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Thomas Gallatin / Mar. 16, 2020

Trump Declares National Emergency, Dems Engage in Political Profiteering

The president frees up $50 billion in financial assistance to states, as House passes COVID-19 bailout bill.

“I am officially declaring a national emergency,” President Donald Trump said on Friday as he works to address the growing coronavirus pandemic. “The action that I am taking will open up access to $50 billion in our shared fight against this disease.” Trump noted that the primary goal is to slow the spread of the virus and that “no resources will be spared, nothing whatsoever.”

The markets surged upon the news, gaining 9% Friday. However, as we go to press this morning, stocks have plunged again, erasing Friday’s gains. Until the pandemic is under control, market volatility looks to be the new normal.

In the meantime, Trump’s emergency declaration frees up billions in financial assistance for states and local authorities, while the administration furthers COVID-19 testing via a combination of public and private cooperation. As The Wall Street Journal reports, “Roche, the drug company, has developed a test that received rapid FDA approval. Google is developing a website that Americans will be able to consult to see if their symptoms seem to require testing. If they do, then they will be able to drive to retailers like Walmart and Walgreens that are making their parking lots available for drive-through tests that involve a nasal swab. The samples will then be shipped to Quest and LabCorp, private labs that will assay the results and deliver them back to patients in 24 hours if all goes as planned.”

Also over the weekend, with a 363-40 vote, the House passed its rushed emergency COVID-19 bailout bill. Unfortunately, the legislation once again demonstrated just what craven political profiteers Democrats are. Never let a crisis go to waste. This was typified by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s attempt to sneak in $1 billion in abortion-related funding, a move that had even Leftmedia pundit Joy Reid asking, “What does that have to do with COVID-19?”

Eventually, the abortion-funding loophole was stripped from the bill, but the legislation needs to have a lot more removed. Ironically, the bill will end up hurting small businesses, the very businesses that will likely be in most need of financial assistance, not added expenses. For example, Erick Erickson notes, “In addition to using this COVID-19 situation to spend money on things that are absolutely not related to it, House Democrats are insisting on [mandatory] paid leave. But the Democrats are exempting businesses with more than 500 employees. That puts the massive burden on small businesses that do not have the capacity to [afford mandatory paid leave].” An amendment now exempts businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

In short, the legislation is the usual swamp concoction of needed emergency funding combined with Big Government welfare expansions. The bill now heads to the Senate, where we hope majority Republicans will pump the brakes on the Democrats’ political profiteering. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set a measured tone, stating, “Senators will need to carefully review the version just passed by the House. But I believe the vast majority of Senators in both parties will agree we should act swiftly to secure relief for American workers, families, and small businesses.”

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