Biden’s $37 Billion Plan to Fight Crime

Biden’s $37 Billion Plan to Fight Crime

Courtesy Twitter via Reuters
By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Thursday, July 21, 2022

It’s almost Friday! Here’s what’s happening as we await tonight’s final planned hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection. We'll be back in your inbox on Monday, so have a good weekend!

Biden Tests Positive for Covid: 3 Takeaways

The White House announced Thursday that President Joe Biden had tested positive for the coronavirus and was experiencing "very mild symptoms."

The White House said Biden had begun taking Paxlovid, the antiviral Covid treatment, and will isolate, canceling a planned Thursday trip to Pennsylvania. In a video posted to Twitter Thursday afternoon Biden said he is doing well and getting a lot of work done. "Keep the faith. It’s going to be okay," he said.

A reminder that the virus is still spreading: "The virus is still infecting almost 1 million people a day worldwide, without accounting for people who are infected and never tested," Bloomberg News reports. "Infections have been on the rise in the US because of more transmissible omicron subvariants like BA.4 and BA.5."

An indication of how far we’ve come: When former President Donald Trump got Covid nearly two years ago "it was the dominant news story for days, with the presidential election just a month away," The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach and Lenny Bernstein write. "Biden’s illness, though a thunderclap of news amid the swelter of summertime Washington, seems less likely to rattle the political world for the simple reason that the virus has become less deadly."

Vaccines and treatments have made the difference, and the strains of the virus that are dominant today, while far more transmissible, may be less virulent. White House Covid response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said that Biden’s risk of serious illness is "dramatically lower" because he’s fully vaccinated and has received two boosters.

Fueling a push for vaccinations and boosters: White House officials sought to use the news to impress upon Americans the importance of getting vaccinated and boosted. "It’s a reminder of the reason that we all work so hard to make sure every American has the same level of protection the president has, that every American has the same level of immunity the president has," Jha said.

Tweet of the Day

From HuffPost political reporter Igor Bobic:


Semiconductor Bill Will Add $79 Billion to the Deficit: CBO

A bipartisan bill that proposes to spend upwards of $250 billion on domestic semiconductor production and development would increase the federal budget deficit by $79 billion over 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office said Thursday.

The bill would reduce tax revenue by $24 billion over a decade, CBO said, while increasing spending by $55 billion. The revenue loss would be driven by a 25% tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing.

The CBO score of the bill comes as no surprise and probably won’t harm the bill’s chances of passing. A final vote in the Senate is expected to occur next week, followed by a vote in the House, where the bill has the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Although the bill looks like it will pass, some fiscally conservative groups remain opposed, in large part due to its effect on the deficit. "There are plenty of options to offset the costs, and doing so would improve the fiscal, inflationary and competitiveness effects" of the bill, Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said in a statement. "But we can’t compete with China by going further into debt with them."

Biden’s $37 Billion Plan to Fight Crime

In his 2023 budget request, President Biden proposes to spend $37 billion on a number of crime-fighting efforts, and on Thursday the White House released new details on what exactly the president wants to do.

According to an outline released by the administration, Biden’s "Safer America Plan" would boost police forces, provide new resources for court systems and community services, and fund anti-violence programs around the country.

Specifically, the plan calls for spending nearly $13 billion over five years to hire and train an additional 100,000 police officers. The funding would also provide about $3 billion to help communities clear case backlogs in their justice systems, with a special emphasis on solving murders and cracking down on gun violence.

Biden also proposes to fund an array of community services through a new 10-year, $15 billion grant program called Accelerating Justice System Reform. The White House says spending more on "mental health and substance use disorder services; crisis responders, violence interrupters, and social workers" will help ease the burden on police and allow them to focus on violent crime. The grants will allow cities and states to develop strategies to reduce violence at the community level, and provides an additional $5 billion to evaluate the effectiveness of different violence-reduction programs.

Yes, but: It’s not clear that any of these proposals will actually happen. "Biden's request is aspirational -- it's for fiscal year 2023, which for the U.S. government begins this October, and it needs to be approved by Congress," say Ben Gittleson, Mason Leib and Morgan Winsor of ABC News. "Presidential administrations past and present often make large, ambitious budget requests as a messaging tool, only to see them not come to fruition or to be whittled down."

A $473 Million Government Software Error

A Treasury Department software flaw resulted in nearly $473 million in uncollected debts owed to dozens of federal agencies, according to an audit released this week by the department's Office of Inspector General.

The defective software was uncovered as the result of an anonymous whistleblower complaint nearly three years ago by an employee at the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The whistleblower told the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) about unpaid fines owed by companies flagged for workplace safety violations.

In its initial investigation, the Treasury Department found that nearly 11,000 debts owed to OSHA had not been collected due to the software issue. Those debts totaled $91.5 million. The audit that followed found the problem to be much larger, spanning some 28 agencies and hundreds of millions of dollars more owed to the government.

"It is certainly gross mismanagement," Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner told The Washington Post. "Although they were aware of the software problem, neither Treasury nor OSHA officials took prompt action to correct it, prompting the whistleblower to come to OSC."

The Treasury Department says that the software error has been corrected. But as of late June, only about $10 million of the money owed to OSHA and $3 million of the $376 million owed to other agencies had been recovered. Treasury also agreed to take other corrective actions and pursue the outstanding debts, the Office of Special Counsel said.

The Post’s Joe Davidson reports that the whistleblower who helped reveal that nearly a half-billion dollars in debts to the government had gone uncollected received only a plaque.


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