Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a statement praising the Senate’s passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, describing the bill as “a tremendous step forward to defeat the virus and provide relief to families and small businesses in need. … and put workers back on the job.”
As usual, Pelosi is being dishonest with the American people.
In reality, the American Rescue Plan does little to directly address the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, “Only about 1% of the entire package goes toward COVID vaccines, and 5% is truly focused on public health needs surrounding the pandemic. Meanwhile, nearly half of the package will be spent on poorly targeted rebate checks and state and local government aid, including to households and governments that have experienced little or no financial loss during this crisis.”
And, despite Pelosi’s contention that the nearly $2 trillion spending package would help small businesses, the opposite is true.
The American Rescue Plan would hinder, not help, small businesses. For example, the bill extends the $300 per week federal unemployment bonus benefit through September, which will make it more difficult for struggling small businesses to rehire workers.
Last year, the University of Chicago completed a study that found 76% of those getting the extra federal unemployment benefits received more money being unemployed than they were making when employed.
No wonder small businesses are having a difficult time hiring workers when they reopen.
Zalak Thakkar, who owns a small sandwich shop in Georgia stated bluntly, “If the government is paying more to stay home, why would those people be out there risking their lives, number one, number two, staying away from their families and number three, making less money?”
If Pelosi actually wanted to lend a helping hand to small businesses, she would support scaling down the federal unemployment bonus so workers would have an incentive to return to work.
In her statement, Pelosi also lavished praise on the American Rescue Plan because she said it “puts our children safely back in school.” Yet another falsehood.
The American Rescue Plan allocates $168 billion for education. This comes on top of the $31 billion for schools in the CARES Act and the $82 billion in the December 2020 COVID-19 relief package.
Yet, most of the $168 billion allotted to education does little to help schools reopen while doing lots to placate the education industrial complex.
For instance, $60 billion would address avoiding lay-offs and closing school district budget gaps over the next two years. Another $50 billion would go to reducing class sizes, aka hiring more teachers. Only a pittance would be spent to ensure public schools reopen.
Perhaps most disingenuously, Pelosi said, “Overall, this coronavirus-centric legislation puts nearly a trillion dollars in the pockets of America’s families.”
Two problems here. First, the American Rescue Plan is not coronavirus-centric. It is welfare-state-centric. The amount of money in the bill dedicated to expanding the welfare state and bailing out deep blue states ($350 billion) pales in comparison to the meager amount specified for addressing the pandemic.
Second, the legislation does not “make it rain” for American families to the tune of $1 trillion. Far from it, actually. Most families will receive a $1,400 stimulus check, but so what? That is our money in the first place.
Receiving a token $1,400 check from the U.S. government will do little to abate the economic and social destruction that unnecessary and counterproductive lockdowns pushed by the likes of Pelosi have wrought upon American families.
The American Rescue Plan will likely be passed by the House and signed into law by President Biden soon. However, the true intention of this bill is not what its title would have you believe. This bill is not about rescuing America.
It is about resuscitating broke blue states, reinvigorating the welfare state, and replenishing the coffers of the education industrial complex.
Chris Talgo (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.