This Is Bullshit: Are You Seriously Evicting Voters, Democrats? [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Update at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

Swear to gods “This Is Bullshit” will become a post category — stuff that is just outrageous bullshit which shouldn’t go unnoted without pushback.

Today’s bullshit comes to us via the Democratic Congressional Caucus and the Biden White House.

Do you recall the margin of votes between Joe Biden’s win and Trump’s loss?

Roughly seven million votes.

Do you know how many American households are at risk of eviction as of midnight tonight?

Roughly seven million.

Do you know why those seven million Americans are at risk of losing their homes AND THEIR VOTING ADDRESS?

Because the Democratic Congressional Caucus left for their summer break without passing a bill to stop this debacle.

And Joe Biden did next to nothing to encourage the caucus to make this a priority and to whip the votes.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) slept outside the Capitol Building last night to make the point that Americans who have already suffered so much during the pandemic have been left out in the cold again by their elected representatives.

While the Centers for Disease Control has implemented a moratorium on evictions until tonight on top of $46 billion in funding provided under the American Rescue Plan passed last December, states have only distributed $3 billion in rent assistance so far.

You can almost guess which states are the worst for handing out aid.

NBC found 26 states had distributed less than 10% of the funds they received for housing assistance (1:20 in this video report).

Wrap your head around who is mostly likely at risk; these are the same people most of these same states are trying to disenfranchise with prohibitive voting law changes. They’re going to be forced out of their homes at a time when many of these voters will be forced to obtain new IDs and jump through more hoops to vote in 16 months time.

Some of the aid money already set aside by Congress hasn’t been requested because the states made the process difficult — these same states are applying the same suppressive tactics they use on voting. Congressional Democrats failed to take GOP’s hostility toward economically disadvantaged Americans into consideration when they wrote the housing aid component of the American Rescue Plan. It’s a failure mirrored by their inability to solve the voting rights problem.

Is it possible Democrats blew this off because the folks affected are more likely to live in red states? Did they forget their own seats and their majority in Congress rely on the same margins obtained by these same voters?

Did they think a magic fairy would drop down with a magic wand and make this go away though the White House has already said the Supreme Court won’t let the executive branch issue another moratorium?

Did Biden trust Pelosi and her chief minion Steny Hoyer to do too much of the whipping when they may have conflicts due to real estate donors? Hoyer received $815,086.30 in campaign donations from Finance, Insurance & Real Estate businesses in 2018, for example; Pelosi received $216,214.68 the same year.

What’s particularly galling is that we’re still in a pandemic, and the states with the worst COVID numbers due to the Delta variant are also the ones which have done the least to help at-risk renters. These folks will end up crammed into shelters and other family and friend’s homes amplifying the risk of a surge which will affect even more Americans.

It’s just plain bullshit.

May I suggest you contact your representative and senators and tell them they’ve failed to protect at-risk Americans, which is one of the jobs they were elected to do?

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or look up your representative’s/senators’ local office number and leave a voicemail.

You can also fax them or use to text them.

UPDATE-1 — 9:20 PM ET — 31-JUL-2021 —

Rep. Cori Bush continues the fight tonight for Americans who are facing immediate housing precarity:

If you’re in DC and you attend tonight’s rally, let us know in comments. Thanks.

64 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    I think the cross-reference of states with continuing protection (like CA) would be useful to explain why the DCCC crew let this drop. It doesn’t excuse it, though and if the Ds had hopes to gain inroads in the red states this was a clear unforced error in judgement. Biden’s administration can’t do this with an EO (there is apparently a court ruling on this) but I find it hard to believe that the housing secretary couldn’t point out that eligibility for federal supports is dependent upon keeping their tenants.

    On the flip side, more than a few landlords (and I’d like to find out what percentage that is as opposed to investor groups who are pretty vampirical in their attitudes) were also clearly dependent upon their rental income, so something needs to be done for them too.

    Way off topic, but concerning: why hasn’t FDA approved the vaccines for normal use, especially given the comparison of what had been approved in the recent past? Would it be possible that news of the Delta variant made them want to see how the vaccines fared against it? If so, there is no good reason I can see to keep that rationale a secret. Approval would be a key step in removing the principal excuse for resistance (“it’s experimental / not really approved” or similar) and make it mandatory for DoD personnel.

