As Congress seeks to move an economic relief bill, Democrats once again exploit a crisis to pursue an alternative, far-left agenda that has nothing whatsoever to do with the coronavirus pandemic. It underscores why faith in big government is often misplaced.
Playing hardball over the weekend, Democrats led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blocked a proposed vote on the $1 trillion-plus bill, which would have let negotiations proceed to decide what would go into it.
Now, there might be many good reasons to oppose this bill, or parts of it. After all, removing the bad stuff and ironing out differences in proposed legislation is Congress’ job. But during a time of grave emergency, Americans look for a bipartisan sense of urgency and goodwill.
Sadly, with their sharp leftward tilt and near-pathological hatred of President Donald Trump, Democrats are entirely lacking that now. Instead, they show a stunning willingness to take advantage of the current panic and legitimate concerns about the impact of COVID-19 to impose a different agenda on the country.
Crisis? What Crisis?
The demands Democrats reportedly have made in negotiating the bill include “1) Unprecedented collective bargaining powers for unions 2) Increased fuel emissions standards for airlines 3) Expansion of wind and solar tax credits.” That according to a widely circulated tweet from Washington Examiner reporter Guy Benson.
The point is, these things have nothing to do with economic relief from the coronavirus shutdown that, according to some estimates, could lead to a temporary drop in U.S. output of nearly 25%.
If the reporting is accurate, and we believe it is, it’s hard to imagine anything more reprehensible in the middle of a health crisis than trying to use a relief bill, however flawed it might be, to pursue a far-left ideological agenda unrelated to the crisis. It’s little more than political extortion.
Even if the virus’ threat has been exaggerated by the media, that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. We’re already being warned by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams to avoid complacency. As mass testing begins, the number of those with the virus will inevitably soar, he said.
Just ask New York.
New York’s Deepening Mess
New York state now has 20,000-plus cases, with about two-thirds of those in the greater New York City area, which was woefully unprepared. New York has more than half of all the 32,000 estimated cases in the U.S. currently.
On Sunday, predictably, New York’s far-left Mayor Bill de Blasio took time to blast Trump for not doing more. This, despite the fact that de Blasio requisitioned emergency health supplies for his city only a bit more than two weeks ago and didn’t himself declare an emergency until March 12.
This is what happens when a health crisis becomes politicized. Now, responding to New York’s spiraling crisis, the Federal Reserve has brought a financial bazooka to its gunfight with COVID-19’s spreading economic devastation.
The Fed’s Very Big Bazooka
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Monday unveiled the most sweeping new measures in the bank’s 107-year history to keep the economy going during the coronavirus shutdown. Clearly, the Fed thinks the economy is in dire need of immediate help. With a federally mandated shutdown of major parts of the economy, he’s right.
As Bloomberg News reported, the Fed “will buy unlimited amounts of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities to keep borrowing costs at rock-bottom levels and to help ensure chaotic markets function properly. It also set up programs to ensure credit flows to corporations as well as state and local governments.”
In short, the rule book has been thrown away. The Fed will do anything it can, up to and including printing so-called “helicopter money,” to keep markets from melting down further.
While we laud the central bank’s urgency, we understand that ultimately the solution lies not in Washington, but outside. It’s an understatement to say we’re uncomfortable with the federal government putting the economy on life support. It’s a recipe for permanent stagnation, an end to the boisterous creative destruction of our free-market-driven economy.
The Dangers Of Intervention
If Americans keep their social distance, wash their hands, and do what they can to stop the coronavirus spread, we can beat this dreaded virus. And then we won’t have to talk about trillion-dollar stimulus proposals being undercut by leftists, and a virtually unlimited license to print money.
We might welcome such intervention now, but it clearly sets a dangerous precedent. “Temporary” emergency measures have a way of becoming permanent. Just look at what happened to federal spending after the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
With all that in mind, we found these remarks in USA Today by Nobel-prize winning economist Vernon L. Smith of Chapman University comforting: “The economy today lives in suspense, not free-fall. The pandemic will pass. Supply chains will refill. Securities markets will recover, and growth will continue.”
Nice to hear, given we now live in a media-driven atmosphere of non-stop crisis, fear and uncertainty.
As Smith suggests, we can’t stay locked in our homes forever.
In the end, government efforts to ameliorate the crisis by the strictest imaginable measures may prove more costly than it’s worth. Out-of-pocket costs by government will run into trillions, while the actual long-term economic impact of having the economy under threat of quarantine will add trillions more – leaving us all poorer as businesses shut down, markets plummet and the economy shrinks.
A Way Forward
The president, the Fed, Congress and state and local governments all need to provide Americans with a clear idea of how long it will take to restore normalcy to our personal and economic lives.
That means first controlling the virus, then throttling government back to normal without giving in to the Democratic Party’s extortionate far-left demands. Only then will things truly get better.
But the sorry spectacle of Democrats in Congress is just one aspect of the COVID-19 disaster. The longer this crisis lasts, with government-imposed shutdowns lingering and turning into bankruptcies, layoffs and plunging markets, the worse for all of us.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board