March 5, 2020

The Politicized Coronavirus Spending Deal

Congress reached an $8.3 billion deal, but only after rank partisanship from Democrats.

The Trump administration has been seeking $2.5 billion to provide for appropriate measures to contain the spread of coronavirus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi complained that was “completely inadequate.” Well, if there’s one thing that has bipartisan consensus in Washington these days, it’s spending more money, so Congress just reached a deal to authorize $8.3 billion for coronavirus. The House passed the measure yesterday, and the Senate will soon vote.

“If they want to give more, we’ll do more,” President Donald Trump said last week. “We’re going to spend whatever is appropriate.”

The Wall Street Journal reports, “The agreement came as the total number of people in the U.S. with the virus reached 153, with 11 deaths linked to coronavirus, as of Wednesday afternoon. Ten of the U.S. fatalities have been in Washington state. World-wide, more than 90,000 people have contracted the virus, and more than 3,000 have died.”

Despite the appearance of agreement, however, partisanship reigns. “Lives are at stake,” Pelosi lectured last Thursday. “This is not a time for name-calling or playing politics.” Yet playing politics is exactly what Democrats have done. Rather than push through funding Pelosi thought was adequate, she deliberately delayed working on a package to allow the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee time to run ads ahead of Super Tuesday attacking Republicans for not “doing something.”

Such cynicism is, unfortunately, par for the course with Democrats, who, as Rahm Emanuel so infamously put it, “never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve took the emergency step of cutting interest rates to try to stabilize the stock market. It doesn’t seem to have worked, as this week’s market rollercoaster ride reveals. Trump has pitched a temporary payroll tax cut, as well, which we estimate will have virtually no effect — it didn’t when Barack Obama tried it — because it would be temporary. The better course is for the administration task force to continue its work to take serious and appropriate measures to contain the spread of the virus without creating or worsening panic.

(Visit our comprehensive China Virus Pandemic response and recovery page, and see our related pages.

Update 3/6: The Senate passed the funding bill Thursday, and Trump signed it Friday morning.

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