THE BANK STATEMENT – Every month I receive this letter from my bank telling me how much I am overdrawn and to stop stealing their ballpoint pens. Among the many items listed are “insufficient funds,” “bounced check” and “IOUs don’t count.” Here’s a new one: “IRS TREAS 310 TAX REF.” A refund from the IRS? I must have overpaid or they accepted my claim of 34 dependents. No, it’s my share of the $2 trillion payout to help make America solvent again. Under the plan, individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income – my income is hardly gross — or less gets payments of $1,200, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400 — and an additional $500 per each child. The payment goes down as your income goes up, phasing out entirely with an income of $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children. If the less you earn the more money you receive, according to this scale I should receive most of that $2 trillion.
These enormous funds being handed out, with yet another $3 trillion in the works, is the largest payout in the nation’s history. So how can we get our share and then some? Really now, you think for a moment that millions if not billions of these funds will not go astray? We shall hear for the next decade instances of the IRS or the SEC or the NBA uncovering sleazy deals. But here’s the interesting part: you don’t have to be a sleaze, well, it certainly helps, to get gobs of money from this fund legally. How about improving your tan? Hidden in the 1,800-page stimulus bill is a provision for the FDA to approve “innovative” sunscreens which would benefit L’Oreal, the beauty products company that has operations in Kentucky, home of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And the lights are bright again at gambling casinos, which can tap government loans for disaster assistance. The measure allocates $25 billion in loans and loan guarantees for the airlines including ticket agents. How did ticket agents get their snouts in the trough? Here’s something scary that seems to have little or nothing to do with stimulating the economy: The rescue package permits President Trump to extend the terms of up to seven senior military leaders “at this unprecedented time.” It might prevent a military coup.
The bill gives free video conference and phone calls for inmates during the pandemic, if Attorney General Bill Barr agrees. It’s not as good as a pardon, but is nice, nevertheless. The stimulus provides $9.5 billion aid for the agriculture industry and replenishes another $14 billion in spending. This includes everyone from dairy farmers and cattle ranchers to fresh fruit and vegetable growers. Wonder if Congress would like to toss some money to our dying newspapers? Not a chance. To bolster the economy, we need more harbor dredging, like the one in Mobile, Ala., in Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby’s home state. Harvard received $8.6 million in stimulus funding. The nation’s richest university, with an endowment of $40.9 billion as of June, said it would not return the money, despite criticism, claiming the funds come from another piggy bank, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
This massive handout has a provision that would specifically block Trump and his family, as well as other top government officials and members of Congress, from getting loans or investments from the stimulus. Really now, would the Trump family lower themselves to profit from the U.S. taxpayer? Of course they would. The U.S. government has paid at least $970,000 to President Trump’s company since he took office — including payments for more than 1,600 nightly room rentals at Trump’s hotels and clubs, according to federal records obtained by The Washington Post. Since March, The Post has catalogued an additional $340,000 in such payments.
House Democrats are trying to pass another stimulus package that would provide $150 billion for state and local governments, with no state getting less than $1.5 billion. Of this, cities and counties across Texas would get more than $29 billion. What a windfall. That includes more than $1.7 billion to Houston and nearly $1 billion to San Antonio. Harris County’s funding could top $2.6 billion and Bexar County could be on tap for more than $1 billion, as well. Texas, meanwhile, could get nearly $35.5 billion. Follow the money – until it disappears. As we have discussed before, the nation is in the midst of an opioid crisis. A prime supplier of OxyContin, an opioid pain medication sometimes called a narcotic, is Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family. They have a net worth estimated at $14 billion, making them America’s 19th-richest family, according to Forbes magazine. Facing thousands of lawsuits, the Sacklers filed for bankruptcy and agreed to pay as much as $12 billion over time.
I haven’t heard of any of that money being doled out, have you, so we turn to another massive payout: the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998, the largest civil settlement in U.S. history. This settlement provided for annual payments to the states of $206 billion over the first 25 years and the payments continue indefinitely. The money was to be spent on non-smoking ads aimed at teenagers, and to help smokers break the habit. Michigan spent 75 percent of its settlement funds on scholarships for high school students. New York allocated $250 million for debt reduction. While only spending $5 million on youth smoking prevention, Illinois dropped $22.1 million to improve state buildings. Two Nevada PBS stations received $2 million to develop high-definition TV capabilities in exchange for airing some anti-tobacco ads. Niagara County in upstate New York spent $700,000 for a sprinkler system at a public golf course. The county also spent $24 million for a county jail and office building. In Wrangell, Alaska, $3.5 million was used to renovate shipping docks.
I thought of giving my payout to charity, but maybe I should just keep it.
Ashby is greedy at firstname.lastname@example.org