These are the remarks of Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff at a Roundtable on Combatting Antisemitism, held at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow, Poland:
SECOND GENTLEMAN DOUGLAS EMHOFF: Thank you all for being here.
Thank you to the Galicia Jewish Museum for hosting us and to Director Jakub Nowakowski.
It’s really fitting to gather here today. The Museum aims to challenge stereotypes and to educate Poles and Jews about their own histories – my history.
The Museum also encourages everyone to think about our shared future.
My trip to Poland and Germany has two main priorities:
One: I am here not only to honor the victims of the Holocaust, but to talk about and educate people on the true nature of the Holocaust.
Let’s be clear: the Holocaust was real.
It happened. And there is no denying that.
It was a systemic, state-sponsored mass murder aimed to annihilate the Jewish people. This atrocity was motivated by antisemitic ideology and ethnic hatred.
This trip is a major part of our Administration’s effort to push back against Holocaust denial, distortion, and disinformation.
Two: I am here as a representative of President Biden and my wife, Vice President Harris, to deepen our relationships with European partners — in and out of government — to combat the rise in antisemitism.
The President and Vice President have made a priority of revitalizing our partnerships and alliances—and that extends to fighting hate and antisemitism.
Yesterday, I visited Auschwitz and participated in the wreath laying and memorial service. The service was incredibly moving and powerful.
I am still trying to process what I saw.
The magnitude of cruelty, hate, and evil that Auschwitz represents is just staggering.
As the first Jewish spouse of a United States President or Vice President, I know this visit has a special significance — for me, for our Administration, and for Jews around the world.
My great-grandparents fled persecution in Poland 120 years ago. I am here because they were able to leave.
Yet, so many others were not.
I feel a deep connection to all those who perished in Auschwitz. I know many American Jews feel the same way.
It was an incredibly solemn and sad experience but, it also reminds us why the work we are doing is so important.
Given the rise in antisemitism, it is important for me — and for all of us — to put a spotlight on the history of Jews in Europe.
We know that in some cases knowledge about the Holocaust among young people is vague or nonexistent.
We must find new ways to remember and educate the next generation about the horrors of the Holocaust.
To tell the testimonies of survivors.
To remember the stories of those that perished.
And work to ensure “Never Again.”
This convening is a critical part of that.
Antisemitism has been around for centuries. It is based on lies, misleading tropes, and falsehoods that we are all too familiar with.
Antisemitism is also ever evolving. Our efforts to combat it must be wide-ranging and relentless.
We must learn to recognize antisemitism in its many forms, so that we can call hate by its proper name and take effective action.
Antisemitism has been around for millennia—and some call it the oldest form of hatred—but in recent years, it has been a growing threat in the United States, in Europe, and around the world.
We see ‘so-called’ leaders use antisemitic tropes to promote warped agendas or for their own political gain.
We see other ‘so-called’ leaders who lack the courage to speak out.
We see murderous attacks on Jewish communities.
We see vandalism, threats, and violent, hateful rhetoric.
People used to be afraid to say the ugly epithets and lies out loud. Now they are literally screaming them.
We are witnessing an epidemic of hate in our country and internationally.
President Biden and Vice President Harris are firmly committed to countering the rise in global antisemitism.
In fact, before I left on this trip, I spoke to President Biden and the Vice President about it.
The President spoke to me about how his father spoke to him about the horrors of the Holocaust at his dining room table.
And how when he became a father and grandfather, he took his children and grandchildren to see the Dachau concentration camp.
To teach the next generation the horrors of history.
The Vice President and I have spoken at length about these issues. She has spent her career—as Attorney General, United States Senator, and Vice President—combatting hate and working to bring people together in coalitions.
And she has really encouraged me to use this platform to push back on the scourge of hate.
They both have told me how important this trip is.
We all need to speak out against antisemitism and call out those who don’t.
We cannot normalize this. We must not stay silent.
We each need to do our part to educate those around us and instill knowledge in the next generation of leaders to help fight antisemitism.
And we are committed to working with you all – community leaders, religious leaders, and experts to take this on.
You all have done impressive work to promote tolerance, education, and inclusiveness.
I am with you in this fight.
So, on behalf of President Biden and Vice President Harris, it is my honor to join you here in Krakow today, and I am looking forward to our work together. Thank you.
Jill and I will pause to mourn the six million Jews who were systematically and savagely murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust — and to grieve the Roma and Sinti, Slavs, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and political dissidents who were also killed. As we join nations around the world in bearing witness to this dark chapter in our shared history, we also honor survivors and their stories—pledging to always remember, and to keep faith with that sacred vow: “never again.”
“Never again” was a promise my father first instilled in me at our family dinner table, educating me and my siblings about the horrors of the Shoah. It’s a lesson I’ve passed on to my own children and grandchildren by taking them to Dachau to understand for themselves the depths of this evil—and the complicity of those who knew what was happening, yet said nothing. Seeing neo-Nazis and white nationalists march from the shadows in Charlottesville in 2017, spewing the same antisemitic bile we heard in the 1930s in Europe, drove me to run for president.
Sadly, we have seen over and over again that hate never goes away. It only hides—waiting to reemerge whenever it is given just a little bit of oxygen. And today, across our country, we are seeing swastikas on cars, antisemitic banners on bridges, verbal and physical attacks against Jewish businesses and Jewish Americans – even Holocaust denialism. It’s vile. It goes against everything we value as Americans. And each of us must speak out against this poison. Together, we must affirm, over and over, that hate has no safe harbor in America.
That is exactly what my Administration is doing. Working with partners around the country, we held a historic White House Summit on combating hate-fueled violence. We appointed the first Ambassador-level Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. We are developing a national strategy to fight antisemitism. We’ve secured the largest increase in funding ever for the physical security of non-profits—including synagogues and Jewish Community Centers. We continue to support Holocaust survivors to ensure they can live the rest of their lives with dignity and security. And to mark this day of remembrance, the Second Gentleman of the United States, Douglas Emhoff, is participating in a commemoration ceremony at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland, and will be visiting Berlin, Germany to coordinate international efforts to combat antisemitism.
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day and every day, the United States stands with Holocaust victims, their families, and their descendants. We remember. We honor their stories. We will face down the hate and the lies that carry in them the terrifying echoes of one of the worst chapters in human history. And for generations to come, we will continue to defend our foundational values as a nation—freedom, equality, and dignity for all human beings.
The Biden Administration also launches Resident-Centered Housing Challenge, a call-to-action to improve the quality of life for renters
The Biden-Harris Administration is announcing new actions to increase fairness in the rental market and further principles of fair housing. These actions align with a new Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rightsthat the Administration is also releasing. The Blueprint lays out a set of principles to drive action by the federal government, state and local partners, and the private sector to strengthen tenant protections and encourage rental affordability. Key actions announced include:
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), both independent agencies, announced they will collect information to identify practices that unfairly prevent applicants and tenants from accessing or staying in housing in order to inform enforcement and policy actions under each agency’s jurisdiction. This is the first time the FTC has issued a request for information exploring unfair practices in the rental market. The two agencies will seek information on a broad range of practices that affect the rental market, including the creation and use of tenant background checks, the use of algorithms in tenant screenings, the provision of adverse action notices by landlords and property management companies, and how an applicant’s source of income factors into housing decisions.
The CFPB announced it will issue guidance and coordinate enforcement efforts with the FTC to ensure accurate information in the credit reporting system and to hold background check companies accountable for having unreasonable procedures.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), an independent agency, announced it will launch a new public process to examine proposed actions promoting renter protections and limits on egregious rent increases for future investments. FHFA will maintain transparency throughout the process and provide periodic updates, including one within 6 months, to interested stakeholders. As announced in November, the FHFA will also increase affordability in the multifamily rental market by establishing requirements that encourage the financing of multifamily loans that guarantee affordable housing. In 2022, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae purchased a combined $142 billion in multifamily loans supporting over one million units. If the same activity holds in 2023, this would mean an investment in approximately 700,000 affordable units.
