Georgia voters who helped turn this state blue, for now, should feel cheated. President Biden came to campaign for Democrat Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the runoff elections. Biden told you to vote for these men in his stump speech if you wanted $2000 stimulus checks. How is that going for those of you who believed it? Now the stimulus checks are $1400 and get smaller at higher incomes until they disappear.
Not only did Biden not keep the campaign pledge he made for your new senators, but they also made it possible for him to sign a bill that will punish Georgia. The stimulus bill uses a new formula to provide money to the states. In previous bipartisan COVID bills passed by Congress, these funds were distributed based on population, according to Rep. Buddy Carter’s (R-Ga.) office. On page 287 of the House bill, the formula changed.
The change now allocates a large portion of the funding to be based on “the average estimated number of seasonally-adjusted unemployed individuals.” Carter took to Twitter to explain how this change will affect Georgia before the Senate passed the bill with a purely partisan vote in the Senate:
GA is the worst-hit state under the Pelosi Payoff because it rewards blue state lockdowns while punishing hardworking Georgians and seniors. If this plan becomes law, GA seniors will be hit with an $11.5b Medicare cut. Our senators from GA can and should stop this very bad deal. pic.twitter.com/q4RefSS45C
— Buddy Carter (@RepBuddyCarter) March 4, 2021
As Carter notes, Georgia and other states that stayed open are losing the most in federal funds under the new calculation voted for by Warnock and Ossoff. They are essentially helping to punish governors like Brian Kemp and Ron DeSantis for not keeping their citizens unemployed and wrecking their economies. According to an analysis by Republican members of the House Budget Committee, the states losing the most money under the new calculation are Georgia, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Georgia loses the most at over $1 billion.
Virginia has a high proportion of federal employees, including military personnel and government-adjacent industries that did not lay off or cease operations during the pandemic. These demographics would give them a lower average unemployment rate despite prolonged lockdowns and other draconian policies. The remaining six states in the top six have Republican governors who didn’t inflict draconian lockdowns on their citizens. Yet, some of the worst-performing states in terms of COVID-19 will be receiving the largest payments. California, New York, and New Jersey will receive the three largest payments.
New Jersey and New York have the highest deaths per 100,000 residents. California is still dealing with restrictive lockdowns. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan and Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, had mandates that forced COVID-19-positive patients back into nursing homes. It has come to light that Cuomo hid the fallout from that policy and Whitmer has resisted requests to disclose this. And they are still getting rewarded.
Neophytes Warnock and Ossoff could have used their votes to force a change in the calculation. In an evenly divided Senate that requires Vice President Kamala Harris to break a tie, the senators from Georgia should have said they would not vote for a package that punished Georgians. It would not have passed as is. So, not only did they fail to deliver on a primary campaign promise, but Warnock and Ossoff also punished the state that just elected them.
Carter also mentions reductions in Medicare funding for the state. According to the Washington Times, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the stimulus bill will trigger legislation from 2010 that requires spending cuts to offset increases in the federal deficit, also called PAYGO. If these cuts go into effect, that will mean $36 billion in Medicare cuts in 2022. The $11.5 billion referenced by Carter would be the cuts to the Medicare program in Georgia over the next decade.
The cuts are not a given:
Lawmakers can waive the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act (PAYGO), though that takes 60 votes in what is currently a 50-50 Senate. Congress added a PAYGO waiver to a must-pass spending bill in 2017 when the Republican tax-cut law would have otherwise triggered the cuts. Lawmakers can also get around PAYGO by designating a bill as emergency spending, which was the case for multiple rounds of coronavirus relief last year.
Representative Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) has said Democrats fully expect the bill to be exempt from PAYGO, though he does not specify by what mechanism. If an exemption for the legislation fails, that is the third blow to Georgians, thanks to Warnock and Ossoff. These newly elected senators are not representing Georgia. They are voting purely along party lines like good little soldiers of the far left.
In this bill, Warnock and Ossoff have committed Georgians to bail out blue states, bail out mismanaged multi-employer union pensions, and have federal funding to the state cut. Add to those non-COVID expenditures like the National Endowment of the Arts and a bridge from New York to Canada. They have forced Georgians to participate in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s payback program for her special interests and favorite governors. And you might get $1400 or some portion of it, depending on your income.
Feeling like Warnock and Ossoff sold you down the Chattahoochee River yet? It hasn’t even been two months.