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Congress rolls out ‘Better Deal,’ new economic agenda

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Biden Is Latest Dem to Support Ridiculous Free Housing Proposal

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Biden Is Latest Dem to Support Ridiculous Free Housing Proposal

Presidential candidate Joe Biden is the latest Democrat to throw their support behind the ridiculous idea that housing should be free

During an appearance yesterday, Biden said he agrees with “forgiving” both mortgage and rent payments. He says this as the country struggles with the coronavirus pandemic and 38 million Americans are without a job.

“There should be rent forgiveness and there should be mortgage forgiveness now in the middle of this crisis. Not paid later, forgiveness. It’s critically important to people who are in the lower-income strata.” said Biden

Tara Raghuveer, housing campaign director at People’s Action, a political network devoted to grassroots organizing, aired her opinion. She said, “The tenant is the most vulnerable person in the economy right now.”

She added, “The alternative to not canceling the rent is complete bottoming out of the market. And tens of millions of people literally never financially recovering from this moment.”

Calls for Housing Relief

Biden’s call for rent and mortgage relief echoes efforts by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. Omar introduced legislation that would bar landlords and lenders from collecting monthly payments. It would also impose late fees “through the duration of the pandemic.”

Under Omar’s plan, renters and mortgage borrowers who skip payments wouldn’t need to pay back anything once the rent and mortgage forgiveness policy ended. And any lender or landlord who violated the plan would face penalties.

Correctly, housing industry experts point out that allowing renters to skip payments also needs to consider the consequences of the landlords not being able to pay their own mortgages on the property.

“If multifamily landlords, particularly the small mom and pop landlords who own just maybe one to four units can’t make their mortgage payments and can’t stay in business, those are affordable units that are going to be lost to the private market,” said Flora Arabo, the national senior director of state and local policy at Enterprise Community Partners.

“Rent forgiveness without rental subsidies could be pretty catastrophic for tenants,” Arabo said.

Omar’s plan addresses these concerns, supporters say. It does so because it creates a fund for landlords and lenders so that they could recoup any losses.

Not surprisingly, Raghuveer’s organization, People’s Action, worked with Omar in drafting the bill. The organization threw in more stipulations for landlords to collect those funds. These include providing information on their revenues, refraining from discrimination based on the source of income, and other tenant protections.

Biden’s Impact

Biden’s support for the rent and mortgage forgiveness plans doesn’t really mean much. However, the biggest problem with these free housing proposals is that they demonize landlords. They let the tenants immediately skip payments, but force the landlords to deal with bureaucracy and red tape to receive relief funds.

According to the Census Bureau, individual investors own nearly 75% of our nation’s rental units, not massive corporations. Those mom and pop landlords likely aren’t any more sophisticated than their tenants. They would also find themselves in the same dire financial situation should they lose the ability to collect rent.

Bob Pinnegar, president and CEO of the National Apartment Association, said in a recent interview, “Rent cancellation proposals do not adequately address the problem and fail to recognize that many property owners are in the same dire situation as their residents — substantial loss of income amid ongoing financial obligations.”

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Business

Democrats Release “Wish List” Disguised As $3 Trillion Stimulus Bill

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Democrats Release “Wish List” Disguised As $3 Trillion Stimulus Bill

House Democrats released their latest stimulus bill yesterday aimed at helping the country cope with the coronavirus pandemic, and it has a lot of asks, and a price tag to match.

Clocking in at 1,800 pages, the plan will be voted on this Friday and would cost more than $3 trillion.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress had a “momentous opportunity” to help the country, and that “not acting is the most expensive course.”

Republicans have already said the bill, called the HEROES Act, is just a “liberal wish list.”

A preview of the bill included:

  • Nearly $1 trillion in relief for state and local governments
  • A second round of direct payments of $1,200 per person, and up to $6,000 for a household
  • About $200 billion for hazard pay for essential workers who face heightened health risks during the crisis
  • $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing — a key effort to restart businesses
  • An extension of the $600 per week federal unemployment insurance benefit through January (the provision approved in March is set to expire after July)
  • $175 billion in rent, mortgage and utility assistance
  • Subsidies and a special Affordable Care Act enrollment period to people who lose their employer-sponsored health coverage
  • More money for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, including a 15% increase in the maximum benefit
  • Measures designed to buoy small businesses and help them keep employees on payroll, such as $10 billion in emergency disaster assistance grants and a strengthened employee retention tax credit
  • Money for election safety during the pandemic and provisions to make voting by mail easier
  • Relief for the U.S. Postal Service

The bill not only includes another round of stimulus checks, which “people are craving,” as Pelosi contends. However, it also boosts the amount for each dependent up to $1,200.