A U.S. Department of Justice workshop will inform potential guidance updates around anti-competitive information sharing, including in rental markets.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require public housing authorities and owners of project-based rental assistance properties to provide at least 30 days’ advanced notice before terminating a lease due to nonpayment of rent.
The Administration will hold quarterly meetings with a broad, diverse, and varying group of tenants and tenant advocates to ensure they continue to have a seat at the table and can share ambitious ideas to strengthen tenant protections.
These new announcements are part of a broader set of federal actions that exemplify the principles laid out in the Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights, which underscores key protections every renter deserves:
Safe, Quality, Accessible, and Affordable Housing: Renters should have access to housing that is safe, decent, and affordable.
Clear and Fair Leases: Renters should have a clear and fair lease that has defined rental terms, rights, and responsibilities.
Education, Enforcement, and Enhancement of Renter Rights: Federal, state, and local governments should do all they can to ensure renters know their rights and to protect renters from unlawful discrimination and exclusion.
The Right to Organize: Renters should have the freedom to organize without obstruction or harassment from their housing provider or property manager.
Eviction Prevention, Diversion, and Relief: Renters should be able to access resources that help them avoid eviction, ensure the legal process during an eviction proceeding is fair, and avoid future housing instability.
In addition, the Administration is rallying state and local stakeholders and private housing actors to drive further action to protect renters in line with the Blueprint. As part of this effort, the Administration is launching the Resident-Centered Housing Challenge (Challenge), a call to action to housing providers and other stakeholders to strengthen practices and make their own independent commitments that improve the quality of life for renters. The Challenge, which will occur during the Spring of 2023, also encourages states, local, Tribal, and territorial governments to enhance existing policies and develop new ones that promote fairness and transparency in the rental market. Early commitments in support of the Challenge, which would affect over 15 million rental units, include:
Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency(PHFA) have capped annual rental increases to 5 percent per year for federally or state subsidized affordable housing. Beginning in 2023, WHEDA policy applies to existing residents in properties utilizing state or federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. PHFA applied this policy to their portfolio of 450 properties with PHFA funding in 2022.
Members of the Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF), which collectively own or manage 145,000 housing units across the U.S., commit to offer flexible payment plans for residents with unpaid rent who have engaged with property management and to provide the following notices and protections where permitted by local law and financing documents: at least 30 days’ notice to vacate for nonpayment of rent; at least 5 days to cure a missed rent payment; and 60 days’ notice to tenants of any proposed sale or closure of a property. SAHF also commits to launching a task force of its members to identify best practices for resident-centered practices and share resources with the field including model policies and procedures, sample notices, and case studies.
Realtor.com Rentals will pilot a new listing process through their DIY landlord product, Avail, highlighting units and landlords that indicate that they welcome Housing Choice Vouchers. Realtor.com will be able to share this information with its nearly 5 million monthly rentals search visitors. They will also ensure that more than 1.3 million Avail renters have access to their application information so they can submit their application to multiple property owners on the platform without additional cost.
The National Apartment Association commits to promoting resident programming and practices, such as helping tenants build and improve credit through reporting of positive rent payments to credit bureaus, through their website, industry events and other content channels that reach a network of more over 95,000 members owning and operating more than 11.6 million apartment homes globally.
The National Association of Realtors and its affiliate, the Institute of Real Estate Management, commit to creating new resources for property managers in their network of 1.5 million members that highlight ways they can incorporate resident-centered property management practices in their businesses. Practices would include a range of examples that have proven effective, such as advertising to prospective residents that Housing Choice Vouchers are accepted at their property, providing information about rental assistance, and using alternative credit scores for applicants without a detailed credit history.
The National Multifamily Housing Council commits to working with its 2,000 members to identify business standards that align with principles of resident-centered management practices, such as helping residents build credit, providing resource information to residents in financial distress, and communicating these practices through a new resource hub on its website.
The Administration welcomes additional commitments from interested stakeholders to: pursue high-road practices aligned with the Blueprint principles; create new benefits for residents that enhance their economic mobility, build credit, and prepare them for homeownership; reduce or eliminating rental “junk fees,” which are the hidden fees, charges, and add-ons that take cash out of people’s pockets; expand pathways to eviction mitigation and prevention; and enhance and increase communication about tenant rights. To join the Challenge, interested partners can complete this survey by April 28, 2023. Questions regarding the White House Resident-Centered Housing Challenge team, can be directed to [email protected].
Over a third of the American population – 44 million households – rent their homes. Before the pandemic, well over 2 million eviction fillings and roughly 900,000 evictions occurred annually – disproportionately affecting Black women and their children. Since then, rental housing has become less affordable with some landlords taking advantage of market conditions to pursue egregious rent increases. Today’s announcements recognize there are responsible housing providers – large and small, national and local – willing to treat renters fairly, but it also holds accountable those who exploit market realities at the cost of renters’ housing access and stability.
Since taking office, the President has taken substantial steps to promote fairness in the rental market and ease the burden of rental costs for millions of American renters. The Administration kept the national eviction moratorium in place until August 2021, which helped to prevent over 1.5 million eviction filings nationwide. The Administration has delivered over 8 million rental or utility assistance payments to reduce renters’ risk of eviction or housing instability through Emergency Rental Assistance programs and provided over $769 million for housing stability services. Last May, the Administration released a Housing Supply Action Plan, which set the goal of closing America’s housing supply shortfall in five years. The Administration has been making progress advancing a long-term goal of providing housing vouchers to all eligible households: the 2022 and 2023 President’s Budgets proposed to expand rental assistance to an additional 200,000 households – and the Administration has secured rental assistance to more than 100,000 households through the 2022 and 2033 appropriations bills and the American Rescue Plan. And, last week, HUD published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on its efforts to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing.
From its first day in office, the Biden-Harris Administration has focused on helping the nation’s businesses recover from the economic impact of the pandemic and grow. Last week, the Census Bureau released data that showed that over the last two years Americans have applied to start 10.5 million new businesses, making 2021 and 2022 the strongest two years on record for new business applications. With unemployment at a record low and the two strongest years of job creation in our history, this is just the latest confirmation that the President’s economic plan is working to build our economy from the bottom up and middle out.
The Administration convened a roundtable with leaders across the small business space to discuss its commitment to ensuring small businesses have the access to the capital, technical assistance, and support they need to thrive. The Administration’s actions include:
Expanding Access to Capital:
Capital is vital for small businesses to start and grow. That’s why expanding access to capital, and making sure there are ample pathways to reach that capital, is a core pillar of the Administration’s agenda to support small businesses. To that end, the Administration is taking a number of steps:
Small Business Lending Company (SBLC) Proposed Rule. SBA is committed to meeting borrowers where they are by extending its program offerings to the lenders that underrepresented small businesses turn to for their capital needs. Currently, SBA works with these lenders in a number of ways. Non-bank private lenders are able to participate in the 7a program as guaranteed lenders by obtaining an SBLC license. Yet the number of SBLCs available has been capped at 14 since 1983. In addition, SBA licenses over 60 active CDFIs as lenders through the Community Advantage Pilot program. This proposed rule, if made final, would lift the moratorium on new 7a lending licenses allowing SBA to extend additional licenses to nonbank lenders and CDFIs. SBA would plan to add three licenses in the initial extension. In addition, it would open a path for Community Advantage program to become permanent. These steps would allow SBA to expand the pool of lenders that offer SBA-backed working capital loans to include those non-traditional institutions that have more expertise in meeting the needs of underserved small businesses.
Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Proposed Rule. SBICs are privately owned and managed investment funds licensed and regulated by the SBA. An SBIC invests private capital and borrowed capital with an SBA guarantee to make long-term debt or equity investments in qualifying small businesses. Historically, the structure of interest payments on SBIC loans leads licensed funds to support later stage companies with predictable cash flow as opposed to early-stage companies. The proposed SBIC rule is intended to reduce barriers to program participation for new SBIC fund managers and funds investing in underserved communities and geographies, among other groups. The rule introduces a new class of SBIC license, “Accrual SBICs,” designed to unlock more patient capital financing for startups and small businesses through the SBA’s public – private partnership investment program, the SBIC program. It also implements SBIC program regulatory changes to lower financial, administrative, and procedural barriers to program participation for new fund managers and longer duration equity-oriented fund strategies. Finally, it modernizes the SBIC program license offering and process to align with a more diversified set of private funds investing in underserved and undercapitalized areas.
Lending Criteria, Affiliation, and Employee Ownership for SBA Business Loan Programs Proposed Rule: SBA is proposing to streamline and modernize various regulations governing its 7(a) and 504 loan programs. The proposed rule, if made final, would allow SBA lenders to underwrite SBA loans using their own standard processes which empowers lenders and opens a path for credit alternatives, significantly simplify affiliation rules which would reduce the processing burden on small business borrowers, and offer a path for employees to take ownership in a small business.
Implementing the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI): The Treasury Department has implemented the American Rescue Plan’s SSBCI which provides $10 billion to states, the District of Columbia, territories, and Tribal governments to expand access to capital for small businesses, build ecosystems of opportunity and entrepreneurship, and create new jobs and economic opportunity—especially in underserved communities still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. SSBCI provides funding for credit and investment programs for existing small businesses, and technical assistant to small businesses applying for SSBCI funding and other government small business programs. With a focus on equity and reaching underserved communities, SSBCI allocates $2.5 billion in funding and incentives for businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. These federal investments are designed to catalyze $10 of small business lending and investment for every $1 of SSBCI funding which will result in tens of billions of new small business financing across the country before 2030.
Making Historic Investments in Support Services for Small Businesses:
The Administration is focused on meeting small businesses owners where they are and offering extensive support services to navigate available programs. It’s not enough to just provide funding and loans; small businesses need to be able to utilize them as well. This Administration has made historic investments in support services for small businesses. That includes:
Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP). In 2022, Treasury closed and funded approximately $8.38 billion in investments with 170 institutions through ECIP. ECIP investments are supporting the efforts of community financial institutions to provide loans, grants, and other assistance to small and minority-owned businesses and consumers, especially in low-income and financially underserved communities that struggled during the pandemic.
Wide Ranging Investments by the CDFI Fund. In 2022, the CDFI Fund deployed significant funds to provide capital to traditionally underserved communities including $5 billion in New Market Tax Credit allocations, $355 million under the Bond Guarantee program, and more than $580 million in other grant programs. Last fall, the CDFI Fund released the notice of funding availability for the $1.75 billion CDFI Equitable Recovery Program, aimed at providing funding to CDFIs expanding lending in communities that have significant unmet capital needs, and received almost 700 applications.
Providing SSBCI Technical Assistance: As a critical element of the $10 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative, Treasury has announced the availability of $200 million specifically to support small business technical assistance for states, the District of Columbia, territories, and Tribal governments that are participating in SSBCI. Treasury has also announced a nearly $100 million Capital Readiness Program, a grant program funded as part of SSBCI to help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs that will be administered by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the Department of Commerce.
SBA Community Navigators Program: In 2021, SBA awarded a $100 million in grant funding to organizations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico that are working to close resource gaps for U.S small businesses and those in underserved and underrepresented communities. The program offers funding to nonprofits, state and local governments, universities, and tribal entities that serve as “hub” organizations. These hubs have established ties with hundreds of “spoke” organizations—trusted, culturally knowledgeable, local groups and individuals— who they support to increase awareness and connections to federal, state, and local resources. The program was designed to advance equity through its priority focus on socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses, rural communities, and small businesses owned by women and veterans. As of August 2022, Community Navigators have helped secure over $133 million in funding, trained over 170,00 business owners, and provided over 30,000 hours of 1:1 counseling.
Improving Agency Services and Coordination:
This Administration is committed to continuing to improve upon the programs and services that are already provided. To that end, the Administration is taking the following steps:
Improving SBA’s Lender Match: SBA will implement significant technological improvements to its small business borrower and lender marketplace tool, Lender Match. This improved version of Lender Match will provide an enhanced landing page to match small business borrowers with SBA lenders and offer the option to be taken through the entire loan process. It will offer automated tools for lenders to streamline underwriting, make the use of credit alternatives more common place, and offer an automated eligibility module to make SBA lending lower risk and lower cost. Additionally, Lender Match’s automated offerings will enable SBA to better fight fraud via increased use of data and automated protocols for SBA-backed loans.
Interagency Community Investment Committee (ICIC): In July, Vice President Harris announced the formation of the Interagency Community Investment Committee (ICIC) chaired by the Treasury Department. The ICIC facilitates collaboration and operational coordination of federal community investments to maximize the impact of federal dollars. Last fall, they released a request for information to gather input on how to improve the effectiveness and impact of federal community investment programs and will continue to provide a forum for continued interagency cooperation to support underserved communities, especially when it comes to community investment and access to capital.
Think about why Republicans would have as their singular policy to destroy the United States economy – threaten, even actually refuse to raise the debt ceiling which will destroy the nation’s “full faith and credit”, unleash higher interest rates (cost), inflict untold pain and suffering on working people and derail the American Dream for countless millions, while coddling the richest 1% by going after the IRS and law enforcement. It’s not just to secure campaign funding and show their obeisance to their masters: they think that if they destroy the economy, unleash suffering, and, if more than two decades of history are the example, that the masses will blame Joe Biden and the Democrats (after all, they control the White house and Senate), so they will win the 2024 elections.
Republicans used fraud to win the midterms and take over the House, pretending they cared about inflation and crime, when in just these first days of their rule, their first acts have been to further erode civil rights, especially women’s reproductive rights, raise costs, worsen the national debt, harm public safety. After all, you don’t hear any Republican crow about how gas prices have fallen to pre-Putin levels and inflation rates have fallen to lowest level since March 2020, meanwhile, Speaker McCarthy put insurrectionists including Marjorie Taylor Greene on the Homeland Security Committee and fraudster George Santos on the Small Business Committee and Space, Science, and Technology, and kicked Adam Schiff off Intelligence And so much worse is to come. Just how destructive is the Republican economic agenda? If the debt ceiling is not raised and the nation’s credit rating falls, interest rates will rise, the cost of everything will go up, people will lose jobs, houses, and there will be less tax revenue flowing into the government, more money flowing out, and the national debt will only get worse. The White House issued this memo:–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
House Republican MAGA Economic Plan: Raise Taxes and Increase Costs for the Middle Class, Protect Rich Tax Cheats, and Cut Social Security & Medicare
House Republicans had a busy first week in the majority. Under President Biden’s leadership and economic plan, we just finished the best two years of job growth on record, inflation has been coming down for six straight months, gas prices are down around $1.70 from their summer peak, and President Biden’s plan to lower prescription drug costs and energy costs is going into effect.