  2. MollyG says:

    I agree that the Ds should have done something, but remember that the Rs would just filibuster it anyhow.

    • RMD says:

      “learned helplessness” seems to be a tactical strategy. On the one hand, by those who wish to obstruct change, on the other, used as cover for inaction.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Lots of attack ad materials if the Rs do that (and I agree they will threaten it). Make them filibuster on the floor for the opportunity to explain later why they stiffed their voters. The GQP might just fold and the Ds get some pushback in the red states. That was one of Howard Dean’s genius moves, the 50 state strategy because of the way events can suddenly put seats into play.

      • ernesto1581 says:

        “one of Howard Dean’s genius moves…”
        for which he was rewarded by having Rahm Emmanuel step on his face and kick him out to the street.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Yep, exactly. However, that policy was how the Ds pushed Gingrich out the door. They need to bring it back.

      • joel fisher says:

        I’m sure you were rounding 60% up to 2/3. And that someone will set me straight if I’m too far off: 60% policy; 50+1% budget. Giving money to the states–especially red states–was a huge mistake. Or was the mistake having confidence that they would do the right thing.? 10% is shameful. There needs to be a clawback to the feds–HUD?–if the states don’t spend the money for its intended purpose.

        • Rayne says:

          Yes, a clawback mechanism should have been instituted, one which discouraged red states from just sitting on the money while making empty gestures and comments about their willingness to help when they clearly can’t be bothered.

        • P J Evans says:

          Or they decide to use that money for something else that isn’t even close to paying rent to people who lost jobs because of the pandemic.

    • Summertime Blues says:

      Perhaps it’s time to set aside the conventional wisdom of “losing political capital” by losing the vote on a particular bill by forcing a vote to put everyone on record – both Republican and Democrat – which if nothing else could be done in the House. There may be a filibuster in the Senate, but those that filibuster should be called out by name rather than remain anonymous. The political cost will eventually be to the Republicans, because surely it’s not just Democrats that need assistance. Republican diehards may celebrate the bills failure, but is this administrations policies going to dictated by what the Republican base wants?

  3. Mister_Sterling says:

    The Democrats really are sleep-walking into defests in Congress and the White House. Maybe they see nobility in losing or something. Hang in tight. Things are going to become so bad, mainstream cable TV news will fondly look back at the early Trump years as a period of stability and peace.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. Your first username contains no underbar; please revert to that spelling. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  4. Peterr says:

    Great post, Rayne.

    The other screwed up thing about the failure to extend this moratorium on evictions and provide rental relief money is that it will also end up hurting a lot of the landlords involved.

    Sure, they can evict folks who haven’t paid their rent . . . but they will have a helluva time finding new renters to fill those empty units at the rents they will want to charge. They may want to boost rents to make up for lost income, but the more landlords evict tenants, the more downward pressure there will be on the rent they will be able to charge new tenants. It is more than likely that in some areas, rents will actually go down for new tenants because so many units became vacant all at the same time. And some of those units will end up staying vacant, with no one willing or able to afford them at all.

    Lots of available units (supply) with only a small number of future renters (demand) is not an equation that will help landlords.

    By all means, Congress, screw *both* sides of the rental market, all in one fell swoop!

    • Peterr says:

      Ten days ago, KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted this out:

      From Jackson County regarding evictions:
      – 4,397 eviction cases have been filed since September 2020
      – 1,091 granted eviction judgements that will be enforced once the moratorium is lifted on July 31, 2021.

      We should not delay action on necessary housing/homelessness solutions.

      Per the US Census Bureau, Jackson County MO has about 137,000 rental units, with a 2019 vacancy rate of 4.9%, which would be about 6700 units. The eviction orders already approved would boost the vacancy rate to 5.7%, and if you add in the other 3300 cases where orders have yet to be issued would boost the vacancy rate to 8.1%.

      Now let’s look at the rent . . .
      In 2019, the average rent was $949/month. In 2012, when the vacancy rate was 8.04%, the average rent was $827/month. If the rents dropped to the 2012 level because the vacancy rate pushed back to 8%, that would be a drop of 12.9%.

