential Zero Hedge for the nice bit of early and original reporting here—a full day before NPR, Bloomberg, et al.—and for details from a phone conference with CDC officials.

Again, this was announced without congressional input or approval and purely by administrative decree. At least the eviction and mortgage moratoriums in the CARES Act, passed by Congress in March, were enacted by politicians who face voters this fall. And while those earlier moratoriums may well be constitutionally suspect too, at least in times of sanity, they were limited to federally backed rentals and mortgages. The CDC’s new action is much broader, applying conceivably to all private residential leases across the country.

The fallout from suspending rental contracts will be deep and long lasting. Many landlords will find their situations untenable and stop making mortgage and property tax payments. New rental housing stock will be depressed, as owners worry about the next suspension of rent payments now that the precedent has been set. After all, why wouldn’t moratoriums happen again when the next pandemic or financial crisis hits? Rental housing units will drop in price as more landlords abandon the business—setting the stage for commercial and private equity buyers to grab units on the cheap from individuals and small owners. Ultimately, foreclosures, evictions, and tax sales will happen no matter what the federal government does. The likely outcome is bigger players owning more and more of the rental housing stock, consolidating the permanent renter class and adding to the rootlessness many Americans feel. Even the most modest home ownership creates skin in the game and encourages better neighborhoods, while areas dominated by rentals lack the same incentives for improvement. And the new owners of rental units will pass all the uncertainty, risks, and potential losses on to millions of Americans in the form of higher rents.

Even during the most turbulent periods in American history, including the Great Depression, World War II, and an 1880s tuberculosis outbreak which killed one in seven people, virtually no one expected the federal government to suspend rent. This action by the CDC, in response to a very manageable and retreating cold virus, is the kind of quietly unprecedented development we’ve come to expect this year. This is a watershed moment for the US: when you destroy trust in contract enforcement you create terrible ripple effects throughout society. Something this radical should not be rushed into place with such little forethought, especially when it amounts to buying votes in a national election. But of course in a managerial state we should expect just this type of shortsighted political consideration to prevail over good sense and justice.

The CDC wants to effectively vitiate contracts: when you tell one party that it need not perform and the other that it cannot sue for nonperformance, you radically alter the bargaining power of those parties. The contract they signed becomes nothing more than an aspirational document, a legislative (or administrative!) tool to be rewritten at the will of politicians. The effects of this moratorium undoubtedly will spill over in unforeseen ways as Americans get used to the idea that their financial obligations can be erased by state edict. The tremendous costs will be borne by all of us, because when contracts are not enforceable every transaction must account for much higher risks.

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Grant Smith on the Covid-19 Relief Money Helping to Fund the Israel Lobby

Posted by M. C. on July 14, 2020

https://scotthorton.org/interviews/7-10-20-grant-smith-on-the-covid-19-relief-money-helping-to-fund-the-israel-lobby/

by

Grant Smith discusses the Israel lobby’s deep involvement in the U.S. economy, this time as regards the American firms in the business of promoting Israeli interests, who have recently received large sums of money through special coronavirus relief programs. Smith cross-referenced the list of companies receiving such aid with pro-Israel lobbying groups from his previous research, finding a great deal of overlap, particularly among the recipients of large “loans” (which under certain circumstances don’t even need to be repaid). These firms include the Zionist Organization of America, Friends of the IDF and the Israeli American Council, among others. Smith hopes that bringing this type of influence to light will also help Americans understand the Israeli government’s unjust and inhumane subjugation of the Palestinian people, and the many ways that our government enables it.

Discussed on the show:

Grant F. Smith is the author of a number of books including Big Israel: How Israel’s Lobby Moves AmericaDivert!, and most recently The Israel Lobby Enters State Government: Rise of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board. He is director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington, D.C.

This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State, by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com; Tom Woods’ Liberty ClassroomExpandDesigns.com/ScottListen and Think AudioTheBumperSticker.com; and LibertyStickers.com.

Donate to the show through PatreonPayPal, or Bitcoin: 1Ct2FmcGrAGX56RnDtN9HncYghXfvF2GAh.

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Those Yang Republicans – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 31, 2020

If Republicans were honest, they would say things like:….

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/03/laurence-m-vance/those-yang-republicans/

By

Andrew Yang, the son of immigrants from Taiwan, is a lawyer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who founded the nonprofit organization Venture for America (VFA) in 2011. Yang left the organization in 2017 and filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on November 6 to run for president of the United States. Although Yang participated in seven of the first eight Democratic presidential debates, on February 11, 2020, shortly after the New Hampshire primary, he suspended his presidential campaign. A week later he joined CNN as a political commentator.

Yang’s main campaign focus was how the federal government should respond to the increasing automation of the economy. According to Yang2020:

I’m proud of the work I did at VFA. But during my time there, it became clear to me that job creation will not outpace the massive impending job loss due to automation.

So I went to Washington, and I visited Congressional leaders. I presented them with the hard facts. 78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, 40% cannot afford an unexpected $400 bill, and so many live one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. A wave of automation is coming that will displace even more American jobs. I asked, “What will our government do?”

And here is what he thinks the federal government should do:

As president, my first priority will be to implement the big solutions America needs to get back on track. To start, I’d enact the Freedom Dividend: $1,000 a month, no strings attached, for every American 18 and older, paid for by a new tax on the companies benefiting most from automation.

Republicans baulked at Yang’s idea, just like they have generally run from other universal basic income (UBI) proposals. However, this does not mean that they oppose on principle the government giving Americans cash in their pocket.

The federal government twice under President George W. Bush—with overwhelming Republican support—sent Americans money.

In 2001, as part of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, the federal government sent a $300 check to single individuals and $600 to married couples.

In 2008, under the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, the federal government sent a $600 check to single individuals and $1,200 to married couples. Taxpayers with children eligible for the Child Tax Credit (CTC) received an additional $300 per dependent child.

And just recently—with practically unanimous Republican support—Congress passed, and President Trump signed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or “CARES Act.” Amid hundreds of pages of pork, it directs the federal government to send checks (or make direct deposits) of $1,200 to single individuals and $2,400 to married couples. Taxpayers with children eligible for the child credit will receive an additional $500 per dependent child.

If Republicans were honest, they would say things like:

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when there is a public health crisis.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when they need it.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when the economy needs a stimulus.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when there is a pandemic.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when unemployment claims drastically increase.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when there is an economic downturn.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except in extenuating circumstances.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when there are severely distressed sectors of the U.S. economy.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when the economy collapses.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when there is a recession.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when many Americans need economic relief.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when there is a financial panic.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when the stock market tanks.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when there is a depression.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when Americans are hurting.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when certain industries need a bailout.

It is wrong for the federal government to give Americans money—except when Republicans vote to do so.

None of these Republican-supported government handouts should be viewed as surprising. Republicans have for decades supported the federal government giving Americans money in the form of welfare. Indeed, we already have a universal basic income in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that Republicans wholeheartedly support and increase every year.

Republicans have no philosophical objection to the federal government giving Americans cold hard cash. Don’t be surprised if round two of the CARES Act results in more checks to Americans, amidst all the pork it will contain, courtesy of the Republicans.

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