House Republicans have a very different economic plan: make inflation worse, protect rich tax cheats, increase the deficit, raise taxes on middle-class families, and cut Social Security and Medicare. In their first week, they wasted no time in moving forward on these priorities:
Increasing Gas Prices: The new House Republican majority has proposed and will soon consider a bill that would raise gas prices and deprive Americans of relief at the pump when supply is most needed by restricting the ability to release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. After global oil prices skyrocketed because of Putin’s invasion, the President successfully used the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in 2022 to expand supply that helped lower gas prices for families here at home – while laying the groundwork to refill at a profit to taxpayers in the future. But House Republicans want to tie Presidents’ hands and hamstring one of the best supply tools we have to protect Americans from disruptions that spike gas prices.
Protecting Rich Tax Cheats:: Working people pay 99% of the taxes they owe, while the top 1 percent hides about 20% of their income from tax, including by funneling it through offshore accounts in tax havens that don’t report earnings. The President and Congressional Democrats passed legislation to make the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share, including by preventing them from cheating on the taxes they already owe.
For their very first bill, House Republicans voted last week to repeal that provision and let some super-wealthy people pay less in taxes than many hard-working Americans – including through outright tax fraud.
In addition to protecting rich tax cheats, the bill adds to the deficit. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it increases the deficit by nearly $115 billion by enabling wealthy tax cheats to engage in additional tax fraud and avoidance. And for ordinary middle-class people who follow the law, it would mean longer waits for tax refunds. Lose-lose for working families.
Raising Taxes on the Middle-Class and Cutting Taxes on the Richest Americans with a New National Sales Tax: According to public reporting, Speaker McCarthy has agreed to bring to the floor a bill that would repeal most existing taxes and impose a new 23% national sales tax on American families. The bill would cover almost all goods and services purchases – from groceries and gas to food and medicine.
Non-partisanexperts across the ideologicalspectrum agree this proposal would raise taxes for middle-class Americans and slash them for the wealthy, while President George W. Bush’s Treasury Department analyzed a similar proposal and found it would raise taxes by thousands of dollars each year for typical middle-class families; the burden would likely be especially great for seniors and families with children. Meanwhile, people earning millions of dollars a year would see tax cuts of $100,000 or more.
Cutting Social Security and Medicare: President Biden has made clear that Congress must deal with the debt limit and they must do so without conditions. But Congressional Republicans continue to threaten to hold the nation’s full faith and credit hostage to their demands for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid cuts, and cuts to the part of the budget that funds scientific and medical research, education, consumer protection, and other basic services – even as business leaders, economists, and other experts continue to warn about the costs of their brinksmanship for the U.S. economy.
Meanwhile, militant Republicans like Rep. Andy Biggs are calling for the U.S. to default on its debt obligations (spending that has already been approved by Congress and spent), by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. But rather than cut spending, it would mean chaos, collapse, and catastrophe for the U.S. and a windfall for China, and at the same time RAISE costs and the national debt because interest rates would skyrocket, 6 million would lose their jobs, requiring more unemployment and social services.
Rep. Andy Biggs says outright, “We cannot raise the debt ceiling. Democrats have carelessly spent our taxpayer money and devalued our currency. They’ve made their bed, so they must lie in it.”
This is a stunning and unacceptable position that would lead to economic chaos, collapse, and catastrophe. And in so doing it would give our competitors, like China, an historic leg up in overtaking the American economy.
In line with every major outlet, CNN warned yesterday that failing to lift the debt ceiling would “tank the financial markets, suspend Social Security payments to senior citizens, hurt the economy and cause other chaos.”
Leading congressional Republicans have themselves admitted in the past that default would trigger an economic collapse, killing millions of jobs and decimating 401k plans. That’s why they voted to raise the debt ceiling without brinkmanship 3 times during the Trump Administration – with strong bipartisan support from their Democratic colleagues.
But hardline MAGA Republicans are now advocating for this outcome. This is despite President Biden having achieved unprecedented deficit reduction and despite House Republicans’ supports for tax giveaways to the rich that put trillions on the nation’s credit card.
Other congressional Republicans intend to use the debt limit to force an economic meltdown unless they can cut Medicare and Social Security, directly against the will of a bipartisan majority of the country.
“Rep. Biggs is dead wrong to actively support the ruin of millions of American livelihoods, 401k plans, and small businesses, all in the name of scorched earth partisanship,” said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates. “Default would needlessly plunge the country into economic chaos, collapse, and catastrophe while giving our competitors like China an historic boost against us. That’s why congressional Republicans – with strong bipartisan support from Democrats – avoided default 3 times under Donald Trump, without conditions or playing chicken with our credit rating. This president and the American people will not stand for unprecedented economic vandalism. Full stop.”
Be reminded: Trump added $7.4 TRILLION to the national debt in just 4 years – that 25% (one-fourth) of the total debt of nearly 250 years. Much of that was before pandemic, largely caused by the $2 trillion giveaway to the wealthiest and to the biggest corporations. 50 corporations, with a combined $50 billion in profit paid zero tax. It’s estimated that the wealthiest hide 20 percent of their taxable wealth.
Against a drip, drip, drip of new sensational scandals involving George Santos, and the continuing campaign to pressure on George Santos to resign or Speaker Kevin McCarthy to hold a vote to expel, Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15) joined Concerned Citizens of NY-03 in Great Neck to demand the Federal Election Commission launch an investigation into potential illegal activity and irregularities surrounding his campaign finances.
Torres, the Bronx Democrat who introduced the SANTOS Act which would punish candidates who knowingly lie to voters about their background, outlined a web of incestuous relationships between Santos’ campaign, the Devolder Organization, Redstone Strategies and NY Rising.
“Given what we know through public reporting, it is outrageous to me that Mr. Santos was even allowed to be sworn in officially as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Rep. Torres. “But now, there are serious questions that need to be answered surrounding the way in which he supposedly financed his illegitimate campaign for elected office that was built on a web of deception encompassing nearly every facet of his professional and personal life. The American people – and the people of New York’s third congressional district – deserve to be represented by someone who will serve them with honesty, transparency, and integrity. Rep. Santos has proven himself to be not only a habitual liar who’s supremely unqualified to be serving in Congress, but someone who desperately needs to be held accountable for breaking the public’s trust and potentially breaking the law.”
In a letter sent to the chair of the FEC, Rep. Torres requests an investigation into the questionable relationship between Rep. Santos’s campaign and RedStone Strategies, an unregistered fundraising entity whose apparent practices on behalf of the Santos campaign might have contributed to multiple violations of the Federal Election Campaigns Act (FECA) as reported recently by the New York Times.
Rep. Torres was joined in his calls for an FEC investigation by members of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, a new nonpartisan group of residents organized around the sole mission of upholding congressional integrity and having Rep. Santos removed from office.
“We are delighted that Rep. Ritchie Torres accepted our invitation to visit NY-03 so we can thank him for his leadership and encourage the FEC to take action to hold Rep. Santos accountable,” said Jody Kass Finkel, founder of Concerned Citizens of NY-03.
“It’s a shame that Speaker Kevin McCarthy thinks it is okay for the more than 700,000 people who live in this district to have no legitimate representation. Rep. Torres understands how insulting it is for us to be told to ‘Live with it. Get over it. Your voice does not matter.’ We will not be silent and deserve to have a representative who tells us the truth. We look forward to our ongoing collaboration with Rep. Torres to deliver accountability for the people of this district and to finally get Santos the squatter evicted from office once and for all.”
The call for an FEC investigation is just the latest action Rep. Torres has taken to hold Rep. Santos accountable for his growing web of deception that is currently the subject of multiple law enforcement investigations. He previously filed an official complaint against him with the House Ethics Committee and is continuing to demand that Republican House leadership publicly explain what they knew and when about Santos’s seemingly never-ending trail of lies.
Rep. Torres is also sponsoring new legislation that would punish candidates for federal office who knowingly lie to voters about their background.
