Saturday, March 6, 2021

Not much 'Covid Relief' in Biden bill

Senate Democrats eke out 50-49 COVID-19 relief bill victory | The Week - Tim O'Donnell:
March 6, 2021 - "President Biden is another step closer to signing his administration's COVID-19 relief bill into law. The Senate on Saturday passed the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan along party lines with a 50-49 vote."
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The 'COVID Relief Bill' Is Mostly an Expensive Bundle of Politically Motivated Giveaways |  Reason - Eric Boehm:
March 4, 2021 - "As the Senate prepares to take a final vote on President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, it's time to be honest about one thing. This isn't a COVID-19 relief bill. We should stop calling it that.... [T]he bill that the Senate is likely to pass this week is a larded-up bounty of mostly Democratic policy goals that will add $1.9 trillion to the federal budget deficit..... 

"Only about 5 percent of that total is funding public health efforts related to the pandemic, according to the nonpartisan number crunchers at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB). There are a few other things in the bill that could be counted as 'relief,' like the $7 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and another $40 billion in emergency loans for restaurants, bars, music venues, airlines, and other industries.... Beyond that, however....

"$500 billion, is a bailout of state and local governments that for the most part do not need one.... But it's not just a bailout; it's a bailout in which the funding is allocated based on the size of each state's unemployed population. In other words, states that imposed draconian and unnecessary economic lockdowns during the past year are going to get a larger share of the federal cash than states that managed to balance public health needs and the economy....

"Another $400 billion of the bill's spending would provide an additional round of stimulus checks to Americans who haven't lost their jobs or income due to the pandemic. The version of Biden's bill passed last month by the House would fund $1,400 in direct payments to individuals who earned up to $100,000 last year and couples who earned up to $200,000.... There is no reason for Congress to be sending checks to families that earn six-figure incomes and have experienced minimal financial losses.... If putting more money in Americans' pockets is a priority for Congress, it should accomplish that goal by reducing income taxes (and cutting an equal amount of future spending) on a permanent basis, not by engaging in deficit-hiking games merely because 'free' money from the government is politically popular.

"The bill spends $129 billion on K-12 education — money that you might assume is being used to reopen schools quickly and safely. Wrong. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the bill found that 'the bulk' of those dollars wouldn't be spent until 'after 2021.' Some of it won't be distributed until 2024.

"$480 million in the bill will be spent on 'miscellaneous' educational matters like 'grants to fund activities related to the arts, humanities, libraries, and museums, and Native American language preservation and maintenance. Even if those are items that might be worth spending federal tax dollars to support, it's difficult to understand  how they are 'COVID-19 relief' by any meaningful definition of the terms. The same is true for the bill's funding of a new subway in San Jose, California, and the new bridge connecting New York state to Canada — top priorities of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.), naturally, but not anything that belongs in a pandemic relief bill....

[T]he bill also includes a $14 billion provision creating a new paid family leave program—one that applies only to employees of the federal government.... Note that this special giveaway to federal employees is being funded with twice as much money as the PPP.... The bill spends another $86 billion to bail out multi-employer pension funds, which are retirement accounts operated by private sector unions.... Many of these retirement accounts are deep in the red — but even if there is a good reason for federal taxpayers to pick up the tab, what does this have to do with the pandemic?...

"Using the waning pandemic as an excuse for a spending free-for-all when the country is $28 trillion in debt is beyond irresponsible. And trying to pass off this bloated list of politically motivated handouts as essential to America's public health is dishonest and cowardly."

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