President Joe Biden recently defended his $1.9 trillion COVID bill by asking critics of the plan: “What would they have me cut? What would they have me leave out?” The easier question would be, what’s worth keeping?
The bill is riddled with spending unrelated to the COVID crisis, gifts to big unions, bailouts to states that don’t need them, and bad economic policies. It is, in short, a monument to Democratic-style political corruption bought with money borrowed from our children and grandchildren.
While Democrats claim the need is urgent, almost $700 billion of of the funds won’t get spent until sometime over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
This is particularly true when it comes to money for education and labor – which includes dollars for schools, colleges, child care, and the $15 minimum wage. Less than 10% of the $293 billion thrown at these programs will go out this year, according to the CBO. More than a third won’t get spent until after the next presidential election!
Likewise, two-thirds of $90 billion targeting transportation and infrastructure are stretched out over the next 10 years. And less than half of the $70 billion for things such as “emergency rental assistance,” grants to airlines, and mortgage payment assistance will be spent this year.
What would they have Biden cut? How about cutting all the spending after this year, when the COVID crisis is sure to be over?
Meanwhile, a huge chunk of the bill is for things that are unrelated to COVID. An analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found such goodies as a $58 billion bailout of union pension funds, a $23 billion expansion of the earned income tax credit, $34 billion in expanded Obamacare subsidies, a doubling of the federal minimum wage – which will cost taxpayers $54 billion. All told, the group said $312 billion could be jettisoned without harming actual COVID relief efforts.
That $312 billion figure is being conservative. Democrats want to dump nearly $8 billion to expand broadband access. And $270 million for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, $200 million for the all-important Institute for Library and Museum Services, and $10 million for Native American language preservation. There’s $50 million for “environmental justice” grants.
Then there’s the unnecessary spending. The third round of checks – this one for $1,400 – isn’t needed. All those checks add up to $422 billion.
Nor is the $350 billion in state bailouts needed. As we noted in this space earlier, most states are currently running surpluses, some of them historically large.
Schools don’t deserve to get $129 billion when they’ve been closed for a year and when teachers’ unions are still pressuring governments to keep them closed.
And, we’d argue that $90 billion for mass transit programs is a colossal waste.
On top of this, the bill includes provisions that will kill jobs. The CBO recently alerted Congress to the fact that the $15 minimum wage Democrats are pushing would throw 1.4 million out of work, and cost taxpayers $54 billion over the next decade.
The unemployment provisions – particularly the $400 a week bonus – will only extend the unemployment problem since jobless benefits will pay more than work for half the nation’s workers.
The money targeted at vaccines and tests, meanwhile, is a relative pittance.
So here you have a $1.9 trillion spending plan that is based on fraudulent claims, wastes colossal amounts of money, and flagrantly abuses the public’s trust. It’s a trifecta of bad policy.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board