The $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” bill currently winding its way through Congress has the gleeful support of most Democrats. And why not? It has less to do with COVID relief than it does advancing leftist policy objectives and redistributing tax dollars to Democrat constituent groups.
Some major aspects are either certainly or at least arguably related to the pandemic and shutdowns. There’s $75 billion for vaccinations, treatments, testing, and medical supplies, and another $19 billion for “public health.” Then there’s the $413 billion in a third round of checks to individuals, this time $1,400 per man, woman, and dependent. And the $246 billion estimated for “enhanced” unemployment benefits of $400 per week. Businesses hammered by Democrat lockdowns can apply for some of the $7.2 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program. There’s billions more for airlines ($15 billion), restaurants and bars ($26 billion), and other loans programs for businesses and industries particularly hard hit.
But even being generous in the accounting, the Wall Street Journal editorial board calculates that all COVID-related spending adds up to just $825 billion — not even half of the $1.9 trillion sticker price.
The rest is, as we said, nothing more than the Democrats’ Big Government wish list. That includes $129 billion for schools, whether or not they allow children in the classroom and whether or not they spend the money between now and 2028. Institutions of higher learning get $40 billion. Another $39 billion goes for childcare. Defraying skyrocketing ObamaCare premiums (the same ones that were supposed to save everyone money) will cost $35 billion, and state Medicaid programs will tack on another $15 billion. The bill adds $86 billion for mismanaged pension funds.
Billions upon billions of dollars are spent on Amtrak, “socially disadvantaged” farmers, Head Start, food stamps, mortgage and rental assistance, FEMA, and more.
The biggest chunk and perhaps the most egregious is $350 billion for state and local governments. Here’s the catch: Democrats are formulating the bill so as to steer the maximum amount to blue states with the worst self-inflicted economic damage. The Journal explains, “Last year’s Cares Act distributed money mainly by state population, but much of the $220 billion for states in the new bill will be allocated based on average unemployment over the three-month period ending in December. Andrew Cuomo’s New York (8.2% unemployment in December) and Gavin Newsom’s California (9%) get rewarded for crushing their businesses, while Kristi Noem’s South Dakota (3%) is penalized for staying open. These windfalls come with few strings attached.”
Tax revenue, budget status, state employees — nothing matters as much as how hard Democrat governors hit their states with job-killing shutdowns.
We’ve been pretty sour on the spending bonanza generally because our great grandchildren can’t afford the debt virus. But it’s even worse when you get into the particulars of just how wasteful and partisan the newly empowered Democrats plan to be.