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7 Nasty Provisions in Congress' New Budget: From Coddling Bankers to Trashing School Lunch

December 11, 2014 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

The GOP's big wet kiss to billionaires, boardrooms, polluters and more.

Congress is signaling what the next two years of Republican majority rule is going to be like as it finishes a massive spending bill through next fall—and it’s not a pretty sight for progressives.

The biggest eyebrow-raising moves would restore taxpayer bailouts for Wall Street investments that helped cause the 2008 global economic crash; would allow hundreds of private retirement pension plans to be cut by a third; and would allow a ten-fold increase in donations to political parties. All these proposals, if not stripped from the bill before final passage, benefit the wealthiest Americans and corporate executives.

But there’s always more in any 1,600-page bill moving through the Capitol. The bill continues restrictions on abortion rights; blocks federal agencies from limiting climate-change emissions; takes a two-faced approach to pot policy—limting new laws in Washington, D.C., but taking a hands-off approach elsewhere, and bites into Michelle Obama’s healthier school food initiative.

Congressional leaders have been giving conflicting statements about whether the bill will be passed sometime on Thursday or next week. In the meantime, here are summaries of seven of the most striking provisions, based on accounts in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Politico.com.

1. Taxpayer Bailouts for Wall Street Casinos. The 2010 Dodd-Frank law tried to prevent the riskiest investments from spiraling out of control by ending Federal Deposit Insurance Corporations coverage of derivative trading. Now, in language that was written by lobbyists, according to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the FDIC’s taxpayer-funded insurance of these risky gambits would return.

2. Multi-Employer Pension Plans Can Be Cut. As America faces a retirement security crisis with tens of millions of Americans relying on Social Security for 90 percent of their incomes, those people with pensions seemed like the lucky few. Not so, anymore, if this provision remains. An estimated 200 private employers across the country don’t have the promised money for pensions of 10.5 million workers. So Congress is saying, ‘just pay based on what you have,’ which, in many cases can result in cuts to …read more


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