Welcome back to the Weekly QuizCap. This week, the Amazon has landed, three strikes and you’re *not* out, and Congress heads into an animal fight – ducks vs wolves.
Amazon’s 2nd headquarters search came to an end this week – with Arlington, VA and New York City , NY being the victors. Or are they? How much state and local tax incentives did the two locations give to Amazon?
The state of Virginia and the locality threw in $2.5 billion for about 25,000 jobs or about $100,000 in tax incentives per job. New York paid even more. Cronyism is expensive.
The other big news this week is President Trump lending his support to the First Step Act – a major criminal justice reform bill. The measure, in part, changes the mandatory sentencing for the “three strikes rule” – the term for three crimes even if they are minor and nonviolent. What is the current sentence?
The bill would reduce to 25 years and narrow the field of offenders the three strikes rule would apply to. The bill would also reduce other mandatory minimums and make a 2010 law that removed the disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenders retroactive. In addition to receiving President Trump’s support, the bill is also endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.
Congress returned to Washington DC this week to start its lame duck session. What does lame duck mean?
In politics, a lame duck is an elected official whose successor has already been elected. It also refers to the session between an election and the start of the new Congress.
In the House’s first week back, which of the following bills did they take up?
The House took up legislation that would remove gray wolves from the endangered species list. Gray wolves have been a matter of controversy between ranchers and conservationists, as wolves have been killing cattle on ranch lands in the West.
The Senate also returned this week and took up a Coast Guard Reauthorization bill. Section 835 of the Act would allow America’s Finest – a commercial harvesting ship in Washington - to be free to operate. Why can’t it operate currently?
Under the 1920 Jones Act, American vessels cannot operate if they use more than 1.5 percent of foreign steel. The Jones Act is an antiquated law that only allows American ships to provide transport between two American ports – which causes a ton of extra expenses and logistical headaches.
In 2002, the VA established an emergency cache program to make sure that drugs and medical supplies are available for the treatment of veterans and others in the aftermath of a local mass casualty event. The OIG examined the 141 caches of drugs and supplies. How many contained expired drugs?
All 141 of the emergency caches contained at least one expired drug and 59 of them had one missing and/or excess drug. Yikes!
In the summer of 2015, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was hacked and compromised over 20 million personnel records of current and former federal employees. Following that infamous incident, the GAO made 80 recommendations to improve the agency’s security. How many have been complete?
Three years after the incident, OPM has yet to implement 29 of the 80 recommendations – though they promise to get the rest done soon.
Shortly after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed, thousands of employers said employees would be given bonuses due to the extra cash. What has the average American worker seen in extra compensation due to the tax cuts?
According to Just Capital, a nonprofit research group tracking how the 1,000 largest public companies are spending their tax cuts, workers are only seen a couple hundred bucks this year in increased salary, a one-time bonus, or both.
According to the same research group, many corporations said they would use the tax savings to create jobs. Since the tax cuts passed, the 1,000 largest public companies have:
According to the New York Times, “the 1,000 largest public companies have actually reduced employment, on balance. They have announced the elimination of nearly 140,000 jobs — which is almost double the 73,000 jobs they say they have created in that time. About half of those net losses came from companies in the restaurant and leisure industries.”
Interest costs on the federal debt totaled $263 billion and accounted for 6.6% of all government spending in 2017. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) how much will interest costs be in 10 years, 2028?
CBO projects interest spending will make up 13% of all government spending, and 3.1% of gross domestic product by 2028. That’s almost $1 trillion going to creditors instead of American priorities.
The U.S. spent over $600 billion on defense in 2018 - more than the next seven countries combined. What year will the U.S. start paying more in interest than on defense?
According to CBO, the federal government “will spend more on interest than it spends on Medicaid in 2020; more in 2023 than it spends on national defense; and more in 2025 than it spends on all nondefense discretionary programs combined.”
What has Congress done this week to fix our exploding federal debt and unfunded liabilities problems?
Congress is back for their lame duck session. An underwhelming proposal to fix the budget process was released – proposing to change the budget to every two years instead of every year. When it comes to fixing our debt problems, that’s just not gonna do it.