      And then there are the unknown number cases that have yet to be filed, or that were filed in the last 10 days, which would push the vacancy rate even higher and the rents even lower when those folks are evicted.

      This is not a good situation for the folks evicted OR the folks doing the evicting.

  5. rosalind says:

    aside from Marcy, my go-to in trying to understand the current happenings in D.C. is David Dayen (former FDLer) now heading up a great team at The American Prospect. His twitter take:

    “This is the point. The Supreme Court ruling was clear and a month old. The House was put in an impossible spot because until yesterday Biden had signaled that they didn’t want to extend it.
    The House Dem justifications are dumb, but if they were honest they’d blame the president.”

    • Rayne says:

      No excuse for either Dem caucus or Biden failing to fix this mess. That NBC interview encapsulates perfectly the problem: the folks most likely to be hurt are the ones who are least able to fight for themselves.

  6. Peterr says:

    When members of Congress head home for their August recess, they are going to be exposed to story after story about folks being evicted, every time they turn on the local news or pick up the paper.

    And if those local reporters start asking the member of Congress for a comment on camera, that’s going to put them in a very tough situation. They could refuse to do an on-camera interview, which would result in a “we tried to get a response, but he/she refused to talk to us on camera.” Not a good look. They could take the interview and try to come up with some kind of answer, but none of them will be much better.

    “I wanted to do something, but we just ran out of time” – So you’re admitting you can’t do your job?

    “We can’t keep providing a free lunch — that’s socialism!” – So you’re admitting you’re a callous “I’ve got mine, so screw you” kind of guy?

    Unless these members lock themselves indoors for the next several weeks, they are going to find themselves dealing with some uncomfortable conversations. Good.

    • Stephen Calhoun says:

      Excuse me for stating the obvious, the GQP will make hay of this, will make campaign ads about it, and it will not matter—as they see it—that they didn’t vote for the bills containing the help.

  7. P J Evans says:

    I want to know who objected to unanimous consent.
    I also want to know why they thought it would pass easily in this house.

    • graham firchlis says:

      For the record, the sole and sufficient voiced objection to Hoyer’s consent motion came from Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC10), ranking member on Financial Services that Rep. Maxine Waters chairs.

      He’s a theocratic biggoted nutter who leapt at the chance, but if it wasn’t him it would be another.

      According to Waters she and the Dem caucus were taken by surprise by Biden, expecting the administration to take some measure to impose a new moratorium and challenge SCOTUS, but at the last minute the administration decided that was too risky and blinked.

      Nobody rational thought this bill would move so quickly. The nine appropriations bills that passed last week started life six months ago, rapid progress for any House. The vote was to put Dem leadership and the Repubs on record as a matter of principle without forcing any individual Dems to take a formal stance.

      Botch job for sure, but I’m blaming the 250 congressional Republicans before I go after any Democrats and especially not D leadership.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “It’s just plain bullshit.” Yep. “Because I had to go on summer vacation” is not an excuse in any other line of work. Imagine trying that on Wall Street, at Amazon, or driving a truck. What fucking genius persuaded the Dem leadership to slow walk and get nothing done on such a vital piece of legislation?

    Democrats in 2020 will need every bloody vote that comes their way if they want to continue to control either the House or Senate. But first, those votes will have to get past the dozens of state laws now making it harder to vote at all. They seem to be acting like Idiots begging to be in the minority so that they can whine about not getting anything done and still reap rewards from donors. Have they no clue what a Trump/GOP 2.0 regime would do to this country – and them?

    • Peterr says:

      I think it was more of a “we gotta get infrastructure done, and everything else has to wait” kind of thing. (Not an excuse from me, mind you, but an explanation of how DC works.)

      And the phrase “every BLOODY vote” is surely moving from a poetic phrase to literal reality. I remember my dad’s pride in casting his last vote before he died several years ago, to make one final attempt to bring more sanity to DC. I’m afraid that there will be a lot of bloody votes in the years ahead, as voters who lost loved ones, home, and businesses vent their disgust on those who had an opportunity to help and did nothing.

    • Kevin Bullough says:

      I drive a truck, and I am going to use it as an excuse the next time I screw up. I will let you know if it works.