Meanwhile, Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, who was one of the first to demand the U.S. Attorney investigate Santos’ fraudulent campaign finances and disclosures, is now calling for the Department of Homeland Security to revoke Santos’ passport, deeming Santos a high-profile “flight risk”.
“While local, state, and federal prosecutors approach potential indictments against George Santos, international authorities in Brazil have also reopened his criminal case. Given Mr. Santos potentially faces years in prison, there is significant concern that he may eventually seek safe harbor within a country lacking an extradition treaty with the U.S.,” Lazafan stated.
Kevin McCarthy who needed Santos’ vote to fulfill his dream of becoming Speaker and is too fearful to see his margin be whittled down to four, said it would be up to NY3rd constituents to remove Santos (that is, in 2024), while 3rd District constituents continue to rally, protest, petition, calling for Congress to expel Santos.
McCarthy made clear that he values politics and power, not ethics or care to serve the interests of the people, as his Golden Rule. It is almost as if McCarthy has nothing but disdain for actual representation. The whole is more than the sum of its parts, in this case, the Republican caucus, and the ends justify the means. Which makes his Republican caucus’ obsession with investigating Hunter Biden, everything Biden, the January 6 investigators, the FBI all the more shameless and hypocritical.
McCarthy has been careful to bolster Santos, especially because Santos provided the key vote to fulfill his ambition to become Speaker, and has dismissed every allegation, even that a Santos fundraiser impersonated McCarthy’s own aide to stir up donations, with the claim that the investigations have to play out, that everyone deserves due process – expecting the process to last through a two-year Congressional term (just look at the January 6 prosecutions).
And in a big middle finger to the district, the nation, and the institution, McCarthy decided to appoint Santos to two committees: the Small Business committee (because he’s such a genius at “investing in himself” to go from $55,000 to millions of dollars overnight) and the Committee on Space, Science and Technology (where he can do Trump’s bidding and stick it to social media giants, vote to rescind funding for research and development, for renewable energy).
That prompted some to suggest another path for removing Santos: Get every chamber of commerce to start letter writing campaign to have him removed. He can’t represent their interest because of his deceit in everything including his own business.
McCarthy chose to give Santos two important committee assignments despite the precedent of a member under a cloud of investigation being removed from a committee while it plays out, and despite the level of intensity against Santos, who has been referred to the house Ethics committee and the outside, independent committee on Ethics, even as he is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney, New York Attorney General, Nassau County and Queens County district attorneys and the Federal Election Commission.
“This is an extraordinary vote of confidence by McCarthy in Santos,” noted NBC’s senior Capitol Hill correspondent Garrett Haake.
Think about it: this fraudster whose real resume includes working for a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $17 million, is in a position to affect small business funding (think PPP). And as a member of the Space, Science & Technology committee, he is in a position to extort “campaign” funding from Big Tech in exchange for favorable or unfavorable policies on the social media giants, Elon Musk’s Tesla and Space X, and every institution wanting to get funding for research and development.
Meanwhile, local Republicans have tried to insulate themselves from Santos’ stain on their election prospects by calling for him to resign (knowing that won’t happen), and saying they will refuse to work with him, which will cost the district millions of dollars in federal aid that an effective Congressmember with integrity can bring home.
Besides the $174,000 salary plus per diems for being a Congressman – the most this deadbeat has ever seen – campaign donations present an irresistible bottomless piggybank. He is a vulnerable target for bribery, blackmail and extortion, and a national security risk.
“This country never had imposter seated in Congress before, and with ties to Russian oligarch and questionable finances,” Jody Kass Finkel said at the press conference with Torres. “Santos deceived voters. A liar, cheater, probably criminal. We deserve real representative, not a charlatan. McCarthy insults the 700,000 district residents by [ignoring Santos scandal], instead, says, “Live with it, get over it.
“Well, we aren’t… We understand McCarthy has a narrow majority, but the Speaker does damage to our representative form of government, to our democracy. He says he cares about voter fraud. How about the fraud perpetrated on 700,000 people of district.”
What is McCarthy afraid of, she wondered. “Recent elections show NY3 is competitive, if a free and fair election. But if Santos doesn’t pull out, we lose. How hard will it be for Republican to win a seat after two years of drip, drip revelations, or any Republican for any seat?”
“There are 535 in Congress. Of the 535, no one poses greater threat to integrity of Congress as institution than Santos,” Torres declared.
“My message to Santos: this will not end well for you. Resign to end this nightmare for the nation and the 3rd district, denied representation they deserve.”
Santos, he said, either resigns under the weight of scrutiny or a plea bargain with the U.S. Attorney. “He knows he is facing local, state, federal and international investigations. The one that will be the quickest is the US Attorney.
“Stop perpetuating suffering and humiliation of constituents. Allow someone capable of serving in government to step in.”
Temple Beth-El of Great Neck, Long Island, New York, has long been an social justice and civil rights activist, and for more than 25 years, has hosted a Martin Luther King Shabbat Service. Indeed, Martin Luther King Jr., himself, addressed Temple Beth-El congregation from this pulpit 56 years ago.
“We do this service every year not merely to remember an historical event—as though it were a moment, or a series of moments, that occurred once and are now fossilized in time,” said Rabbi A. Brian Stoller. “If that were the case, we could simply read about it in history books as a matter of curiosity. We come together at sacred moments like this, year after year, to translate history into present and future.”
It is fitting that the MLK Shabbat Service happens to come when the Torah reading for Jews everywhere begins reading the book of Exodus, the story of how Moses led his people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land of Milk and Honey.
Attorney General Letitia James gave the keynote. Here are highlights from her remarks:
The greatest honor and sign of respect is to be invited into another’s place of worship – this is a holy place. So many others have spoken here. I am honored and privileged to say a few words this evening, and be welcomed to your sanctuary. You can never take that for granted – many places in world, even in this country to have Jews, Christians, blacks, whites, young, old, coming together for most basic ritual we do.
That we are all together tonight, cannot be overstated – to pray, for spiritual enrichment, to summon God, to commemorate freedom from bondage and commemorate creation.
We all know someone who gave up something to be here – who sacrificed lives – parent/grandparents, survived Holocaust, pograms – perhaps we have some here this evening.
Our ancestors enslaved in Egypt, Europe and here in America – our ancestors fought for our right to be here- standing up to their oppressors, taking risks, protesting injustice.
It feels fitting that we receive that message from Torah this week, the week we honor the life, legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. – the person we most credit for the fight for civil rights, the quest for freedom.One of the most influential figures to enter history.
There were two midwives who engaged in the first recorded instance of civil disobedience: the new pharaoh decreed Jewish people were now slaves, midwives should kill their baby boys when they were born. But Shiphrah and Puah refused, feared doing something immortal more than they feared the pharaoh – midwives do what they do because that’s what a human being is supposed to do.
Pharoah continued to enslave the Jewish people for  years to come – but acts paved the way for Pharaoh’s daughter to take Moses from the river to nurture. Moses, who ultimately freed the Jewish people and lead them to the promised land.
We should learn from these midwives and pharoah’s daughter that when faced [with evil], even if means disobeying the rules, angering those who are powerful, [when called to do the right thing] the answer is simple, the answer is yes.
Dr. King led movement of ordinary people fed up with the injustices of society, savage inequities, who refused to move to the back of the bus, refused to leave the lunch counter, attend inferior schools, live in uninhabitable housing, but who could not exercise most basic right, right to vote.
He had hope for a better society [and that people would come forward like] Shiphrah and Puah, who marched with Dr King.
56 years ago Dr. King was here at this congregation, speaking of his vision that one day would live in harmony. He had two versions: “One is a beautiful America, where there is the milk of opportunity and the honey of equality. There is another America where the daily ugliness has transformed the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair.”
