May 18, 2020

How Much More ‘Relief’ Can We Afford?

Pelosi’s House Democrats passed $3 trillion more in coronavirus spending.

Despite a brief show of mild disagreement among Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi successfully wrangled her caucus into passing another round of coronavirus relief on Friday. The $3 trillion HEROES Act is the most expensive legislation in U.S. history and would bring this year’s total federal spending to a staggering $10 trillion. Yet it didn’t go through a single committee, and it had only Democrat input. No wonder just one Republican — New York’s Peter King — voted for it.

The Wall Street Journal lays out some of the spending: “The House bill includes about $1 trillion in direct aid to states and localities, including grants and education assistance, to deal with the effects of the pandemic. It would put a new round of one-time cash payments into Americans’ bank accounts, extend the duration of enhanced jobless benefits, help cover some rents and mortgages, forgive some student-loan debt and send premium pay to essential workers in fields such as health care.” That last item is $200 billion for a “heroes fund” to give hazard pay to medical workers, hence the bill’s name. It’s a nice sentiment but, frankly, it’s a misuse of the word “heroes.”

Our economy is in desperate straits. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell cut short any hope of a “V”-shaped recovery, warning that getting back to where we were will “stretch through the end of next year.” Thus, the desire for more relief is palpable. The first major round was one thing; spending 50% more in this round is another, especially given that much of the $3 trillion is for left-wing goodies that will continue a terrible trend of massively expanding government.

One-time cash payments (for the second time) will surely be welcomed by millions of Americans, but the extension of enhanced jobless benefits ensures that some number of the 36 million unemployed Americans will find that remaining without a job will pay better than taking one — assuming there are jobs to return to, given the more than 100,000 businesses permanently shuttered thanks to the lockdown. That’s also not to mention that employers who stayed afloat with Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans must rehire laid-off staff in order to qualify for loan forgiveness. That’s harder to do when businesses are competing with unemployment payments for workers.

Another part of the deal: sending relief payments to many illegal aliens. According to Democrats, we can’t deport illegals, but we can redistribute income to them.

Even the relief for states is an unjustified bailout for those suffering from the preexisting condition of irresponsible Democrat governance. In fact, one of the other provisions is Pelosi’s desired tax cut for wealthy Democrat donors in those high-tax blue states.

As perhaps the most absurd illustration of Democrat priorities, however, the bill pushes a massive mail-in voting plan that would leave American elections ripe for fraud. Anyone think that would be there if it helped Republicans?

“We’re putting our offer on the table,” Pelosi said. “We’re open to negotiation.”

Negotiation? wondered Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Heroes Act “reads like the speaker of the House pasted together random ideas from her most liberal members and slapped the word ‘coronavirus’ on top of it.” He added, “It’s a parade of absurdities that can hardly be taken seriously.”

Unfortunately, Republicans need to take it seriously and stop the nonsense in its tracks.

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