Rescue Us from Pork
While I agree with Bernadette O’Connor that the Federal government must continue to take bold action in response to the pandemic, President Biden’s $1.9 trillion boondoggle is not the solution. Indeed, calling it the American Rescue Plan is the worst example of putting “lipstick on a pig” in American history.
Let’s face facts, most of this plan is NOT emergency relief and/or has nothing to do with COVID-19. Instead, it is an old trick of politicians – using an emergency to buy your votes and payoff political allies by poaching our posterity’s resources. In other words, it’s pork at the expense of our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Look at the bill. It sends stimulus checks to way too many people who do not need it and goes far beyond what is needed when it comes to unemployment benefits and tax credits. The president wants to buy your implied support for policies that you would never support as stand-alone proposals. An enormous $350 billion to local governments, even though state and local tax receipts grew by 10 percent in 2020. $58 billion to prop up poorly managed pension plans — not a COVID issue. $54 billion to raise the minimum wage — not a COVID issue. $45 billion to prop up the ACA — not a COVID issue. $100 million for a rail tunnel in California – a big piece of pig. The Wall Street Journal estimated that more than $1 trillion of the bill is “expansions of progressive programs, pork, and unrelated policy changes.” And much of this money won’t be spent until 2022 or later. How is that emergency relief in response to our urgent needs?
Worst of all may be the $129 billion for K-12 education. On the surface, who could argue with money for our children’s education? Look a little deeper and you can see this is just a payoff from Democratic politicians to the teachers’ unions. Last year these unions donated $42 million to candidate Biden and other Democrats and lambasted President Trump because he did not “believe science.” Now that the science clearly shows that our schools should be open and that the harm caused by “virtual learning” is greater than the risk of COVID for young children, these unions apparently dismiss science as an inconvenient truth. Across the country, unions are fighting to keep schools closed. Why? Follow the money.
Previous COVID bills have rightly allocated huge sums to support our schools, including $68 billion for K-12. To date, the vast majority of that money –$64 billion– remains unspent. Unions want to triple that slush fund for reasons unrelated to COVID. They want funding for more staff, which ultimately gives them more money and power. To get this money and power, they are willing to use the suffering of our children as leverage. And when push comes to shove the President is willing to use our grandchildren’s money to pay off today’s political donors. Indeed, the White House even pressured the CDC to change its guidance regarding school re-openings. This is political backscratching with an enormous cost to generations of taxpayers.
There was a time not so long ago in this country when the Federal government’s deficits were considered a national embarrassment and a threat to our future. The idea of passing debt to our children was anathema. But the 2008 financial meltdown led to a “one-time only” $1 trillion bailout by Bush 43. The Obama/Biden administration, following Rahm Emanuel’s mantra of “never let a crisis go to waste,” kept the spigots open with a phony stimulus program that aided its political allies. The national debt exploded and continues to soar. Apparently, Emanuel’s mantra lives on in the Biden Administration. The COVID-19 crisis is being exploited.
So, what should we be doing? Let’s look at the pandemic-related problems that truly exist today and aggressively attack them in a targeted fashion. Given how the number of COVID cases has dropped dramatically, vaccine distribution is on the rise and the national economy is doing better than experts feared, the Federal government’s focus should be to crush the virus now and get life back to normal by September. That means supporting an even greater vaccine distribution, building up medical supplies in case there is an unforeseen spike in cases (or for the next pandemic), providing an additional financial bridge –including child support– only to those who have been most hard-hit by lockdowns, helping small businesses stay afloat and assuring that schools are 100% in-person learning for the next academic year, if not sooner. We need to get people back to work and our kids back in school. American citizens will take care of the rest.