Postmaster General: We Don’t Need More Money for Election
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told a Senate panel Friday that he’s "extremely highly confident" that the U.S. Postal Service will be able to handle the mail-in ballots it receives for this November’s elections, despite letters reportedly sent by his agency recently to 46 states warning that it cannot guarantee timely delivery of all votes sent by mail.
"As we head into the election season, I want to assure this committee and the American public that the Postal Service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation’s election mail securely and on time," DeJoy testified at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "This sacred duty is my No. 1 priority between now and Election Day."
DeJoy, a former logistics executive and a major donor to President Trump, has come under fire for changes he implemented at the Postal Service since taking office in June. DeJoy defended his moves Friday — and confirmed that, while he has suspended additional changes until after the election in response to a public outcry, he still plans sweeping changes and cost-cutting measures after the election.
“We are not self-sustaining,” DeJoy said Friday. “We have a $10 billion shortfall, and over the next 10 years we’ll have a $245 billion shortfall.”
Democrats want to provide $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service, in part to help handle an expected surge of mail-in ballots, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has emphasized that the dollar figure is what the Postal Service Board of Governors earlier this year said it needed.
Asked by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) if the Postal Service needs a “massive federal bailout” to be able to deliver election mail, DeJoy said no, but suggested that the Postal Service should be reimbursed by the federal government for the costs of continuing to provide its services during the pandemic.
"I don't need anything to deliver mail on election night, but we do need legislative reform,” he said, adding, "We continued to do what we're supposed to do and at a significant cost impact, you know, and I'm one to try to get to a sustainable model, but in this case we — I believe we deserve some compensation for it.”
DeJoy also said the Postal Service needs to be freed from the requirement imposed by Congress in 2006 that it pre-fund its employee retirement benefit programs, a controversial move that created huge financial challenges.
“If we just throw $25 billion at us this year and we don’t do anything, we’ll be back in two years,” he said.
Why it matters: “With DeJoy’s comments that he doesn’t need election-related funding, it could get harder for Democrats to persuade Republicans to fund the Postal Service in any coming coronavirus relief package,” The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips writes.
What’s next: The House is set to vote Saturday on the Democratic bill to provide $25 billion for the Postal Service. The White House said Friday that it “strongly opposes” the legislation and threatened to veto it. President Trump and White House officials have said that they would consider additional Postal Service funding as part of a coronavirus relief package as long as their other priorities were included.
DeJoy and Robert M. Duncan, chair of the Postal Service’s board, are scheduled to testify Monday before the House Oversight Committee.
Biden Bashes Trump on Social Security, Taxes and Health Care: What You Need to Know
Joe Biden’s well-received acceptance speech for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night may have emphasized his differences with President Donald Trump —with a heavy focus on personal traits such as compassion, trust and moral character — but Biden also touched on some of his proposals on key policy issues, including Social Security, health care and taxes.
Here’s what Biden said and what you should know about it.
What Biden said: “For our seniors, Social Security is a sacred obligation, a sacred promise made,” Biden said. “The current president is threatening to break that promise. He's proposing to eliminate the tax that pays for almost half of Social Security without any way of making up for that lost revenue. I will not let it happen. If I'm your president, we're going to protect Social Security and Medicare. You have my word.”
What you should know: Earlier this month, as part of his effort to unilaterally provide economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic, Trump ordered the deferral of employee’s share of payroll taxes dedicated to Social Security for the remainder of the year. The payroll tax, which is split between employer and employee, covers nearly 90% of the cost of Social Security, according to government data reported by FactCheck.org. Last year, the tax produced about $945 billion; the deferral ordered by Trump would reduce the total this year by about $100 billion over the next four months, according to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
While the White House has claimed that deferral would in no way harm Social Security, with the lost revenues through December made up for from general funds, Trump has repeatedly said that he wants to eliminate the payroll tax altogether: “If I’m victorious on November 3rd, I plan to forgive these taxes and make permanent cuts to the payroll tax. So I’m going to make them all permanent,” he said on August 8.