We made progress but much more to do – there are many pharaohs who stand in our way, who try to push us down, drag us backwards – too many who would take advantage of the most vulnerable to line their pockets, who spread hate, who separate us by race and artificial constructs.
It can feel like we are in the eye of moral crisis. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by hate and bigotry that continues to spread in America. I am sure I am not alone.
It is overwhelming when we read of acts of antisemitism every day, see shocking videos of bigoted, deadly assaults against our fellow citizens, even worse, when we see children commit these acts of hate. Children should know better, should be taught to respect and love. . These individuals who engage in these deadly assaults simply because of racial, ethnic, religious differences, we must confront them, even if they are our neighbors, even if they look like us, we’ve got to confront them.
It can be all consuming to know white supremacists and their ideas are allowed to breed, fester in darkest corners of internet and basements, leading to Nazis in Charlottesville, and evil individuals targeting our houses of worship, like Mother Emanuel in Charleston, Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, a grocery store named Topps in Buffalo.
We can feel paralyzed by widespread attacks on fundamental rights, not knowing how to turn and respond, even as I stand before you, watching nationwide effort to deny us our voting rights, wystemic dismantling of hard fought civil rights gained at the Supreme Court, and efforts around the country to erase the Black and Jewish experience from textbooks, Diversity, inclusion at elementary schools, college campuses, workplaces.
Through it all, we find comfort that those who have seen ugly face of hate – women, Jews, Blacks, Asian, LBGTQ – understand we all carry the responsibility of standing up to it, have a special charge to show up and stand up for one another.
As an African American, I have responsibility to speak out against antisemitism, not just allow only the Jewish community to speak out, just as Martin Luther King reminded us that though it was illegal to aid and comfort Jews in Hitler’s Germany, but had he lived in Germany then, he would have aided Jewish brothers and sisters, even if it were illegal.
We have a responsibility to stand up taller, speak louder, act more deliberately, and if history is any guide for the future, we have so much to be hopeful about.
Jews and blacks have a long history that is intertwined – hands that made bricks without straw, joining with the hands that picked cotton, the hands of drum majors for justice, righteousness, all of us.
So many times in history, there were Jews who disobeyed the rules because they knew how wrong the rules were – this is what should be taught.
Far back, it was Jewish merchants in the South who would address Blacks as Mr. and Mrs., who would allow Black customers to enter the front door, not the back.
And when the fight for freedom hit the Supreme Court, it was research by American Jewish Committee and the Anti Defamation League, and American Jewish Congress that helped prevail – and all that was done in the halls of Howard University, where Blacks and Jews together came up with the winning legal strategy to overcome segregation in this nation.
Blood scattered all over the South. No one said Black blood, Jewish blood, just blood of those who died for what was right.
They worked voter registration drives because they believed the color of your skin didn’t make you more or, less of a person. Everyone’s voice should be equal.
It would have been easier, safer to follow the rules, stay home, stay silent, but no, the Torah teaches you that the moral imperative is to act – far greater than following the rules.
[As one who rarely follows rules I know] they knew consequences in face of such hateful aggressors but they acted anyway.
In 1963, at the March on Washington, before MLK delivered the “I have dream” speech, Rabbi [Joachim] Prinz [President of the American Jewish Congress] spoke, saying, “When I was the Rabbi of the Jewish community of Berlin under Hitler, I learned many things, most important was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem, the most urgent and the most disgraceful, shameful, tragic problem is silence.”
Just months before, while Martin Luther King was sitting in a Birmingham jail, arrested for participating in civil rights demonstration, he wrote, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for theappalling silenceof the good people.”
Some 60 years later, the good people are making their voices heard. The moral arc of universe is long but bends toward justice.
Continue to carry Dr King’s fight through 2023 and beyond.
Stand up for what we believe in, fighting back against those forces that seek to deny and divide us, committing to forward progress and being responsible to do right thing even when the odds are stacked against; breaking the rules that never should have been rules in the first place.
MLK had the audacity to stand up for the moral compass of our society.
Even though I may have my moments of doubt, sadness, I remain overwhelmingly hopeful, buoyed by progress we have made.
Just think: regardless of your politics tonight, when you see the son of a black woman who picked cotton, and the grandson of Jewish immigrants, standing together [as U.S.Senators] in a state in the cradle of Deep South, that’s progress.
When leaders of Democratic party in the Congress are Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries that’s progress.
And I am hopeful the cries for justice and equality are too loud, too strong and too diverse to be silenced or ignored, we march with millions of feet for progress cannot be ignored not now, or ever.
I am hopeful love, acceptance, inclusion will always push out hate, darkness, that these will be the ideals you pass along to your children…Teach them the beauty of all God’s children, that silence in face of hate and discrimination simply cannot be.
And God’s love, ah, god’s love knows no race, or ethnicity, that we are all covered by his grace and mercy.
I am hopeful because of people like all of you in this room – seeing that spark that ignites the fires of change, always simmering but never fully flamed throughout our nation’s history.
I am thankful this temple would embrace this woman, who believes in change, and fights each and every day for progress..
56 years ago you welcomed Dr King to your congregation at a time when people still feared each other and when many questioned Dr King’s intentions.
This congregation knew painfully well what was at stake and the heavy toll of silence…
In the beautiful words of your executive director, Stuart Botwinick, “Jews have a special responsibility to hold up and support those who are held down, and we continue till this day to look towards equality and civil rights, do our part to lift people up.”
All of you are essential to make progress possible, when it comes to fight the ugly face of discrimination…
I will stand with you …there is no space between us, to move our nation closer to the vision that Dr King had for all of us, because we, my friends, are all children of his dream, and that dream must live on. His legacy deserves it, we deserve it, so do our children…Let’s pray and keep the dream alive.
Offering a kind of mea culpa and looking contrite, Nassau County Republicans stood united in calling for now-Congressman George Santos to resign, condemning Santos for his dishonesty foisted upon voters of the 3rd Congressional District to win election.
The action was viewed as reputational damage control to bolster Republican candidates in upcoming elections.
But aside from declaring that none of them – at the village, town, city, county or state level – would work with Santos and declaring him a person non grata at Republican events (fundraisers), Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph G. Cairo Jr., said there was little they could do. to force Santos out Cairo said he had attempted to call now-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (whose election was secured by Santos’ vote), but had yet to receive a reply.
“George Santos has disgraced the House of Representatives and the Republican Party with a veritable profusion of lies, dishonesty, misstatements and hurtful false claims,” Cairo declared. “The people of the 3rd Congressional District deserve a Congressional Representative who is honest and forthright. George Santos is not such a person. It’s time for George Santos to resign his seat in the House of Representatives. He has no place in the Nassau County Republican Committee, he’s not welcome here.”
But Santos remained defiant, tweeting as the press conference was still underway, “I was elected to serve the people of #NY03 not the party & politicians, I remain committed to doing that and regret to hear that local officials refuse to work with my office to deliver results to keep our community safe and lower the cost of living. I will NOT resign!”
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said she was duped into giving Santos her endorsement., “He betrayed the public trust. He is incapable and unwilling to take responsibility for his lies. There’s no way he can be an effective member of Congress.”
Congressman Anthony D’Esposito, who represents the neighboring district, stated, “Santos violated the trust of voters and people across America.” He offered to help 3rd District constituents on the matters that, according to House rules, have to be handled by a Congressman.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, who just a few weeks ago, had Santos stand alongside as he gave a proclamation to Ukraine’s General Consul, spoke up for the people of the district who are “legitimately Jews” and those who are Holocaust survivors or their descendents. “For him to make up a story that his grandparents survived the Holocaust is beyond the pale.”
“George Santos is clearly not capable of providing the integrity to which his residents are entitled,” declared Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Phillips. “George Santos is clearly not capable of providing the integrity to which his residents are entitled. He will never be my congressman, and his resignation should be forthcoming.
