In a congressional hearing yesterday, Rep. Katie Porter (D-California) gave Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about seven kinds of hell for his recent attempt to block Joe Biden's incoming administration from one way it might be able to stimulate the economy once Biden takes office in January. We'll get to the beautiful video in a moment, but first a quick 'splainer on what Porter was giving Mnuchin hell about.

You see, a couple weeks back, just before Thanksgiving, Mnuchin announced he would end a program set up under the CARES Act that authorized the Federal Reserve to lend money that would help small businesses and bond markets. Mnuchin claimed the law required the Fed to return any unused portions of the authorized $454 billion to the Treasury's General Fund instead of continuing to make loans after the end of the year. Sending the money back to the general fund would mean Biden's Treasury secretary nominee, Janet Yellen, wouldn't be able to quickly ramp up the stimmy again in 2021. (There's a lot more on all that at the New York Times and the AP.)

Porter pointed out to Mnuchin that the CARES Act specifies the clawback date for unused funds isn't the end of this year, but January 1, 2026, and then he got all pissy (his default state).

The Hill's video titles ANNOY me



After confirming with Fed Secretary Jerome Powell that the economy has not yet recovered from the pandemic, and that additional stimulus is needed to help people affected by the economic cliff-dive, Porter noted that Mnuchin demanded the Fed return unused stimmy funds to the Treasury, despite the continued economic instability.

Then she pointed out that the CARES Act specifies that

Secretary Mnuchin simply doesn't have the authority to recall the $455 billion. I'm reading aloud now from section 4027 of the CARES Act: On or after January 1, 2026 any funds that are remaining shall be transferred to the general fund. In other words, sent back to the Treasury. Secretary Mnuchin, is it currently the year 2026, yes or no?

Mnuchin avoided the day and date question, because he is not a telephone time recording from 1974, he is a very important man! When Porter asked again if it's 2026, he went Full Indignant:

Mnuchin: Of course it's not 2026. How ridiculous to ask me that question and waste our time.

Porter: Well Secretary Mnuchin, I think it's ridiculous that you are playacting to be a lawyer when you have no degree--

Mnuchin: Well actually, I have plenty lawyers at the Department of Treasury who advised me. So I'm more than happy to follow up with Chair Waters and explain all the legal provisions and the ranking members. So more than happy to make that access.

Porter: Secretary Mnuchin--Secretary Mnuchin, are you in fact a lawyer?

Mnuchin: I do not have a legal degree. I have lawyers that report to me.

Porter then confirmed with Powell that yes indeed, the Fed secretary has practiced law, although he didn't weigh in on when the funds had to be returned to the Treasury. Then, when Porter told Mnuchin she wasn't sure she agreed 100 percent with Mnuchin's lawyer work, he interrupted her to ask, "Are you a lawyer?" Good thing the clear plastic barrier was up, so he didn't get snot all over the House hearing room.

Porter then pointed out that the CARES Act only says the Fed can't make new stimulus investments after the end of this year, but says nothing about continuing existing spending under the law.

Also, yes, Katie Porter is a lawyer. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law, perhaps Secretary Mnuchin has heard of it? And she's a tenured law professor at the University of California Irvine [where your editrix used to teach poli sci! — Editrix], as long as we're talking credentials [and as long as we're talking credentials — Editrix].

On Twitter, one of Porter's former Harvard profs, a little-known woman named Elizabeth Warren, noted that her student knows how to read the law, thank you very much.

And everyone remembered there are still 48 long days to go until January 20.

[HuffPo / NYT / AP]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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