William Hoagland of the Bipartisan Policy Center says that a temporary cut to the payroll tax wouldn’t destroy Social Security, although it could move up the depletion date for the Social Security trust funds by a year or two. But if Trump were to “make permanent cuts to the payroll tax,” as he has promised to do, it would indeed represent an existential threat to the Social Security system.
For his part, Biden is proposing to boost revenues for the Social Security system and increase benefits for some beneficiaries. Workers would have to start paying payroll taxes on income over $400,000 (the tax currently applies only to the first $137,700). And beneficiaries would see higher minimum payment levels, an increase in survivor benefits and a 5% boost for those who have received benefits for more than 20 years.
What Biden said: Biden took aim at the tax cuts Republicans passed in 2017, referring to “the president’s $1.3 trillion tax giveaway to the wealthiest 1% and the biggest, most profitable corporations, some of which do not pay any tax at all.”
What you should know: Biden has promised to roll back some of those cuts by raising taxes on households making more than the $400,000 and hiking the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.
Fact checkers note that the majority of households received a tax cut from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, with 65% of households paying less to the IRS in 2018 than they would have otherwise. But the cuts were considerably larger at higher income levels, and when the individual provisions of the legislation expire in 2026, the majority of the benefits — 82.8%, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center — will flow to the top 1%.
What Biden said: Biden warned that Trump’s “assault on the Affordable Care Act will continue until its destroyed, taking insurance away from more than 20 million people -- including more than 15 million people on Medicaid -- and getting rid of the protections that President Obama and I passed for people who suffer from a pre-existing condition.” Biden said that he wants to develop “a health care system that lowers premiums, deductibles, and drug prices by building on the Affordable Care Act [Trump is] trying to rip away.”
What you should know: Most experts agree that the Trump administration’s effort to have the Affordable Care Act overturned — arguments will be heard in the Supreme Court shortly after the election — would, if successful, result in upwards of 20 million people losing their insurance and eliminate the protections provided for people with pre-existing conditions. While Republicans have insisted that they are in fact protecting those with pre-existing conditions, there have taken no concrete steps to do so, while pursuing repeal efforts that would eliminate those protections.
Biden also said that as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, “more than 10 million people are going to lose their health insurance this year.” While the number is an accurate estimate, the majority of those people are expected to pick up coverage from other sources, including family members, Medicaid or the federal marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act. The Urban Institute estimates that about 2.9 million people will be left without health insurance after those transitions are accounted for.
Poll of the Day: Protecting Social Security Benefits
Protecting Social Security is a top priority for American voters, according to a poll conducted by progressive think tank Data for Progress and released with Social Security Works, an advocacy group. The online survey of 1,074 potential voters was conducted on August 7 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Chart of the Day: $1 Trillion Yet to Be Spent
“There is $1 trillion stashed away in the U.S., and it just might save the economy,” says economist Tim Duy at Bloomberg. That sum is what’s left in people’s accounts from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which provided $1,200 stimulus checks and $600 per week in extra unemployment benefits. “It’s enough to either boost consumer spending by at least $78 billion dollars a month over the next year or supercharge growth if confidence soon turns higher,” Duy says.
- 5 Takeaways From the Postal Service Hearing in the Senate – Amber Phillips, Washington Post
- Unemployment Is Still at Crisis Levels. Why Aren’t We Treating It as an Emergency? – Helaine Olen, Washington Post
- The U.S. Has Two Economies. How Much Longer Will the Losing Side Stand for That? – Catherine Rampell, Washington Post
- This Is How Democrats Get Shellacked in 2022 – Ryan Cooper, The Week
- Here's How We Beat the Virus and Save the Economy This Fall – Noah Smith, Bloomberg
- Blanket COVID-19 Liability Shield Will Cost Taxpayers – Steve Ellis, Roll Call
- Don’t Rehire a Failed President – Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg
- Trumpism Is a Racket, and Steve Bannon Knew It – Michelle Goldberg, New York Times
- Another Giveaway to Polluters From the Trump EPA – Bloomberg Editorial Board
- Stocks Are Soaring. So Is Misery – Paul Krugman, New York Times