Others who denounced Santos included Nassau Legislature’s Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello speaking on behalf of the 12-member majority; Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell, State Assemblyman Ed Ra, Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joe Saladino, and City of Glen Cove Mayor Pam Panzenbeck. They said that none of them would work with Santos.
State Senator Jack Martins, whose pivotal role on New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission led to the redrawing of the 3rd Congressional District from being a “safe” Democratic district that few Republicans came forward to challenge the incumbent to a competitive district, called on Santos to resign. “People of Nassau County deserve better. It’s probably impossible to shame the shameless, to get him to do what is right. But we are united that until he resigns, we will perform our responsibility to represent Nassau County but not work with Santos.”
Asked whether the Santos debacle reflected flaws in the Nassau County Republican Committee’s vetting process, Cairo said that in the 2020 election, when Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi was running for reelection in what was regarded as a safe district that Democrats had led for some decades, Santos was one of the few Republicans who came forward.
“He was recommended by the Queens Republicans. And he submitted a written resume,” Cairo said.
In 2020, Cairo said, “the district was strongly Democrat, and Santos was the designated candidate. When Santos lost in 2020 to Tom Suozzi, “he was angry” and, like Trump, claimed that he had in fact won but blamed his loss on the committee.
Then, in 2022, the Court of Appeals changed the district so it became winnable.
Cairo insisted he did not have an inkling about the falsities into Santos’ background until “it came to light” with the New York Times investigation and other media reports.
“Santos was not someone we knew from Nassau politics. We trusted him. Shame on us.” He said he spoke to Santos once since the deception came to light and Santos has yet to make good on his promise to explain.
“Shame on me for believing him,” Cairo said, promising to revamp the vetting process in the future.
As for the donors who were essentially defrauded, he said “some have connections overseas. Some believed in Republican philosophy, especially when they saw the odds changed, and this became a competitive district we could win.”
Asked why the Republicans are coming forward now to demand Santos resign and not before he was sworn in to Congress, Blakeman said he believed in due process and giving Santos the opportunity to clear his name. “But the situation has become untenable. How do you deal with someone who is an out-and-out liar. I came to the conclusion recently that we don’t need the process to unfold. He needs help. A person who builds lies one on top of another needs help. This is a forgiving country. If he gets help, shows remorse, he will have a future.”
Santos is currently under investigation by the US Attorney’s office, the Federal Election Commission looking into suspected campaign funding violations, the New York State Attorney General, Nassau County District Attorney and Queens County District Attorney, in addition to being wanted by Brazilian authorities. And most recently, two Congressmen called for an Ethics Committee investigation, though McCarthy took care to effectively shut it down. While lying is not a basis for removal (though theoretically, only person of good character are supposed to be sworn into office and putting down a false address on the petition to be put on a ballot is a crime), Santos is also accused of federal crimes stemming from where his funding came from that enabled him to loan his campaign $700,000, when only two years ago, he reported income of $55,000 a year and was evicted for nonpayment of rent twice.
Santos also donated $126,000 to the Republican Committee, which Cairo said was returned to the committee that donated the funds, but other donations that Santos made to the county committee were spent on lawn signs and such.
Despite ongoing opposition by Republicans, President Joe Biden continues to introduce programs to relieve the burden of student loans. This is a fact sheet from the Department of Education describing a Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan to provide student debt relief for 40 million borrowers:
Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) proposed regulations to reduce the cost of federal student loan payments, especially for low and middle-income borrowers. The regulations fulfill the commitment President Biden laid out in August when he announced his Administration’s plan to provide student debt relief for approximately 40 million borrowers and make the student loan system more manageable for student borrowers. The proposed regulations would create the most affordable income-driven repayment (IDR) plan that has ever been made available to student loan borrowers, simplify the program, and eliminate common pitfalls that have historically delayed borrowers’ progress toward forgiveness.
“Today the Biden-Harris administration is proposing historic changes that would make student loan repayment more affordable and manageable than ever before,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We cannot return to the same broken system we had before the pandemic, when a million borrowers defaulted on their loans a year and snowballing interest left millions owing more than they initially borrowed. These proposed regulations will cut monthly payments for undergraduate borrowers in half and create faster pathways to forgiveness, so borrowers can better manage repayment, avoid delinquency and default, and focus on building brighter futures for themselves and their families.”
The proposed regulations would amend the terms of the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan to offer $0 monthly payments for any individual borrower who makes less than roughly $30,600 annually and any borrower in a family of four who makes less than about $62,400. The regulations would also cut in half monthly payments on undergraduate loans for borrowers who do not otherwise have a $0 payment in this plan. The proposed regulations would also ensure that borrowers stop seeing their balances grow due to the accumulation of unpaid interest after making their monthly payments.
While these regulations would provide critical relief to student borrowers, the Biden-Harris Administration is also committed to ensuring postsecondary institutions and programs are held accountable if they leave borrowers with unaffordable debts. The Department is currently working on a proposed gainful employment regulation that would cut off federal financial aid to career training programs that fail to provide sufficient financial value and require warnings for borrowers who attend any program that leaves graduates with excessive debts. The same regulatory package will also include proposals to strengthen the conditions that can be placed on institutions that fail to meet the requirements of the Higher Education Act or exhibit signs of risk.
The Department is also taking steps today to carry out President Biden’s announcement from August that the Department would publish a list of the programs at all types of colleges and universities that provide the least financial value to students. To advance this effort, the Department is publishing a request for information to seek formal public feedback on the best way to identify the programs that provide the least financial value for students. This public comment process will ensure the Department is carefully considering a range of perspectives and considerations as it constructs the list. Once the list is published, institutions with programs on this list will be asked to submit improvement plans to the Department to improve their financial value.
Estimated effects of the proposed IDR Plan
The proposed regulatory changes would substantially reduce monthly debt burdens and lifetime payments, especially for low and middle-income borrowers, community college students, and borrowers who work in public service. Overall, the Department estimates that the plan would have the following effects compared to the existing REPAYE plan:
Future cohorts of borrowers would see their total payments per dollar borrowed decrease by 40%. Borrowers with the lowest projected lifetime earnings would see payments that are 83% less, while those in the top would only see a 5% reduction.
A typical graduate of a four-year public university would save nearly $2,000 a year relative to the current REPAYE plan.
A first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree would save more than $17,000 in total payments while pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness—a two-thirds reduction in what they would pay in total under REPAYE.
85% of community college borrowers would be debt-free within 10 years
On average, Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native borrowers would see their lifetime payments per dollar borrowed cut in half.
Building on an Unparalleled Record of Debt Relief
The draft regulations build upon the work the Biden-Harris Administration has already done to improve the student loan program, make colleges more affordable, approve $48 billion in targeted relief to nearly 2 million student loan borrowers, and fight to provide up to $20,000 in one-time debt relief to over 40 million eligible borrowers, including 26 million who have already applied. These regulations also propose to build on the Administration’s commitment to ensuring IDR plans deliver relief to eligible borrowers. This includes ongoing steps to provide accurate counts of progress toward forgiveness for borrowers through a one-time account adjustment.
The proposed regulations and request for information will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow. The public may comment on both documents through the Regulations.gov website for 30 days. The Department expects to finalize the rules later this year and aims to start implementing some provisions later this year, subject to any changes made based on public comments.
View an unofficial copy of proposed IDR regulation here and a fact sheet with further information here. View an unofficial copy of the RFI here, and a fact sheet with further information here.