  9. P J Evans says:

    Joe is sometimes *too* nice a guy. I think Aunt Maxine is going to want to have a talk with him.

  10. Mike Sax says:

    1000% agree with your sentiment, Rayne, though I’d add that the blame is more on President Joe than Pelosi-he announced his decision to end the moratorium at the 11th hour not giving the House any time. While I agree about the bad optics of going home while 7 million now at risk this is all needless-why is Biden ending it? To please Republicans?

    Regarding the aid, I’m a NYer and we did receive assistance but I guess the red states aren’t releasing it.

    • Rayne says:

      The House had a bill written, ready to go, and as soon as the Supreme Court put the brakes on any additional moratoriums issued by the executive branch the House should have gone full bore.

      And Biden should have whipped it.

      • Mike Sax says:

        Ok-is the SC ruling why Biden didn’t extend it? If so that’s a piece I had missed.

        The House should have put it up-as to why they didn’t perhaps Pelosi thinks she lacks the votes? Agree she should whip it though, of course, even if the House passes it how does it get through the Senate as they wont nix the filibuster? Could this get through reconciliation? Even if it could would Manchin-Sinema allow it?

  11. jo6pac says:

    demodogs doing what they do best Nothing that helps Main Street citizens. biden does nothing and nancy p. does nothing but go on vacation:-( What sad 3rd world country we have be come and it will be hard to win an election.

    • Rayne says:

      Did you get your COVID relief checks over the last year? What’d you spend your “nothing that helps Main Street” on?

      Get a fucking hold of yourself. The Democratic caucus and the White House failed 7 million households with one bill. They bailed out your ass repeatedly over the last year.

      Your bullshit overwide “demodogs” insult only propels the corrupt GOP’s propaganda. Thanks but we don’t need help like that.

      • jo6pac says:

        Yep I got the check only it wasn’t $2000.00 that joe biden promised everyone. I’m glad I won’t one of 7 million but still the number should be 0. If joe and congress would have acted a month ago this wouldn’t of happened. Demos played right into repug hands. Sad.

        • Rayne says:

          You are thick in the head if you think Joe Biden is solely responsible for denying you $2000 in aid. You need to go back to remedial American Government classes and pay more goddamned attention to the “power of the purse.”

          Or did you not notice the House passed an aid bill in May 2020 which the Republican-led Senate didn’t touch, passing their version instead in December? I know we had multiple posts here about it, but you’re intent on spewing your pro-GOP bullshit.

          Beat it. We don’t need ignorant slackers here dragging Trumpy propaganda.

          EDIT: The Democratic House with a GOP-led Senate under Trump admin managed to pass pandemic aid for citizens amounting to two checks:

          $1200 stimulus (March 2020)

          $600 stimulus (December 2020)

          The Democratic House and a narrowly Dem-led Senate under Biden admin managed to pass pandemic aid for citizens amounting to one check, providing they met tighter income requirements:

          $1400 stimulus (March 2021)

          Fuck off with your Democratic Party bashing. If aid had been left to the GOP there would have been nothing but corporate handouts. And if we left it to the Green Party — the party which still can’t organize its way out of a wet paper bag to muster a place on all 50 states’ ballots for its POTUS candidate? Even worse.

        • Kenster42 says:

          I’m trying to figure you out, Joe. I mean, the Dems aren’t hitting on all cylinders, but, um, who else do you think is going to help regular Americans – Republicans? Dems have been the only ones getting stuff done for us. ETA – what Rayne said.

  12. ernesto1581 says:

    I don’t understand: so you throw several million households onto the street — are there several other millions standing by, ready slide right in with 2 to 3 months’ cash rent in hand?? or do you end up with investment funds fattening up their rental portfolios even more for fifty cents on the dollar as landlords who have no other option bail?

    • gmoke says:

      “…or do you end up with investment funds fattening up their rental portfolios even more for fifty cents on the dollar as landlords who have no other option bail?”

      I do believe we have a winner! Looks like the Big Money Boyz are ready to gobble up another huge parcel of USAmerica’s real estate holdings. The 2008 housing collapse made homeowners renters and now renters will be further reduced toward the status of indentured servants or homelessness.

