Posts tagged with "Biden Administration"

Biden doubles FEMA funding for extreme weather preparations

May 25, 2021

The Biden Administration announced on May 24 that it will direct $1 billion toward the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s fund for extreme weather preparations—representing a 100 percent increase over existing funding levels, The Hill reports.

The budget increase will go to the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, which provides support for local, state, and tribal government preparation efforts.

The increase, and the program in general, are part of an effort to “categorically shift the federal focus” from responding to individual disasters on a case-by-case basis to “research-supported, proactive investment in community resilience,” the White House said.

“As climate change threatens to bring more extreme events like increased floods, sea level rise, and intensifying droughts and wildfires, it is our responsibility to better prepare and support communities, families, and businesses before disaster—not just after,” the administration said in a statement. “This includes investing in climate research to improve our understanding of these extreme weather events; [as well as] our decision-making on climate resilience, adaptation, and mitigation. It also means ensuring that communities have the resources they need to build resilience prior to these crises.”

The additional funding comes after a sharp increase in major hurricanes in 2020, with a record high of 30 named storms and a dozen hurricanes or tropical storms that made landfall in the United States.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is projecting a heavier-than-average hurricane season in 2021. Between 13 and 20 named storms are likely—with six to 10 becoming full hurricanes and three to five becoming major hurricanes, according to the NOAA. These numbers would constitute the sixth above-average storm season in a row.

“Now is the time for communities along the coastline as well as inland to get prepared for the dangers that hurricanes can bring,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement last week.

Research contact: @thehill

Move to tax ultra-rich Americans gathers steam, as states and Biden Administration float plans

Narch 17, 2021

Several states are unveiling new tax proposals—adding to a wave of interest in taxing ultra-rich Americans and corporations being led by the Biden Administration and Senate Democrats, reports YahooFinance.

Lawmakers in California are considering a tax on extreme wealth that would impose an annual excise tax of 1% on those who have wealth exceeding $50 million per taxpayer and a 1.5% tax on those with wealth above $1 billion. The tax would raise an estimated $22.3 billion starting in 2023.

New York and Washington State also are looking at new taxation targeting ultra-wealthy individuals, notes Yahoo.

“This is the way that we get back to a California where everybody has an opportunity, and I don’t know a single business leader or moderate who doesn’t believe in that,” Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said during a press conference on Tuesday, March 16. “It’s time to do something about it and quit bitching, quite honestly.”

On a national level, the Biden Administration and Democratic lawmakers are floating several different tax measures related to higher taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) recently reintroduced her proposal on taxing the ultra-rich.

“I know Senator Warren has put forward a wealth tax, and the president shares her view that middle-class families are paying more than their fair share and those at the top are not doing their part,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press conference on Monday, March 15. “Certainly he has that shared objective.”

The proposed wealth taxes in California and Washington State are similar to Warren’s plan and would impose an annual tax rate on income above certain thresholds.

“Since the start of the pandemic, billionaires have accumulated an additional $1.1 trillion in wealth,” Assembly Member Alex Lee (D-San Jose) said. “In order for California to really come back roaring, we need sizable investments in our communities… we’re proposing a modest 1% tax on households with net worths of over $15 million, and 1.5% on wealth over $1 billion.”

Critics of the wealth tax say it may be difficult to calculate and be enforced. The revenue generated might not be as much as expected while the costs of administering the tax could be higher than calculated.

“Taxing wealth is something we’ve never done in the United States and that most countries have not done,” Jared Walczak, the Tax Foundation’s vice president of state projects, told Yahoo Money. “They’re complex and they create a lot of economic harm because they’re paid on your assets — which often have to be liquidated to pay them.”

While wealth taxes reached their peak in OECD countries in the 1990s, the number of OECD countries that currently have a wealth tax dropped to five from 12 by 2019 because of the challenges those taxes create.

The proposed plan in New York—which includes raising income taxes, imposing new capital gains taxes, and increasing the estate tax among other measures — is similar to President Joe Biden’s campaign plan to raise the corporate tax rate to 28%, require a true minimum tax of 21% on all foreign earnings on U.S. companies, raise the top individual income tax rate to 39.6% (the current maximum is 37%), and require those who make more than $1 million annually pay the same rate on investment income as they do on their wages.

Research contact: @YahooFinance

Biden to allow migrant families separated under Trump to reunite in the USA

March 3, 2021

Families separated at the border during former President Donald Trump’s time in office will be allowed to reunite and settle in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on March 1.

“[The Biden Administration is] hoping to reunite the families either here or in the country of origin,” Mayorkas said at the White House press briefing, according to a report by Politico.

He added, “We hope to be in a position to give them the [option] and, if, in fact, they seek to reunite here in the U.S., we will explore lawful pathways for them to remain in the United States—and to address the family needs, so we are acting as restoratively as possible.”

According to Politico, This represents “a significant step for the Biden Administration; as it seeks to undo the damage done by Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, which allowed U.S. officials to forcibly separate children from their parents at the border.”

More than 5,500 families were separated under the Trump administration, and Biden entered office with the parents of more than 600 children still having not been located.

So far, the task force has made headway in reuniting those families. Mayorkas said approximately 105 families have been recently reunited.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero was quick to welcome Mayorkas’ announcement, but cautioned that “the devil is in the details and Secretary Mayorkas has to shed all the caveats and qualifications around his announcement and follow through with everything that’s necessary to right the wrong.”

“These separated families suffered unfathomably because of what our government did, and we owe them restitution. This includes a permanent pathway to citizenship, care, and resources to help them,” Romero said.

The task force involves a coordinated effort between the U.S., governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as various non-governmental organizations, immigration attorneys and community groups. Michelle Brané, formerly with the Women’s Refugee Commission, has been selected to serve as executive director of the task force, Mayorkas said.

“This is not only an all-of-government but an all-of-society effort to do what is right,” Mayorkas said.

Mayorkas also used his turn at the White House briefing to outline why it will take time for the Biden Administration to create a new system for handling migrant arrivals at the border. Currently, the vast majority of migrants arriving at the border are being immediately expelled under a Trump-era pandemic emergency rule.

“We are not saying: ‘Don’t come.’ We are saying: ‘Don’t come now,’ because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process as quickly as possible,” Mayorkas said, adding that “we are working around the clock seven days a week.”

Research contact: @politico