Fighting for Debt Relief at the Supreme Court
Since President Biden first announced his intention to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for the vast majority of borrowers, opponents of student debt relief have filed legal challenges seeking to halt this effort. In December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two of these challenges– Nebraska v. Biden (recaptioned Biden v. Nebraska at the Supreme Court), brought by Republican officials in Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Iowa, and Brown v. Biden (recaptioned Biden v. Brown at the Supreme Court), a challenge brought by student loan borrowers in Texas and funded by a right-wing dark-money group.
Today, an historic coalition of cities, states, experts, and advocates filed more than a dozen amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Biden Administration’s student debt relief program.
This week’s briefs support the Justice Department’s effort to defend this policy before the nation’s highest court. To date, more than 26 million Americans have applied for student debt relief and more than 40 million Americans are expected to benefit when this program is fully implemented.
Leaders and public officials join law scholars, economists, sociologists, higher education and public policy experts from across the political and ideological spectrum in briefing the high court. The briefs represent the breadth of communities that stand to benefit from student debt relief, including working people, borrowers of color, veterans, older people, people of faith, along with cities and states across the country. Together, these briefs showcase the broad support, strong legal foundation, and urgent economic necessity underpinning President Biden’s effort to cancel student debt for 40 million Americans.
Just hours after George Santos was sworn in as a member of the house of Representatives, over 100 people gathered outside what he claims to be his office – actually former Congressman Tom Suozzi’s office – on Northern Boulevard in Queens, to demand he resign from Congress, an investigation by the house Ethics committee (the very one that the new speaker, Kevin McCarthy, said he would defund as a concession to the Sedition Caucus). They are calling on Santos to resign and for a special election to be held.
They spoke of having been betrayed, cheated, and more than that, that because Santos is effectively being frozen out of committees, even his own caucus, his constituents have effectively lost representation in Congress, access to federal funding and support. He runs from reporters, won’t answer questions or deal with representatives.
They raised concern that because of his shady finances (how the heck did a man who faced two evictions, reported a salary of $55,000 just two years ago, come to become a millionaire with a multi-million dollar business, and the ability to “loan” his own campaign $700,000, and pay out hundreds of thousands to other campaigns), Santos is a national security threat who cannot serve on any committee involving intelligence. They questioned who Santos is beholden to (at least one of his major donors is related to a sanctioned Russian oligarch), and whether he would be prime to sell secrets.
They raised concerns about undermining trust in government, altogether.
A photo of George Santos using a White Supremacy hand gesture as he raised his other hand to vote for McCarthy, was featured on the sign carried by Susan Naftol of Plainview, that was received as a middle finger to constituents of one of the most diverse districts in the country, and a sign that like Trump, Santos, who at one point said he was descended from refugees of the Holocaust and was “Jew-ish” as well as biracial, would embrace anyone who supported him, White Supremacists, Insurrectionists, included.
Ed Braunstein, State Assemblyman (District 26), and 3rd District resident, declared that when Santos was elected, it was his intention to work with him “for common good. That was before found out Santos was a pathological liar, a national laughingstock. There is no way to work with him, or refer constituents for help, or sign a letter with him, or work with nonprofits to seek funding from him. He is useless. Not effective locally or nationally. He is toxic in Congress – colleagues won’t sit with him. Nobody can work with him. He is compromising us being there. He should do the right thing and resign. Unfortunately, all indications are that is not his interest.
“A few days ago, while voting for Speaker, he flashed a White Power hand gesture. Queens County is the most diverse in the country – we celebrate ethnic, racial, religious diversity, and then, to look and see this clown flash the white power gesture – he is thumbing his nose at us, at his colleagues. It tarnishes the House as an institution. Every other House member should be horrified. Congress has power to open Ethics Investigation [except one of the concessions McCarthy made to get enough votes to become Speaker was to defund the committee].
“We demand Speaker McCarthy open an investigation, now. If Santos, allies think he can just bide his time and this will blow over, he is mistaken. We will protest, hound him until he gives us our seat back, Braunstein declared.
Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic candidate for Congress who Santos defeated, declared, “We are here as one to express our anger, frustration. We stand together united to demand Santos resign. We are sending a message to those members of Congress who don’t call on him to resign that they are accomplices. He is threat to national security.”
Veronica Lurvey, a Town of North Hempstead councilmember and the child of political refugees who escaped Soviet tyranny in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, declared that The Soviet regime was a regime built on lies. Lies the government told the people, and lies that the people told each other. This lead to a weakening of the social fabric…a weakening of civil society….and the rise of massive corruption that is difficult to eradicate.
“Luckily my parents were able to flee the Soviet regime and got their start in Astoria, Queens. As a first generation American, born in the US – actually I was born in NYC, I have internalized the core American values of hard work, decency and honesty.
“Mr. Santos’ lies make a mockery of every one of us whose families came to this country to achieve the American dream. What’s more, Mr. Santos’ lies erode the trust that we have in our elected officials. To get anything done in government, you need to be able to negotiate, to speak with honesty. When deals fall apart because of lies, who would be stupid enough to try to enter a deal again? Honesty is the basis of any relationship and without honesty relationships fail. Mr. Santos, your relationship with the people of the 3rd Congressional district in NY has failed. You have been caught cheating. Cheating cannot be tolerated.
“I am here to say that for the sake of the soul of the American dream, for all the immigrants who came to the United States and worked around the clock like my parents did…I call for a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee into Mr. Santos and his background. We cannot let Santos’ lies and dishonesty erode the America that we love, the America that our families looked to as a beacon of hope. Cheaters must not be rewarded,” Lurvey declared.
The constituents are not just protesting and holding rallies, they are taking action.
A nonpartisan group, Concerned Citizens of NY Congressional District 3, has been formed, circulating petitions calling for Santos’ ouster and a free and fair special election to replace him. They are demanding the US Justice Department prosecute Santos for fraud, the House Ethics Committee to investigate, and local and national Republican leders to repudiate Santos and refuse to seat him.
“This is not partisan,” said the founder, Jody Kass Finkel. “both Democrat and Republican residents feel deceived by Santos’ lies. Recognizing that no one in Washington D.C. will believe anything Santos says, constituents of NY-03 are concerned that they will not have a voice in Congress and will be shut out of critical federal support and services.”
She supplied statements from numerous constituents registering their outrage, sense of betrayal.
“People didn’t have the truth about who this guy was. In my 30-plus years in the nonprofit world lobbying for environmental, health and affordable housing issues in Washington and Albany, I’ve never seen anyone with such an arrogant contempt for the truth or his constituents. While the whole country is aghast at Santos’ lies and utter disregard for decency, the residents of NY-03 have the most to lose,” Finkel declared.
“The Constitution provides for Americans to elect their representative. The representative we got lied, is unqualified, a fugitive conman, a grifter.”
She said that the group is researching the law even citing the Adam Clayton Powell case in the Supreme Court that kept Powell in office. ”That decision hung on what was the will of the people. Santos is not the will of the people.”
She presented statements from numerous district constituents:
“George Santos is sending the exact wrong message to young people across the country,” stated 18-year old activist and college student Aidan Davis. “If he isn’t held accountable, he demonstrates that our system deems it acceptable to lie about accomplishments, fabricate entire backgrounds and work histories, and generally be dishonest in order to get ahead. He must resign.”
Shari Markovich of Little Neck stated, “George Santos duped his constituents and was elected under false pretenses, fabricating his resume and blatantly lying about his background and credentials. This is criminal and we cannot allow this person to represent our district. There needs to be a new election.”
Casey Sabella, who organized the protest in coordination with up with Courage for America, offered a call to action for those inside and beyond the district to demand an investigation. She produced buttons with a QR code that leads to a letter online at www.whoisgeorgesantos.com. Wear button everywhere, talk to everyone, sign the letter. Continue to talk on social media, talk to everyone, write a letter to the editor. Make clear constituents won’t allow him to hide.”