November 6, 2023

Israel Aid

“The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a Republican plan to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel… The bill's introduction, as lawmakers rushed to respond to the attack on Israel by Iran-backed Hamas militants, was the first major legislative action under new Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson…

“But because it combined aid for Israel with a cut to the Internal Revenue Service and left out aid for Ukraine, President Joe Biden promised a veto and Senator Chuck Schumer, majority leader of the Democratic-controlled Senate, said he would not bring it up for a vote… Biden has asked Congress to approve a broader $106 billion emergency spending package including funding for Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine, as well as humanitarian aid. Schumer said the Senate would consider a bipartisan bill addressing the broader priorities.” Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of Johnson’s approach, particularly the reduced IRS funding.

“Johnson has blessed us with one of those moments that makes Republicans’ deviousness over ‘concerns about the national debt’ crystal clear to the public…

“Republicans have tried to portray Biden’s attempts to reform the IRS with increased enforcement (among other things) as an attempt to soak and surveil ordinary Americans. But increased tax enforcement is increasing audits of people making more than $400,000 a year, and is generating greater scrutiny of exceptionally high-income people whose finances are more complicated… Fewer resources for enforcement means that the IRS will lose out on money that’s owed to the government. It’s the last place a person sincerely concerned about the debt would turn for cuts.”

Zeeshan Aleem, MSNBC

“The idea that cutting the I.R.S. budget would somehow help pay for aid to Israel is utterly wrong. America has a huge ‘tax gap’ — taxes legally owed but not paid. The bulk of that tax gap probably comes from wealthy Americans underreporting their incomes, which they can get away with because the I.R.S. lacks the resources to fully enforce the law. As a result, cutting I.R.S. funding would actually increase the deficit by enabling more tax evasion, a conclusion confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office…

“The more we become a society that rewards people who evade their fiscal obligations, the more likely it is that people who don’t cheat on their taxes will feel like chumps and losers. If Americans start to believe, as Leona Helmsley put it, that ‘only the little people pay taxes,’ the damage to our society will surely be moral as well as fiscal.”

Paul Krugman, New York Times

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) argues, “We must remember the storied pasts of both Ukraine and Israel, how they remain intertwined, and why separating our support for their fights for freedom is an affront to democracy… These funding requests are all deeply connected—at their center is the preservation of democracy and the security of the American people…

“While Speaker Mike Johnson's views on supporting Ukraine are rumored to be ‘evolving,’ I'm concerned that he is not, in truth, supportive of further funding to Ukraine. He and others inexplicably, and perhaps conveniently, seem to believe we can only concentrate on Israel and Taiwan. And that Ukraine, distinct from Israel, should be subject to unique progress or accountability measures. This is a political stunt and an outrage. As recently as Sept. 28, the House indicated continued support of Ukraine with a vote of 311 to 117.”

Chrissy Houlahan, Newsweek

From the Right

The right is generally supportive of considering each issue separately, but worries about delaying aid to Israel.

The right is generally supportive of considering each issue separately, but worries about delaying aid to Israel.

“Israel's retaliation after the Hamas attacks and Ukraine's defense against the Russian invasion are two separate conflicts, in two separate countries, in two different parts of the world, with different combatants. Plus, one of them, the just-beginning fight in Israel, has more support among U.S. voters than the Ukraine war, now in its second year…

“Some press coverage adopted a storyline suggesting that Johnson is playing politics and sabotaging aid. But former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer looked at it another way. Reacting to a piece in Politico, Fleischer posted, ‘The premise of this story is that Johnson is not listening to Schumer, and that Johnson is taking a risk not doing what Schumer wants to do. Why isn't it the opposite? Why isn't the story that Schumer isn't listening to Johnson?’…

“Of course Johnson's move was political. But so was the White House's opening gambit, plus everything Schumer has done after that. And here is the bottom line. The president wanted the House to pass aid to Israel. The House passed aid to Israel. And now, the president and his party are rejecting it.”

Byron York, Washington Examiner

“The IRS doesn’t need the $14.3 billion that Johnson wants to take from it, and the American people wouldn’t miss it if it was gone. But that simply doesn’t have anything to do with aid to Israel, and America’s national-security interests should take precedence in a national-security bill. Democrats control the Senate, any bill will have to pass the Senate to actually help Israel, and Democrats aren’t going to vote for the IRS cuts…

“Politicians in Washington have been spending recklessly and refusing to do anything about the spiraling national debt for years, at times when Israel wasn’t under attack. To become penny-pinchers now, over $14.3 billion in a federal budget of more than $6 trillion, after Israel was the site of the worst violence against Jews since the Holocaust, is an error in judgment.”

Dominic Pino, National Review

“There is no good, substantive reason for the Senate to insist on bundling aid to Israel with aid to Ukraine and with Mexican border security. Then again, there is no excuse for House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to avoid giving Ukrainian aid a prompt, fair vote on the House floor…

“Everyone should stop the political foofaraw. Vote on border security. Vote on aid for Israel. Vote on aid to Ukraine. Do it one by one, but within one week. And then vote separately on ideas for savings to ‘pay for’ each.”

Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner

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