Amazingly, some Democratic lawmakers want to go even further.

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan wants Pelosi to ask for checks for “multiple months moving forward,” not just another single round like the CARES Act. Ryan also previously suggested that all Americans should get $2,000 per month until the unemployment rate returns to pre-coronavirus levels.

Response

In response to the proposed bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “But what you’ve seen in the House is not something designed to deal with reality, but designed to deal with aspirations.”

Other Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham from South Carolina believe the government should take a wait and see approach before issuing more checks. Graham says “I doubt there will be another payment,” and adds, “hopefully in the coming weeks here, the economy will reopen and people will get back to their livelihoods.”

Even if the Democrats can get the bill passed through the House this Friday, the bill will likely languish for quite some time. The Senate will be in no hurry to vote on the bill, and next week is the last week for votes before lawmakers leave for the Memorial Day recess. They aren’t due back in Washington until June, and only then can they begin contentious negotiations.

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Automobiles

Pump Prices to Edge up After Attack on Iranian General, but Long-Term Effect Unclear

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By Jeff Ostrowski, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

Motorists soon will see the effects of President Donald Trump’s decision to kill a prominent Iranian general. Whether pump prices rise a little or a lot depends on how quickly international tensions intensify.

Florida gas prices climbed an average of 7 cents a gallon in the past three days and could increase an additional 5 cents, AAA – The Auto Club Group said Monday.

The 7-cent increase was coming even before the U.S. air strike Thursday that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. That hike was a result of a rise in the price of crude oil in December.

News of the targeted killing of Soleimani sent crude oil surging nearly $2 per barrel on Friday. An increase of that magnitude typically translates to a 5-cent hike at the pump, AAA said.

The U.S. benchmark for crude oil traded Monday just above $63 per barrel, the highest level since May 2019. The price of oil makes up about half the price of a gallon of gas.

“What happens in the Middle East can have a direct impact on Americans’ daily lives by influencing what they pay at the pump,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “Crude prices rise when there’s a threat of war, because of concerns over how the conflict could hamper supply and demand.”

Oil analyst Tom Kloza of energy firm OPIS agreed that pump prices in Florida likely will rise about 5 cents a gallon in the coming days.

“Then I have a hunch that things are going to calm down,” Kloza said Monday. “I don’t think we’re looking at $3 gas.”

The national average pump price Sunday was $2.585, while the Florida average was $2.526, AAA said.

Kloza expects only modest increases in part because of the timing of the attack. January is always a slow month for gas consumption in the United States.

There’s also the reality that sanctions leave Iran unable to export oil. Complicating the calculus is Iraq’s response to the U.S. attack. The drone strike on Soleimani took place in Baghdad, and some Iraqi politicians considered the assault an affront to Iraqi sovereignty.

While there’s no Iranian oil supply to be disrupted by a war, Iraq is an important producer.

Trump keenly watches oil prices and realizes that a price spike might erode his support in this year’s presidential election, Kloza said.

At the same time, Kloza added, “This president has proven to be unpredictable.”

Trump’s response has been typically uneven. Delivering an official statement at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Trump’s tone was measured. He said the targeted killing was designed to pre-empt Soleimani’s planned attacks on American diplomats and soldiers.

“We took action last night to stop a war,” Trump said Friday. “We did not take action to start a war.”

However, over the weekend, Trump took to Twitter to threaten attacks on Iranian cultural sites.

“The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment,” Trump wrote Sunday on Twitter. “We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!”

##IFRAME_1##Iran has vowed vengeance, but military experts say the nation isn’t powerful enough to wage a direct war against the U.S.

“It’s still far too early to know how much of an impact this conflict will have overall on prices at the pump,” AAA’s Jenkins said.

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