Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent out a press release on Tuesday wrongly accusing Breitbart News of printing inaccurate information.
Breitbart News reported on Monday about a special provision of the new Obama stimulus jobs program inserted into the newly repackaged version of the “Gang of Eight” bill. That provision could allow beneficiaries to receive taxpayer-funded vehicles, like cars, motorcycles, or scooters.
The provision, as Breitbart News reported, is tucked away underneath the new stimulus program that the Washington Examiner‘s Byron York uncovered.
“A provision under that new stimulus program title allows for the use of spending the taxpayer money on the program to provide transportation for youth to and from their jobs.
“(f) USE OF FUNDS.–
(1) IN GENERAL.–The funds made available under this section shall be used–
(A) to provide summer employment opportunities for low-income youth, with direct linkages to academic and occupational learning, and may be used to provide supportive services, such as transportation or child care, that is necessary to enable the participation of such youth in the opportunities;”
The total appropriation for this new stimulus program would be $1.5 billion that would be divvied up among states that applied for the money. According to the proposed statute as written, all the money would need to be spent in a year-and-three-months period.
“The amounts appropriated under this title shall be available for obligation by the Secretary of Labor until December 31, 2014, and shall be available for expenditure by grantees (including subgrantees) until September 30, 2015,” the part of the provision detailing how long the money would be available for reads.
A GOP senate aide told Breitbart News that for the country to be able to spend $1.5 billion on such a program so fast, it would need to buy, lease or rent motor vehicles for beneficiaries of the new government handout. The provision that outlines how the money can be legally used for providing “supportive services” like “transportation,” the aide said, could easily be interpreted to mean the money could be spent buying or leasing or renting vehicles for the beneficiaries.
“This appears to give states authority to buy, lease or rent motorcycles, cars and scooters or anything kids want to buy to get to and from a job,” the GOP aide said.
On Tuesday, Rubio and his office drafted a press release describing the Breitbart News story as a “myth.” Rubio’s office said in its press release that this overall new stimulus program “does not cost any taxpayer money.”
“It is being funded directly by a new fee that foreigners will pay when they’re applying for visas,” Rubio’s office said in the release. “This program is being created because of concerns about American kids competing with foreign workers for low-skill jobs, so to protect them, foreign workers will pay for job training programs for American youth.”
But according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), that is not true. “The bill would increase spending for a jobs program for youth that would be partly offset by new fees imposed on nonimmigrant visas, but only a small portion of those added costs would be offset in the first two decades,” the CBO said in its report on the matter on Monday. The rest of the $1.5 billion stimulus program that is not “partly offset by new fees” would be subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.
The Rubio statement also says that “The language of the bill reads ‘supportive services, such as transportation and child care.’ The qualifier here is that they will be provided ‘services’ and not ‘goods.’ That means the program could provide a service, like a bus ride to a work site, but it cannot provide a car, scooter, motorcycle, or pair of rollerblades.”
But this narrow reading of the bill is unlikely to be applied by the federal government. “Clearly a ‘service’ includes Uber, limousine service, a rental, a lease and any sort of transportation that may not include ownership transfer,” a GOP aide told Breitbart News in response to Rubio’s office’s claim. The provision, that aide maintains, could be twisted into suggesting that the actual act of purchasing of a vehicle would constitute a “service.” Alternatively, when administration officials seek to implement this provision, they could determine that transfer of ownership of a vehicle is the only realistic and legally palatable way to implement the mandate Congress gave them.
When liberal regulators in President Barack Obama’s administration are given the latitude to interpret this language, the aide added, the meaning of it can be stretched any which way that could take what started out as a good intention and blast it into something of a big government program. It is precisely this latitude that Rubio’s office denies, but which the immigration reform bill gives the executive branch.