Issues & Insights

COVID-19 Solution: Pelosi’s $3 Trillion Wishlist vs American Exceptionalism

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released an 1,800-page wish list of left-wing spending priorities that will cost future generations of American taxpayers at least $3 trillion. In less than a week, she brought it to the House floor and rushed to pass it. 

Thomas Sowell once called schemes like these examples of liberalism’s “unconstrained vision” —untethered from reality.  Whatever the case, the lefts ’answers to the thorny questions presented by the COVID-19 crisis remain true to form: more government control, more government spending, more national debt.

Across the board, these are the wrong answers.

Pelosi’s HEROES Act is an unserious proposal that is “dead on arrival” in Mitch McConnell’s more sensible Senate. This irresponsible partisan proposal includes a massive trillion-dollar bailout for state and local governments that would say to governors and mayors that have mismanaged their finances for decades: “Go ahead, overspend and underprepare. Washington will save you.”

The Act would send nearly $35 billion to New York State, over $17 billion to New York City, and another $15 billion to local New York governments. Mrs. Pelosi would then allow New York to cut its own Medicaid spending while reaping heaps of new federal support. And she would repeal the current cap on state and local tax deductions designed to place the burden of high-tax states (like New York) where it belongs—with those living in the states that voted for the tax hikes.

Rather than focusing on health issues and safely re-opening the economy, the HEROES Act extends incentives for able-bodied workers to stay at home and collect oversized unemployment benefits. It then ventures into unrelated spending territories long coveted by the tax-and-spend Left. It would spend $3.6 billion on elections and overhaul election law, bailout underperforming pension plans and the U.S. Postal Service, offer $10,000 in across-the-board student loan forgiveness for public and private loans for 16 million Americans, and give $10 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

No word yet on whether the bill subsidizes Mrs. Pelosi’s favorite gourmet ice cream, but as Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) tweeted, the Democrats’ new stimulus package is full of “more irresponsible socialist stocking stuffers.”

If policymakers in Washington are serious about turning America away from the economic and health strangulation it is experiencing, there is a better way. One that relies on the principles that have made America exceptional.

As the government-imposed lockdowns intensified, governors, mayors, and unelected health officials have besieged constitutional liberties and protections — a preventable side-effect of COVID-19 — U.S. Department of Justice should establish an office dedicated to investigating COVID-19-related regulations that may violate constitutional rights. And Washington should require state and local governments to narrowly tailor their COVID-19 restrictions as a condition of direct federal aid.

To reopen the U.S. economy, Congress should end, not extend, the Paycheck Protection Program. The program designed to help small companies survive temporary economic turmoil has already cost nearly $650 billion, and the program itself creates disincentives to reopen businesses so long as it continues to subsidize an economic shutdown.

Instead of bailing-out fiscally promiscuous states with federal largesse, Congress should limit new government-to-government assistance to collateralized loans. Mayor Bill de Blasio may keep New York City closed until September, but New Yorkers, not residents of Wyoming or South Dakota, should pay the costs of such a shutdown.

Several significant changes to America’s relationship with China are needed, including: increasing FDA inspections in China to monitor products streaming through supply chains; extending the travel ban between the U.S. and China (except for repatriating citizens) until China opens the Wuhan Virology Institute labs to U.S. inspectors and shares vital health information; and scrutinizing Chinese investments in the U.S. more closely.  Perhaps most importantly, we need to develop alternative supplies of medical, pharmaceutical and national defense materials to reduce America’s reliance on China, and pass the Medical Supply Chain Security Act.

The National Center for Public Policy Research (of which this author is a contributor) laid these and other recommendations out in its Beyond COVID-19 blueprint.

America in crisis does not need more “unconstrained visionaries” and their Big Government wish lists of reckless, haphazard spending. Now is the time for clear-eyed proposals grounded in constitutional principles and guided by fiscal restraint and concern for America’s posterity.

Horace Cooper is a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research and is the author of the soon to be released book “How Trump is Making Black America Great Again”

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