  13. BroD says:

    How can this not result in major (and I mean, MAJOR) social and economic disruption–to say nothing of exacerbating the COVID crisis? Contact your congress-critters and fasten your seat-belts, folks!

    • Rayne says:

      The only thing I can figure is that certain members of Congress assume the American Rescue Plan’s monthly tax credit payments to families with minor children will provide adequate income for rent payments. But if families are struggling to find childcare right now and are cutting working hours short to care for children at home, I don’t know if most families in the housing insecure group won’t still be in hot water.

      The worst part is knowing how much property values have gone up since the pandemic began — a lot of real estate industry pressure on Congress is really about their desire to realize gains. Many Americans are stuck in rentals right now because single-family homes are out of reach. This sets up a squeeze play on renters.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Rayne, your post and this comment are exactly on point. And the current squeeze play exacerbates the deeply rooted inequities related to household wealth. It is exactly those most lacking a wealth foundation/cushion who are facing the fused disenfranchisement of eviction and voter suppression laws. As always in this country if you have enough wealth you shall overcome. We’re just not gonna let any old outsider (by our standards) accrue that wealth or sociopolitical power.

        Thanks yet one more time for focusing my thinking!

      • greengiant says:

        Here the state child care subsidy deductible was withdrawn and there seem to be people who have yet to see covid stimulus of 2020 or 2021 or the temporary new monthly child payments. All good to those landlords who can withstand the lack of rent subsidies ever reaching anyone. All good to the pay-day and title loan sharks. The 0 FICOs and evictions put people in the high priced gray market for insurance and rentals. What little I hear about it. Without a bank account the check store used to surcharge 3 percent for paychecks and 10 for personal checks. People use money orders to pay bills and avoid the debt collectors.

  14. Fenix says:

    “Because the Democratic Congressional Caucus left for their summer break without passing a bill to stop this debacle” Privilege isn’t limited to Republicans. While Dems take an early vacation to ‘relax’ thousands upon thousands of the same Americans targeted for voter disenfranchisement by Republicans will be pushed even further into that hole by Democratic inaction. With no permanent address, the game is essentially over in many states. Not only do they not have a home, but now they can not have a say in the governance of their future. It is unforgivable. “This is Bullshit” is an apt and appropriate title, 100%

    • ernesto1581 says:

      “…the game is over…”
      well we surely hope not. but in the absence of explicit federal law or constitutional provision, each state does have considerable leeway in establishing qualifications for suffrage — and the notion of withholding the vote for anyone not a property owner is floating around these days like the breeze off a manure pond.

      so here many of our fellow Americans end up, renters and lessees all — die neue Leute Odradek: Unbestimmter Wohnsitz, and therefore no vote.

      times like these I count myself goddam lucky to be living in the little green peoples republic of Vermont, its occasionally annoying smugness notwithstanding…

      • ernesto1581 says:

        sorry. this remark I posted a moment ago conflates two notions: displacement and property ownership. the former is what we are discussing here and it’s the most immediately pressing.
        the other is, as I said, just a foul sulphurous smell at this point.

    • Rayne says:

      I want you to note carefully that I called it a “summer break.” It isn’t all vacation time, it’s in-district work time. Representatives do have to go to their districts/states and meet with people. Here, since you couldn’t be bothered to Google it before spouting off, look at the House calendar:

      Some of that time may be spent on vacation; weekends in particular aren’t indicated as work days. And representatives do have homes outside of DC they must maintain along with families who need their time — you know, work-life balance and family values?

      So take your overbroad dig at Democrats and shove it in a dark place because it’s uninformed bullshit.

      The problem is very specific to this one issue: Legislators, particularly Democrats who hold a weak grip on a majority, shouldn’t leave town without having assured every American at risk of losing their housing because of the pandemic has adequate aid especially when too many states have failed them.

  15. jaango1 says:

    I am disappointed in my fellow Democrats for having failed to advocate for Mandatory Voting. And if so we wouldn’t be facing another fiasco for having the available financial assistance capable of adding to the elimination of the 7 million evictions pending.

    Of course, if my venerable ‘progressives’ continue to ignore the policy predictive of Mandatory Voting, the Democrats, writ large, will continue to hold their respective hands out for the awaiting; monies to be injected in their ongoing campaigns.

    Thus, Democrats know how to embarrass themselves, and whole-heartedly so.

    • Rayne says:

      Democracy isn’t mandatory voting but having access to vote for all who choose to exercise their vote.

      Swear to gods we need to have a dialog about the nature of consent, including the legitimacy of government bestowed with the consent of a majority.

      • P J Evans says:

        I suspect that people who will only vote if they’re rewarded, or under threat of punishment, are people whose votes are really uninformed.

        • Duke says:

          Mandatory voting?

          Sure. You have no say if fight against your own say.

          Perhaps, many of those who don’t vote have many reasons handed to them by many people of above. Mon, Dad, Preacher, Priest, Imam – pick any figure head who excludes their concerns.

          The ability to remove items of value and or concern from the people who possess them has many descriptors. Thief, con artist, fraudster, huckster, parent, guardian, sibling, etc

          I missed the day in school where telling lies for profit to those who know the facts and intent.

      • skua says:

        Mandatory voting in Australia makes the idea of states legislating to disenfranchise voters nonsensical – instead there is a goverment funded authority who works to ensure that the law is upheld and that all eligible/obliged voters are enrolled and vote.
        Additionally there is nothing especially powerful about coming up with highly emotive arguments – the number of voters is not going to be increased, they’re going to turn out anyway.

        So in these ways Australia’s voting method does work well.

  16. SaltinWound says:

    Is this the same unspent Covid money that Republicans want to divert to infrastructure so they don’t have to raise taxes, or is that coming from a different category of Covid relief?

    • P J Evans says:

      I’m not sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me: the “conservatives” hate raising taxes on their (wealthy) constituents, but the poor and the elderly are always fair game.

    • josap says:

      Some refunding is from unspent PPP monies. Some are from the early end of Fed enhanced UE benefits in States which cut those off.

      My understanding is most funding not spent at some point in time (after the bill is passed) would need to be returned by the States to Fed coffers. Not sure if this includes rental help, but my guess would be yes. There is a lot of money in that pile.
      Ducey’s move to bolster the tourism industry followed his announcement Monday that he was tapping federal cash from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan to refill the state unemployment insurance trust fund.

      Ducey’s deposit of $759 million from the $4.8 billion Arizona received through the American Rescue Plan was the first time the governor has used any of the money appropriated by Congress in March.

  17. Spencer Dawkins says:

    I’m gonna read the rest of your excellent article, but

    “Do you know why those seven million Americans are at risk of losing their homes AND THEIR VOTING ADDRESS?”

    sent me down here, to thank you for observing that … OMG.

  18. Bobster33 says:

    I am a landlord that lost $20K on a 6-unit because many of my renters could not pay last year. I could not evict them. I have similar stories on other properties. Finding new tenants is the easy part. Getting back owed money, well . . . .

    Help agencies (Wayfinder, Catholic charities, etc.) are back paying much of the rent which has restored my balance sheets (somewhat). These help agencies in MA are providing for rental payments until September of this year (18 months of Covid relief).

    I am lucky that I was able to hold onto my real estate with several renters not paying. However, the eviction moratorium can only work if the landlords get some form of relief (like interest only payments for their mortgages). I am o.k. with the moratorium lasting only my rental relief runs dry (Oct 1st). Then I need the ability to get rid of my deadbeats.

        • Rayne says:

          I’m sensitive all the time to the needs of those who don’t have capital, aren’t from the capital class, and aren’t being served by their government which is of, by, and for the capital class.

          You own a building with six units. You have plenty of recourse to deal with your situation.

          Learn how to punch up not down.

        • Rayne says:

          Nope, except that you own property. How nice for you.

          I hear there’s a bunch of jobs open, maybe you could get one to supplement your rental income.

        • holdingsteady says:

          Maybe you could look into the federal rental assistance for you and your tenants since, as already talked about here, such a small percentage has been used and maybe your situation would be helped if you use your resources and knowledge to create a win win?
          In the meantime, you could look into new carpet, paint? Whatever the ‘deadbeats’ need. Of course we already know the real deadbeats are billionaires like trump who routinely stiff everybody they deal with.

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